The Brahma sutra written by Shri Vyas-Badrayana is a very important book on philosophy combined with experience. It is the gist of all the Upanishad. Adi Shankar-acharya has written the first commentary on it. Later other Acharyas wrote their commentaries on the Brahma Sutra and started their own schools of thought. These several schools are essential because there are several types of people. If anyone wants to really study Ved/ Vedanta, study of the Brahma Sutra is compulsory. And Ved/ Vedanta is Sanatan Dharma/Hinduism.
I follow the philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya. Advaita, non duality, the goal being attainment of Nirvishesh Brahma.
I wrote about the several deities that followers of Sanatan Dharm aka Hindus worship. But we all ultimately worship the Para, the ‘beyond’, and we know ourselves to be this Para. Every Hindu wants to experience himself as the Para, ie achieve Moksh. This happens when the soul experiences the ultimate knowledge of his own reality.
Now there are two types of Intelligent knowledge.
- Experience of Sagun Brahma, which has attributes linked to the three types of Gun. The three Gun ie Prakruti/Purush still exist, it is a state of duality.
- Experience of the Nirgun Brahma, where the three Gun ie Prakruti/Purush do not exist, it is a state of non-duality.
A bit of background. The Shri-yantra is the essential geometry, the energy of the manifested universe represented as a mandal. Mandal is a Sanskrit word which means, round, planetary orbit, snake, collection, whole body, royal company, a round plaything, halo etc. All these meanings can be understood in context of Prakruti, the topmost deity of the Shri Chakra, also called Devi Lalita Tripursundari. She is a serpentine Kundalini, she controls the universes, the Shri-chakra is a collection of her subordinate deities who cluster round her in perfect geometry, they form her halo and ultimately all this is a plaything devised by her for her own amusement. She has created it and she is the Empress of the Shri-chakra. She pervades the Shri-chakra with her energy, you might think of the chakra as her body. Each line and intersection in the Shri-chakra mandal is linked to an intelligence, a ‘god’ including the topmost Brahmadev, Vishnu, Shiv and their wives Sarasvati, Laxmi, Shakti. Each of these ‘gods’ is not the final goal but an energy from Prakruti herself.
These ‘gods’ are tremendous in their own right. Theymake up your body and also your mind. You are not your body/mind, you are not even the individual soul. The individual soul carries a baggage of karma. You are the Eternal. If you focus on these ‘gods’, pull in their energies, you balance the body/ mind and reduce the karmic baggage. The body gets perfect the mind gets stilled, the soul beings to realise its reality. You get a huge boost on your way to moksh. But just never forget that they are not the ultimate goal. You are.
(In astrological terms, your Moon is your mind, your Sun is your individual soul, your ascendant sign ruler is your body, so who are you then?)
Sagun brahma is a product of Maya ie it is under Prakruti. If you intensely worship a ‘form’ ie Vishnu, Shiv, Devi etc, and reach one-ness with it, you achieve Krama-mukti. The soul achieves the highest knowledge, Brahma-Vidya, and achieves final release from the cycle of birth-rebirth. It now resides in one of the three possible highest dimensions/ Lok ie Brahmalok or Vaikunth or Kailas. It is not born again as its karmic account has been balanced. It remains dissolved in its Ishta-devata / adored ‘god’, Brahmadev, Vishnu or Shiv. However it remains here in this Lok, till the end of the creation cycle called Kalpa-anta. At Kalpa-anta, everything that contains duality is dissolved. Ie the ‘gods’, their Lok, Prakruti, Purush and Maya vanish as if the never existed. At this point of dissolution of everything, this soul also attains Nirgun brahma and experiences Advaita, ’non-duality’.
Most people you see around you are doing this. They will worship a ‘form’. Adoring a ‘god’ eg visualising the blue Vishnu with 4 arms, wearing radiant yellow clothes etc. Immersed in this beautiful form, they do pujas and external forms of worship. Always mediate on the form of their ‘god’. If they remain attached to this ‘form’ they will ultimately gain Sagun-mukti. If you believe your source is Vishnu, you will become one with him and reside at Vaikunth. You have achieved your goal.
Now you will wait here till the Kalpa-anta to achieve the final Nirgun brahma.
