(By Ramaa Ravi Shankar)

 The Hinduism puts forward the thought of every human being as Jivatma, ‘particularised Self’. It professes the purpose of human life as to choose and tread the path that rejoins the Jivatma with the Paramatma. To put it another way, it is to seek ‘one’s own very being, or better, the very being that is oneself. Humans are the ‘fallen angels’ said

Dr Annie Besant, separated from the One Supreme. Jivatma’s are limited, not perfect. Highly limited because its pure consciousness blends with the various shields of matter to acquire a nature very different from its pure self.

 The supreme qualities of ‘sat-chit-ananda’ caught within the qualities of Inertia, Mobility and Rhythm, (‘tamas-rajas-sattvic’) develop different afflictions in human beings. Life experiences make entry and exit through the sense organs, which are again limited and so in turn further limit the attitudes and seal the human behavior. Immortal is the soul yet mortality dawns on humans due to these various limitations.

 Patanjali in his Yoga aphorism points out, five kinds of afflictions, humans get into. The afflictions being-Ignorance, Egotism, Liking, Disliking and Possessiveness.

 Ignorance is said to arise in human beings from lack of discriminating power between the real and the unreal. Men are said to confuse the unreal for the real and real for the unreal. The physical body, emotions and mind are professed as mere vehicles in human beings. The radiance of the soul is to shine through them. However, these shields gain immense prominence in daily living and project themselves as real, pushing away the actual need to radiate the qualities of the soul. Human actions directed to the projected reality is said to be the seed of Ignorance.

 Egotism is the belief in the I-ness of the personality. Simply termed egotism is ‘Selfishness’. It takes birth with wrongful prominence given to the shields of the body than meditating and operating on the qualities of pure consciousness in oneself. It is non-understanding of the vehicles of the body as only instruments of the real self ‘to play a proper part in the world’.

 Likes and dislikes are images formed to suit the comforts and pleasures of the personality and do not hold any value for an immortal being. Possessiveness is clinging to the body without the true realization that it is present to be used only as an instrument for the real self to gain worldly experiences.

 These afflictions limit and enslave humans. This realization takes one to steps from liberation from them. One has to gain admission, on one’s own free will and accord into the school of life. This is the study for a lifetime and its practice is in every moment of life.

   What would be the syllabus of such a school? The theory would contain techniques that help train oneself in obtaining from the afflictions. Practice of four qualities illustrated by Shri Shankaracharya in Viveka Chudamani could be the practical and the outcome of this studentship would lead to an awakening in the self which would be capable of responding to the three powers of consciousness which are the Will, Thought and Love.

 The four qualities said in Viveka Chudamani are Discrimination, Detachment, Six attainments and the Desire for Liberation. Discrimination, as said before, is the power of understanding the real and the unreal. Detachment is absence of agitation due to external objects.

 The six attainments are 1) Control of mind-resulting in calmness; 2) Control of body; 3) Cessation of eagerness on external objects to gain happiness and developing an attitude of contentment by accepting what the world offers; 4) Patient and cheerful endurance in trying conditions and the sequence of Karma; 5) Sincerity and confidence in oneself and others; 6) Steadiness in orienting one’s actions to definite purpose in hand. Desire for liberation is determination to free oneself from the unreal and seek the real and the reality of one’s own nature.

 The present day education teaches means to prosperity but creates a vacuum after its acquisition. Prosperity alone without the right direction to its use is a sure danger. Aim of prosperity is happiness. Happiness should be in its right respective. It has to facilitate in experiencing oneness with the Paramatma. As Batruhari, the Sanskrit poet points out, prosperity should encourage charity, which in turn brings happiness. 

And Taittiriy upanishad clarifies that charity should be given always with faith. It should not be given if one does not have faith. It has to be tempered with modesty and propriety. Adorning with these qualifications, students on the path of life can come to clarity as Emerson said-“There is no bar or wall in the soul where man leaves off and God begins,” and there could be no partition between the spiritual and the material living for ‘the Supreme one and Self are me’.