The Path of Moksha - Ashtavakra Gita
In Bhagavad Gita, Shree Krishna made discourse on four paths of salvation to Arjuna during Mahabharata. These four paths of spiritual realization are based on the premise that people are born with different temperaments and tendencies. The four paths are knowledge (jnana yoga), the path of devotion (bhakti yoga), the path of action (karma yoga), and the path of meditation (raja yoga).
Sufi-saints have also defined four stages viz. shariyat, tarifat, marifat and hakikat. Shariyat means following methods-preparations, rules-regulations, system-procedures, self-control, remedies etc. Tarifat means ego is lost, performance is stopped. Marifat means experience of consciousness but duality remains. Hakikat means only consciousness remains. Liberated person experiences consciousness everywhere. Hence, he neither criticise, nor praise, nor excited, nor angry, nor acquire, nor reject. He lives naturally
Sri Ashtavakra says, modern amenities and instruments are invented by human being with great efforts and research. Likewise, people are making efforts such as japa, tapa, yoga, sadhana, hath yoga, mantra sadhana, worship etc. to find almighty. But almighty is inside each one. Only requirement is to clear the mind. Doer-ship or ego develops stress of expectations. Non-fulfilment of expectations causes miseries. Ego and almighty, both cannot remain together. Once “I am-ness” dropped, almighty remains. The opposites (violence-non-violence, compassion-cruelty, politeness-harshness, humility-pride etc.) appear till duality. When entire universe appears as one consciousness, opposites disappear.
Sri Ashtavakra has preferred the spiritual wisdom as a path of moksha. He explained the paths as under:
Ashtavakra Gita – Spiritual Experience of Raja Janaka
Sri Ashtavakra described Raja Janaka about various aspects of body, ego, mind, soul, almighty and liberation. Raja Janaka being highly detached from worldly desires and was competent for spiritual enlightenment, experienced instantaneously the spiritual experience.
Enlightened guru says, “अयमात्मा ब्रह्म” means jivatma is brahman (parmatma). After enlightenment, disciple says, “अहं ब्रह्मास्मि” means brahman is omnipresent and jivatma is little knower and at one place. When the difference between jivatma and parmatma disappears, the state is moksha. In moksha, liberated person becomes free, without aspiration and bondage.
Sri Ashtavakra examines the validity of his spiritual experience of Raja Janaka. Raja Janaka explains about the different aspects after attaining the spiritual experience in various chapters which are as under:
Chapter – 2: On realisation, Brahman & Jivatma:-
Chapter – 4: Enlightened Person & World:-
Enlightened person drops ego, due to this his actions are natural and without stress, without aspiring for its fruits. He treats the world as play or dream.
Chapter – 5: State of Spiritual Enlightenment:-
After attaining spiritual enlightenment, one realises that he is eternal jivatma and there is nobody else. So nothing can be renounced. Only thing, one can drop is pride of body which is biggest bondage. Dropping of it leads to moksha.
Pleasure-pain is attributes of mind, hope-despair is attributes of chit, and life-death is attributes of body. But one is pure & eternal jivatma which is only witness.
Chapter – 6: State pf Moksha:-
The person neither desires to acquire anything, nor want to renounce anything, nor have attachment, nor have detachment, nor have fondness, nor has dispassion, nor feels life, nor moksha, in that state of void and waking, only consciousness remains. Once that state is attained, all efforts such as dharna dhayan, meditation etc. becomes useless.
Chapter – 7: Role of Senses of perception:-
All restlessness is due to mind. Desires, lust, better position, need of more wealth, expectations, need for respect, need of moksha etc. are attributes of mind. All these efforts create restlessness.
As ripples and waves rises in ocean, likewise these develop in mind but die down without damaging anything in enlightened person.
Senses of perception and mind are always attracted towards sense objects and are satisfied through senses of actions. When senses of actions are not remaining, these attractions continue in subtle form which leads to re-birth.
Chapter – 12: Process for Spiritual wisdom:-
Practice and dispassion are essential for spiritual wisdom. Sri Janak says, first I restraint bodily actions, then speech actions; later mind actions. Like this, I was made available to spiritual wisdom. One should ignore bodily actions, speech actions & mind actions and become observer. All actions are carried out naturally.
Chapter – 13: Pains & Actions:
Chapter – 14: Enlightened Person & Future Actions:
Chapter – 19: Experience of Jivatma:-
Chapter – 20: Concept of Advaita:
Raja Janaka has explained the spiritual experience of realisation of Brahaman, Jivatma & Universe in the following chapters and verses (the respective verses and chapters in Sanskrit are mentioned in the end):
Ashtavakra Gita – the Body, Mind & Jivatma
All dies, king dies, pauper dies, intelligent dies, ignorant dies, enlightened persons like Gautam Buddha died, even Shree Rama & Shree Krishna died. But jivatma is eternal. Body made of three attributes (sattva, rajas and tamas) takes birth or dies or experiences childhood, youth and old age.
