Do you think, Vaikuntha exists?
Who is the friend of a traveler who travels from one country to another?
This was the next question posed by Yaksha to Yuddhistra. To this Yuddhistra says that Knowledge is the only friend of a traveler. It is to be understood that this answer has a deeper significance. The term Knowledge cannot be taken literally for the question posed by Yaksha. The literal answer to this question is Education as education is an aspect of Knowledge that revolves around material sciences or academic studies. But, king Yuddishtra, answered Knowledge which has its roots in spirituality.
Difference between Knowledge and Education
If a traveler is educated then sustenance can never be a problem. He can teach and earn a living. But, Knowledge, in the spiritual context means worship. Education can afford a stable material life by proving us income, but it is spiritual knowledge alone that stays with us throughout our life, through all phases of life. As we devote our life for spiritual practices and follow Dharma, in times of need Jnana and Bhakti come to our aid. The more time we spend in sharing this secret knowledge of spiritual wisdom greater will be the earning. Here, earning refers to spiritual accomplishments, peace and happiness. There is nothing to lose when sharing spiritual knowledge.
This is the greatness of knowledge or Vidya. The more we share knowledge greater will be the contentment. We gain more insight.
But, when we give tangible articles to people, we find an imbalance following the transaction. When I give an apple to somebody, it is natural that I will no longer have that apple. Similarly if I share an apple with somebody, I give a part of my share. So, again I lose some part. Even exchanging articles do not result in profits. They just replace one article with another. This is the prime difference between Vidya (knowledge) and other material objects.
Material objects are always measured on the scale of profits and losses and keep fluctuating. But spiritual knowledge and wisdom remains stable and only sees considerable growth. So, education helps earn a living across various countries. But, spiritual knowledge or Shastric Knowledge which are 32 in number, paves way for attaining Vaikuntha or the Spiritual realm.
Journey of the soul to Vaikuntha
When a soul departs, there are two paths that decide whether the soul takes another body and returns to the material plane or he gets liberated from the cycle of birth and death. These two paths are Archaradi margam and Dhumadi margam. Archaradi margam is the path of light where a soul attains Moksha while Dhumadi Margam is the path of Darkness where the soul returns back to the material plane to experience suffering. Krishna says that if a devotee attains His Loka the jiva never returns back to Earth. But, if a soul lands up in any other material Lokas like Brahma Loka and Swarga loka, he must be born again and die again. Such a person does not get liberated and thus keeps enduring the cycle of birth and death on earth.
The Upanishads give a spectacular description of the soul’s journey through the Archaradi Marga to Vaikunta. It describes thus, there are uncountable, thin, tube-like channels that run throughout the human body.
Journey of the Soul within the body
These structures, which are thinner than a single-strand of hair are called nadis. But, out of the thousands of nadis, 101 are present in the heart, which are given prime importance. The 101st Nadi is called Sushmna Nadi. When the soul holds on the Sushumna Nadi and travels through it, the Archaradi margam gets unlocked. But, how can humans get access to the Sushumna nadi? To this Veda vyasa, in his Brahma sutras says that the heart is engulfed in darkness and within that the jivatma is situated. With the aid of the spiritual knowledge he has gained throughout his life, the Sushumna nadi gets revealed to the Jiva.
Bhagawan showers his blessings and lights up the path for the Jivatma through which he travels through the Sushumna Nadi. The Jivatma travels out of the body, after passing the Brahmarandra or the 10th door of the human body.
This is the last door of the human body, after which the Jiva gets liberated from this material body and the material world. Brahmarandra is located on the top of the skull. When a child is born, the Brahmrandra is open but with time, this door gets closed. So, in most individual this door is closed, which is why most individuals are ignorant about the spiritual world. But, through Bhakti and Jnana, sincere devotees of the Lord pierce through this door, under the assistance of the Param-Atma, Bhagawan.
Journey of the Soul to Vaikuntha, outside the body
Now, the soul leaves his material body. He travels on the Archaradi margam along with Vazhitonai Perumal. Vazhitonai Perumal is the Lord who assists the Jiva on his journey to Vaikuntha. His temple is located in Thirumohoor which is one of the 108 Divyadesams. This personal guide, Vazhitonai Perumal is known by the name Kalamegaperumal. Other assistants or Aativahikargal accompany the jiva till the Viraja river. Viraja river is the boundary that separates the material world from the spiritual world. Throughout our journey on the Archaradi Marga till Vaikuntha, Kalamegaperumal sprinkles water to make the path cool, to comfort our spiritual journey.
Therefore, Yuddhistra’s answer: “knowledge” can be understood in two levels. Education is the friend of the traveler who travels from one country to another, while spiritual knowledge is the friend of a person who travels from the material world to the spiritual world.
Who is the friend of a person who stays at home?
To this question, Yuddhistra Maharaj gave a much unexpected reply. He said Bhāryā. Bhāryā means wife. The woman of the house is given great importance in the Shastras. She is regarded as the pillar of the family. Right from rearing children, instilling values in them to serving and satisfying the requirements of the husband, a dutiful wife is considered to be his best friend. Moreover, along with accompanying the husband in material pursuits and pleasures, a wife is a companion of on the spiritual path as well. She is the best supporter for a man who practices Dharma. That is why wife is also called Saha-Dharma-Charini (सहधर्म चारिणी) or the one who follows the same spiritual practices as her husband.
Duties of a wife towards her husband- Sita Devi and Sri Rama
During the marriage of Sri Rama and Sita Devi, King Janaka did Kanyadanam (handing over Sita to Sri Rama). Janaka said: “इयं सीता ममसुता सहधर्म चारिणी तव” which translates as “This is Sita, my daughter and she’ll follow Dharma if you follow”. Sri Ram heard King Janaka patiently. After a while, he asked the King that what if he does not follow Dharma. In such a circumstance, what will Sita Devi do? Will she continue following dharma or will she accompany Me on the path of Adharma (Path of Unrighteousness) ?
Sri Rama asked this question to guide ordinary people like us.
To this, King Janaka immediately replied that Sita will ensure that you tread the path of Dharma and then she’ll walk along with you. An application of this statement in seen when Sri Rama was exiled for 14 years to the forest.
Sri Rama looks at Sita Devi and asks her to stay in the palace while he decided to dwell in the forest. To this Sita devi started saying that: “My father, who raised me up and got me married to you has been deceived today…” Sri Rama, paid attention to Sita Devi’s words as she continued: “What will your father-in-law, the King of Mithila, my own father, think about you? Oh Rama, you aren’t qualified to be the son-in-law of Videha because you do not have the strength of a Purusha (man). In this trying circumstance, you have behaved like a feeble woman.”
On hearing the noble words of Sita Devi, Rama was left-speechless. He did not utter a single word and asked her to accompany Him to the forest. Sita devi, was aware that that only such words can have an impact on Sri Rama’s decision. Due to her faith and determination to follow Dharma, she persuaded Sri Rama to take her along with Him.
So, it is the sole responsibility of a dutiful wife to ensure that her husband should never deter from the path of Dharma. Both, husband-wife should support and encourage each other to follow Dharma.