What is MANANA

Spiritual practice consists of three stages: shravana, manana, and nididhyasana. Since the Upanishads exhort one to do manana, it is necessary to know the meaning of this word and what exactly is meant by the practice of manana. This is a Sanskrit word. Sanskrit is a classical language like Greek, Latin, and Persian. And in Sanskrit, as in most classical languages, most words are derived from a stem or root.  


The word manana is derived from the root man, which means to think, to believe, to imagine, to suppose, to conjecture, to regard, to consider, to praise, to approve, to have an opinion, to agree, to honour, to esteem, to hope, to wish, to pray, to remember, to meditate, to mention, to declare, to cogitate, to invent, to perceive, to observe, to learn, to know, to understand, to comprehend, to offer, to present, to examine, and to investigate. Manana means thinking, reflection, meditation, thought, intelligence, understanding, and deliberation.


Manana follows shravana. Through shravana, the spiritual aspirant gets convinced of the true meaning of the Upanishadic statements regarding the identity of Atman and Brahman. This conviction is made stronger through manana, by which the logical validity of the truth understood and assimilated by shravana is put to test through strong reasoning and analysis. This is done to avoid the probability of the cropping up of doubt regarding Brahman or its identity with Atman. Through manana all thoughts or ideas contrary to the ultimate reality, Brahman is removed. Thus, all possible contradiction with the scriptural statements that might be presented by other sources is quashed by manana.


While shravana involves the assimilation of the scriptural statements regarding Brahman and its identity with Atman, manana involves the assimilation of all logical arguments and ratiocinations aimed at removing all thoughts contradictory to the main teaching of Vedanta. This has to be done following the six lingas, signs: upakrama-upasamhara, beginning-conclusion; abhyasa, repetition; apurvata, originality; phalam, result; arthavada, eulogy; and upapatti, logical determination of meaning. And this assimilation of logical reasoning against all contradictions to the Vedantic dictum should be done continuously, without any break. This assimilation leads to the discarding of all that is not related to Brahman and makes one continue in the path of all that is connected to Brahman. Without manana, shravana would be the mere assimilation of Vedantic texts without enough strength. Hence, manana becomes an important link in the Vedantic process of realising Brahman and removes all defects in one’s understanding.


Shravana and manana are continued till one gets merged in nididhyasana by oneself. Therefore, shravana and manana become one continuous logical process. They should be performed along with the practices of shama, the control of mind; dama, restraint of the senses; uparati, withdrawal of the senses from the sense-objects; titiksha, forbearance; shraddha, faith in oneself, the scriptures, and one’s guru; and samadhana, one-pointed continuous concentration. Manana should be also accompanied by meditation. Hence, both shravana and manana are actions to be performed diligently by the spiritual aspirant in order to lead to the process of nididhyasana. For undergoing the process of manana, one needs tremendous patience, intelligence, and alertness to understand the various alternatives for and against the Vedantic dictum and one has to understand the principle behind the realm of duality, in order to eventually transcend it.


Author is Editor Prabuddha Bharata

To read all articles by author

This article was first published in the September 2017 issue of Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of The Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. This article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata. I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. Cost is Rs 180/ for one year, Rs 475/ for three years, Rs 2100/ for twenty years. To subscribe http://advaitaashrama.org/pbSubscription

Also read

What is Shravana

What is Nididhyasana

Receive Site Updates