Modern science says, matter and energy is not destructible but can be transformed. Likewise, spirituality also says, jivatma is not destructible and eternal.
Sri Ashtavakra described Raja Janaka about various aspects of body, ego, mind, soul, almighty and liberation in various chapters. He described that the disinterest or indifference towards desires and living in sacrificial way arises peace. One should live in curbed (limited) way. One should drop doer-ship and let the things happen in natural way. Instead of doer, one becomes seer. It will bring peace and eligibility for spiritual wisdom.
The various aspects are as under:
Brahman (Parmatma, Almighty or God) & Jivatma (Soul, Self):
Desires & Karma (actions, activities):
Bondage and Attachment:
Detachment & Dispassion (वैराग्य):
Sri Ashtavakra explained the above aspects in the following chapters and verses (the respective verses and chapters in Sanskrit are mentioned in the end):
Purva or Karma Mimansa Darshan (Chapters 12, verses 2731) is biggest darshan and was founded by Rishi Jamini in 4th century BC. Karma Mimansa has several sub-schools viz. Prabhakara sub-school & Bhatta sub-school (of 7th century BC).
Karma Mimansa refers to examination of Vedic texts and stressed on Karmakanda (rituals) based on Vedas. It held that Vedas are eternal, authorless, and dharma means rituals & social duties. Ethics for this life and efficacious action for heaven (स्वर्ग) cannot be derived from sense-perception, and can only be derived from experience, reflection and understanding of past teachings.
The ultimate aim of Karma Mimansa is achieving heaven. Deeds (कर्म) without aspiring for fruits and spiritual knowledge are means to get Heaven. By mastering the above two means, past deeds extinguish and man become liberated.
Karma Mimansa has three parts viz. tools of knowledge (Perception, Inference, Analogy & Comparison, word, Postulation and non-perception), Spiritualism and Duty decider.
Yajna (also called karma) are done for the achievement of a fruit like 'Heaven. Yajnas are performed on daily, fortnightly, monthly, annually and once in life time. Agnihotra is the homa done thrice a day. Yajna means worshipping, sacrifice & offering. The main constituents of Yajna are desire of doer (bhāvana), learning (svādhyāya), rites involved (karma), offerings i.e. Yaga-sacrifice, Dana-giving & Homa-offerings in fire (tyāga), devata and the results (phala). The ingredients used in a yajna are called dravya. Samskāra is a rite that involves mantra. There are forty samskāras or rites performed in one’s lifetime.
The three parts of Karma Mimansa as under:
The main features of Karma Mimansa:
Samkhya Darshan (451 Sutras and 527 including sub-verses, 6 chapters) was founded by Rishi Kapil around the 6th - 7th century BC. Samkhya Darshan, one of the six Hindu Philosophies deliberates on Prakriti, Jivatma and moksha. Samkhya means accurate, proper, and correct. Samkhya believes in dwatvad (द्वेतवाद) i.e. the creation is by Prakriti and Jivatma. The right knowledge (vivek) differentiates Prakriti (nature) and Jivatma (soul, prusha).
Maherishi Kapil sometimes called as atheist. But many verses pronounce that Parmatma (Brahman, Supreme consciousness) is ultimate cause which proves him as theist.
Samkhya Darshan has main principle of “Satkaryavad” (सत्कार्यवाद) means universe is created for some reason by original power. Satkaryavad has two forms viz. “Parinamvad” (परिणामवाद) and “Vivartvad” (विवर्तवाद). Parinamvad means actual modification happens into substance. Vivartvad means actual modification does not happen but only appears. As per Samkhya Darshan, following are the key principles:
Patanjali Yoga Darshan –The Practical steps to Bliss & Powers
Yoga Darshan (194 Sutras, 4 chapters) was founded by Rishi Patanjali between the 4th century BC - 2th century AD. Yoga Darshan, one of the six Hindu Philosophies is practical training to attain moksha.
Yoga means joining or union. Yoga Shastra has four areas viz. universe, reason of creation of universe, liberation (moksha) and means of attaining liberation. These four areas are deeply investigated as under:
To get rid of miseries and to attain Kaivalya, eight limbs or parts of yoga are prescribed by rishi Patanjali. The Practice of eight limbs of Yoga leads to destruction of impurity which ultimately leads to light of self-awareness. In the light of self-awareness, Jivatma appears different from mind, buddhi, ego and senses.
