In ancient India many streams of philosophy were in vogue such as — Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Vedanta, Yoga and Mimamsa. These provide a suitable springboard for the search for the ultimate truth that has been a perennial one and continues till date. In a lecture, Sri Goda Venkateswara Sastrigal pointed out that not only is the truth elusive, but that the path is also most difficult and arduous.
The Samkhya philosophy views the entire creation as two categories — Purusha (the Self, Atma or soul) and Prakriti (matter, energy, etc.) The embodied soul, that is the Jivatma, possesses consciousness. Prakriti or nature is made up of the three Gunas, Satva, Rajas and Tamas. The soul is subtly blended with these in human birth.
Yoga is an essential aspect in spiritual realisation and Patanjali's Yoga Sutra is regarded as the basic text expounding the philosophy of the Yoga Sastra. Yoga teaches the methods by which the mind and body are brought under control. One is taught to travel from the physical to the subtler reaches of experience, when the Self as the pure essence of consciousness, eternal existence and bliss is realised.
While imparting the highest philosophy to Arjuna, Lord Krishna reassures him that the goal of Atma Jnana is attainable but only with arduous practice (Abhyasa) and renunciation (Vairagya). These are the virtues a human being should cultivate and sustain while in the midst of the powerful sway of worldly attractions. In this context, the guidance of Acharyas, seers and realised souls, plays an important role.
The mental modifications, likes and dislikes, etc., have to be eliminated so that these cannot make an impact on the individual. It is not a one-time achievement but has to be sustained and practised continuously. When non-attachment to worldly objects (Vairagya) becomes an attitude, the world is perceived as a mere presence that does not influence one's likes or dislikes. The Katopanishad, Brhadaranyaka and Taittiriya claim in one voice that there is no other path except this by which realisation is possible.