God realisation remains a distant ideal to many because we tend to be preoccupied with worldly matters. Bhakti is necessary to hold on to God. Sri Ramakrishna taught his disciples the value of Bhakti in subtle ways and he was a living example of the infinite compassion and mercy of God, said Swami Gautamananda in a lecture. Though Sri Ramakrishna lived for a few years, his influence lingers through the tradition he has rejuvenated. He once visited a disciple who was sick and prayed to God to help him through the sickness. This is symbolic of God reaching out to His devotees in times of stress.

It also indicates that the glimpse of God in our consciousness comes unexpectedly and there are many ways in which He makes his presence felt. We have to strive and keep our heart and mind pure to receive God in us. God’s incarnations are some of the ways in which He chooses to come towards His Bhaktas to instil Bhakti. The incarnations as Rama, Krishna or Buddha stand testimony to the continued effect of inspiring Bhakti and Jnana that are essential in the spiritual path.

Great preceptors and realised souls are representatives of God who can help others to attain realisation. A log that is firm and unbroken can float on the waters and take many people to safety. Sri Ramakrishna used to state that Jnana dawns in one when there is acceptance of the Lord’s hand in all aspects of life, leaving no room for the individual to claim any possessiveness towards objects, people, achievements, etc.

Jnana is the state of awareness where Maya/Avidya or ignorance that functions by keeping us bound to the world has been transcended. Love towards one’s kith and kin and possession is bound by limitations; but when one is able to see the presence of the Lord in all aspects of creation, one is filled with an all-encompassing kindness and becomes part of God’s compassion.

Jnana is the awareness of the Self which is the essence of consciousness, eternity and bliss. We have to surrender to God who alone has the power to give us release from the cycle of birth.

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