Hindu ‘gods’ are neither ‘immortal’ nor ‘liberated’. These definitions do not apply to them. They are various aspects of Prakruti, they are aspects of conscious intelligence. Even the highest trinity of Brahmadev Vishnu and Shiv are basically the three gun, satva, raja, tama. They are derived from and constitute Prakruti. She is very subtle, the Empress of the manifested. (There is a Kundalini stavah from the Rudrayamala tantra, it very beautifully describes the Kundalini/ Prakruti.)
If you are drawn to this form of Moksh, read the commentary on Brahma Sutra by Ramanuj. (I have skimmed through it, but did not appeal to me. Perhaps you might like it.)
Now I have used a word, ‘krama’, this means a series, sequence, evolution, movement etc. You take on several lives again and again in higher and higher energies. This is called krama, spiritual evolution. When the soul leaves the body at death, it does so through any of the available naadi/ energy channels, this movement is called Pitrayana. The soul moves to the dimensions of the spirits/ Pitr-lok. Ayan means to travel, to go from one place to another. The soul moves to from the dimension of the mortals/ Martya-lok, to the dimension of the spirits called Pitra-lok.
When a soul attains Vidya, the deepest knowledge linked to Sagun Brahma it leaves through the Brahmanadi and exits via Brahmarandhra at the top of the head. This leads to Krama-mukti as Sagun brahma is experienced. This is also a movement, the Higher Lok is somewhere, the path of light, the Devayan, takes the soul there. There is going and coming. Krama-mukti is possible only in the Videha mukti format.
Nirgun Brahma. The deepest understanding of yourself comes with Nirgun brahma. This has no attributes, Nirgun brahma is beyond Prakruti. It is beyond the dual-nature of Purush and Prakruti. It is more difficult to attain compared to Sagun mukti as it takes a few steps more. It is transcending this fundamental duality of Purush-Prakruti and achieving the non-dual, Advaita. This state is beyond definitions. It is always described in negations, ie Nirgun, Nirakar, Niranjan, etc. No attributes of this manifested can be linked to it. You have to leave all the attributes of the manifested, including the ‘form’ of your adored god, the concepts of worship etc. Everything that is of Maya is discarded. Adi Shankaracharya has always written about this as Nirvishesh Brahma. The intelligence from which all differentiations have dissolved away. This is achieved when the soul achieves Sadyo-mukti. This is the highest Kevala-advaitya. Adi Shankaracharya calls this state Advaita, Non-duality. Even this is a definition in terms of negation. It is not duality, but what it is, will have to be experienced. (If you understand Sanskrit do read/ listen to the Brahma-jnyanavali-mala).
Worshipping ‘forms’, with time and experience, some people are able to look beyond the simple form. They are able to realise that the form is external to one’s self, even if the form is that of their adored object of worship. ‘I’ am my goal, the ‘god’ and his ‘form’ is my support, who will help me reach myself.
Prakruti herself sits in front of you in all her power to administer this final test. She decides if you are worthy of the highest knowledge. If you get caught in illusion and desires she sends you back again. You will fulfil your desire and then try the test again. If you succeed she allows you to transcend her duality and reach the singular Para-Brahma/ non-duality.
If a soul achieves this Sadyo-mukti his pran/ vital energy are absorbed in the Parabrahma at the very instant of his experience. He can now continue as an Jivan-Mukt, it now makes no difference. He can also experience Videha-mukti but the route of Devayan is meaningless to him as there is no going/ coming. He has already experienced Everything.
Majority of people cannot visualise much less focus on a formless, attribute-less Parabrahma. So different schools of thought exist. It is just like school, concepts at class 5 are different from the concepts taught in class 10. All are relevant and necessary.
This post is rather esoteric, so unless you have read my earlier posts it may not be intelligible.
(There was this question. As my answer was too long posted it as a full-fledged post.
Hi, what about the gods who are part of the manifestation? Are they Liberated ? or they are just immortal? Is experiencing oneness with Ishta Devata the same as Moksha? My question is can there be Moksha in manifested universe as the deities are still part of manifestation. Shri Krishna says He alone is the Giver of Moksha. So where does deity worship takes us after a point as they are themselves not liberated? We know the 14 lokas that make up the manifest.. What is your idea on spiritual heavens like Vaikunta and Kailash? Are they same as Unmanifest? Thank you)