Mahavakyas (great contemplations)
STAGES OF YOGA VEDANTA MEDITATION AND CONTEMPLATION
Meditation and contemplation are two different techniques, yet they
are complementary to each other. Meditation is a definite method of
training oneself on all levels body, breath, conscious mind, and
unconscious mind while contemplation builds a definite philosophy.
Without the support of a solid philosophy, the method of meditation
does not lead to higher dimensions of consciousness.
Contemplation makes one aware of the existence of the Reality, but
Reality can be experienced only through the higher techniques of
meditation. In the Vedanta system, meditation and contemplation are
both used. When an aspirant tires of meditation because of lack of
endurance, then he contemplates on the mahavakyas [great
contemplations] and studies those scriptures that are helpful in the
path of Self-realization and enlightenment. Contemplation, vichara,
complements the Vedantic way of meditation, dhyana.
Mahavakyas (great contemplations)
In Vedanta philosophy, there is a definite method used for
contemplation. Ordinarily, the mind remains busy in self-dialogue,
entangled in the web of its thought patterns. Because of desires,
feelings, and emotions, unmanageable conflicts are created in one's
mental life. But the Vedanta way of contemplating transforms the
entire personality of the aspirant, for the statements, mahavakyas,
imparted by the preceptor create a dynamic change in the values of
his life. These statements are compact, condensed, and abstruse
srutis and cannot be understood without the help of a preceptor who
is fully knowledgeable of the scriptures and these terse texts. Only
a realized teacher can impart the profundity of such knowledge in a
The thoughts, feelings, and desires which were once important to the
aspirant lose their value, for he has only one goal to attain. The
glory of contemplation brings a dynamic transformation to the
internal states of the aspirant. This seems to be very necessary,
because that which creates a barrier or becomes an obstacle for
students loses its strength due to the power of contemplation, which
transforms all his internal states.
First, an aspirant attentively listens to the sayings of the
Upanishads from a preceptor who is Brahman-conscious all the time.
In the second step, he practices vichara (contemplation), which means
that he goes to the depths of the great sayings and determines to
practice them with mind, action, and speech.
One-pointed devotion, full determination, and dedication lead him to
the higher step called nididhyasana. Here he acquires comprehensive
knowledge of the Ultimate Truth. But he has not yet attained the
final step of consciousness that leads him to the direct realization
of the one self-existent Truth without second.
The highest state of contemplation is called saksatkara. In this
state, perception and conceptualization are in complete agreement,
and all the doubts from all levels of understanding vanish forever.
At this height of knowledge, truth reveals itself to the aspirant,
and perfect realization is accomplished, "I am Atman I am Brahman."
This state of advaita is attained by the process of contemplation.
Meditation plays an entirely different role and helps the aspirant
make his mind one-pointed, inward, and steady.
Steadiness and stillness are practiced from the very beginning in
this meditational method. The method of sitting, the method of
breathing, the method of concentration, and the method of allowing a
concentrated mind to flow uninterruptedly are subsequent steps that
help the aspirant to expand his capacity so that he can contemplate