by Swami Sivananda
Sravana is hearing of Lord's Lilas. Sravana includes hearing of God's virtues, glories, sports and stories connected with His divine Name and Form. The devotee gets absorbed in the hearing of Divine stories and his mind merges in the thought of divinity; it cannot think of undivine things, The mind loses, as it were, its charm for the world. The devotee remembers God only even in dream.
The devotee should sit before a learned Teacher who is a great saint and hear Divine stories. He should hear them with a sincere heart devoid of the sense of criticism or fault-finding. The devotee should try his best to live in the ideals preached in the scriptures. Lord Krishna says in the Gita:
Tadviddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya;
Upadekshyanti te jnanam jnaninah-tattvadarsinah.
Know That by long prostration, by service and enquiry. The wise who know the Truth shall instruct thee in that wisdom.
One cannot attain Sravana-Bhakti without the company of the saints or wise men. Mere reading for oneself is not of much use. Doubts will crop up. They cannot be solved by one's own self very easily. An experienced man is necessary to instruct the devotee in the right path. Sankaracharya says: Kshanamapi sajjana sangatireka bhavati bhavarnava tarane nauka. The company of the wise, even for a moment, becomes the boat to cross across the ocean of Samsara. Without Satsanga Sadhana does not become perfect and strong. The fort of Sadhana should be built on the foundation of Satsanga. Mere austerities are not the end of Sadhana. Satsanga illumines the devotee and removes his impurities. It is only then that subtle truths are grasped well by the devotee. Lord Krishna says to Uddhava that nothing but Satsanga alone can put an end to all worldly attachments. In the Bhagavata-Mahatmya it is told that the best Dharma in this world is to hear Lord's glories. For, thereby, one attains to the Divine Abode.
King Parikshit attained Liberation through Sravana. He heard the glories of God from Suka-Maharshi. His heart was purified. He attained the abode of Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha. He became liberated and enjoyed supreme Bliss.