[Poojya Swamiji speaks a few words of guidance at the conclusion of the daily morning Pushpasamarpana (flower offering) at the Narayanashrama Tapovanam. These profound words on saadhana, like the effulgent morning rays, would illuminate many a dark corner in the listeners' minds. This series is titled “Prabhaata-rasmih” (Morning rays). The following is the text of one such talk by Poojya Swamiji on 17th June 1998.]
When you look from the earth, the moon appears to be a brilliant orb, sometimes with a majestic halo around. But as one goes near the moon, or alights on its surface, does the moon any more appear to be a brilliant orb? The real nature of the surface, the rocky structure and other details are revealed. Similar is the truth about seeking God, Soul or the supreme Reality. You start with some imaginations or preliminary concepts. These are all right and serve their purpose as long as you choose to remain distant from God and do not want to experience God or go deep into the Reality.
When you go deeper and deeper into the Truth, nearer and nearer to God, you will find that your understanding changes radically. Although the basic descriptions remain true, your understanding of the saadhana undergoes revolutionary changes. In fact, with the progress of seeking, the imaginary concepts and hearsays get replaced by experiential knowledge.
Sreemad Bhaagavata says: When devotion grows and overwhelms the devotee, the devotee, enraptured by devotion, may cry, weep, laugh, dance or sing shedding all sense of shame. But ultimately what happens is that he becomes quiet and silent. So, what for are all those emotions? Can we not become quiet right now? Some may wonder.
No. That is not generally possible. Some experiences will have to be undergone to become purer and more sublime. Only through the ecstatic devotional experiences, the devotee becomes purer and quieter. But to attain this higher level of devotion is quite rare. The devotee must aspire for it. He must be exposed to the higher, more refined and sublime, levels of attainment. He has to be led to these levels through proper guidance and exposure.
In the second chapter of Bhagavadgeeta, Sri Krishna spoke about the Soul – its immortality, infinitude and all-pervasiveness. With various reasons and contrasts, he described the Soul and extolled the Knowledge of the Soul. The discussion progressed through various elucidations about God, devotion, devotee and many other related points, and finally in 13th chapter Krishna lists about twenty virtues and says:
All these virtues together constitute Wisdom; so it is considered by the enlightened. Whatever is different from these goes under the name of Ignorance.
So, where is the single Soul Krishna exposed in the second chapter and where are the twenty virtues or disciplines he lists in the 13th chapter? Is it a single Soul to be singly understood? No. To realize the single Soul, one has to approach through a multiplicity of disciplines. To attain the knowledge of the single Soul, one has to process his personality through a number of refinements.
So, Jnaana is not something like knowing two plus three equals five. It is a kind of an integrated development of the human personality through purification, sublimation and refinement. We must undergo sensory refinement and restraint, mental moderation and sublimation, intelligential enlightenment and stabilization. Our heart must revel in emanating a number of interactional and behavioural virtues. Only when all these adorn the personality of the seeker, he becomes a Knower, says Krishna. And everything else is ignorance, he concludes emphatically.
You cannot have knowledge impersonally. The knowledge will always be associated with a Knower. Disconnected from the Knower, there cannot be any knowledge. Initially one seeks knowledge. Later on, he does not seek, but he wants to grow as a Knower. For that, Krishna describes the characteristics of a man of wisdom (Sthitaprajna-lakshanas) in 2nd chapter. The seeker must strive to imbibe those characteristics to become a Knower.
Similarly, a devotee may initially seek God – a glimpse or vision of the God of his imagination. But as he progresses on the path of devotion, the focus shifts from God to his own personality. His saadhana becomes to cultivate the bhakta-lakshanas, the characteristics of a devotee. That is why in the 12th chapter of Bhagavadgeeta, the concluding chapter on Bhakti-yoga, Krishna discusses the characteristics of a devotee. “The devotee whom I like will have these refinements,” he says.
So, whether it is the path of knowledge or the path of devotion, as the saadhaka progresses, the focus of his saadhana has to shift from Soul or God to his own personality, to the virtues and refinements he must imbibe as a Knower or as a devotee. This is where mere enquiry or mere religiousness gets transformed into a serious spiritual saadhana.
Harih Om Tat Sat.
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