|Seven stages of the development of wisdom are described in the Varaha Upanishad. It shows the way in which there is an unfolding process of stages in enlightenment. Note that the first aspect of realization of the Self is in stage four, after which that stage is stabilized and expanded. In practical terms, this means the sadhaka (seeker) first seeks and attains a glimpse of Self-Realization, and only later becomes firmly implanted in that Realization. For many people this can bring comfort, as the path of Self-Realization can otherwise seem almost impossible. Knowing that the direct experience is a step along the way can make it seen as much more accessible. |
The great sage Ribhu performed penance for twelve Deva (divine) years. At the end of the time, the Lord appeared before him in the form of a boar. He said: "Rise, rise and choose your boon". The sage got up and having prostrated himself before him said: "O Lord, I will not, in my dream, wish of thee those things that are desired by the worldly. All the Vedas, Shastras, Itihasas and all the hosts of other sciences, as well as Brahma and all the other Devas, speak of emancipation as resulting from a knowledge of thy nature. So impart to me that science of Brahman which treats of thy nature."
Then the boar-shaped Bhagavan (Lord) said:
Some disputants hold that there are twenty-four Tattvas (principles) and some thirty-six, whilst others maintain that there are ninety-six. I shall relate them in their order. Listen with an attentive mind. The organs of sense are five, viz., ear, skin, eye and others. The organs of action are five, viz., mouth, hand, leg and others. Pranas (vital airs) are five; sound and other (viz., rudimentary principles) are five. Manas, Buddhi, Chitta and Ahankara are four; thus those that know Brahman know these to be the twenty-four Tattvas. Besides these, the wise hold the quintuplicated elements to be five, viz., earth, water, fire, Vayu and Akasa;
The bodies to be three, viz., the gross, the subtle and the Karana or causal; the states of consciousness to be three, viz., the waking, the dreaming and the dreamless sleeping.
The Munis know the total collection of Tattvas to be thirty-six (coupled with Jiva). With these Tattvas, there are six changes, viz., existence, birth, growth, transformation, decay and destruction. Hunger, thirst, grief, delusion, old age and death are said to be the six infirmities. Skin, blood, flesh, fat, marrow and bones are said to be the six sheaths. Passion, anger, avarice, delusion, pride and malice are the six kinds of foes. Vishva, Taijasa and Prajna are the three aspects of the Jiva. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are the three Gunas (qualities). Prarabdha, Sanchita and Agamin are the three Karmas. Talking, lifting, walking, excreting and enjoying are the five actions (of the organs of action); And there are also thought, certainty, egoism, compassion, memory (functions of Manas, etc.,), complacency, sympathy and indifference; Dik (the quarters), Vayu, Sun, Varuna, Ashvini Devas, Agni, Indra, Upendra and Mrityu (death); and then the moon, the four-faced Brahma, Rudra, Kshetrajna and Ishvara.
Thus these are the ninety-six Tattvas. Those that worship, with devotion, me of the form of boar, who am other than the aggregate of these Tattvas and am without decay are released from Ajnana and its effects and become Jivanmuktas.
Those that know these ninety-six Tattvas will attain salvation in whatever order of life they may be, whether they have matted hair or are of shaven head or have (only) their tuft of hair on. There is no doubt of this."
On another occasion Nidagha asked Lord Ribhu to enlighten him as to the characteristics of Jivanmukti. To which Ribhu replied in the affirmative and said the following: "In the seven Bhumikas (or stages of development of wisdom) there are four kinds of Jivanmuktas. Of these the first stage is Subhechcha (good desire); the second is Vicharana (inquiry); the third is Tanumanasi (or pertaining to the thinned mind); the fourth is Sattvapatti (the attainment of Sattva); the fifth is Asamsakti (non-attachment); the sixth is the Padartha-Bhavana (analysis of objects) and the seventh is the Turya (fourth or final stage). The Bhumika which is of the form of Pranava (Om) is formed of (or is divided into) Akara - 'A', Ukara - 'U', Makara - 'M' and Ardha-Matra. Akara and others are of four kinds on account of the difference of Sthula (gross) Sukshma (subtle), Bija (seed or causal) and Sakshi (witness). Their Avasthas are four: waking, dreaming, dreamless sleeping and Turya (fourth). He who is in (or the entity that identifies itself with) the waking state in the gross Amsa (essence or part) of Akara is named Vishva; in the subtle essence, he is termed Taijasa; in the Bija essence, he is termed Prajna; and in the Sakshi essence, he is termed Turya.
He who is in the dreaming state (or the entity which identifies itself with the dreaming state) in the gross essence of Ukara is Vishva; in the subtle essence, he is termed Taijasa; in the Bija essence, is termed Prajna; and in the Sakshi essence, he is termed Turya. He who is in the Sushupti state in the gross essence of Makara is termed Vishva; in the subtle essence, Taijasa; in the Bija essence, he is termed Prajna; and in the Sakshi essence, he is termed Turya.
