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Removal of ignorance

CHENNAI: Human birth is an opportunity to understand the Supreme Truth and what better way to understand this than by exploring the lofty thoughts that are expressed in the scriptures. Scriptural idiom refers to spiritual wisdom as Vidya and the lack of it as Avidya. This superior knowledge is gained through the instruction of a preceptor and tradition venerates such teachers placing them even above one’s parents.

The Chandogya Upanishad describes ignorance (Avidya) as the bondage that blinds one from the awareness of the true nature of the Self, said Sri Goda Venkateswara Sastri in a lecture. The plight of the Jivatma is similar to that of a lost traveller whose eyes have been blindfolded. He waits for someone to remove the bandage and also show him the way home. A preceptor does exactly this service to the Jivatma. Our eyes are bandaged with the desires for worldly possessions which blind us. When we meet a person who knows the Self and whose own bonds are broken, we understand that the way he shows is the truth. We then realise that though we live in this world, we do not belong to it and that our real Self belongs to the ultimate reality. His right instruction removes the ignorance and also prescribes the right path to salvation.

The Upanishad establishes the underlying unity in all creation, and shows that the differences perceived by the senses in the material world and in one’s own body as an extension of the Self just as a tree is the extension of the seed. One has to go beyond the mind into the realm of faith to understand these subtle truths. A rational mind perceives salt and water as different entities; yet when the salt is dissolved in water it loses its distinctive form and entity. But we understand that the salt has dissolved in water. Similarly when a pot of water is poured in the well, one can get back a pot of water but not the same water that had been poured in it.

The Supreme Truth can be realised, experienced and attained. We can hear about the truth from realised souls who have gained this knowledge. One has to think about it individually and meditate on this truth. The practice follows the steps of hearing, reflecting, and meditating on these truths.

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