The simplest way to liberation!
Narada Maharshi was once very much worried about the shape of things to come in Kali Yuga. He went to Satya loka and asked the Creator of the universe, Brahma, “My Lord! As soon as we reach the darker side of Kali Yuga, men tend to give up righteous ways of living. They will evince interest in pursuits of demerit. They will refrain from speaking truth. They will be keen on casting aspersions on others. They will be interested in others wealth and even other women. More than anything, they will be preoccupied with thoughts of tormenting others. They will delude themselves into thinking that body is the reality of self only to grope in dark with this tragedy of mistaken identity. They will sink into a pool of ignorance, become atheistic and devoid of wisdom and common sense, unable to rise above animal instincts. They will be hostile to their parents but over-attached to their spouses in as much as passion for them will prove to be their sole providence! They will give up all that is righteous, only to cheat others. They will forsake their basic obligations and duties towards humanity. The sole aim of life will be to make money and no exploitation will be too much to achieve that goal! All this will only bring disillusionment, pride and prejudice. How can such people attain the highest? The more I think about it, the more I get worried about them. It is my humble prayer that they should be bailed out to reach the highest through a simple, subtle or secret solution.”
Brahma’s secret path to Jeevanmukti
“Narada!” said Brahma, “You have opened a good topic. There is a way out. Long ago, Parvathi in order to bless devotees of God, sought from Shiva more of truth and greatness of Sri Rama. Though the subject was one of profound secrecy, the Lord told her all about the secret. It is not perhaps known to many that among the Puranas, there is a crowning glory called ”Adhyatma Ramayana” and Parvathi offers worship to it day in and day out. She thinks constantly about the ramifications of the Ramayana lore, forgets herself and spends her time in bliss.”
“When she makes it popular – by virtue of people’s fortune – people in the abysmal state in Kali yuga will get redemption by a mere perusal of Adhyatma Ramayana! People will come to know about the true form and personality of Rama only after a perusal. It is physically impossible for me to describe the full benefits from a reading or rendering of it or listening to a rendering. With all that, I will tell you something about it as Shiva himself told me about it long ago.”
“If only one reads,” continued Brahma, “a sloka of Adhyatma Ramayana or half of it, with devotion, one’s sins will get washed away at once:
Adhyatma Ramayanataha slokam
slokardha meva vaa,
sa paapaanmuchyathe kshanaath
(A.R. Part 1 Sarga 1, S. 29)
One who makes an intensive study of Adhyatma Ramayana, with an unwavering mind as much as possible, by reading or by listening to a rendering, will be called a Jeevanmukta:
Yathaashakti vadedbhaktyaa sa Jeevanmukta uchyathe.
Whoever worships the book without neglecting it , will get the benefit of doing an Aswamedha Yaga! If someone accidentally listens to a discourse of Adhyatma Ramayana, such a one will be absolved of all sins. A prostration to the sacred book is equivalent to the worship of all gods, beyond all shadow of doubt.”
“Narada!” concluded Brahma, “I will tell you more about the greatness of Adhyatma Ramayana. Vedas, Smrithis, Puranas, Mythology or History and Agama cannot individually be equal to one-sixteenth of its greatness.”
The conclusion that becomes inescapable is that whoever keeps Adhyatma Ramayana for daily parayana (reading) irrespective of whether it is a part, chapter or sloka, will by divine grace, be ushered into the state of Jeevanmukti. This is the simplest way to liberation during one’s life time.
Dattathreya on Jeevanmukti
Sri Shuka Maharshi sings in praise of Dattathreya, one of the earliest authorities on Jeevanmukti:
“Dattathreya Hare Krishna
Dattathreya was known to be always in a state of unmada-avastha. Recent examples of a Jeevanmukta belonging to this illustrious category have been Sree Sadashiva Brahmendra Saraswathi of Nerur and H.H. Chandrasekhara Bharati Swamigal of Sringeri. Their joys as Jeevanmuktas surged from their obliviousness of the physical frame, blissful preoccupation with the Brahman and cosmic consciousness transcending the territorial barriers of matter, water, fire, air and ether.
The moon appears in multiple manifestation when we see its image in water, whether it is stored in tanks, lakes, containers or rivers. But the reality is one. In the same way, the Brahman is seen in many beings as the prime mover. He is one though reflected in all. He is the Atman in the individual and the Brahman in the universe and beyond. The identity of the Atman with the Brahman and the perception of the Brahman in the Atman brings about the liberation of individual, even before death of the mortal coil; after the experience of the Brahman within himself, he no longer sees any misery that so many others are unable to free themselves from, its shackles. That the Jeeva-atman is none other than Shiva himself is the quintessence of Jeevanmukti Gita of Dattathreya. The solar rays illumine the world. The Brahman illumines the universe; the Atman sheds light on the individual. In other words, the Sun, the Brahman and the Atman (indistinguishable from the Brahman) are the prime movers and causative of all existence. It is the supreme knowledge that brings about liberation while life in the individual still goes on. One who has realized the truth of one’s own identity, the truth of Atman, is a Jeevanmukta.
Dattathreya underlines the qualities of Jeevanmukta:
- A Jeevanmukta knows his self by personal experience thereof (Sree Devudu Narasimha Sastry, the author of “Maha Brahmana” on Viswamitra calls the manifesting self as prana-jyothi).
- Beyond doubt or illusion, he knows that his self or Atman is the doer (there is no other identification).
- He ascribes the joys of Jeevanmukti state to the Lord within himself and attributes the enjoyership also to the Atman.
- He knows that the Atman is verily the Brahman.
The discovery of the all-important truth ushers in a state of Jeevanmukti and a source of perennial joy to the unique individual. It may seem so to observers of such a one. But the individual himself thinks that the Atman (as the doer) sheds light on distinct identity and radiates joy and … enjoys it! These realities, indeed, are as real as they are subtle.