Growing up in an orthodox Brahmin family in Mysore, India, I practiced mantra chanting, worship and other ritualistic aspects of Hindu religion, However, I was not introduced into the core teachings behind these practices. In addition, although our family practiced yogasanas (postural yoga) at home and we were quite proficient, I never understood yoga as a spiritual path or made the connection that yogasanas are an integral part of Patanjali’s eight-fold path for self-realization.
Although I didn’t continue the chanting and ritual practices into my college years, I had a desire to read and understand the classics of Indian spirituality. I purchased my first book on Indian spirituality (Upanishads) at the age of 23 when I was a graduate student in Canada. However, when I tried to read it, I didn’t get very far. After a few pages into it, I would give up. I remember having similar frustrating experiences in my attempts to read the classics “Bhagavad Gita” or “Autobiography of a Yogi.” Ultimately, I gave up on the idea of reading and understanding spiritual literature altogether.
A chance encounter with a yoga class at Gold’s gym reignited my interest in yoga practices again and I began my Ashtanga vinyasa yoga practice in earnest in 2001. However, my desire to start a regular meditation practice persisted for many years and finally led me to the Heartfulness (Sahaj Marg) system in 2009.
One year after starting the Heartfulness meditation practice in earnest, I noticed that during my daily commute to work, I started listening to spiritual talks by Sahaj Marg Masters and other spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle rather than NPR or BBC. My book collection was getting populated with Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Power of Now, Complete works of Swami Vivekananda, etc., to name a few. Some of these books I have had for years and were never touched, now made complete sense and I started to have a strong attraction to them! I started wondering how I could have missed it all these years. This shift occurred naturally a few years into the meditation practice.
Meditation practice helped me to comprehend the essence of scriptures and go beyond the intellectual understanding. There is scriptural basis for this from Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6: 46: “Meditation is superior to severe asceticism and the path of knowledge. It is also superior to selfless service. May you attain the goal of meditation, Arjuna!”
Before meditation practice, spiritual teachings were hopeless, after meditation practice, the same teachings were obvious!