In this desperate hurry, to squeeze out every bit of spiritualism this city offers for the time and money spent, most of us miss out on the inherent depth of knowledge that was once a dialog between two profound souls right here.
Amidst the lush green paths that lead to the slivery cool waters of the Ganges, dotted with saffron clad men taking a holy dip in her waters, the sounds in the air were at one point in history, a mixture of nature and profound dialogs on philosophy between men of high intelligence! In this back drop of a river sweeping away the very ashes of life that burn away in the fiery flames of death, an ancient saint was stopped by a sweeper of low caste.
What came forth is a dialog of profound wisdom, which would render us truly enlightened souls if we ever lived by it; this is called the Manishapanchakam. 5 verses of beauty and rhythm, 5 pearls of profound wisdom have brought a different meaning into the lives of mere mortals. This was a dialog sparked between Adi Shankaracharya and a low caste sweeper, when the sweeper refused to move despite Adi Shankara asking him to clear the way as he headed to Kashi Vishwanath temple.
The sweeper just asked one question: Oh Great Saint, what do you mean when you say move, do you want one physical body to move away from another physical body or do you want consciousness to move away from consciousness?
Is there a difference between the reflection of the Sun in the holy Ganges or in the water flowing by the house of an outcaste? What is this illusion of difference between two forms that have the same atman within, that of a Brahman and that of an outcaste? Atman is pure consciousness, a part of a ripple free ocean of bliss.
Shankaracharya, surprised with this question, realized this was no ordinary man and replied:
If the wisdom of consciousness is realized, a person ceases to be an object of perception, and becomes a pure stream of consciousness which shines is deep sleep, dreams and when awake. He who has this consciousness, dwells in all be it Brahma or even an ant, he is my Guru, irrespective of whether he is an outcaste or a Brahman. This is my conviction.
I am Brahman, pure consciousness. This illusion around me is a making of my own ignorance and perception of my mind, a result of my own gunas; satwik, rajasik and tamasik. Brahman, which is bliss, is my Guru, whether he is an outcaste or Brahman.
Having come to the conclusion that the universe is perishable, he who with a calm and pure state of mind constantly meditates on Brahman, he who has burnt his past and future sins into the flames of knowledge, he submits his present body to his praarabdha karma. This is my conviction.
The self is pure consciousness and is experienced clearly within as “I”. It is by the reflection of this consciousness that the mind, body and senses appear to be sentient, though they are insentient. The real self is concealed by the mind, and senses like the sun is covered by clouds. The yogi who always meditates on the self is my Guru, this is my conviction.
The self or atman is an eternal ocean of bliss, a minute fraction of which is enough to satisfy Indra. One who meditates on the self with a perfectly calm mind, experiences Brahman. Such a person is not a mere knower of Brahman, but is Brahman itself. Such a person will be worshipped by Indra, he attains Jivamukta. This is my conviction.
A profound spell of words rained down these very noisy alleys that lead to Kasi Vishwanath temple, long ago in ancient India. The Lord himself graced these streets to test enlightened souls. Such was the pulse of Varanasi.