Sadhana Chatushtayam - Way to Salvation
Salvation or moksha means freedom from delusion (moha), illusion (Maya), ignorance (ajnana), duality (dvanda), egoism (anava), attachment (raga), aversion (dvesha) and death (mortality).
In Hinduism it is considered the hightst state or the supreme state (parandhamam).
A being caught in the cycle of births and deaths (samsara) is subject to these phenomena. When he transcends these, he become free.
This is called various as final liberation, salvation, moksha, nirvana, kaivalya. A person who achieves this state is called jivanmukta. In Hinduism salvation is a recurring theme.
The scriptures suggest various ways to achieve it. Not all agree with regard to the methods and techniques required to achieve salvation, but they all declare that the way to salvation in human life is through effort and self-purification.
In his acclaimed work Vivekachudamani (the Jewel of Wisdom), sri Shankaracharya identified four important qualities that are very essential for achieving salvation or perfection on the spiritual path.
They are collectively known as the four spiritual endowments (sadhana sampatti) or the four means of spiritual practice (sadhana chatushtayam). Every spiritual practitioner is expected to know them and cultivate them. They are the means to know Brahman and attain liberation.
Spiritual life is not easy. On the spiritual path one has to resolve many problems and overcome many obstacles, and unless one is well equipped with knowledge and virtue, it is very difficult to journey till the end.
Those who are interested in spiritual life and liberation should focus their effort on cultivating these four endowments without fail, because without them one will be vulnerable to many dangers and setbacks. The four spiritual means of liberation are discussed below.
1. Discriminating intelligence (vivekam). Many problems in our lives can be traced to the wrong decision we make due to either lack of knowledge or lack of proper reasoning. Discriminating intelligence is a superior faculty of the mind, which enables a practitioner to know the difference between truth and falsehood, reality and delusion, knowledge and ignorance and right and wrong.
Without discrimination it is not possible to know the truths concerning ourselves and our existence. With proper discernment one realizes that only Brahman is real and everything else is an illusion. Cultivating such discerning wisdom, one becomes indifferent to the phenomenal world and develops dispassion and detachment (vairagyam).
Eventually, discernment leads to sameness and equanimity. One of the principal aims of classical yoga is to cultivate viveka khyati or the ability to discern things properly whereby one develops insight into the nature of things and one's own Self.
2. Dispassion and detachment (viragyam): Scriptures such as the Bhagavadgita say that desires are the root cause of our suffering, bondage and delusion.
Desires arise because of the activity of the senses and our propensity to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
According to the Yogasutras (1.12) the afflictions of the mind (citta vrittis) can be be stilled only by practicing dispassion. Dispassion arises when we develop discriminating wisdom and stop craving for sense objects.
More importantly, one has to become indifferent to everything, including the gunas and their influence. True liberation comes only when one is detached from everything, including the need for liberation and dependence on God.
3. The six virtues (shatsampatti). These are the six virtues or the six abilities which have to be cultivated or which should be present in a person to attain liberation. They are listed below.
Shama: internal control of the mind and the sense organs
Dama: External control of the body , especially the organs of action (karmendriyas) and the organs of perception (jnanendriyas) by withdrawing them or disassociating them from the sense objects.
Uparati: Cultivating sameness towards the dualities of life by renouncing the world and attachment with worldly things, whereby one becomes free from the afflictions of the mind and remains stable and focused.
Titiksha: It is the ability to tolerate or withstand the sorrows and disappointments of life without feeling disturbed or oppressed by them. It is the willingness or the readiness to accept life unconditionally as it happens without expectations, resignation, or resistance.
Shraddah: It is having faith in yourself, you teacher, your religion, your scriptures, your practice, your path, God, the divinities, the methods and techniques you practice to perfect yourself on the spiritual path.
Samadhi: The ability to stabilize the mind and remain self-absorbed. This happens only when the mind is freed from all the afflictions through the practice of the eightfold yoga and cultivation of sattva. Samadhi is said to be of several types, but the highest of them is known as the dharmamegha samadhi.
4. Mumuksatvam: It is the intense aspiration for liberation from the triple evils, namely egoism, bondage and ignorance to which we are subject and become one with the Self or enter the highest world of Brahman.
It arises in a person only after several births and deaths and after attaining some merit in his or her past lives through the performance of obligatory duties and virtuous deeds.
The desire for liberation also arises when a person cultivates discriminating intelligence and attains the knowledge of the self and Brahman from study of the scriptures and the teachings of learned masters.
Mumukstavam is a natural and intense aspiration which arises in a mind that is filled with the light of sattva and the knowledge of Brahman or Isvara, the Self.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Om, Aum, Pranava or Nada in Mantra and Yoga Traditions
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- Atheism and Materialism in Ancient India
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- Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs From The Perspective Of Hinduism
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- Why Hinduism is a Preferred Choice for Educated Hindus