Distinguishing Spiritual Realization from Scriptural Literacy

The life of every individual is an unstable mixture of pairs of opposites. For most of us, everyday life is replete with trials and tribulations of varying degrees and magnitude. While the thoughtful among men seek to know the meaning and purpose of life, the ignorant ones just grumble and talk of cruelty of God whenever in distress. Human life has a higher and nobler purpose and that the destiny of a human being is to move higher up in the cosmic order to reach perfection and realize permanent and Supreme Bliss in the Realm of God. The utility of the religious books lies in that they exhort human beings to know and realize the real aim of their life and not just confine themselves to ritualistic reading and recitation of scriptures. As indicated by Saint Adi Shankaracharya in the verse quoted above, one would justify reading such texts if we imbibe their message and translate words into deeds. We can fulfill the ultimate aim of our life by attaining the eternal knowledge testified to in the holy treatises.  'Without taking the medicine, by just repeating the name of the medicine, no malady can be cured. Likewise, without practical perception and experience, by merely repeating the words of sacred texts, no one can attain salvation'.

True realization takes place on knowing and seeing God in His transcendental form. It is a metaphysical experience within the human body. The manifestation of inherent divinity is in reality the revelation of the divine self of man. This is not different from the Supreme Self that permeates even the tiniest particle in the Universe. It is accessible to all human beings irrespective of economic status, race, ethnicity and faith. It is upon this trans-sensuous experience that we become truly religious. Humane traits in such an individual emerge spontaneously or say with least effort like the fragrance from a flower. 

Mere reading and recitation of religious texts and scriptures does not make one learned nor does it help in attaining salvation. Sufi Saint Bulleshah expresses, 'One may have read many scriptures and may have large collection of books but if there is gloom in the heart, how, without grace of the Murshid (Guru), are supreme bliss and fulfillment possible'. Adi Shankaracharya further states in the Vivekchudamani, 'No matter how sweetly one speaks, how elaborately one explains, how expertly one gives interpretation of the Vedas, if that truth is unknown, salvation is not possible. Vedas speak of the inner world, which cannot be perceived by mind, intellect and sense organs'

The Shri Guru Granth Sahib lucidly emphasizes that one should not limit oneself to reading only but one must know and attain Him. One cannot attain God through conduct and behavior. Even eighteen Puranas and four Vedas have not been able to know the mystery of God. Had not Ravana, the demon king, mastered thePuranas and the Vedas by heart? Despite his profuse scriptural knowledge, the malicious conduct of Ravana is a known fact. 

The prevalence of ritualistic reading of religious texts and holy scriptures prompted me to prepare this small piece. People really need to rise above this ritualistic habit and follow the path shown by holy treatises with a view to achieving the ultimate goal of human life - salvation. By merely reading holy scriptures, recitation of mantras and hymns and singing of devotional songs, we haughtily consider ourselves religious. In bargain, what we get is only arrogance and disdain for others. 

There is no denying the fact these are essential adjuncts of Bhakti. No doubt, holy scriptures depict a vivid account of glory and splendor of the omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence of the Supreme Being. Nevertheless, the divine sports enacted by the Lord in various incarnations in human grab on this earth in His Saguna Swarupa are not presented simply to demonstrate his playfulness but have a definite purpose and meaning for all of us. The immanence and transcendence of the Supreme in human embodiment cannot be understood by human mind, intellect and logic. This is comprehensible by those who have known and seen His cosmic vision. 

The holy land of Bharat is the birthplace of many incarnations and manifestations of divine power that descended on earth in human garb as nimit avatars and nitya avatars. Every nimit avatar had a definite purpose to accomplish in a particular time and region. The nitya avatars in the form of saints and sages have always remained on earth to provide an unfailing guide for a meaningful life. As a natural corollary, India abounds in holy scriptures with unparallel depth and insight into the immanence and transcendence of God. And this glory is worthy of perception in practical sense from a perfect master by seeking his shelter and guidance, with reverence and complete surrender in his lotus feet. 

Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, 'Neither by study of the Vedas nor by austere penance, nor by charity, nor even by rituals can I be seen in my transcendental form, Arjuna' (Chapter XI, Verse 53). Earlier in Chapter IV, Verse 34, Krishna had told Arjuna that this para vidya - knowledge of the spirit - can be imparted by a wise seer and an illumined soul alone. Such a Satguru does not pad people's mind with prolific description of Atman and Parmatman. He is one who takes you beyond theories and into direct experience.   


More by :  Sushil Kumar Vasudeva

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