2 minutes reading time (414 words)



Swadhyaya: Swa(self)+ Adhyāya(study)
Swadhyaya in its literal translation is a study of the self.

Swadhyayad-ishta-devata-samprayogaha. Patañjali Yog Sutra 2.44

Translation: The practice of swadhyaya leads to the actual meeting of ones favourite deity
*Identification with that favourite(Ishta) deity is encouraged to help ascend towards a merging of individual nature into that deity to realise that the individual soul and supreme consciousness are one)

Expanding one's knowledge is classified by Maharshi Patanjali as swadhyaya, the fourth aspect under the second limb Niyama(self-discipline) of the eight limbs(Asht-anga)of yoga.

The goal of yoga is not only becoming flexible in the body, but to unveil the layers (called koshas) of the yogic physiology. Yoga asanas and mudras help to appreciate the body, become aware of the mind that resides in the body and to make peace with the mind. Swadhyaya has two aspects. The first is the practice and second is the realization. Swadhyaya, while could be broadly applied to the study of theory and practice of yoga, goes beyond the literal sense of the word.The self is the subject of study which is the true purpose of yoga. By observing the yamas( social conduct), Niyamas ( self discipline), breath awareness( Prana dharana) during yogic practice of Asana and pranayama, a path is created towards the inner self.

The knowledge of the self is the goal of human life. The Upanishad (end part of the Vedas) are for those that seek this knowledge- atma(soul) gyan(knowledge). Yoga is the path to Vedanta and the practice of swadhyaya is essential to the vedantic practice of being a witness to the self in the context of understanding the nature of reality.

सत्यंवद । धर्मंचर । स्वाध्यायान्माप्रमदः ।
Taittiriya Upanishad 1.11.1
Speak truthfully l Practice righteousness l Do not neglect self study: swadhyaya

True education is that which prevails beyond leaving the school and continues through life. Formal education only guides ones entry into the real process of educating oneself to make a well founded life. Thus a true guru will always direct a student to remain a student and never neglect self-study.

During the opening ceremony of the very first advanced yoga teacher training at the esteemed institution of yoga, Kaivalyadhama at Lonavala(April 2006), participants of the course were asked to introduce themselves in a single sentence. I was one of those and came up with ' I am a student of yoga'. Swami Maheshananda, the spiritual leader of Kaivalyadhama, then went on to encourage all of us to remain students forever. That simple instruction set the path for me.
Thank you Swami Maheshananda. 



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Saturday, 20 July 2024