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The ignorant Self

CHENNAI: The greatest hurdle to God realisation is the veil of ignorance (Ajnana/Avidya) that impinges on the consciousness of an individual preventing the perception of truth. The trappings of the material world only serve to feed the ignorance and preclude the sprouting of the desire to strive for liberation. When one understands the implications of this challenge, then one becomes aware of the spiritual path. In a way, Lord Rama’s incarnation mirrors the plight of many of us who are not aware of our true selves and continue to identify with the body, mind and intellect, said Sri K. V. Seshadrinatha Sastrigal in a lecture.

Two common tendencies — mental ignorance that veils the true nature of things (Aavarana) and distraction/confusion (Vikshepa) — easily get attached to human beings because of their being bound by the three gunas. Like a chain reaction, this Avidya leads one further away from the truth into the deep throes of the material world.

If Ravana was to be eliminated Rama could have easily accomplished it without undergoing untold mental and physical stress and suffering. Yet He subjected Himself to sorrow, joy, disappointment, etc. because He forgot His Supreme Nature and believed Himself to be the prince of Ayodhya and Dasaratha’s son.

Rama accomplished the task of warding off the evil forces when Sage Vishwamitra sought His help. Instead of returning home He was led to Mithila and married Sita to end up as a householder.

Similarly, when He goes in search of the golden deer that Sita longed to possess, He acts in the manner of any human being trapped by ignorance. The simple fact that a golden deer cannot exist is easily known to all of us. Again what was the need to lament over the loss of Sita if He was the Supreme Being incarnate? This is Ajnana about His Self and subjecting Himself to the vicissitudes of life that is characteristic of human beings.

Our association with the ways of the world is compelling and we do not pause to reflect on our true nature and purpose of our birth. That is why scriptures call Samsara as a poisonous tree and we should learn to transcend its pulls. Rama exemplifies this truth in the best manner.

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