The sanskrit word Swadhyaya means Self-study (swa = self and adhyaya = study). By self-study is understood the endeavour of studying ourselves by reading and reflecting on the teaching given by books of self-knowledge such as BhagavadGita, Upanisads and Yoga Sutra, which will hold a mirror in front of our minds to reveal one’s true nature as free from struggle, fear and sorrow.
Taittiriya Upanisad implores its students to never be indifferent to the pursuit of self-knowledge and remain committed to share it with others who seek it. In the vision of Upanisads (also known as Vedanta) each soul is essentially free and it is suffering only due to erroneous conclusions it has made about itself.
Vedanta is a teaching tradition. It has no dogmas to offer nor does it promise its student any kind of mystical experience. It considers that nature of self can be revealed through words and it is perfectly communicable as the very “listener” happens to be the meaning of these words. It does expect certain preparation in the student which is where Yoga walks in. It is not that these books offer the theory and then one employs certain yogic practices to “experience” that theoretical self, instead, Vedanta is a Pramana (a means of knowledge). It employs methodologies to reveal a crystal clear vision of self (free from doubt and vagueness).
In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali uses the word Swadhyaya to mean chanting of sacred mantras. In particular, he presents chanting of Om with a contemplation on its meaning as a means to attain self-knowledge and to nullify any and all obstacles.
स्वाध्यायोऽध्येतव्यः - तैत्तिरीय आरण्यक २.१५)
Swādhyāyo Adhyetavyah - Taittirīya Āraṇyaka 2.15
May one recite one’s own branch of Veda (daily).