(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6thbatch)
Karute gangasaagaragamanam, vrataparipaalanam athavaa daanam
Jaanaviheenah sarvamatena, bhajati na muktim janmashatena || 17 ||
Meaning: One may go to Ganga Sagar, or take do various austerities, or do charity. Yet, without the knowledge of the self, he cannot attain Liberation even after a hundred births.
This verse was given by Subodha.
People have different concepts of seeking God. Some go regularly to pilgrimages to centres like Badrinath, Amarnath, Tirupati, Sabarimala, Shirdi, Ganga Sagar (the place where river Ganga flows into the Bay of Bengal) and for taking vows or offering their prayers to the Lord. There are some people who observe fasting on auspicious days, go to a particular temple regularly on a certain day of the week, or even daily. Some believe that charity is the best way of offering service to the Lord. So they are constantly offer money, food, etc to the temples, or to the needy. Subodha says that all this is good. But unless these acts are backed with the Knowledge of the Self, a person cannot get liberated even in hundred births.
All these acts of worship are good to set a discipline and devotion in our lives. But one should never forget that even temples are a means for us to evolve. Our scriptures even tell us to take the spiritual texts as our guides. But at one point, that also has to be dropped and we need to go further.
Buddha’s cousin, Ananda, became his follower. Ananda had a condition to Buddha that he shall never leave Buddha. Buddha told him that if Ananda has to realize God, he has to go on his own. But Ananda did not agree to it and continued his travel with Buddha throughout his life. And Ananda did not attain Self-Realisation. He had the privilege of being with Buddha but lost a greater opportunity of attaining Liberation.
When a child is small, he learns to ride a tricycle. Later on he gets on to a bicycle with supporting two small wheels attached to the hind wheels. But at some point, if he has to get cycle balance and ride the cycle really fast, he has to let go of the two small wheels. Attached wheels were a support, but to a particular time. Ultimately, even that has to be dropped.
Different forms of worshipping, pilgrimages, austerities, charity, fasting, books, etc are all stepping stones towards God. One should not get stuck over there. During discourses, we can see some people always entering late into the hall. If we ask them why they were late, they will say, they had to go to the temple before coming for the Satsang. In verse number 9 & 13, Shankar clearly points out how important Satsang is. When compared to Satsang, everything else is secondary. But we get so attached to our ways to worship that we miss something of higher importance. Satsang is the opening where we can directly receive this Great Knowledge to know our Self – our True Nature.
Some people take pride is saying that they have been observing a particular practice since last so many years. But dear friend, have you far have you gone in your progress? Are you still there where you were many years ago?
Means is always a means. Eventually, one needs to Detach oneself from the means inorder to attain the Goal. Without Self-Knowledge one can only Revolve and not Evolve.