He who is in Turya State in the gross essence of Ardha-Matra is termed Turya-Vishva. In the subtle, he is termed Taijasa; in the Bija essence, he is termed Prajna; and in the Sakshi essence, he is termed Turya-Turya.
The Turya essence of Akara is (or embraces) the first, second and third (Bhumikas or stages of the seven). The Turya essence of Ukara embraces the fourth Bhumika. The Turya essence of Makara embraces the fifth Bhumika. The Turya essence of Ardha-Matra is the sixth stage. Beyond this, is the seventh stage.
One who functions in the (first) three Bhumikas is called Mumukshu; one who functions in the fourth Bhumika is called a Brahmavit; one who functions in the fifth Bhumika is called a Brahmavidvara; one who functions in the sixth Bhumika is called a Brahmavidvariya; and one in the seventh Bhumika is called a Brahmavidvarishtha.
Subhechcha is said to be the first Jnana-Bhumi (or stage of wisdom); Vicharana, the second; Tanumanasi, the third; Sattvapatti, the fourth; then come Asamsakti as the fifth, Padartha-Bhavana as the sixth and Turya as the seventh.
The desire that arise in one through sheer Vairagya (after resolving) 'Shall I be ignorant? I will be seen by the Shastras and the wise' (or 'I will study the books and be with the wise') - is termed by the wise as Subhechcha.
The association with the wise and Shastras and the following of the right path preceding the practice of indifference is termed Vicharana. That stage wherein the hankering after sensual objects is thinned through the first and second stages is said to be Tanumanasi. That stage wherein having become indifferent to all sensual objects through the exercise in the (above) three stages, the purified Chitta rests on Atman which is of the nature of Sat is called Sattvapatti.
The light (or manifestation) of Sattva-Guna that is firmly rooted (in one) without any desire for the fruits of actions through the practice in the above four stages is termed Asamsakti. That stage wherein through the practice in the (above) five stages one, having found delight in Atman, has no conception of the internals or externals (though before him) and engages in actions only when impelled to do so by others is termed Padartha-Bhavana, the sixth stage.
The stage wherein after exceedingly long practice in the (above) six stages one is (immovably) fixed in the contemplation of Atman alone without the difference (of the universe) is the seventh stage called Turya. The three stages beginning with Subhechcha are said to be attained with (or amidst) differences and non-differences. (Because) the universe one sees in the waking state he thinks to be really existent.
When the mind is firmly fixed on the non-dual One and the conception of duality is put down, then he sees this universe as a dream through his union with the fourth stage. As the autumnal cloud being dispersed vanishes, so this universe perishes. O Nidagha, be convinced that such a person has only Sattva remaining. Then having ascended the fifth stage called Sushuptipada (dreamless sleeping seat), he remains simply in the non-dual state, being freed from all the various differences.
Having always introvision though ever participating in external actions, those that are engaged in the practice of this (sixth stage) are seen like one sleeping when fatigued (viz., being freed from all affinities). (Lastly) the seventh stage which is the ancient and which is called Gudhasupti is generally attained.
Then one remains in that secondless state without fear and with his consciousness almost annihilated where there is neither Sat nor Asat, neither self nor not-self.
Like an empty pot in the Akasa, there is void both within and without; like a filled vessel in the midst of an ocean, he is full both within and without. Do not become either the knower or the known. May you become the Reality which remains after all thoughts are given up. Having discarded (all the distinctions of) the seer, the sight and the seen with their affinities, meditate solely upon Atman which shines as the supreme Light.
He is said to be a Jivanmukta (emancipated person) in whom, though participating in the material concerns of the world, the universe is not seen to exist like the invisible Akasa. He is said to be a Jivanmukta, the light of whose mind never sets or rises in misery or happiness and who does not seek to change what happens to him (viz., either to diminish his misery or increase his happiness).
He is said to be a Jivanmukta who though in his Sushupti is awake and to whom the waking state is unknown and whose wisdom is free from the affinities (of objects). He is said to be a Jivanmukta whose heart is pure like Akasa, though acting (as it) in consonance to love, hatred, fear and others.
He is said to be a Jivanmukta who has not the conception of his being the actor and whose Buddhi is not attached to material objects, whether he performs actions or not. He is said to be a Jivanmukta, of whom people are not afraid, who is not afraid of people and who has given up joy, anger and fear. He is said to be a Jivanmukta, who though participating in all the illusory objects, is cool amidst them and is a full Atman, (being) as if they belonged to others.
O Muni, he is said to be a Jivanmukta, who having eradicated all the desires of his Chitta, is (fully) content with me who am the Atman of all. He is said to be a Jivanmukta, who rests with an unshaken mind in that all pure abode which is Chinmatra and free from all the modifications of Chitta. He is said to be a Jivanmukta in whose Chitta do not dawn (the distinctions of) the universe, I, he, thou and others that are visible and unreal. Through the path of the Guru and Shastras, enter soon sat - the Brahman that is immutable, great, full and without objects - and be firmly seated there. Shiva alone is Guru; Shiva alone is Vedas; Shiva alone is Lord; Shiva alone is I; Shiva alone is all. There is none other than Shiva.