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Three Steps to Enlightenment

by T.N. Dhar ‘Kundan’

We are all eager to have enlightenment in spiritual terms and for this we try various methods and tread various paths. As sincere devotees, all of us who hold Bhagavaan Ji in high reverence are sure that he is there to guide us and show us the right path even now when he is not physically present. His presence in astral form is a guarantee for us that our sincere efforts will bear fruit. This seeking of enlightenment is a ladder, which has three distinct steps, very clearly laid down in the Bhagavad Gita in the following verse:

Tadviddhi pranipaatena pariprashnena sevaya

Upadekshyanti te jnanam jnaninas-tattvadarshinah

(Seek that enlightenment by prostrating, by questions and by service; the wise, the seers into the Truth will instruct you in that knowledge.)

These three steps are ‘Pranipata’ or prostrating, ‘Pariprashna’ or questioning and ‘Seva’ or service. The first step is prostrating or making complete surrender. This step is one of ‘Shravana’ or reading the scriptures and listening to the words of wisdom from the knowledgeable. It presupposes an unflinching faith in the master ‘Guru’. There should be no problem in taking this first step. The very fact that we have entrusted the steering of the boat of our life in the hands of Bab Bhagavaan should see us through this first step. He is seated in our mind, in our heart and in our conscience and oversees all our intentions, our utterances and our actions. The sincerity of our reverence towards him and our unwavering faith in him will leave no option before him but to come to our rescue. Even otherwise he is known to be benign, kind and compassionate. During his lifetime he guided many a blessed soul. He is bound to show the same amount of kindness and compassion towards his followers and disciples who remember him all the time with every breath of their life. And then we are only seeking spiritual guidance from him, not any material favour. He should be more than willing to come to our rescue in showing us the way for spiritual uplift.

The second step is questioning and removing doubts. This step is one of ‘Manana’ or deliberation. Whatever we read and hear has to be mulled over and deliberated so that we assimilate what we are taught. In doing so many doubts will spring up and many queries will be there in our mind, for which we shall need clarifications and expositions. When the preceptor is present physically we are in direct contact with him and can ask him to clarify our doubts but when he is not present we have to act like Ekalavya. We have to meditate on his picture or a photograph or simply invoke his presence in our mind. In so doing we shall have the benefit of his constant guidance. As we go on with our deliberations, the doubts will get clarified and the queries will get answered. In this situation Bab will rule over our intellect and conscience and through our own intellectual and discriminatory powers he will guide us and remove our doubts as and when we encounter them. We shall assume the position of Arjuna and he will be our Krishna, driving the chariot of our spiritual quest and exploration of the Truth.

The third and the final step is service. This step is one of ‘nidhidyasana’ or dedication. In other words we have so far deliberated on all that we have read and heard. During this deliberation whatever clarifications we needed we have obtained. Now our mind is clear as to what we have to do in order to get spiritually enlightened. Now the only thing that remains is to put it in practice and experience in actuality. Or to put it in a scientific terminology, the science that we have learnt is to be tested and applied in actual practice. This is very important because pure sciences are meaningless unless applied in the form technology. Shri Krishna has also stated in the Gita that ‘Jnana’ or knowledge must be supplemented by ‘vijnana’ or practicals in order to make the knowledge ‘Ashesha’ or absolute. He tells Arjuna, ‘Jnanam te’ham savijnanam idam vakshyami asheshatah, yat jnatva nehi bhuyoh jnatavyam avashishyate – I shall give you knowledge together with its application, after knowing which nothing further remains to be known’.

One thing has to be understood in this regard that these three steps are not exclusive of each other. These steps are not to be taken one after the other. These are overlapping and are to be taken simultaneously. We have to study, listen, get the doubts clarified and then put into practice all that we have learnt almost together in one go. This is a continuous and an unending process. This is an eternal journey that has a multitude of milestones and at every milestone our Bab Bhagavaan is there to take us forward and, therefore, we need not have any apprehensions whatsoever. He tells us, ‘Aham tva sarva papebhyah mokshayishyami ma shuchah – I shall liberate you from all sins; grieve not’. But the condition is that we have to prostrate before him with unflinching faith, seek clarifications after deliberating on the lessons learnt and also serve with dedication.

Prostrating and questioning can be and perhaps are our personal and private exercises but service can be at two levels, both at personal and at community levels. If we serve humanity we shall be serving our ‘Tathi Bab’. If we serve the mankind we shall be carrying out his wishes. As true devotees of his we must make a promise before him hand folded ‘Karishye vachanam tava – I shall carry out your command, act according to your directions and implement whatever you say’. We have to remain attached to him emotionally, mentally and physically. ‘Pranipata’ or prostrating is depiction of our ‘Bhakti’ or devotion and involves emotional links. It is our unflinching love in the form of ‘Bhakti Yoga’. Pariprashna’ or questioning is in the realm of ‘Jnana Yoga’ and denotes our mental and intellectual attachment towards our preceptor. ‘Seva’ or service is in effect ‘Karma Yoga’ and represents our physical involvement in the great spiritual activity of service prescribed by our Guru. These three forms of Yoga together with the fourth ‘DhyanaYoga’ cover the whole gamut of spiritual exercise. ‘Dhyana Yoga’ is our meditating on the name and form of our preceptor in order to invoke his grace. There is no conflict in these different categories of Yoga, inter se. These are complementary to each other and one leads to the other. We climb these three steps and reach the apex of spirituality where we are enlightened in true sense of the term.

Once we get enlightenment through these three proven steps prescribed in the Gita, we attain supreme bliss and in the words of Swami Vivekananda, ‘divinity manifests in our personality, in all the three aspects of thought, word and deed ‘vichar, vaani, karma’. May Bhagavaan Ji shower his benign grace on all of us and lead us on the path of righteousness.

 

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