CHENNAI: All spiritual practices are intended to prepare the mind to grasp the true nature of the Self (Atman). So it is Self-knowledge (Jnana) that liberates the bonded soul and when a seeker realises the Self he is delivered from Karma both Punya (meritorious) and Papa (sins). But the Karma which brought about this birth continues till the body drops and this has been explained by the example of the potter's wheel which continues to rotate even after the potter stops turning it (till the momentum dissipates). The Bhagavad Gita explains how knowledge liberates: "As the blazing fire turns the fuel to ashes, even so the fire of knowledge turns all actions to ashes."

In his discourse, Sri N.Veezhinathan said the Bhagavata Purana explained that the cowherd maidens (Gopis) exhausted all their Karma by sufferings pangs of separation from Lord Krishna (and Punya by experiencing the bliss of union with Him). Such scriptural statements are proof for Jivanmukti (liberation while living). Lord Krishna in the Gita has pointed out that this state is not easy to attain, "In the very last of all births the enlightened soul worships Me, realising all this is God. Such a great soul is rare." If it were not so, scholars who are well adept in the scriptures would all be realised men of wisdom.

Two points are emphasised in the Gita to prepare the mind to grasp Self-knowledge: mind must be free from desires and performing all actions without motive for the result. This is the path of Karma yoga, which is preparation for Jnana. The Gita notes that there is no purifier greater than Jnana and he who has attained purity of mind through prolonged practice of Karma yoga automatically sees the light of truth in the Self in course of time.

The qualities of a spiritual aspirant who will attain success in his quest are control over the sense organs, faith in the scriptural teachings as taught by the Guru and exclusive devotion to his spiritual practice. On the contrary, he who lacks discrimination and is devoid of faith, and is assailed by doubt is lost to the spiritual path. The doubter comes off the worst, as he can neither enjoy this world (material happiness) nor the spiritual world, and is thus unhappy. Ignorance is the knot between the mind and the Self, and knowledge unties this knot and reveals the Self.