CHENNAI: The objective of Vedanta is to remove man's delusion about his nature. Instead of identifying with the Self (Atman), which is eternal, blissful and consciousness per se, human beings identify themselves with their body-mind-intellect personality. As human sorrows are caused by ignorance only knowledge can dispel it and lead to the realisation of the Self.

In his discourse, Sri C.L.Ramakrishnan said scriptural texts like the Brahmasutra deliberated on the nature of the Supreme Reality (Brahman) and then proceeded to show the identity of the Self with the Absolute. The way to Self-realisation is a progressive evolution through three stages: listening to the exposition of the scriptures from the preceptor (Sravana), who is himself a man of wisdom; committing whatever he has learnt to memory (Manana) and finally contemplating on the teaching so that it leads to experience (Nidhidhyasana) of the Self.

Some Upanishads like the Katha and the Mundaka point out that the experience of the Self is possible only in the case of one who is graced by God. Why do the scriptures contradict themselves? This is to emphasise that only meditation practised along with devotion will be fruitful and in spiritual life divine grace is manifested through the preceptor (Guru). This is the reason why Lord Krishna told Arjuna (in the Bhagavad Gita), "Understand the true nature of that knowledge by approaching illumined souls. If you prostrate at their feet, render them service, and question them with an open and guileless heart, those wise seers of Truth will instruct you in that knowledge."

Another important requisite for success in spiritual quest is faith in the scriptures and in the teachings of the Guru. Faith must not be blind but rational, as only then will there be conviction. A doubt may arise as to whether every spiritual seeker who adopts this path will be blessed with spiritual knowledge. Hypothetically yes, but in practice it is an exceptional person who is successful for the Lord Himself has declared in the Gita, "In the very last of births the enlightened soul worships Me, realising that all this is God. Such a great soul is rare."