Scriptural memorization is meant not for adulation, but for assimilation and application
Memorization and recitation of scriptures is often recommended as a purificatory practice for spiritual growth. Additionally, in social circles that respect scriptural learning, those who can memorize scriptural verses are appreciated, even adulated, “This person is so learned!”
Those memorizing the verses may get infatuated with such adulation. They may start memorizing and quoting verses simply to impress others with their scholarship, thus getting deviated the actual purpose of studying and by extension memorizing scripture.
The actual purpose of scriptural study is assimilation and application. Memorizing scripture helps us assimilate – we can have scripture as a constantly and readily available resource that we can contemplate. By such contemplation, scripture no longer remains academic knowledge, but becomes integral to our functional worldview.
Assimilation makes scripture a part of our being. And application makes it a part of our living. When we consciously strive to harmonize our life with scripture, then having important scriptural teachings memorized helps us remember what to apply and how to apply. Thus, scripture becomes like an internalized guidebook that molds our actions, consciously and even subconsciously.
Only when scripture becomes thus internalized through both knowledge and realization do we gain deep satisfaction, as the Bhagavad-gita (06.08) indicates. Indeed, those who live scripture experience God – an experience so fulfilling that they see dualities such as honor and dishonor equally (06.07), thus going beyond the craving for adulation.
Adulation may give us a little pleasure when people being impressed praise us. But assimilation and application will give us absorption in Krishna, which will grant the highest and the most lasting satisfaction.
Thus, memorizing scriptures meant not for exhibiting how much we know to gain adulation, but for assimilating and applying what we know so that we can gain spiritual realization and devotional absorption in our eternal Lord.
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