Impediments in the path of Self Realization

FeaturedImpediments in the path of Self Realization

 

Impediments in the path of Self Realization

Though the Atman is intrinsic to all matter, it remains hidden from us. We can have its glimpses only through mindfulness. Some may ask why mindfulness is necessary for self realization and what the obstructions in achieving that state are. This section also explains how we can establish ourselves in mindfulness after removing these impediments.

The organs of perception( powers to see, smell, touch, hear and taste) are trained towards external world. This way their potential for self realization remains suppressed. In pursuit of everlasting knowledge, the wise men restrain their perceptions from material world and turn them inwards to perceive the transcendental Atman.

Ignorance is the chief impediment to self realization because it drives sensory perceptions to external world.  Attention and attachment to visible and invisible pleasures of external world lead the unwise to  all pervasive web of death. The wise ones, knowing immortal Self, do not fall for transient pleasures.

It is told that the knower of Atmn (Bramhan) does not strive for any further knowledge. How can this Atmn (Bramha) be perceived.

Yama replies: Nothing remains to be known after Self Realisation because the Atmn is the substance and medium of all perception through touch, smell, taste, appearance, sound and sensuous pleasures.

Atmn is extremely subtle and obscure. The omnipotent Atmn throbs in both the states of dream and wakeful reality. So the knower of Atmn does not fall in grief.

Atmn beholds life force, and in it cause & effect and time-all exist together. One who knows such Atmn does not even wish to protect it. This Absolute existence dwell within each life.

Prayerful austere practices lead the Knowledgeable to perceive Hiranyagarbha, the seed of cosmos, which is the primeval source of creation. This seed precedes the elements’(water,fire,air,earth and space) coming to existence.

This Hiranyagarbha is Atmn or Bramha. This is what Nachiketa seeks to know.

From Hiranyagarbha arises The Life Force along with the Elements and it resides within the sacred recess of cosmic intelligence. This primary life force is called Aditi.

The direct perception of Hiranyagarbha through cosmic intelligence is preserved by mindful meditation, prayer and sacred actions just as an expectant mother cares for her womb by proper diet and conduct.

This Life force is the ambit of material existence marked by food, speech and abode of gods etc. The Sun rises and sets within its confine only.

Yama clarifies that this material world is not different from the Bramha. He reiterates that the selfsame Atmn exists within the mortal body, life and also beyond it. One who sees Bramha as separate from apparent life existence, gets caught in the mire of birth and death.

The mind trained by Teacher and Scripture can achieve consciousness of Atmn before it(mind) establishes in Universal Existence. There are no separate constituents of Existence. It is one and undivided. People who do not see it as whole are condemned from death to death.

Still this primeval existence is represented in a thumb size space in heart region. Knowing it as what rules over chronological time, one becomes free from fear of destruction of body.

This thumb size element, the Bramha, remains like a smokeless flame and is not confined by limit of time.

People see different phases of the rivers from their emanation from mountains till their final merger at separate points and come to believe them as unrelated to one another. In the same way, the unaware people think of myriad lives as distinct from one another.

The knowledgeable one’s vision penetrates beyond the external attributes and perceives the universal existence throbbing in all the creations.

The wisdom of such exalted minds equipped with unified vision becomes pure as the clean droplet added to vessel of pure water

 

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The Rituals and Tradition

 

The vast majority of any population remains engaged in securing food, shelter and security for themselves and their coming generations. The Mimansa or Karmakand part of Vedas catered to this need of masses. They contained innumerable  mantras and rituals with their attendant deities ………they  told a commoner- Do this so you will have this…..Repeat this mantra and you will have abundant crop…..perform this yajna and you will have a son……so on…

The emphasis was on right conduct of rituals or performance of yajna…..otherwise there were no benefits…..rather some harm could befall on the person……

This fear of doing things wrongly or eagerness to get things done correctly gave rise to the class of professional priests. With the professional stepping in the field, the portion of emphasis associated with  numerous attending deities shifted to precision of conducting ceremony, right intonation of mantra or correct performance of yajna……

(You can still see the traces in some wedding ceremonies where elders ensure  order and method  of rituals to ensure happy and blissful married life of the wedded couple……)

So the deities left the position of importance which was quickly taken over by the priests and the rituals……..and the vast majority continued to perform them for a life of advantages……on earth and in heaven…..

So the Rituals kept serving the desires of the generations occupying the lower sections of Pyramid of needs……

I came across an interesting video of Acharya Rajneesh which may highlight this aspect…

 

 

Pyramid of Needs

maslow

. Maslow’s heriarchial pryamid of human needs.

 

How do we look at the extent of need in our lives? Human civilization, separated by geography and time, has experienced the need and efforts to fulfill these needs have been the driving forces behind cultural evolution.

This pyramid may also represent the division of a society at any given time at any particular place equally effectively. The widest base shows the vast majority of population is occupied with securing basic needs. The masses are striving all the time to have safety of food and shelter while the slightly well off populace is busy acquiring safety of health, regular jobs, family and stability.

The tapering shape of pyramid also depicts that lesser no of people are there in feeling and fulfilling that particular need as we grow upwards.

So those whose worries of food and shelter are over start gathering means to attain health,property and social security…..

And those who have attained this stability begin to look for love and belonging…..

Very few who attain love and belonging, focus their energies to become evolved beings and looking around for  achievements and respect…..

Still very few understand the futility of it all and aim for self realization and understanding the Life as it is…….

But how is it all related to the Vedas???

Think Deeply…..

