Rituals are in the nature of prayers to some deity, asking for help in achieving some material result. This is what simple believers do when they go to temples or perform rituals at home. As the name suggests, they contain some thought.
When we meditate, whether serious or mundane, the mind focuses on it before thinking. The thought process is compared to the normal flow of similar thoughts, unencumbered by different thoughts. It is like a long string of oil gently poured from a beaker, one text said. A modern example is a laser beam in which light waves of the same size and wavelength travel in a stream.
There are two levels of meditation: self-development and self-awareness. In the latter case, a person needs intellectual content to meditate on. It is a serious one from the Vedanta texts. But here we can see the first level of talking about self-improvement. These samples are found in the tenth chapter of the Gita. Krishna speaks of his vibhuti, glorious manifestations, in the form of several deities, sages, or qualities. He can choose any form, not necessarily from the Gita. I see many people meditating on Hanuman, Saraswati, Ganesha, etc.
Here too, Vedanta guides us. It says that one should strive to identify himself with the person of God, just as a cricket fan identifies with his favorite player. The difference is that a cricket fan might sit on a couch and eat chips, but a Hanuman meditator meditates on Hanuman’s glorious deeds. He studies texts like the Sundarakanda and seeks to imbibe the qualities that characterize Hanuman, such as keen intelligence, courage, ability to adapt to new situations, great physical strength, and great clarity. There are verses about Hanuman that describe the qualities of The aspirant meditates on it, recalling instances in which Hanuman displayed different qualities on different occasions. He feels the presence of God in him, tries to follow his own ideals, almost identifies himself with himself.
Is it a superstition? does it really work? Such questions can also be posed in all prayer cases. It is the person’s dedication and integrity that brings results. The psychology of meditation is the gradual attainment of the divine nature by the devotee to some extent. All great poets are Saraswati meditators (called upasakas). Any form can be the object of meditation.
But the ultimate aim of our wise man is that once he is attracted to this process, he gradually gains knowledge of God, the Supreme Reality.
(The author is a former
DGP, Andhra Pradesh)