Vivekachoodamani—the crest jewel of discrimination between the false and real—gives a shocking hammer blow when Sri Adi Sankaracharya says that people may quote or recite from the shastras, they may offer oblations into the fire for the gods, they may do actions or worship. However, after all this, if they do not get the knowledge of oneness of the self, there is no liberation of mind possible even if it is for over a 100 Brahmaji’s together and that is 3,11,040,000,000,000 years! In other words, liberation is impossible without realising the true self.
Knowing the self is not possible by wealth or by actions as the books of knowledge point out. When this is the situation, the wise person who has studied the shastras must work towards liberation. This is done only when he gives up all pursuits to gain joy from the outer world. Having done that, he has to approach the feet of a great saint or a wise person —a teacher—and follow the path of life taught by them with a well-integrated mind.
Having fallen into the ocean of transmigration and change, the student must strive to lift himself. He must ride the steed of yoga or integration of the body, sense organs, mind and intellect, and have firm abidance in the clear vision of truth.
To achieve freedom from the bondage of existence, an individual should give up all actions that are result-oriented. A brave and wise pandit must strive and constantly abide in the contemplation of one’s self.
Actions are only for attaining purity of mind and not for attaining the self. The realisation of the presence of the self happens only through steady contemplation and not even a little by performing even crores of actions.
A person sees a rope and imagines it is a snake. His fear of the snake will go only when he constantly observes it and realises it is only a rope. In the same way, the understanding that ‘I am this body’, is like seeing a snake, when in reality, the self, just remains like the rope, with no fangs to bite or no locomotion too.
This realisation will happen only when the truth is ascertained through contemplation on the words of saints and masters. It does not happen due to bathing in holy waters, offering charity or doing pranayama regularly for thousands of years.
The key sentence here points out to the need for self-realisation to reach the goal of life and not stop short of other rituals and activities such as chanting, prayer, pujas and techniques which keep the body fit, alert and ready to serve the master at any point of time.
The writer is Sevika, Chinmaya Mission, Coimbatore (www.chinmayamission.com)