What is salvation, one may wonder. What is its nature? Is it a state of pure bliss or is it a condition where sorrows are banished? How is it attained? Is it something attained in this world itself or in some other world? Can it be attained by a Jivatma in an embodied form? Some say awareness of one’s Atmaswaroopa is salvation. Others say gaining celestial regions such as Kailasa, Vaikunta or Brahmaloka is salvation.
However, scriptures and sacred texts emphasise that salvation is getting out of Samsara, said Sri K. Srinivasan in a lecture. The Upanishads focus on realisation (Brahma Jnana) and Upasana (spiritual practice) as the means of attaining it. Most of us get attracted to the worldly glitter and tread the Pravritti marga or the path of worldly living. It is those who, when prompted by a sense of discrimination, resort to the Nivritti marga or the path of realisation leading to salvation. Such people are able to perceive what is beneficial to the Atma and decide to pursue this, rather than be deluded by material gains that are illusory. In the Katopanishad, Nachiketas is single in his purpose and makes the choice of the good and the right (Sreyas), rejecting the pleasurable and the sweet (Preyas), and this is indicative of his yearning to know the Absolute Truth from Yama.
The Ahamkara Bhava in the Jivatma makes him believe he can achieve things in this world. But very soon, he realises that without seeking God’s help all these attainments are impossible and resorts to God for fulfilment of his desires.
Krishna classifies the people who resort to Him thus into four categories — those seeking relief from distress; those desirous of wealth and material possessions; the applicant for knowledge; and the aspirant for spiritual realisation. The Lord says: “To those who seek fruits, I will grant. To those who seek Jnana, I will confer it. I will confer steadfastness in their seeking and gradually they will be led to their goal.” The Lord plays His role in evolving the true Bhakta who attains the Jnana of his true nature (swayaswaroopa) and of the infinite greatness of the Supreme Truth. Bhakti matures into the realisation of the relationship of the Jivatma with the Lord.