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Phiolosophy of Ramanuja
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Chapter5-Hitha- How to get the knowledge of reality
Section 1- The means to the goal
We have seen so far the nature of three realities, Thathvathraya ,
namely, Brahman, Jagath and jeeva., otherwise known as Isvara, achith and chith, God, soul and matter. The entire philosophy of visishtadvaita comprises of thathva, hitha and purshartha, the truth, the way and the goal. We shall now see the second principle, namely, hitha, or the means to attain the goal.
There are four ways which lead to the goal. They are, jnana, karma, bhakthi and prapatthi. These are not however mutually exclusive of one another. One leads to another and followed simultaneously. This can be explained as follows.
Knowledge, jnana, of Brahman as the inner self of the individual self that forms the body of Brahman dispels the ignorance that arises out of the mistaken identification of oneself with the body. Then the sensual desires cease to affect the individual and he develops detachment, vairagya, which is born out of viveka, discrimination between real and unreal. This naturally leads the individual to seek the Lord and he acquires bhakthi, which is , according to Ramanuja is Dhruvasmrthi, uninterrupted contemplation of the Lord, like the dripping of oil,
thailaDhaaravat. Then the devotee does all his karma as an offering to God which is karmayoga. This culminates into total surrender or parapatthi. All this are not different stages that are achieved successively but simultaneous like the piercing of the petals of a lotus with a needle, which, though strictly speaking, is successive operation but due to the fineness of the texture it is simultaneous.
What could be the cause of vairagya, which is the first requisite of a seeker, mumukshu? At first the individual performs actions, ritualistic or others impelled by desire. After some time or some lives there comes a stage when he sees that all the worldly joys are fleeting and always accompanied by sorrow. Then he strives to attain eternal happiness and turns to spirituality. He starts enquiring into the real nature of the world and himself. Armed with the knowledge of sasthras and through contemplation he comes to know that the one and only reality is the Supreme self , the inner self of all, the Brahman of the Upanishads synonymous with Narayana of Visishtadvaita. This is jnana. The more and
more he thinks of the Lord, hears His stories and repeat His name , the more and more he comes to love the Lord who is the real self of all. This is bhakthi. With no desires of his own he starts performing all the actions as the service to the Lord. This is karmayoga. bhakthi that has no expectations becomes prapatthi, total surrender.
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