CHENNAI: Human birth in this world is a rare opportunity given to strive for freedom from bondage and thereby put an end to transmigration. This is the reason why the scriptures and the God-realised repeatedly stress that this chance should not be frittered away in preoccupation with materialistic pursuits to the detriment of one’s spiritual progress. To those who take to the spiritual path a preceptor is not only essential for guidance, but also the ideal to emulate, for being Self-realised he is a living testament to the assertion of the scripture that liberation from bondage is possible here and now (Jivanmukti).

In his discourse, Sri Goda Venketeswara Sastri said scriptures hailed such a liberated being as the most esteemed and blessed in this world. A Jivanmukta is known as Sthitaprajna because poised in the Self he is illumined always by the light of knowledge, which is the nature of the Self (Atman). “Prajna” is the insight that as consciousness there is no difference between Iswara (God) and the individual Self (Jiva). Till Self-realisation this will be only intellectual knowledge gained by the enunciation of the identity statements in the Upanishads by the preceptor.

Spiritual knowledge is essentially an insight when the Self is experienced, and it illumines the mind. Just as two individuals acquire knowledge of different subjects in which they pursue their study, so also does a spiritual seeker gain knowledge of the Self, which initially is intellectual and ultimately becomes experiential when the duality of subject and object is transcended in Self-realisation. This illumination first comes occasionally and becomes steady when all the vestiges of mental impressions are extinguished in the light of wisdom. The Vivekachudamani describes a Sthitaprajna in glowing terms on the lines of the Bhagavad Gita. He is free from all sense of reality of the external world as he identifies totally with the Self. He enjoys bliss uninterruptedly and is free from any activity as there is no craving in him for anything in the world. Hence the freedom and bliss of a Sthitaprajna are a reality and not just a state to be realised after this life, which should be a further motivation to pursue the spiritual goal.