Guru begins by saying, “Don’t worry. There is no death for you as there are means to cross the ocean of saṁsāra (transmigration). Ancient sages and saints have crossed this painful ocean with these methods only. I will reveal to you the same path. If you cross saṃsāra, you will be in perpetual bliss. It is important to understand the intricacies of Vedānta (Vedānta is imparted through Upaniṣad-s and the essence of all Upaniṣad-s is conveyed in Bhagavad Gītā) and once you understand this, you will be relieved from the pains of births and deaths. To reach this stage, you need to have absolute faith, devotion and practice yoga (yoga does not mean physical exercises) and meditation. These four are the main factors for mukti. In reality you are That (Brahman), but because of the innate ignorance you are deluded by māyā.” Faith means faith in Guru’s teachings, devotion means bhakti or means of salvation. Bhakti here does not mean bhakti described in dualistic worship. Yoga and meditation can be combined together; yoga means yoking; yoking the self and the Self and through meditation, this yoking is consolidated and firmed up in meditation.

The disciple submits his doubts to the Guru. Spiritual Gurus should always be addressed with reverence and all types of slangs should be avoided while addressing them. The disciple asks the following questions.

1. What is bondage?

2. How it has come?

3. What are the qualities of bondage?

4. How to become free from bondage?

5. Which is non-self?

6. What is Self or Brahman?

7. How to discriminate between the two - self and the Self?

Before addressing his doubts, Guru praises his disciple. “You are blessed and you are doing your duty (duty of a human being is to get liberated; due to innate ignorance and māyā, he derails from the purpose for which he is born) and by doing so, you are purifying your lineage. You are seeking the Reality by trying to transcend spiritual ignorance. One can carry the luggage of another (external help) but one cannot satiate another’s hunger. Doctor can prescribe medicines, but only the patient has to take the medicines in order to get cured. A third person cannot take your medicines for your cure. Only you can see the moon through your own eyes and not through others’ eyes. Similarly, you alone can realize the Self within. You need spiritual eye (eye that is not associated with the material world and opposed to biological eyes) for this. To attain liberation, the only way is to realize that both the Self and the self within (Paramātmā and jīvātmā) are the same. Liberation cannot be attained through yoga (physical exercises), philosophies, following the dictums of śāstra-s and not even by vidyā-s. Veena (musical instrument) looks good and when it is played, its sound is pleasing. But by doing so, no one cannot attain a kingdom. Discourses containing flowery words describing Scriptures may be good to listen, but such discourses will not give you Liberation. Till you realize Brahman, knowledge of śāstra-s will be of no use and once you realize Brahman, even then, knowledge of śāstra-s go waste. (Śāstra-s do not explain Brahman and they contains enormous descriptions and flowery words. They may be appreciated by scholars and ritualistic and not by those who seek Brahman.) Avidyā is like a virulent snake. If a person is bitten by such a deadly snake, the only remedy is taking the right medicine that can neutralize the poison. No other medicine can cure snake bite. (Snake bite is compared to innate ignorance and medicine is Brahma vidyā). By reciting the name of the medicine, snake poison cannot be neutralized. The one who is bitten by the snake has to consume that medicine. (It is subtly conveyed that mere chanting mantras will not give liberation). Direct experience alone can give liberation and there are no other methods to attain liberation. A person can call himself the king, but in order to become a king, he should have paraphernalia of a kingdom. How one has to struggle to become a king? It is not that easy. Therefore, it is important that one should strive hard to attain liberation under the guidance of a Guru.”

Now the Guru begins to elucidate the path to liberation. “My dear disciple! You have asked the most pertinent question. All the mumukṣu-s (those who seek liberation) should know this. Listen carefully now. The first step is vairagya which leads to detachment from the material world. The next step would be to control organs of perception and action (jñānendriya-s and karmendriya-s) and finally total detachment from the material world. (Total detachment from material world or controlling jñānendriya-s and karmendriya-s do not mean sitting ideally, doing nothing. Here it means that ambition, addiction, extravagance, pride and prejudice, anger, lust, bingeing, etc. should be avoided under all circumstances. One has to do his karma to make his living and to sustain his family.) Listen to my teaching carefully and ponder over it. Think and rethink on what I am going to teach you. Then meditate on my teachings. If you meditate properly, you will be entering into nirvikalpa samādhi. At the end of all these experiences, you will realize the Self within. I will now explain the difference between ātma and anātma (non-Self).

“There are three types of bodies – gross, subtle and causal. Ātma is the innermost and around which all these bodies are placed. Gross body or sthūla śarīra is made up of body parts such as hands, legs, etc. Ignorant man considers gross body as mine or me. Gross body is identified with “I”. A man experiences material happiness or sadness through pañcatanmātra-s such as sound, touch, form, taste and smell. When he gets addicted to material life, he is not able to get rid of the attraction of worldly life; this attraction is only temporary in nature and nothing to do with liberation. Further, this attraction is short lived. Because of this, ignorant men constantly undergo transmigration, which causes pain, which is worse than the venom of a deadly poisonous snake. Different animals meet ultimate death by getting attracted to different objects. For example, a fly is attracted to a light and goes into the light only to die. Similarly, men are influenced by viṣaya-s (anything perceptible by the senses, any object of affection or concern or attention such as attachment, desire, love, lust, etc.) and ultimately meet terrible fate. Poison of the snake kills the one, who is bitten by the snake. But, viṣaya-s kill everyone by merely listening, seeing or touching, etc. There is no need even to get bitten. Therefore, one can think of liberation only when he stays away from viṣaya-s. Viṣaya-s are like a shark, which kills a man if he does not have the will power to cross the river. If a man has determination to cross a river with sharks, he would take a weapon to kill the sharks and reach the other side of the river safely. Therefore, never have wavering mind while pursuing liberation. You have to listen to the teachings of your Guru and you have to follow the path of righteousness. When you pursue the path of righteousness, your mind will be steadfast in seeking liberation without any diversions. Only you can do this and nobody can do this for you.

“Avidyā always follows you without your knowledge (because it is subtle and powerful). You have to make all efforts to destroy avidyā and if you don’t, you can never think of liberation. You should not have any attachment for your gross body or physical body. At the time of death, this body goes either to fire or earth, though it is carefully nurtured. If you develop attachment to your body, it is equivalent to death. Therefore, do not develop any attachment towards your body, wife and children. (It is important that one should maintain his or her family, as otherwise one would be violating the law of karma). Get rid of moha (preventing the discernment of truth and leading men to believe in the reality of worldly objects) and only after getting rid of moha, you can attain liberation.”

Next Guru teaches his student about subtle body.

Further reading: TATTVABODHA