American Institute of Vedic Studies



Shravana: The Vedic Yoga of Listening

There is an inner state of listening, called Shravana in Vedanta, where the mind is silent, receptive and non-reactive, allowing it to access a higher level of communication and learning.

This meditative of listening called Shravana holds an inner space in which the real meaning of anything said can be revealed. It is an attentive and discerning listening with a mind free of opinions, prejudices and attachments, removing the dense veil of our programmed responses.

Shravana is the basis of true learning and communication on all levels, in which the truth of any statement is revealed, not just outer words. It is the basis of higher education, which is not merely learning words, ideas or numbers but contacting the essence of the cosmic reality within and around us.

Yet few people know how to enter into this profound state of listening, or even know of its existence or value. It is not taught in our schools or so-called institutes of higher learning. This is because our minds are conditioned and we respond to what is said to us according our inherent likes and dislikes, fears or desires, beliefs and opinions. The result of this lack of true listening is mental conflict within and around us, with no one is really listening to each other. Instead people are shouting at each other or creating propaganda to impose their views on others whose own views they have yet to hear.


How to Truly Listen

Without Shravana you cannot really hear or appreciate the sounds of nature. In fact, the deepest level of listening occurs when we are alone in nature, abiding in a state of observation. This leads us to recognizing all of nature as the voice of the universal Self that is our own true nature.

We enter into Shravana to some degree when our minds are calmed by inspirational music or chanting, but that is an initial phase. Only when our minds are inwardly silent can we truly listen or hear the real truth and act according to it. Otherwise our mental noise colors and obscures all that we hear. Without Shravana, deep thinking, contemplation or meditation cannot occur, as our thoughts remain at the surface, reacting mechanically to outer forces without any real internal discernment of our own.

In the Vedantic view, Shravana is the first stage of true knowledge. First we must deeply listen to the teachings with a focused mind and receptive heart. We must let the inner truth that is being taught enter into us, not just get caught up in the net of concepts, terminologies and outer meanings, such as the academic mind easily gets trapped in.

Shravana implies that we are listening to an exposition of inner truth, not simply to information about the external world. This means we must be discerning as to what we are listening to. Whatever we are listening to does imprint our minds and shape our thought and action. If our process of listening is without discernment, steadiness or stillness, we will simply become imprinted by passing external influences and take them uncritically, losing any real judgment of our own.


The Place of Shravana in Vedanta

The Vedantic path to Self-realization begins with Shravana, when we deeply listen to the teachings of the wise sages and the great books of Self-knowledge like the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Advaitic Shastras, and to Yoga and Vedanta gurus, ancient and modern. This can be done through reading as well as hearing. Reading should also be based upon a deep listening, not just quickly going over a profound text with a distracted mind that is unable to hold any enduring train of thought.

Learn Shravana as the Vedic way of learning and you will be able to hear the OM vibration internally as expanding your awareness beyond time and space.

Such deep listening of Shravana leads to deep thinking or Manana, which is not just thinking about something superficially but contemplating its inner truth and profound correlations, a way of Self-examination.
Such deep thinking or Manana leads to Nididhyasana, which is profound meditation leading to the ultimate truth. Nididhyasana culminates in Nirvikalpa Samadhi when we transcend all the personal thoughts and distractions of the mind.

Remember to truly listen when you are out in nature and all of life will speak to you and relate to you the most essential cosmic truths. Learn to listen not just to what people say but what they mean, and the influences and motivations they may be promoting behind the veil of words designed not to inform or to teach you but to control your mind.

Most importantly, learn to listen what you are saying and the karmic implications of your words, along with the emotions and ideas behind them. Look within and learn to listen to your own thoughts and what they are telling you about your own life and state of awareness. Are your minds full of desires, worries, fear or anger? If you really listen to the disturbances in your mind and see the complications your thoughts are leading you to, that very power of listening to will put an end to them.

Listening connects us to space both within and around us, as sound is the sensory quality that belongs to the element of ether. Listening also requires control of speech. You cannot listen when you are shouting at someone. Control of speech is necessary for control of both mind and prana, and for hearing the mantric vibrations behind the entire universe.

Once you learn Shravana, this Vedic Yoga of listening. Your awareness can expand into space and let the whole of life and consciousness enter into you.


David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)

Latest Articles
Articles on Vedic Counseling

Embodied Mind and Transcendent Consciousness

American Institute of Vedic Studies
American Institute of Vedic Studies
Embodied Mind and Transcendent Consciousness

We human beings are embodied creatures defined by our birth in a particular physical body as indicating our real identity and the focus of our lives. Our minds are not only located in the body but ruled by an entire set of bodily needs, imperatives, appearances and actions and their

Read More »
Articles by Yogini Shambhavi

Kali as the Yuga Shakti: the Power to Create a New World Age

By Yogini Shambhavi   As the great power of time, Kali’s Shakti creates the different Yugas or world ages that humanity passes through during the long cycles of cosmic evolution. Kali is the Goddess of eternity watching over all our temporal changes and facilitating those which promote our inner growth.

Read More »
Articles on Vedic Counseling

Comparison and the Incomparable Self

Your inner Self (Atman) and true nature cannot be compared to anything. It has no name, form or action, no shape, size or color. It is beyond all elements and qualities of nature. It is beyond body and mind, time and appearance altogether. It dwells within everything yet is not

Read More »
Articles on Ayurveda

Shiva Ayurveda – The Yogic Power of Healing and Transformation

Most Ayurvedic practitioners look upon Lord Dhanvantari, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, as the deity of Ayurveda and ideal doctor. Certainly that is an important tradition worthy of following based on profound Puranic stories and symbolism. Yet in the Rigveda, the oldest Vedic text, and Shruti or book of mantric

Read More »
Articles on Vedic Astrology

Winter Solstice, Galactic Center and New Time of Troubles

I have been writing for some years about 2020 as indicating the beginning of a “New Time of Troubles” for humanity, dangerous from 2020-2028, but continuing long beyond that. This relates astronomically to the Winter Solstice point transiting the Galactic Center in the constellation of Sagittarius. It is difficult to

Read More »
Articles on Yoga

The Ancient Yoga of the Sun

For the Winter Solstice December 21, which marks the rebirth of the Sun and Agni What if the most powerful force for energizing all Yoga practices were as obvious and visible as the Sun? The fact is that it is. The Sun, properly understood not merely as an outer but

Read More »
Articles on Yoga

Yoga as Samadhi

Yoga is defined as Samadhi in the Yoga Sutras. Yet few Yoga practitioners know what Samadhi is or how to approach it. But without understanding Samadhi one cannot understand Yoga in the true sense of the term. Samadhi is complete coherence and composure of mind, the mind fully united with

Read More »
Articles on Yoga

Yoga Nidra according to Adi Shankara

Yoga Nidra is a popular topic today but seldom taken to the depth that it is presented with in the Vedantic teachings. Here we will examine it according to the views of the great teacher, Shankara.   Adi Shankara or Shankaracharya is the most lauded exponent of Advaita or non-dualistic

Read More »
Articles on Yoga

Why Sri Krishna is the Avatar of Yoga

Sri Krishna is the only human guru and incarnation of Vishnu called Yogavatara or the Avatar of Yoga, and Yogeshvara or the Lord of Yoga. The Bhagavad Gita remains the most important and foundational Yoga Shastra or definitive Yoga text. To understand Yoga one must understand Sri Krishna, his life,

Read More »
Layer 1