Words of guidance

Words of guidance

Indian philosophy underscores the fact that man needs to make efforts to free himself from the endless cycle of birth and death. The steps to be taken are also clearly given, including surrender of one's ego, restraint over the senses, faith in the words of the scriptures, guidance from a realised preceptor or guru and true devotion.

Such efforts are primarily meant to cleanse man of his undesirable traits like greed, anger, egotism, etc. Sustained practice of these measures leads to surrender of one's self at the altar of the supreme power and confers the ability to look inwards and recognise the presence of that inner spark of divinity that enlivens the body and which exists in all other beings also.

This is what the scriptures term as "release from bondage by conferment of self-knowledge". The sixteenth century scholar Appayya Dikshita in his work 'Atmarpanastuti' expounds on these facts in his lucid style.

Appayya Dikshita likens this cycle of repeated births to a longstanding affliction. The physician who can cure this ailment is the Lord with his medicine of grace which confers self-knowledge. The author asserts that this grace is conferred by the Lord at the time of demise on those who strenuously and faithfully control their senses and submit themselves at his feet, thus freeing them from the cycle of transmigration.

Though this may appear far-fetched and a figment of imagination of an altruistic brain, this has been borne out in the lives of great souls like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi among countless other exalted Indian divine personages.

Among the various paths to attain divine grace are those of action - Karma Yoga and the path of knowledge - Jnana Yoga. But he admits that these are beyond his feeble mind which tends to run after sense pleasures, the same status in which ordinary mortals find themselves in. Therefore, he has resorted to the easiest way within his reach, that of total surrender.

Dikshita adds that man can do anything, maybe even rolling up the sky like a sheet of leather, but even then he will not be freed of his troubles and miseries, unless he is graced by the Lord's glance which will bestow on him that inner sight of seeing the Lord behind everything.

To buttress this point, Dikshita asks "of what use are the words of the scriptures with their difficult to understand words, which carry hidden meanings and which promote disputes among men? For those whose minds are fixed on you, knowledge is attained with ease, through your gracious blessings.

For those of us who confuse this body-mind complex as the self, which is actually a storehouse of all sorts of weaknesses, devoid of even a hint of any meritorious deeds, your blessings are the sole means of elevating ourselves to higher levels of consciousness". Whether to a novice, an anchorite or to an advanced aspirant, these words of Appayya Dikshita in the 'Atmarpanastuti' are guiding lights.