Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ideal practices

Sacred texts and scriptures teach the means for salvation. The path is arduous, demanding constant practice and determination and not easily attainable. Yet the state of liberation is described to be blissful (Brahmananda) and definitely worth the attempt on the part of the Jivatma.

The nature of this bliss is calculated on the basis of human enjoyments and it is shown that human joys are mere raindrops in the blissful ocean of Brahmananda. While Karma, Jnana and Bhakti are shown to be ideal practices in this quest, the text Yoga Vasishta champions the path of Jnana, said Sri S. Srinivasa Sarma in a lecture.

The Kaivalya Upanishad states that the highest knowledge or immortality is attained not by work or action (Karma), progeny (Praja) and wealth but only through renunciation. In Yoga Vasishta, Lord Rama, Himself the essence of Jnana, is a disciple in search of enlightenment and is advised the path of meditation and renunciation by Sage Vasishta. But Rama leads his life to fulfil the purpose of His incarnation. Those caught in samsara have to strive to attain the realised state. That is why in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna assumes the role of the preceptor and hails the path of Karma Yoga as a stepping stone to Jnana. Even Bhakti is seen as part of Karma Yoga and this is a preparation to Jnana. Karma Yoga helps us to evaluate the impact of the Gunas — Satva, Rajas and Tamas — and guide us to transcend their effects gradually. Only then can Jnana be practised.

The desire for happiness is innate in all of us. Happiness and joy are the result of our Karma. Trying to find happiness in worldly gains and objects is always a mixture of pleasure and pain. All material gains will be lost. Even one's earned period of life in Indra's realm as a result of Karma is not going to last forever. It comes to an end when the Karma is expended.

Hence Vasishta emphasises the pursuit of knowledge that can release one from the bond of samsara. Both Karma and Jnana are equally important for liberation. They are as important as the two wings a bird needs for flying.

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