The Creation

The Creation

If we observe our surroundings, we find that objects and events appear, sustain for some time and then dissolve. A tree sprouts, grows, blossoms and dries up, a piece of attire bought from a store, worn, discarded and decimated, a building gets built, lived in and  replaced….and so on….

The theory of creation explores where the things were before they came into existence(or before they popped up in our vision).

Like a modern physicist, Rishis believed that nothing is created or destroyed, it just changes its form. So the question was where the things were before they took perceptible form and shape ,,,,,,,,or simply put….. before they were created.

As it may be appreciated by every intelligent being that every product is first beheld in the mind  of its creator as a thought, so it was believed that every creation is preceded by a thought or a blueprint in the pre-existence state. This may help to understand the concept of creation and its dissolution.

We are told through our ancient scriptures that before a thing, being or event takes shape, everything exists in non material state. This may be energy in its finest state. When the creation has to come into being, the thought of creation arises first. The thought leads to vibration or the sound or the word…. And from each word/ group of words comes the designated object or event into existence.

It is believed that every creation, whether already existing or to exist in future has an associated sound or a particular vibration that arises from a Thought for that particular creation, It may be seen as:

Energy in its finest state>  

A part evolves into Thought >

Thought leads to vibration/ sound>

Sound precipitates in word/ mantra>

Right repetition with prescribed conduct results in creation of desired object>

The object/event runs its due course> dissolves in sound> converted in thought>Pure energy state 

 

Hence the emphasis was on matra in its prescribed intonation. It was inferred that since every creation has an associated sound with specific frequency, anything or any event can be made to come into being by chanting specific mantra with right intonation in other words by creating the right sound.

So for every existing thing/event or being there is a word or a mantra and all such words which have led and may lead to creation of objects are contained in the Vedas. Each Mantra came with a presiding Deity. So there were as many gods and goddesses as there were mantras.

So ask for a virtuous son, abundant crop or death for an enemy  ,,,,there was a way of performing yajna, set of rituals with the chanting of Mantra and the delivery of product was ensured.

 

The relics are still in vogue….Mahamrityunjaya to ward off death and sickness, Mahvishnu Mantra for Moksha…Putrakameshti for having a son…..

 

Any problem in a kingdom, family or with individual, the priest has a prescribed procedure for the assured results.

If the results are not as desired……there must be some impurity in the conduct or the mantra was not uttered in correct intonations………so was the argument that the Priest would extend

 

This formed the Karma or Mimansa part of the Vedas.

The Second Step

 

 

You must have noticed that in times of need, the elderly persons in the family tend to rely on japa. Japa is repeated recitation of any holy word, name of deity or a phrase i.e. mantra. The necessity may be of any variety ranging from fear of performing badly at exams or facing a stressful relationship to imminent death of someone close to us. It may also be a burning desire to possess something or achieve any event. It may also be our desire to keep calm amidst all such situations. Many may remember that recollection of any deity (ishta) or recitation of specific mantra often deliver us from undesirable situation. Don’t you remember reciting Hanuman Chalisa or recalling benevolent countenance of Hanumanji to ward off evil spirits.

 

It is commonly believed in our religion that such japa of mantra or remembrance (smaran) of deity help us tide over the difficult times. It may be a debatable issue whether this exercise actually strengthens our emotional or physical make up but one thing is certain that the crisis doesn’t appear all that insurmountable. Many of you would like to think that the belief surging in the heart that we are aided by superior forces in our endeavor does the trick.

 

The question is- is it true that the japa or smaran alters the surrounding situation or enhances our ability to change them to our advantage or to make them less of a disadvantage.

 

At this point we should look back to what constitute Veda as text. A cursory reading may leave any reader baffled. One may feel amazed to see the ancient  sages chanting hymns to save the crop, destroy the enemies or increase the number of cattle. These prayers to numerous gods and goddesses ( some say that we have 33 crore of them) are there for material wellbeing and physical safety.

 

Is there a design behind all this inexplicable gibberish? Is it something that can  help us evolve as an ethical or righteous being? Does it make us a better human being?  What was it that has been traveled to us in its present shape? What was the old man’s wisdom and what is the golden replica of dental floss?   Please give it a thought…..

The Advent

 

So the short story that I narrated in my earlier post may explain how the time  influences our opinion and probably culture……It may also help us appreciate what Hinduism was  before it became what it is today in its pure, modified or corrupted form……

The form of Hinduism as we see today apparently consists of blind beliefs, plethora of gods and goddesses, innumerable rituals, temples and amazing variety of scriptures.

As we found earlier, this religion cannot be traced back to a book or a prophet. The most ancient compendium of knowledge are loosely held as Vedas.

The Vedas are known to be the ancient Hindu scriptures. Here comes a catch. These are not just the four books i.e Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvveda as we learn in schools. The content are said to be pre-historic.

The ancient stories say that the secrets of the Ultimate Reality were revealed to the Seers (the Rishis) in their inspired moments of enlightenment.. These revelations were handed down to generations in oral tradition of bequeathing  knowledge. This tradition was called Shruti.

It continued till the time before the advent of script and evolution of  language.   Afterwards the mantras and the sutras i.e. the condensed format of text which could be easily be consigned to memory and transferred to the next generation orally till this time, came to be written in language was later named  Sanskrit..

This massive bank of text received from the ancient times is considered to be the repository of and the means to know, all that is knowable.

Depending on the categorization of the content and the historical time-frame the volumes came to be known by the names of these four Vedas.