The eight parts (of the self-discipline of Yoga) are Yama (Self-restraints, यम), Niyama (observances of rules, नियम), Asana (posture, आसन), Pranayama (regulation of breath, प्राणायाम), Pratyhara (abstraction, प्रत्याहार), Dharna (concentration, धारणा), Dhyana (meditation, ध्यान), Samadhi (trance, समाधि). (यमनियमासनप्राणायामप्रत्याहारधारणाध्यानसमाधयोऽष्टावअङ्गानि 2/29). Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama and Pratyhara are external limbs and Dharna, Dhyana & Samadhi are internal limb. Dharna, Dhyana & Samadhi is external limb of Asamprajaatah Samadhi (seedless Samadhi). The details are as under:
The detailed explanations, chapter wise and verse-wise are as under:
Vedanta Darshan or Brahma Sutra – key of Upanishads
Vedanta means "end of the Vedas". Vedanta or utter Mimansa, one of six Hindu Darshans, has four Chapters and 555 verses. Badarayana (5th BC) synthesized and systematized the various philosophies contained in the Upanishads in the Brahma Sutras, also called the Vedanta.
Inquisitiveness, diseases or miseries experienced in life, inspire people to inquire about Brahman (Almighty, Iswar, Parmatama or cosmic consciousness) who is eternal, blissful, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. The Upanishads gave various interpretations on Brahman, Jivatma, Prakriti and Moksha. Vedanta probed various interpretations given in Upanishads and conceptualized the knowledge of Brahman and other aspects.
The salient features of Vedanta are as under;
Based on Vedanta Darshan, different schools of Vedanta developed.
The prominent Vedanta schools are following:
The chapter-wise detailed explanations are attempted as under (Verse wise):
Vaisheshika Darshan (370 Sutras, 10 chapters) was founded by Kaṇāda Kashyapa around the 2nd century BC. Vaisheshika Darshan, one of the six Hindu Philosophies explains about the existence physical universe, living beings, soul and moksha.
He postulated as under:
3. Atheism – Parmanu are eternal.
4. Creationism – No action / activity is done without reason. Activity is non-eternal. Supreme Being is creator and operator of the universe.
5. Salvationism – The ultimate goal of living being is escape from re-birth and attains liberation (Moksha).
The salient features of the Darshan are as under:
Physical Universe – Creation & Function
1. Parmanu and the true being is eternal, having no cause.
2. Part of the world is non-eternal i.e. subject to origin and destruction in time. All composite objects are constituted by the combination of atoms and destroyed through their separation. The 1st combination of 2 atoms is called a dvyanuka or dyad, and a combination of 3 dyads is called tryanuka or triad. Triad cannot be perceived, but are known through inference.
3. At the beginning of creation, God's given effort is possible only by the combination of atoms; earth and tree are all things.
4. A lot of great qualities arise from the properties of the atomic particles, etc. It is the effect that the qualities which are in the causation, those qualities are inferred in the activities.
5. Elemental knowledge is created by knowing nature six substances. The substances can be classified into six categories, dravya (substance - six), guṇa (quality – twenty four), karma (activity - five), sāmānya (generality - two), viśeṣa (particularity) and samavāya (inherence).
6. The experiences about the substance are derived from the interplay of substance (a function of atoms, their number and their spatial arrangements), quality, activity, generality, particularity and inherence and liberation is to be attained through understanding the nature of existence.
7. The natural qualities of the earth, air, fire, water and ether are smell, touch, form & heat, fluidity & coolness and sound.
Living Beings –Execution of Karma
8. The living beings are having bodies with senses and possessing mind, intellect and egoism. All these exist and interact with one another in time, space and Moksha.
9. Living beings are souls who enjoy or suffer in this world according as they are wise or ignorant, good or bad virtuous or vicious.
10. The knowledge of happiness and misery is not from any sense, therefore, in order to know these qualities, the soul needs some reason, and the reason is the mind (mann). The seat of knowledge is soul.
11. Desire which create tendency in the offerings of charity, yagna and donation, is Dharma (virtues). Violence, malice etc. are the tendency of the wicked. The activities done by speech, mind and body, are called tendencies. Speaking truth, speaking sweetly, speaking for others' sentiment are virtuous tendencies. Telling lies, talking bitter and harming others is sin.
12. Karma is done by the combination of soul and effort of organisms. The soul inspires the mind and the mind inspires the senses. By this inspirations the karma / activities arises.
13. Attachment and aversions create its strong sanskar/impressions in mind.
Wisdom to attain Moksha
14. Dharma & adharm (unrighteousness) or atma (soul) is associated with the body, senses and mind. This association is called birth. When atma separates from the body & senses, this is called death. Cycle of birth and death, is the name of the world. Dharm-adharm is due to attachment & aversion which caused by false knowledge.
