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Meditation – Madhvacharya School Of Thought

Madhvacharya deals with the topic of meditation in his Tantrasara Sangraha. His other works like Gita Bhashya, Brahmasutra Bhashya and Bhagavata Tatparya Nirnaya also throw light on the topic of meditation.

Tantrasara Sangraha explains that only those who have realized Brahman are eligible for moksha or liberation. This means Brahman is realized through upasana (spiritual practice).

Upasana is of two kinds. One is total occupation of oneself all the time by way of studying, teaching, writing and discussion etc., of Vedas, Vedanta and other related Shastras.

The second method is dhyana (meditation) on Parabrahman (Vishnu). A clear comprehension of Brahman i.e, the object of meditation is the prerequisite to practice meditation.

The method of meditation (dhyana) consists of four steps:
  1. Yama (self discipline)
  2. Niyama (regulatory discipline)
  3. Asana (postures)
  4. Pranayama (rhythmic breathing).
Yama – Comprises non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, restrain of sensual impulses and non-hoarding.

Niyama – Described as purity of body and mind, penance, contentment, study of Vedas and Shastras, and worshipping God in the prescribed manner.

Asana – Swastikasana, virasana, and padmasana are recommended to practice meditation.
Pranayama – This consists of three actions, recaka (exhaling), puraka (inhaling), kumbhaka (retaining of breath in a regulated way), as prescribed in yogic procedures.

Pranayama is of two types: agarbha (without remembering Vishnu) and sagarbha (with Vishnu in mind). The former method is equal to niyama and the latter to dhyana. It is still khanda smriti (an interrupted concentration). If dhyana continues without interruption and with the least effort, then it is transformed into the state of Samadhi (akhanda smriti or transcendental meditation).

Upanishads and Tantrasara Sangraha describe that in a human body there are 72,101 nadis (nerve channels). All these nadis emanate from the region between the anus and genitals.
On either side of the body, 36,000 nadis are spread. One nadi known as the Sushumna nadi (Brahma nadi) runs straight from the origin to the top of the head. Adjoining the Sushumna are 50 nadis on either side. These are bunched out like a fiber rope. The left 50 are called ida and the right 50 are pingala.

At the eyebrow junction, ida and the pingala change their directions to the right and left, respectively. The Sushumna nadi has six knots called solar plexuses (metaphorically lotuses). The third eight-petalled lotus from the base, situated above the navel and below the chest, is the seat of Lord Vishnu (Bimba).

In this lotus, there are three mandalas (z0nes) known as the fire, the sun, and the moon. For meditation, he can be seated in the mandala of the fire or the sun. Lord Vishnu is to be worshipped there as one worships an actual icon. After that, one has to meditate on Him.
Various schools of thought have described yoga and meditation in different ways. Some say salambana (there must be an object of meditation) like a deity or God. Some others say niralambana (no object is needed for meditation). Madhvacharya maintains that an object (God) is essential for meditation.

In Bhagavata, meditation has been described in the second, third and eleventh skandhas. In the eleventh skandha, Udhava requests Krishna to teach him a method of mediation that is applicable to the class of devotees seeking mumukshu (salvation). Krishna explains in detail how to meditate on a resplendent and beautiful form of Bhagavan Vishnu.

Bhagavata Tatparya Nirnaya (1960) Madhvacharya – Uttaradi Mutt Publications – Bengaluru
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VII page 127 - IHRF