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Author: H.H.Purnachandra Goswami

When one is truly educated, he cannot be a blind follower, because true education includes more than just a preliminary or superficial level of learning. True spiritual education means deeper levels of learning, levels that include contributing to the knowledge. This is particularly true when delving in the Absolute Truth, which holds unlimited facets.

Considering, reflecting, analyzing with the mind and intelligence comprise a major part, the second level, of the process of education. The word “education” comes from the Latin verbal root “educare,” which means “to bring out of” or “to lead forth.” This indicates a positive empowering process that continues after the official lessons are finished; the student is not meant to crawl back into ignorance but to go forth on his own.

These levels or components of education are described in the Båhad-äraëyaka Upaniñad (2.4.5), Pataïjali’s Yoga sutras(1.17) and a Sanskrit poem called the Naiñadha-caritam (1.4). These three çästras list the basic components of learning in slightly different ways, but we shall see that they all agree on the first three major levels.

The Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad offers three broad categories of learning: Sravana, manana and nidhidhyasana. Sravana means hearing from a teacher. Manana means gaining intellectual insight or understanding by reflecting upon the subject. Nidhidhyasana means realization and application in life.

The Yoga- sutras present four levels: vitarka, vicära, änanda and asmitärüpa. Vitarka consists of study, analysis, conjecture and argument. Vicära includes reflection, meditation, insight and understanding. Änanda contains assimilation and application. Asmitärüpa is equivalent to svarüpa- siddhi, the perfection of the Ashtanga -yoga practice.

The Naisadha -caritam also mentions four levels: adhiti, bodha,acarana and pracarana. Adhiti means to learn a subject thoroughly. Bodha entails gaining insight and proficiency in one's learning. Äcarana involves realizing the purpose of our learning and living according to it. pracarana comprises giving this knowledge to others.

Parallels may be gleaned by comparing these different presentations. The first level of each system describes the primary step of learning, wherein hearing, study and analysis prevail. The second level comprises gaining intellectual understanding and insight by reflection. The third level brings assimilation, wherein the student internalizes the subject, and his skills become second nature; he lives and breathes his subject effortlessly.