Are we independent?

Independence means self-sufficiency, self-government, self rule, self-determination, freedom or liberty. Although we accept the term independence from a very limited perspective, the sages and scriptures with a different vision have articulated the real meaning of independence or freedom.

‘Independence’ is connected with the word Self which is the identity and essence of an individual. In fact, an individual does not rule over himself. He is rather ruled by his body, senses and mind. His physical limitations make him dependent on others. His senses get attracted towards various subjects and objects. He follows their dictates. He is swayed away by his volatile mind. He is caught up in the snares of ignorance. In the process he transgresses Law and is prosecuted. He suffers. This is because he is not sovereign over himself.

The scriptures cite the examples of five creatures analogical to five senses.

The deer gets attracted by the sweet music unleashed by the hunter and is trapped. The elephant gets caught when it falls into a pit, being attracted by the female elephant. The insects rush into the blazing fire. The fish nibbles at the bait and meets its end. The bumblebee being lured by the sweet fragrance of the lotus gets absorbed and consequently confined when the petals close at the dusk.

These five creatures have been compared with our five senses such as ear, skin, eye, tongue and nose that are closely linked with sound, touch, sight, taste and smell. Each creature represents a particular sense organ by which it is verily influenced. Man is under the hypnotic spell of all these five senses. Therefore it can be well imagined how an individual without self-restraint is surrounded by piles of perils.

Similarly mind is very often compared with an ape that is very funny and fickle. Mind is caught between ‘yeas’ and ‘days.’ It creates fears and anxieties, doubts and despairs. It always oscillates between the alternatives and more often than not, becomes a prisoner of indecision. It is only a higher mind known as intellect that arrives at a finale by discriminating and determining on the basis of its latent knowledge.

That is why the scriptures and also the spiritual teachers exhort mankind to practice self-restraint, concentration etc. to curb the senses and quell the mind.

In the Kathopanishad, The body is compared with a chariot. The senses are compared with horses. Mind is compared with the bridle and intellect with the charioteer. Self is the master sitting on the chariot.

According to ‘The Philosophy Divine’ propounded by Sadguru Arjun (1933-89), "Ignorance is the cause of bondage and sufferings. We do not know what is self. We always try to know the outside world as prompted by the senses and mind, which instinctively tend outward. Unless they are trained to delve inward, self will remain unknown. If self remains unknown how can there be any self- rule, self- determination or self- government? How can there be true liberty or freedom?"

We happen to create and come across different types of relationships or interactions with different individuals and institutions in the society and try to weigh them from our stand points according to our level of knowledge by using our own measuring yard sticks the correctness of which have probably never been examined by us. If our yardstick is defective, all inferences drawn from our measurement are bound to be wrong just as a jaundiced eye views the outside world as yellow. Only pure knowledge is impartial knowledge. With fragmented or circumscribed vision, the realities will give distorted and imprecise appearances. Consequently opinions change. The conclusions change. Individual actions therefore become many and varied often contradicting each other resulting in debates and internal wranglings which again undergo changes to find newer equations and modified conclusions and so on. Therefore our worst enemy is our ignorance. The entire Bhagavad Gita was intended for dispelling the ignorance Arjun was beset with.

Self is pure Consciousness, which alone is independent of every thing. Self according to Vedanta philosophy is none other than the Brahman.

Ayamatma Brahman. Prajnanam Brahman. Aham Brahmosmi. Tattvamasi.

These are the four Maha vakyas of our scriptures. The Theory of monism is based on these mantras. Every thing is a manifestation of the Self or Brahman i.e. Pure Consciousness. The spiritual mendicants who transcend body consciousness, senses, mind and intellect through meditation realize, being established in the "Self", the secret of real and blissful freedom.

Knowing the Self is the goal of every one. The process involved for attaining this goal is Dharma. Dharma therefore does not consist of some man made rituals, local or racial practices. That means observance of Dharma leads to the goal i.e. attainment of Self or realization of Self. The Self being ever free, and forming the basis of every thing else, realization of it leads one to true freedom. Therefore Dharma is not an end but a means to Self-realization. Dharma is not some thing to be talked about or boasted of. Rather it is to be observed by regulating one's conduct for the attainment of the highest goal towards which every particle in this creation is moving being subjected to continuous modifications during the course of its journey. This is the self-propelled evolutionary process. Once the goal is set, the journey can be consciously made short cut, which means faster evolution to perfection.

We must know our goal first. We must know why we are born. Why the process of evolution continues unabatedly and incessantly to create products like human beings? What for we like to live? What for we crave for peace, happiness and freedom? Why do we shun sufferings? From where we came and where we are going to? If our destination is unknown, all our efforts become automatically meaningless or purposeless. Dharma is therefore an eternal process spontaneously engineered by the Creator. This Law of Eternity governs the Law of Evolution .Man has to understand this and restrain himself from interfering with it.

Sadguru Arjun says that we are going towards our goal knowingly or unknowingly driven by the process of evolution, which is a conscious design of the Almighty, who governs the whole creation by His Law of Eternity. The goal was also our starting point. The starting point shall be our goal. It is a grand cyclic process. In a solar system, all planets revolve round the Sun. In an atom all electrons move around the nucleus. Our life principle follows the same pattern. Every thing revolves round the Self. We have to know and honour His Laws otherwise we may become offenders. Offenders are penalized. Hence sufferings. Peace and happiness remain as distant dreams. Bondage or subservience becomes the rule. Freedom becomes just a wishful thinking.

If we do not care to know the Laws, we cannot observe the same. Knowing the Law is true knowledge and observance of the Law is Dharma. The Self within is the reservoir of all happiness. As long as Self remains unknown, happiness and freedom will remain a far cry. Every individual must aim at unfolding his innermost strength. Every society must play a supportive role for the total blossoming of its individuals.