The study of one’s own self encompasses all aspects of what it means to be a human being––our mind, our body, our relationship with all of life. This study ultimately leads to the knowledge of the supreme Self. To provide clear direction and guidance for this inner journey, the knowers of the Truth from all traditions have given us the priceless gift of sacred texts and extolled the glory of reciting them regularly.
One of the great benefits of studying these scriptures and taking their support through recitation is that students and practitioners don’t need to become ensnared in their own limited concepts and unbaked questions about who they are and what the purpose of their life is. The wisdom of the sages and seers illumines both the goal and the means to reach it.
In the Yoga Sutra, Sage Patanjali instructs students of yoga in the practice of five yama, or restraints; and five niyama, or observances. One of the niyama is svadhyaya, the study and recitation of the scriptures.
Describing the power of svadhyaya, Sage Patanjali says:
svādhyāyād iṣṭadevatā-saṁprayogaḥ ॥2.44॥
Through svadhyaya, union with one’s own beloved Lord is attained.
The Gurus of the Siddha Yoga path have always accorded great importance to svadhyaya as an essential part of Siddha Yoga sadhana. In fact, when Baba Muktananda created the Ashram Daily Schedule, he included the regular recitation of Shri Guru Gita, Shri Bhagavad Gita, Shri Vishnu Sahasranam, Shri Rudram, Shri Shiva Mahimnah Stotram, and many other hymns.*
* To learn more about Siddha Yoga svadhyaya, you can read Baba’s introduction to The Nectar of Chanting.