Meditation and Atma vichAram

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue May 18 12:35:07 CDT 1999

There's a difference between meditation and atma vichAram. This is pointed
out in a debate, by Shankara to an opponent, in Madhva's Shankara dig

Typically meditation is concentration on an object. The subject concentrates
on an object - either a flame or an ishta deivam or the breath etc This is
the standard practice followed by the Yoga darshanam.

But Atma VichAram, is searching for the Self. Here itself there's a
contradiction. You're the Self - the subject. So how can you search for
yourself - the subject searching for the subject?

But there in, lies the irony. Due to ignorance, we're not aware of
ourselves. Being consciousness and due to the habit of a lifetime, we
identify ourselves with the intellect, the mind, the breath, the body etc
Over a period of time the identification is so strong, that we are unable to
differentiate between ourselves between us and that which is not us.

When we engage in Atma vichAram, with practice we slowly distinguish
ourselves from the non-Self. Slowly we peel off one layer of ignorance after
another - the identification with the body, the breath, the ego, the
intellect etc This is what is explained by the panchakOsham concept in

But again, this is not meditation where there's concentration on an external
object by a subject. This is brahma vidhya, where the subject - the Self -
withdraws itself into itself, from the non-self.

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