the highest reason for meditation is to realize ATMAN
We find a clear exposition of the doctrine of the Atman and the
practical path leading to it in the dialogue between the sage
Prajaapathi and Indra in the Chaandogya Upanishad. Indra, the king of
Gods and Virochana, the king of demons both approached Prajaapathi to
learn the doctrine of the Self. Prajaapathi first teaches them that
the Self is unborn, uncreated, eternal, cannot be destroyed and
beyond suffering. Then he identifies the Self with the body. While
Virochana returns home satisfied, Indra is not convinced. How can the
immortal Self be the body, which is prone to change, decay and
destruction? So he approaches Prajaapathi again and tells him of his
confusion. Prajaapathi next identifies the Self with the subject of
the dream state. Indra is again not convinced. How could the subject
of the dream state be the eternal Self? Though devoid of defects of
the body, it still experiences emotions in dreams - it is happy, sad,
terrified, conscious of pain etc The Self being eternal cannot be
subject to such limitations. So again he goes back to Prajaapathi and
tells him his doubts. Prajaapathi now tells him that the enjoyer of
the deep sleep state is the Self. But Indra is unconvinced by this
too, for in deep sleep, there's no conscious or awareness. We neither
feel anything, nor know anything, nor will anything. So what good is
there in such a state?
When he approaches Prajaapathi again, the sage well pleased with his
discriminatory powers says : Dear Indra! The body and the subject of
the dream state are not the Self though they exist for the Self. The
Self is not an abstract principle of the deep sleep state too. Yet it
is something, which persists through these three states or else we
would not have the unity of experience through the three states. The
body, the senses, the mind, the presentation continuum, the
consciousness - are all mere instruments and objects of the Self.
Though the Self is the ground for the waking, dream and deep sleep
states, it transcends them all. The Self is immortal, self-luminous
and self-proved. It is the ultimate subject, which can never become
an object and is necessarily presupposed by all knowledge. It is
satchitAnanda (sat - existence, chit - knowledge, Ananda - bliss).
But if we are in truth the eternal Atman, why do we not know it?
The Upanishads say that it is due to our ignorance (avidya) that
we're not aware of the true nature of ourselves. When ignorance is
removed with right knowledge, the Self shines forth in its true
nature. In fact, acquisition of spiritual knowledge is the supreme
purpose of human existence. Human beings are superior to other forms
of life only because they can sufficiently discriminate between the
real and the unreal, between the ephemeral and the eternal, between
darkness and light. A man who does not strive to make good of this
opportunity and remains lost in materialism has, as if, committed
suicide. The 3rd verse of Ishavasya Upanishad therefore declares:
"The immutable soul is the real nature of man, and not his mortal
Because the soul endures from one life to the next,
whereas the body changes every moment and perishes with death.
But the materialistic people, enveloped with ignorance, vanity or
deny the very existence of the soul.
They say- 'Only that exists which can be perceived with the senses.
There is nothing beyond, there is no yonder world after death.
Verily, man is but an agglomeration of the elements,
born of the lust of his parents.
We are born with our physical birth, and cease to exist after our
Indeed, there is no connection between actions and their fruits.
There no vice or virtue. So eat, drink and be merry.'
Denying their own true essence,
these deluded men have killed their own souls in this very life."
Right knowledge is not mere bookish knowledge. In fact the Upanishads
equate even the sacred Veda with lower knowledge, while knowledge of
the Self (Atmajnaanam) is the highest knowledge. This knowledge
sought is more intuitive than intellectual. It is the knowledge of
the subject, which can never be known like an object. Right knowledge
is obtained with the practice of faith, purity, introversion and
meditation. Two ways of meditation are suggested - meditation on the
mystic syllable "OM" and meditation on the heart center.
Recourse to Spirituality does not mean that one can forget his
worldly duties. The Upanishads stress again and again that 'faith
without works is dead." As an example, quote the 2nd verse of the
"Seek not the Truth by abandoning this world
Or by renouncing all your bounden duties.
This is indeed not the path of salvation.
Rather, desire ye to live a full life of a hundred years,
Actively engaged in the selfless perfromance
of your duties and enjoined actions at all times.
Verily, this is the only way enjoined for man's salvation,
And not the opposite.
All actions bear fruit- good or bad.
And these fruits taint his soul, causing him to be reborn!
But the fruits of actions- good or otherwise, don't taint that wise
who performs his duties selflessly, as an offering to God,
Just as a lotus leaf is not tainted by water, even though touching it.
But he, who through ignorance, shirks away from his duties,
Merely deludes himself by thinking- 'I am performing any action!'
Aye! no man can desist from action for even a single moment."