Inspired by Chapters 1 & 2 of Tripura Rahasya [THE MYSTERY BEYOND THE TRINITY]
Srinivasa looked up to the presence of the Lord within the sacred shrine of his home. How beautiful He looked, how completely divine in the presence of these white jasmine flowers that garland His being. How pure does He shine in the light of this ghee lamp. Srinivasa sat back contemplating for a few minutes, his mind relaxed, his eyes glowing in rapture and his hair stood on end as if his ecstasy could not be contained within his being... he was in complete union with divinity.
It may have been just a few moments but they were profound, immersed in deep bhakti he looked up to the shrine in surrender, imbibing the complete moment of spiritual rapture he had felt within his being. He then prostrated on the floor bowing to the shrine. He had tasted the elixir of spiritualism, the sweet fruit of his worship and now he wanted to be in its presence for as long as he could. He realized the beauty of selfless worship and thirsted to practice this ancient sacred lore as much as he could. He went round and bowed to the sacred shrine hoping to relive this moment of rapture again.
Srinivasa now commenced his worship, reciting verses from the sacred texts, following every ritual prescribed and keeping every step clear in execution and yet he didn't completely understand the method itself or the meaning of the ritual worship he had been performing all these years. What had this worship have to do with the workings of the greater universe? Where does it start from and where does it end in all its grandeur? The worldly happenings seem so strangely permanent and yet they are considered not to be so. He sat back thinking, taking his own example...he remembered nothing of his childhood, he was different in his youth, and he is different in his manhood and in this way his life constantly changes. And therefore what is the result of these changes? What is the purpose of this change? It didn't make no sense to him.
The end justifies the means adopted by the seeker according to their temperaments. Are we really happy? Well then, having gained one purpose why do we look for another? Therefore is the only real purpose the accession of pleasure or the removal of pain? Therefore does the purpose drive the incentive for the effort to last. How then is a beggar any different from an emperor, he labors for happiness as much as an emperor does. Each of them having gained their purpose feels happy that they have been blessed as if they have reached the goal of their lives. And I too have been unwittingly imitating them, like a blind man who follows another. How completely stupid is this way of existence!
Srinivasa, sat in deep thought, he now wished he could cross this deep ocean of doubt with the teachings he had gathered. He now knew, his only way was to mentally surrender to the supreme. He realized his happiness lies in the constant moment of rapture that enveloped him while he worshiped the Lord. He wished this moment to be unbroken and undisturbed.
Prayers to God are selfish in the beginning, yet they not only fulfill one's desire but they also purify the mind. Devotion now grows in intensity and the seeker so desires nothing more than the presence of the Lord himself. If lucky, the Lord's grace is shown upon him in the manifestation of a Guru, who comes to his doorstep more by the play of circumstance than his very own search.
Misery is not the absence of happiness, but the limitation of it, for when happiness recedes, misery flows in. This is not the only miserable result of action, but worse than this is the fear of death which cannot be mitigated by any amount of action. How can transient mental concepts of devotion produce permanent results of higher truth? More over these practices are continuous and there seems to be no end to obligatory duties in one's life. How does one free himself from these obligations and seek real happiness, and yet great souls do so!
But when they do, they laugh at the ways of the world, they walk up the road of fearlessness with no concern at all, just like a majestic elephant refreshes itself in a pool of melted snow when the surrounding forest is on fire! They are completely happy and are free from any sense of obligation**. How does one reach this state? How does one escape from the jaws of Karma. As long as a man is afraid of his obligations, so long must he placate it or else he will not find peace. Similar is the fate of people who in the quest of happiness fall into the trap of action. One should not be in this state of distraction.
The only salvation to get out of this state is contemplation, the need to investigate and realize the purpose of one's existence. Can the sweet waters of dew ever collect in the sandy desert which are already scorched by heat? When the Goddess, Devi, is pleased with the worship of the devotee, she turns into Vichara** in him and shines as the blazing sun in the expanse of his heart.
Vichara is the only way to attain higher good. Vichara is the only weapon to fight the overpowering disease of ignorance. If vichara takes root the higher good for all practical purposes has been reached. So long as vichara doesn't take root, one's life remains barren and therefore useless. The only fruit of life is vichara.
Srinivasa thought, a man without the sense of vichara, is like a frog in the well that doesn't know anything, either of good or bad, and dies in the very same well of ignorance. If we forever continue to run away dispassionately from misery and seek the depths of pleasure, we can never escape from the cycle of birth and death just as a jack-ass pursues a she-ass even if kicked a hundred times by her.We will therefore never give up our thirst and ignorance will continue to prevail.
Srinivasa collected himself. There was only one way forward - contemplation on the self and the purpose of one's life in this sea of obligation within the darkness of ignorance.
**Free from obligation doesn't mean that it is not performed, it is performed but with no attachment to the act or the fruits of its result. As the Gita rightfully says, we cannot escape action or inaction, but we can escape its karma by the detachment from the obligation itself.
**Vichara - Discrimination, investigation, deliberation, judgment