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True Image Of The Knowers Of Brahman

The Vivekachudamani provides a fascinating portrait of knowers of Brahman: ‘They have their food without anxiety or humiliation — by begging — and their drink from the water of rivers; they live freely and independently, and sleep without fear in cremation grounds and forests; their clothing may be the quarters themselves, which need no washing and drying, or bark (or similar stuff ); and the earth their bed. They roam the paths of Vedanta and have their pleasure in the Supreme Brahman.’

If this image does not appeal to our minds, then we could remember the thoughts of Janaka, the famous king of Mithila, on emerging from samadhi: ‘I desire not what is not got, nor do I surrender
what is already got. What is mine let that be mine; composed, I abide in the Self.’ And the Laghu Yoga Vasistha affirms: ‘Janaka, making up his mind thus, arose to perform without any attachment the work that came of its own, even as the sun rises to shine. Neither does he speculate about the future, nor think of what is past; ever smiling he acts in the living present.’

If enlightened souls have no personal desires, they still are a source of blessing and bounty to the people around them. It is for this reason that the Mundaka Upanishad exhorts those desirous
of prosperity to ‘worship the knower of the Self ’, for ‘whatever world persons of pure understanding envisage in their minds and whatever desires they cherish, that world they conquer and those desires they obtain’.

But the greatest blessing offered by these souls — ‘who have the Divine, the source of all good, seated in their hearts’ — is the ambrosia of divine bliss, for ‘theirs is perpetual celebration, perpetual prosperity, and perpetual goodness’.

‘When illumination is attained,’ Acharya Shankara asserts, ‘the entire world becomes a paradise,
and people become like celestial wish-fulfilling trees. The entire mass of water becomes sweet and
holy like Ganga water, and all women become full of beauty and sanctity; all speech whether in the
language of gods or of men becomes, as it were, the highest and holiest verse of the Vedas. The whole world becomes a holy place like Varanasi, and every movement becomes a movement of joy.’
This is the state of jivanmukta — freedom while living — and rishis tell us that not only is this the
highest human achievement but that it is well within the reach of all. ‘When I first read the verse
in which it is said that life is meant for the realization of jivanmukti, ’ Swami Turiyananda recalled, ‘I
leapt in joy, for that indeed was the purpose of my life.’ This is the purpose of our lives too.