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 Blooming Stars

Holiness in Hinduism

             In understanding pathways to holiness in Hinduism, it is important to look at various sadhana (spiritual or ascetic practices). Depending on the teachings of Madhavacharya (dwaita, i. e., dualism: God – Brahman - and devotee or human are not the same) and Ramanujacharya (vishishtadwaita, i.e., qualified non-dualism: God and human are the same but also different), and Sankaracharya (advaita, i. e, God and human are the same – aham brahmasmi: (I am God) there are different sects, cults, rites, rituals, and ascetic practices. I am going to focus on advaita as it is the most important of the three traditions. Sadhana Chathushtayam - four aspects of ascetic practices for God realization – that may be considered to be the core of the advidic (non-dual) vedantic teaching tradition (pramanam), that is well-explained in Viveka Choodamani supposed to be written by Sri Sankaracharya, and that is to be practiced by sadhaks(seekers after truth or desirers of moksha or liberation).

            These four aspects are: 1. Nityaanitya Vivekam (the discriminative knowledge between what is time-bound/temporal/unreal and eternal/permanent/real, 2. Ihaamutraphala.bhogaviragam (The renunciation of desires/attachments that distracts the mind here in the world), 3.Shamadishadka sampatthi (six resources beginning with the control of the mind), 4.Mumukshatwam (the desire for liberation). According to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa there are four types of people: (1) Nityabaddhan (ever-tied or imprisoned: the one who is immersed in the allurements and pleasures of this world without knowing that this world is an illusion or unreal or does not last), (2) Baddha mumukshu (tied striver of liberation: the one who knows that this world is unreal and strives incessantly for liberation), (3) Baddha muktan (freed from ties: liberated from bondage/illusion through sadhana), and (4) Nitya muktan (the one who has never been in the grip of bondage). In all this sadhana (ascetic practice), vivekam (discriminative knowledge) and vairagyam (absolute detachment) are the most important elements. Vevekam will make a person realize that only God is real and the world is unreal (brhmasatyam jagatmidhya). Vairagyam is a mental state marked by absence of yearning in all fleeting objects of pleasure. It is not running away from the world as the world is always going to be with you wherever you go. Artham (wealth) and kamam (anything pleasure-related) will vanish. Only dharmam (righteous thinking and behavior) can help. This realization will lead to detachment (vairagyam) from the seductions of this world. Absolute and unconditional surrender to God alone matters.


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