Self Study – Swadhyaya (November 2009)
Swadhyaya is a compound word made of ‘swa’ and ‘dhyaya’. Swa means self and dhyaya means study. Swadhyaya means self-study. It is the study of the Self by oneself. In Hinduism, it has several meanings, including study of the Indian scriptures (the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, Ramayana etc.), chanting of mantras, singing bhajan & kirtan, meditation, discourses, and chintan & manan (introspection) etc. Our monthly hawan, yoga/mediation, assignments, and moral & ethical learning are integral parts of swadhyaya.
While swadhyaya is an ongoing process and can be observed any time (and everytime) of the day, a regular routine for introspection helps mind get rid of doubts and misunderstandings.
To observe swadhyaya on a regular basis, you should sit in a clean and quiet place at a fixed time and reflect on yourself. You can start with prananyam (breathing exercise) to control your thoughts. When sitting down, you can start with different aspects of your day-to-day routine, your behavior towards your friends, parents, and other people. Some of the thoughts you can focus on include
· what has happened throughout the day;
· what has gone right and what has gone wrong;
· have you hurt someone (intentionally or unintentionally);
· how would you feel if someone hurts you;
· what can you do to fix it;
· your good experience/behavior;
· what can you do to bring more of the good and happy things in life.
This exercise will help you see things clearly – you will also be able to see things from other’s point of view. You will know that everything you think, say, and do has an impact on your surroundings. This understanding will will help you become a better person. Practicing swadhyaya regularly will make truthfulness & righteousness part of your personality. You will have noticeable difference in your relationship with your friends, parents, teachers, and others. Most importantly, you will become a more confident and respectable person.
Please do write about your own thoughts on swadhyaya.