Avidya in Daily Life
According to Shankara, Knowledge or Jnana comes packaged with Avidya.
Avidya means inherent darkness or ignorance that envelops Jnana.
It is like this.
If I order for a watch, the watch comes in a packaged form.
But if I try to use the watch, as it is with the pack on, there are many things I cannot do.
I cannot see what the time is.
I cannot explore the functionalities of the watch and put it to daily use.
For all practical purposes, I have the watch, but the watch is unusable.
However when I remove the veil, the packing, I am able to access its different functions.
As I operate its various functions, I can see the time, I can use the alarm clock, I can use the stopwatch and so on.
Wisdom and Consciousness are non-different
Similarly the instrument of Knowledge is fully available through our being, through pure consciousness which is our essential nature.
But that knowledge remains packaged in a pitch dark veil of ignorance, darkness.
Hence there is distortion in the function of consciousness.
The light of consciousness is completely inverted or diffused by the veil of ignorance that envelopes Knowledge personified, that is Consciousness.
Consciousness is essentially awareness, Wisdom.
Wisdom is that aspect of consciousness, which reveals things as they are without the slightest conjecture or distortion.
Wisdom reveals the infinite contours of the finite world.
Person in Ignorance
A person who is in ignorance has only a couple of perspectives of life.
The irony is that these are heavily skewed perspectives of life.
The conclusions that a person draws from life, through such skewed understanding, takes him far away from what is Truth or Reality.
His conceptions are illusory and the results he derives from such faulty understanding leads him astray endlessly.
Such a person is not able to derive any benefit from life experiences.
Since he does not learn his lessons, he wobbles in life’s whirligig and returns to the earthly platform time and again, to start life all over again, heading in the wrong direction.
Path to End Ignorance
Sri Shakara, addresses this veil of ignorance and gives out mechanisms to unveil Wisdom.
His Method of Upasana helps unviel Knowledge and the pure state of consciousness.
The Sadhana Panchakam is Shankara’s advisory scripture to mankind.
The Scripture is the elixir towards perfection.
Anyone who commits himself to the Scripture will qualify as a sadhaka.
The Scripture will remove veils of ignorance layer by layer and one’s inherent
Wisdom shall come into action.
Sri Shankara advises the common man to Study the Vedas.
It is important to understand that everyone does not have direct access to the Vedas.
There are scriptural injunctions with regards to the right to read the Vedas.
But what Sri Shankara means through the instruction “Read the Vedas ” , has to be understood in the proper context.
Every man or woman, belonging to any Varna or Ashrama should devote some time to read the Ramayana or Scriptures like the Shrimad Bhagavatham.
At least one should read shlokas written by elevated sages of Sanatana Dharma.
It is ideal to take initiation into mantras or into reading Scriptures.
One should take “Deeksha” or spiritual initiation before one actually takes up these activities.
With this, one shall be following the recommendations of the Sanatana Dharma Scriptures.
Such initiation will indicate one’s genuine adherence and alignment with the word of Shastra.
How can we start Reading Scriptures?
When one reads scriptures, following Deeksha or rightful initiation, this will tap the heavy wall of ignorance continuously, with every reading of Scripture.
It is ideal to take up one or two scriptures to the maximum.
One has to devote a fixed time of the day and a fixed place, ideally in front of the Altar.
One should remember one’s spiritual preceptor and the sages of Sanatana Dharma and seek their blessings in one’s heart.
Then one should remember the Supreme Lord, either Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Lord Shiva or Mother Bhagawati and then offer obeisances.
After this with devotion in the heart and considering the Scripture as the very personal form of Brahman, undertake a serious reading of the Scripture.
Reading the Sanskrit Shlokas
Study of the Scripture has various forms.
One can employ a couple of forms of such Scriptural Study.
One can either read only the Sanskrit Shlokas and make it a point to only continue reading those sets of Shlokas everyday.
It may not be necessary to understand the meaning of the Shlokas, to drive benefits.
Our faith in the Scripture will automatically reveal the inner meaning of the Shlokas as we continue reading it day after day.
That is the potency of the Dharma Scriptures.
Opening up of the Hrdaya Granthis
As we continue with the habit of continuous readings, a lot of inner locks or knots open up.
These are “Hrdaya Granthis” or knots of the heart.
Reading the Shlokas will mean that you are reading aloud a certain mystical formula, sound vibrations that will prove as keys to unlock deeper levels of consciousness.
According to us, this is perhaps the most potent form of Scriptural reading.
Contemplating on the meaning of Shlokas
There are other ways to read Scriptures.
Many people focus on reading Scriptures for their meaning.
Normally, when the faith level is a little less, people employ this means.
Although this process is also effective, the progress can be a little slower compared to the direct reading of the Shlokas.
Here, people read and understand the translations of the various Sanskrit Verses, in a language that the reader is familiar with.
People contemplate deeply on the meanings so revealed through translations.
Serious people derive a lot of benefits through this process.
However, many dimensions of the Scripture still remain concealed.
Graduating to Direct Shloka Reading
The high point of this practice, yet, is that people will slowly develop an interest to read the Shlokas directly as stated in the above process.
So this process can lead to the direct Shloka reading process.
Reading translations and importantly contemplating on the meaning of the verses, is a very effective means to opening up the Hrdaya Granthis.
Routine of Reading Shloka as a Ritual
The most effective way, however, is the process of having a Sadhana regime.
Performing the act of reading the Scripture, either the Shlokas directly or contemplating on the translations as part of a strict ritual shall prove highly effective.
In this method the reader sets the time, place and routine.
He takes up this regime through a ritualistic process. He lights up a lamp and performs puja or worship of the deity.
Then he ensures that he reads a fixed number of verses with a certain goal in mind.
He ensures that over an extended period of time, he meets his reading goals every single day.
Combining puja and other rituals may prove time consuming.
But the highlight of this type of ritualistic reading is that it has the capacity to deepen interest.
It has the capability to make the process of Scriptural reading addictive.
With growing enthusiasm to complete the regime, every single day, his faith shall also multiply.
As his faith grows, all his Hrdaya Granthis start opening up one by one.
Thanks for reading!