Meditation is defined to be a mental practice with the exclusion of verbal and physical disciplines. The role of meditation in Vedanta is not a direct means to Freedom (mokṣa) but yet an important one. śaṅkara differentiates meditation from Self Knowledge in chāndogya upaniṣad bhāṣya as,
“The non dualistic realisation (Self Knowledge) demolishes the cognition of all such differences as agent, instrument, action and results, which are naturally superimposed on the actionless Self, just as knowledge in the form of imposition of a snake on a rope etc. is destroyed by the realisation of the true nature of the rope etc. But meditation means establishing a continuous flow of similar modifications of the mind in relation to some object as presented by the scriptures, uninterrupted by any foreign idea. This is the distinction” (chāndogya upaniṣad bhāṣya Intro)
While Meditation is limited in its ability to be the direct cause for mokṣa, yet it has an important role in one’s pursuit to know the Self. This is further confirmed by the numerous meditations (upāsana) found in the upaniṣads. śaṅkara states the value of meditation to be the “purification of the mind” and also to serve as a preparatory discipline to a mind entrenched in rituals thus not being able to conduct Self-Enquiry easily (chāndogya upaniṣad bhāṣya Intro).
Hence the role of meditation in vedānta sādhana cannot be understated. The practice of meditation as stated in the Vedic scriptures serves as an indispensable step to purify the mind and to cultivate the ability to dwell in sustained mental activity for a length of time without distractions. Hence Meditation is an important practice for all aspirants of Self Knowledge.