Topic- Spiritual journey begins only after a big reversal
Title- The Summit of Spirituality
-By Rishika Gitta
Life is no less than a roller coaster ride: we cannot expect what we’ll have to face next. Life may pull us down into its deep and dark gorges, or it may make us soar high in the open blue sky.
Naturally, all that most people are concerned about is how to lead a more comfortable life tomorrow, and thus schemes are hatched for this end which may not always be honest, sensible or thoughtful. The efforts for obtaining material comforts become moral and spiritual pitfalls and one is pulled down instead of being able to rise.
When most of us are at the peak of our success, we take all credit for it. But in times of failure, we blame other people around us. When the path seems dark and dreary and there is no telling of what the outcome of our actions will be, we fear: we fear circumstances, thoughts and people. This is when we turn to our last resort, and remember the Almighty. The peculiar fact about this change in a person is that it does not make success imminent; victory and defeat are dependent on numerous factors, some of which we are in control of and most of which we are not. The outcome of this change in a human being, when he turns towards the Almighty, is that whether he emerges victorious or defeated in battle, he accepts the outcome and his spiritual faith enables him to walk through life with a placid and detached attitude. This attitude slows him down enough to make him look within as he divorces himself from the rat race. How did I come into being? How has this universe been functioning so brilliantly since time immemorial?
Is there some transcendental being who looks after all humanity? As these questions emerge in a human’s mind, his inquisitiveness allows him to delve deeper into the subject of spirituality.
We observe that fear and necessity push us towards spirituality, spirituality takes us towards peace and inquiry, inquiry takes us deeper into spirituality. And thus the spiritual journey begins, and continues over days, months, years and lifetimes.
Birth and death are the greatest reversals in the journey of a soul, which have the power to determine one’s destiny. When one is born in an atmosphere of devotion, faith and dharma, and is taught about principles and morals right at the beginning of life, an environment is created which is conducive to the cultivation of spirituality. The best example of this is Prahlad.
Prahlad came to know about the Almighty in his mother’s womb, even before he was born: this knowledge led him towards the path of spirituality at a very early age. Similarly, death can also act as a principal factor for the birth of spirituality. When one parts with the material body
while remembering the Almighty with a pure and devoted heart, it increases the chances for the devotee to break free from the cycle of birth and death very soon and attain liberation. The prime example of this is Ajaamila, the brahmana who led a very sinful life. When he called out for his youngest son, Narayana, as the Yamadootas approached him, Vishnu sent the Vishnu dootas to save Ajaamila by interpreting the call for his son as a call for God. Ajaamila soon realized his mistake at this turn of events, and decided to spend the rest of his life by seeking forgiveness from those whom he had hurt and lead a better life by following the principles of
The age we live in is the Kali Yuga- An age where taking birth in a devotee family is rare and being able to remember Krishna at the time of death instead of sobbing, wailing and begging for life to remain is even rarer. So how does one attain the Supreme abode? As a person journeys through the calms and storms of life, he turns to the scriptures when he is in a
desperate situation, when he knows well that he is helpless and in need. So he worships Lakshmi for wealth, Ganesha for luck, Saraswati for knowledge and in the process, signs a give- and-take contract. There is neither faith nor devotion in such worship, only a hunger for power and wealth. So, in doing this, a person becomes tangled in the folds of Maaya, as a fly is caught in the web of a spider. When no satisfaction is derived even from this process, a person turns towards Brahma, to attain the peace and pleasures of Brahmaloka by forsaking the pains on earth. But seldom do people realise that Brahmaloka is no different from earth- on both planets, you are kicked out when your tenure is over. The only difference is that on earth we are bound by lead chains and on Brahmaloka we are bound by golden chains.
Now, the tired, desperate and hopeless living entity turns towards his last and only resort, Krishna. Being disappointed each time he craved for something, the living entity now prays to the Almighty with total surrender. Krishna, who had been glancing at this entity through all his
struggles, waiting for him to just notice the Paramaatma in his heart, can now finally reveal Himself to the devotee, now that the devotee has surrendered unto Him. Through lifetimes of repeated struggles and disappointments spanned over centuries, if not yugas, the final blow of
material loss is the ultimate reversal in the life of an entity that makes him a devotee. Now, Krishna takes hold of His devotee’s hand and leads him through the last phase of his material life, like a kind soul helps a blind man find his way in the darkness. And then the devotee and his Krishna walk into Krishna’s Supreme Abode, where there is neither birth nor death, but eternal transcendental existence.
The best example of this is Dhruva. Since birth, he was always neglected by his father due to the influence of his stepmother, Suruchi. When he saw his younger brother playing on his father’s lap, Dhruva too went to his father, but Uttanapada took no notice of Dhruva, afraid of Suruchi’s wrath. Suruchi reprimanded Dhruva, saying that he was not worthy of that honour.
“Had you been my own son,” said Suruchi with pride and indifference to the feelings of the little child, “You would have got the privilege of sitting on your father’s lap. Pray to Narayana to make you my son in your next birth!” When Suneeti consoled the heartbroken child by telling him that his stepmother was true in informing him that he ought to pray to Narayana, Dhruva began his journey towards realizing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to ask Him to fulfill his heartfelt desire. But after an arduous meditation on the Supreme Lord’s name, when Narayana appeared before Dhruva, he was so mesmerized by the Lord’s splendor and influence that he completely forgot about the petty desires he had and instead engaged himself in glorifying Narayana. This shows that although we may initially approach the Lord for the sake of fulfillment of our material desires, the Lord ultimately showers his mercy on us by turning our attention, emotions and dedication towards Him. Hence, it is said that God’s grace is required to make one turn to Him.
As per my understanding, spirituality is a kind of existence which cannot be explained in mere words. It is only the start of the spiritual journey when one turns to Krishna for alleviation of fear; desire for mental peace, or even liberation. These are only the initial steps of the ladder, fully climbing which the peak of spirituality can be attained. The first step of the ladder is the beginning of spirituality. We go high up on the ladder when we cultivate unconditional devotion to the Almighty: when we give all our heart, mind and soul to the service of Krishna, without being desirous of any benefit, be it spiritual or material. It is then that our eternal existence undergoes a transcendental and final reversal, after which there are no more reversals, which will carry us towards the lotus feet of Sri Krishna.