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When you become the Brahman

By Harish C Gaur


Scriptures mention four objectives of human pursuit; dharma, astha, kama and moksa, to be taken up in the given order. Dharma is the cultivation and practice of the code of moral conduct consistent with and as ordained by scriptures in first phase of life (as celibate pupil in the house of the preceptor or (in a gurukul).

These would include understanding and cultivation of divine traits as fearlessness, purity of heart, steadfastness in knowledge and yoga, (giving of) charity, control of desires, and senses, study of scriptures, (observance of) austerity, up-righteousness, (practice of) ahimsa, (speaking) the truth, compassion to all beings, modesty, forgiveness, fortitude and purity (of body and thoughts). One should also learn to avoid non-divine traits as ostentation, arrogance, self-conceit, anger, pride and excessive attachment to worldly possessions.

Several paths of treading on the path of spirituality have been elaborated. These include; path of (disinterested) action (karma yoga), path of devotion (bhakti yoga), path of meditation (dhyana yoga) and the path of knowledge (jnana yoga).

Among Hindus, Vedas are considered as source of the ultimate truth. They are 4 in number Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. Each of these has 4 parts; the hymns (mantras in poetic metre), brahmanas (documents of ritualistic precepts for guidance of priests and the way of conducting sacrificial duties by householders); aranyakas are for meditation and contemplation by those who have retired to forests and upanisads deal with philosophical aspects tending to spiritual monism and knowledge about the self (atman, as distinct from the body) and its relationship with the supreme reality (paramatma, referred to as brahman in upanisads). There are 4 gospels in the form of 4 sacred verses (mahavakya) in respect of the ultimate truth one from (upanisad part of) each veda.

The starting point for first gospel is the understanding that self (atman) is not the body (sharir). About the self, it was said by Lord Krisna in Bhagavad Gita; it is unmanifested, unborn, immutable, indestructible, without parts, while the body is born (when it manifests itself) undergoes modifications as childhood, youth, old age suffers misery and ultimately meet death and becomes unmanifested in due course. The self is not the body but provides to it the consciousness and enables its functioning and various activities that sustain the body. When the self deserts, body rapidly deteriorates and has to be cremated or buried as per norm of the society.

The first gospel is; the self (confined within the body) is the supreme self (brahman) (ayam atma brahma) from Atharva veda. This is often explained by the simile of air confined within balloons of different sizes and shapes in which it stays until punctured, when it again becomes part of the cosmic air from which it was withdrawn. In the same way self within different bodies of different living beings, is the supreme self.

This step, the realisation of the real nature of the self vis-a-vis the body also provides the consciousness that sustains the body. At some time the self discards the body, like a person discarding worn out clothes to put on new ones. The consciousness is due to self within. This is the second gospel, "The consciousness is (due to) brahman (prajnanam brahma) from Rigveda.

The next step is the realisation when the preceptor tells the disciple, "You are that (brahma) (tat-tvam asi). This is not easy. One has to realise that his real self is not the body or any of the modifications (gross, subtle or causal) nor (any of the modifications of) prana that support all activities of the body nor the organs of perception and antahkarna. Slowly he is led to the understanding, "You are that (brahman) which you are seeking", is from Samaveda.

The final step is the realisation by this aspirant, "I am brahman" (aham brahmasmi) from Yajurveda". This is the feeling of the immortal self, being unattached to all activities. This elevates the mind to magnanimous heights as: brahman alone is truth (brahma satyam) and the samsara is unreal (jagat mithya), like in a dream. This is all that one has to learn or what needs to be known. It is said, knowing brahman one becomes brahman, with this realisation one gets freed from all miseries, attains eternal happiness and is freed from the birth-death cycle of the samsara.











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