15. False knowledge is a cause of sadness, desire and defects. The destruction of misery is not salvation, but the continuous happiness is the only salvation (Moksha or liberation).
16. When the mind (mann) detaches from the outside senses and lives in the soul, no action is done and the mind becomes steady. The same condition, when leaving all the work, meditation is called and that is Yoga. When yoga takes place, it is not the beginning of action in the mind, when Yoga happens, there is a lack of grief and the action is done to remove misery.
17. When the false knowledge is destroyed, attachment & hatred/aversion and their tendencies disappear, which results in the loss of karmic account of re-birth. Thereby, re-birth gets stopped, that is only salvation/liberation.
18. Knowledge of nature of atma and parmatma, at that time the body and mind which is separated from the soul, it is called moksha (liberation).
The chapter-wise detailed explanations are attempted as under (Verse wise):
Nyaya Darshan – The logic & Spirituality
Nyaya or Logic Darshan, one of the six Hindu philosophies, has five Chapters with 538 verses. It was founded by Rishi Gautam or Gotama in 550 BC. He attached due weight to reasoning and relied on scientific system of 16 categories to reach on the philosophy. His philosophy dealt the riddle of Body, Atma and moksha.
He postulated in Nyaya Darshan as under:
The salient features of the Darshan are as under:
The detailed explanations of Nyaya Darshan are as under:
Mantras are sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words, composed in Vedic Sanskrit thousands of years ago by rishis or ancient Hindu scientists. Mantra is two words: Man and tra. Man means mind. Tra means the heat of life. Ra means sun. The divine energy of sound is embedded in Mantras. Mantras have psychological and spiritual powers and help to induce an altered state of consciousness. Mantras uses sound to evoke movement of physical and emotional energy through stimulation of the nervous system. It may or may not have literal meaning.
A practice of repetitively uttering the same mantra for an auspicious number of times is called Japa. The most popular number for japa is 108 and is done with the help of malas (bead necklaces). If one word is chanted in a stepwise fashion, tunefully and with proper rhythm in poetic meter ceaselessly, a cyclic movement is created. By chanting of mantras (Japa), both in the inner psyche of the devotee and in the external cosmos an extraordinary energy stream commences flowing.
Mantras can be done vocally, sub-vocally (whispering) or silently in the mind. Group chanting or recitation of mantra can synchronize the brainwaves between the participants, achieving yet another level of collective effect, as has been shown between musicians. In chanting of mantras, half energy goes outside and the remaining half roams about within the body. Half the energy of words uttered radiates in the external world and the other half commences a powerful process within the body.
Mantra Yoga is a scientific method devised by the Rishis to activate the extrasensory energy centers within to facilitate the sublime flow of vital spiritual currents in this majestic living system. It improves health, peace, prosperity and spiritual progress. Our ability of focusing becomes better.
Shloka from holy Hindu texts like the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutra, even the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Durga saptashati or Chandi is a mantra.
Om is one of myriad such mantras. Gāyatri mantra derived from Rig Veda verse 3.62.10, and the Purușasūkta mantra from Rig Veda verse 10.90 are most auspicious mantras for japa at sunrise and sunset; it is claimed to purify the mind and spirit.
One of the schools of Hindu philosophy i.e. Purva or karma Mimamsa deals with ritualistic part (karma kanda) of vedas to satisfy the urges of Dharma, Artha (wealth), Kama (sensual pleasure). It is believed that all-pervading consciousness manifests itself in different stages, each of which has a different form (deity) and sound vibration (mantra). Wherever a particular ritual is performed with the proper utilization of mantras, the deity related to those mantras is present because when the vibration is concentrated, the materialized form of the deity appears. Both deities and mantras operate on a principle similar to the conversion of energy into matter and matter into energy in physics.
So, mantra is a powerful combination of words which, if recited, takes the vibratory effect of each of our molecules into the Infinity of the Cosmos.
Mantras exist in various schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Similar hymns, chants, compositions, and concepts are found in Zoroastrianism, Taoism, ancient Hebrew, Tibetan, Christianity, and elsewhere. In Japanese, mantras are called Shingon.
The use, structure, function, importance, and types of mantras vary according to the school and philosophy of Hinduism and Buddhism. Mantras serve a central role in tantra. In this school, mantras are considered to be a sacred formula and a deeply personal ritual, effective only after initiation. In other schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or Sikhism, initiation is not a requirement.
The various aspects of Mantras viz. what is Mantra, Reciting of Mantras, Impacts of Chanting of Mantras, Science behind Mantras and Hindu Philosophy of Mantras, are mentioned below.