: Man's grief in this Samsara is caused by ignorance. We are easily susceptible to the shades of illusion and reality, light and shadow, dream and wakefulness, etc., that it is easy to believe the untrue as true. For instance, a mirage has so much realistic appeal especially when even the swaying shadows of leaves on it appear as the fish swimming in water. The same is the case with the rope which can be easily mistaken for a serpent and can even become the cause of fear, doubt etc. Until sufficient light is thrown, the idea of the snake is strongly entrenched in our consciousness and is very difficult to uproot it.

Misunderstanding the unreal as real is so common and is called Avidya (ignorance) in spiritual parlance. This ignorance is not a casual happening and will not go easily, and has to be countered only with an unshakable desire for release (Mumukshutva) from Samsara, said Sri R. Krishnamurthy Sastrigal in a lecture.

The Isavasya Upanishad says that the entire universe is the residing place of God and also hides His presence. The infinite variety in name and form makes us believe that they all exist individually. When we assume that this is the truth, how is it possible to be convinced by the converse of this statement? This truth has to be established and the mist of misunderstanding cleared.

Conviction regarding the truth of one's existence and one's relationship to the world and the Supreme Brahman is gained by listening to the truths and thinking about them in one's mind. Such an exercise purifies the mind and kindles the desire to get liberated from Samsara.

Spiritual texts describe Samsara variously as a never-ending cycle, a poisonous tree, etc. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna calls it a tree with its roots in heaven and branches growing downward to the earth. Only the axe of non-attachment can sever one's connection to it.

The Self, which is of the essence of pure consciousness (Suddha Chaitanya), is self-luminous and effulgent. This Atma Swaroopa can be realised or recognised only through sheer practice (Abhyasa or Sadhana).