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     This constitutes shravana: listening to the sacred text from guru.

     Then the disciple should reflect and meditate in seclusion on the significance of teachings which constitute manana and nididdhyasana. He should continue to serve, listen and meditate until the truth is realised. Reliasation may come at the very first instance or may come after hundred years., but he should not give up until it comes. Jnanam utpadyate pumsam kshaye papasya karmanah: Jnana or Realisation comes when all the sins are expiated. How do they get exhausted? By suffering, service and penance. When body and mind get purified and freed from lust, greed and anger, the truth shines forth in the faultless heart that the individual soul is but a false ego, a shadow of Brahma, and has no
reality. What remains is only Brahma without second entity. This is the realisation of non-dual Brahma. It occurs invijnanamaya kosha in communion with anandamaya kosha, when outer three koshas are disjointed in deep Samadhi.(yato vacho nivartante - Taitt. Up. 11.9)

      Realisation is perhaps the most enigmatic of all the experiences. It is so simple and so easy after you had it, in fact it is the easiest thing in the world, nothing can be easier than that. You feel silly that you did not know it, and feel stupid to have worked so hard for it. But it is the hardest and the most difficult thing before you knew it, that you had to work so hard, sacrificing everything for years may for many lives. It is difficult not because of intricacies, not because of non-proximity or non-availability, but merely because of some obstruction in your mind called avidya. Because you were under the spell of that maya, for hundreds of lives and you always believed that the phenomenal world is real. One may fancy that believing is knowing. Not so! one may listen from a teacher tatvamasi (Thou are that) a thousand times and may repeat aham Brahmaasmi (I am Brahma) or so aham (I am that) a million times, even then the realisation will not come. Because listening and repetition are at mental plane under the spell of maya. One has to transcend mind, maya and intellect and ego and reach the pure consciousness, where the truth is realised. Therefore fancying of realisation from book knowledge or mental understanding is a great folly and self deception.

      Like waking up from sleep, realisation is passing up from waking state to a higher state called turiya the fourth state of consciousness. In this state mind and sense organs withdraw from the world and get absorbed in Brahma. In that all embracing consciousness, he experiences perfect peace and oneness with the universe. 

      In Taittiriyopanishad, Atma is described to have five koshas or sheaths. Annamaya kosha (food sheath) pranamaya kosha (prana sheath), manomaya kosha (mind sheath) vijnanamaya kosha (conscience sheath) and the anandamaya kosha (bliss sheath) in that order from the outer to the inner sheath. The first three sheaths relate to the gross physical body, sense organs and the mind. A worldly mans idea of the self and soul, is crudely interlaced with the three outer sheaths and seldom go beyond. It is only when these three koshas are traversed by spiritual purification the inner vijnananmaya kosha is reached where divine visions are beheld and finally the supreme bliss is experienced in the innermost anandamaya kosha. The importance of truthfulness, celibacy, devotion, surrender to guru and God in purifying koshas is summarised in the following mantras: 

      Atma is realised by only those who practice always truthfulness, celibacy and right knowledge.(Mundaka-Up. 3.1.5)

     Not by pious deed, not by wealth, not by having children but only by renunciation immortality is attained by some.(Mahanarayana-Up.)

      Only he who has the supreme devotion to guru as well to God, gets illumined by the right knowledge.(Svetasvatara-Up.)

      Therefore the absolute sincerity, total renunciation, resolute truthfulness, perfect celibacy, unconditional surrender to guru and God, and above all intense desire for liberation are the essential qualifications for realisation.

     Karma, yoga (raja yoga), jnana and bhakti are the different routes available to reach the goal. Generally one path alone may not suffice, and one may have to follow two, three or all the four paths. While jnana and bhakti are each complete and independent, karma and yoga serve only as ladders leading to the other two. In the preceding mantra of Mahanarayana-Upanishad it is explicitly stated that through karma alone one cannot get immortality. Karma and yoga only help to purify the mind and sense organs of their evil desires.(Gita 5.11). Once that is achieved one has to go on jnana or bhakti. The end result in all the cases is the same, the realisation of Brahma. By yoga marga one may awaken kundalini, may reach chittavritti nirodha (complete cessation of mental thoughts) and reach various levels of samadhi, and get super natural powers but unless and until the realisation of Brahma comes, immortality is not achieved.

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Last Updated: Sat Dec 25, 2004