Monday, May 09, 2005
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CHENNAI: "To be born as a man, to have longing for release (from bondage) and the association with great souls these three are difficult to obtain," says Adi Sankara at the outset of his work, the Viveka Chudamani. This besides drawing attention to the subject matter of the text also reiterates the fact that having been blessed with human birth one must without any delay adopt the spiritual path and strive for liberation. A person may be very learned in the scriptural lore and faithfully discharge all the obligatory religious duties as prescribed in the scriptures; yet, till he becomes fortunate to receive the grace of the preceptor (Guru) he will not be able to receive the knowledge of the Self (Atman).
In his discourse, Sri P.M.Vijayaraghava Sastrigal said even if a person did not strive for any other worldly goal in life, he should without fail seek a Guru with the objective of realising the Self. He should continue to perform his duties without fail, as this is essential to purify the mind of its latent tendencies (Vasanas). It is necessary then to know the distinguishing marks of a Guru. The Bhagavad Gita says that a Guru is a Self-realised person who has disengaged himself from worldly preoccupations. Having sought out such a man of wisdom, the spiritual seeker must serve him selflessly to earn his grace. The disciple should express his intention only at an appropriate time when he asks him specifically and must not seek anything else from him except spiritual knowledge.
A Guru is one who without any expectation from anyone thinks not only of his disciple's welfare but also of the whole world. The Viveka Chudamani mentions four preliminary requisites that the spiritual seeker should possess to embark on the study of Vedanta. The first is the discrimination between the eternal (the Self) and the transient (world). After that is detachment from enjoying the fruit of Karma here in the world or in heaven. The third prerequisite is in the form of virtues involving control of the mind and the senses, withdrawal from the world, endurance to opposites like heat and cold, joy and sorrow and so on, faith in the Guru and in the teaching of Vedanta that the Absolute (Brahman) alone is real and that the material world is illusory. The last requirement is intense longing for liberation.
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