Path that leads to immortality

CHENNIA JULY 27. Fulfilment is possible in life for the individual who chooses the path of good by using his discrimination. The Upanishads address man as "the child of immortality" and Adi Sankara notes that these scriptural texts are more compassionate than a thousand mothers as they show him the path that will make him immortal. Every person at some time or the other in his life arrives at a crossroads when it becomes inevitable for him to make a choice. He can continue to wallow in the pleasures and pains of worldly life, which does not require any effort on his part or choose the spiritual path, which requires constant diligence and effort to progress.

The Katha Upanishad explains this choice before man through the life of Nachiketas who went to the abode of the god of Death when he was just a child to redeem his father's word. As he was made to wait at Yama's door for three nights he was granted three boons. He was insistent that he wanted to know only the ultimate truth from the god and turned down his offer of riches and pleasures of the world and heaven. Pleased with his sincerity the god taught him the truth. In his teaching life is symbolically represented as a journey for which human beings are equipped with the body-mind-intellect, which must be utilised properly.

The analogy of a chariot is used to explain the significance of the human personality in its progress towards the spiritual goal in life. The Upanishad says, "Know the Self (Atman) as the lord of the chariot and the body as verily the chariot; know the intellect as the charioteer and the mind as the reins. The senses are the horses and the sense objects the tracts before them. The Self as associated with the body, the senses and the mind, is the enjoyer, so say the wise. Whoever becomes devoid of knowledge because of mind ever unyoked, for him the senses are uncontrollable, as wild horses are for a charioteer. But whoever becomes endowed with knowledge because of mind ever yoked, for him the senses are controllable, as trained horses are for a charioteer."

In his discourse, Swami Bodhamayananda said fulfilment was possible in human life only when the spiritual goal was realised. According to the scriptures any human pursuit (in the arts and the sciences) must ultimately proceed towards the spiritual goal. The achievements at the temporal level must not be allowed to dissipate and instead focussed to progress further. Only an awakened intellect can transcend its limits to grasp the eternal.

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