Where does Vedic meditation come from?
By Kathleen O’Brien
‘Vedic’ is an English version of the Sanskrit word ‘Veda’ which means ‘to know’ and describes what we refer to as true knowledge and wisdom. This knowledge and wisdom is as old as time itself and forms the basis of our meditation practice.
The Veda comes from the ancient Vedic culture, which was the indigenous culture of the centre of our earth. Over time, as the earth has changed, as the land has shifted, as civilizations have risen and fallen and we have created boundaries for the different land masses which we now call countries, we say that the Vedic culture comes from the land we now call India. All the indigenous cultures of the world share the same basic principles and truths of life but the techniques to directly experience these truths are different depending on the culture.
Although this knowledge has come from what we call India, it is not Indian in the same way that the law of relativity that Einstein cognised is not German. This is universal knowledge; it is the indigenous wisdom of our collective humanity. Your ancestors would have practiced and upheld this knowledge! This technique comes to us from India because it is one of the only cultures in the world today that can trace an unbroken lineage with full access to this deep wisdom.
Vedic meditation is a technique of transcendence and has been taught specifically for those who are active in the world. We call these people ‘householders’. This is anyone with a job, creative pursuits, relationships…
In a fast paced world where stress is the norm and we are experiencing a disconnect from the deeper aspects of ourselves, this is where this practice is most needed.
Transcendence means ‘to go beyond’. Why is this necessary? In order to transform and create change we need to go beyond the ideas and self-limiting beliefs that create habits and patterns for how we see ourselves and the world we live in.
This practice was cognised by a great Vedic master known as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the early 1960’s. Maharishi said that this wisdom came from his teacher Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, who we refer to as Guru Deva.
Guru Deva was born in 1870 in Uttarpradesh, India, to a respected family. He left home at the age of 9, renouncing his home and worldly life in search of a master. However, not just any master would do! Guru Deva had 4 requirements before they would be accepted as his Guru. They were to be well versed in the Vedas; have some understanding of all scriptures; they must be fully realised; free of anger; and be celibate since birth.
After 5 years of searching, Guru Deva found his master. Through serving and being in the presence of his teacher, Guru Deva allowed himself to become a vessel for all of his master’s wisdom to be poured. Guru Deva then became a well-known and sought-after teacher, so much so that he was nominated to hold the most prestigious position in India as Shankaracharya of the North in Jyotirmath. Though he preferred a secluded life, Guru Deva accepted the position in 1941, which was about 6 months after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi became his student.
Maharishi was born to the Kshatriya caste known in India as the warrior caste. Because of his status he was told he would not be a successor of Guru Deva. Instead, in order to be closer to him he began to assist the house keeper who worked in Guru Deva’s home.
Maharishi was an intelligent, well versed man with multiple university degrees. It was his skills in English and the written word that enabled him to be of great need to Guru Deva. It was Maharishi who wrote Guru Deva’s personal reply and delivered an important letter to Mount Batten, the last viceroy of India charged with overseeing the transition of British rule of India into an independent state. From then on he became Guru Deva’s trusted assistant and translator.
Maharishi never received any formal teaching or lectures. It was through careful observation and anticipation of what was needed by Guru Deva that a transference of knowledge occurred. Maharishi says it took him 2 years to ‘adjust his thinking to that of Guru Deva’ and spent a total of 13 years in his presence.
It was Maharishi that brought this technique to the west. He travelled around the world teaching and lecturing until he dropped his body in 2008.
We offer our gratitude to Guru Deva, Maharishi and all the masters before them who have given us this timeless wisdom and the transcending technique of Vedic Meditation.
When we offer our gratitude we are not making an offering to the person, we are honouring that which they represent and that which we want to embody; pure consciousness, love, unbounded potential and creativity. That which resides in each and every one of us.