In order to attain Liberation, mere bhakti or devotion is not enough and one needs to have knowledge or jñāna. Śaṃkarācārya imparted highest spiritual wisdom through 580 verses of Vivekachudamani. Whatever the rituals or japa or mandatory meditation we do, without spiritual knowledge, Liberation is not possible. This Supreme Knowledge can be imparted only by a Self-realized Guru. Emancipation happens only in higher stages of samādhi (trance). What is meditated upon is, Brahman within, without any duality. The entire revelation is in the form of conversation between Guru and his disciple. Vivekacūḍāmaṇi is an elixir of God realization. At the end of Guru’s teachings and revelations, one will realize that both Brahman and the soul are one and the same and when this realization happens, his mind is dissolved. When the mind is inactive, he realizes Brahman and only such a realized person is liberated in stages. Finally, he becomes That.
There are billions of living beings in the universe and among them, human birth is the most gifted one. It is gifted because one can attain liberation only through human birth. Out of many human beings, only blessed few seek liberation and they attain liberation only through the grace of a Guru. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gītā (VII.3), “Among thousands, one endeavours to realise Me. Among these aspirants, only one understands Me as I am.” One will think about liberation, only when the time is ripe for him to get liberated. He has to use this time to seek the right Teacher (Guru) with a request to show the path of liberation. One may be doing hours of pūjā, japa, homa and could be meticulously following the dictums of dharma śāstra-s. But this does not mean that he will not attain liberation, as liberation is purely related to knowledge and individual experience. These two can be attained only after shedding all types of desires. (In the present day context, material world forms the foundation for spiritual life.) Kṛṣṇa explains this stage in Bhagavad Gītā (VI.4), “When he is not afflicted by sensory objects or actions, he becomes the renouncer of all saṅkalpa-s and known as yogārūda”. Actions do not include those actions that are essential for normal living.
The Self can be realized not by taking shower or doing prāṇāyama. The Self should be enquired into, with uncontaminated mind. Four qualities are prescribed to become eligible to pursue the path of liberation and these four are called sādhana catuṣṭaya and they are discrimination, vairāgya, ṣaṭ-sampatti and mumukṣutvaṁ. As these are the basic requirements to pursue the spiritual path, we should know about sādhana catuṣṭaya. First one is discrimination – the difference between the real and the unreal or Brahman and māyā. One should understand that Brahman alone exists (omnipresent) and the universe is nothing but His māyā. This is possible only if we have firm conviction. Even one percent of doubt on this ultimate reality, will cause severe blockade in spiritual path. Second is vairagya, which means indifference to worldly life by controlling sensory organs. It is only the sensory organs that make the mind corrupt.
The third one is ṣaṭ-sampatti (six attainments). The original text says “श्मादिषट्कसम्पत्ति
śmādiṣaṭkasampatti”. The six are – śama, dama, uparati, titikṣa, śraddha and samādhāna. Śama is the state of calmness, which can be attained only after rejecting sensory influences and developing firm faith in Brahman (total surrender). While pursuing spiritual path, sensory organs play tricky roles. One has to be extremely careful in subduing sensory organs. Dama is controlling the mind; protecting the mind from influences from sensory organs. Sensory organs directly contaminate the mind and kindle desire and ego. Unless one develops the habit of looking at everything as Brahman, dama and uparati are difficult to follow. Dama means subduing and uparati means desisting from worldly actions. Titikṣa means endurance, forbearance and patience. One should understand that while experiencing karma, one has to undergo pains and sufferings too. Life is not full of roses. Attempting to do remedial measures in order to avoid sufferings come under this. (One must always keep in mind that suggested astrological remedies are psychological in nature and karmic unfolding can never be stopped. Further accrual or karmas cease after one realizes the Self and Vivekachudamani helps us to pursue this goal effectively.) If one develops patience, most of the sufferings in life can be avoided. Śraddha means having absolute confidence in one’s Guru and his teachings. A Guru will be interacting with each one of his students differently at certain times and this is based on the inherent qualities of each of his students. Therefore, one should not attempt to compare Guru’s teachings and should concentrate only on what he has been taught to him. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gītā (XVII.3), “The innate faith belongs to all the three types of guṇa-s, sattvic, rajas and tamas. Listen to me now. The faith of men depends on their mental attitude.” Samādhāna is fixing the mind in abstract contemplation of the Self within. This is more related to buddhi (spiritual intellect) than the mind. These six together are called ṣaṭ-sampatti. The fourth one is mumukṣutva, the aim for liberation. Mumukṣu means the one who tries hard for final emancipation. We can observe that all the above are related to our mind and intellect, and liberation is possible only with the help of mind and intellect.
Not everyone has the same kind of sādhana catuṣṭaya. Its quality differs from person to person due to predominance of any of the guṇa-s. The one who desires for liberation seeks a Guru to guide him. The Guru should have already realized Brahman and should be devoid of desires and attachments. He should be calm and approachable. On finding such a Guru, he humbly submits to him the following: “I offer my respects to you. Please save me from the pains of transmigration. I seek refuge in you. I have nobody else other than you. Please accept me as your disciple and show me the path to liberation. Please protect me and relieve me from pains of repeated births and deaths.”
Guru accepts him as his disciple and begins his teachings.
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