The practices in Spirituality are endless. The practices known as sadhana (साधना) in Sanskrit pertain to three major paths namely those of Action (कर्म), Knowledge (ज्ञान) and Devotion (भक्ति). These 3 paths include within themselves a host of other sub-paths which include Raja Yoga (राजयोग), Kriya Yoga (क्रियायोग), Mantra Yoga (मंत्रयोग), Laya Yoga (लययोग), Kundalini Yoga (कुंडलिनीयोग) and many more. The list is endless. However which path is suitable for us, this remains unanswered. The answer to this is perhaps the most important that begs an answer. One may undertake any of the above practices based on one’s interaction with other qualified practitioners and see which practices suit one’s temperament and adopt those practices. But prior to taking up practices, it is important to understand the basis and goals of these various practices and having understood that, it shall be easier for one to take up a few practices and apply the philosophy of the practice as the base, while pursuing spirituality.
There are 3 fundamental principles that govern creation. Other than these 3 principles there is no fourth dimension. These three dimensions are Bhagawan (भगवान), Maya (माया) and Jeev (जीव). Bhagawan is the God Principle, the Controller principle, which is at the root of creation. Unless there is a Creator, who is beyond space and time, the Truth principle, there is no other scope of life. The Truth principle and God are one and the same thing. The second is that which is opposed to Truth but who emerges out of God, Truth. That principle is Maya or “that which is not”. This is the principle of illusion, the illusion of the lifeless and what generally is known as matter. Matter emerges from God principle. Matter also stands for something that is not real, that which only appears, that which may also be considered as a “fact” but yet that which is temporary, transient, even false. The third and the most important principle is Jeev or the individual soul principle which constitutes the multitudinous living entities on earth and probably that exist even in unknown locales of the universe. This principle is intermediary to Bhagawan and Maya. It is also called the Tatastha Shakti (तटस्थ शक्ति) or the marginal principle. This principle is the one that is stuck between the diametrically opposite principles of Maya and Bhagawan. The living entities are hence governed by the two principles of Bhagawan and Maya. We shall deal with each principle separately
(1) Bhagawan or God
This is the base and root of all principles. It is the principle which is considered as the parent principle and that which is the wielder of the other two principles. The two principles of Jeev and Maya are subservient to the Bhagawan principle and are wholly governed by the Bhagawan principle. However all the three principles are infinite in their quality and co-exist from beginningless time. Only with the command of Bhagawan does Maya and Jeev become capable of functioning. With the command of Bhagawan, Maya affects the Jeev and even controls the Jeev. Without the command of Bhagawan no life is possible. The world coming into being and entering dissolution, is purely at the behest of Bhagawan. Only Bhagawan is considered as the super-intelligent principle that presides over the working of Jeev and Maya. Hence Bhagawan is the Supreme and unchallenged principle.
(2) Maya or the Principle of Illusion
This principle wholly depends on the directions of Bhagawan. Just as a Robot is considered lifeless but operates intelligently because of electricity and a programmable chip that takes instructions, similarly Maya is completely incapable of working on Her own and depends on the instructions of Bhagawan. With the order of Bhagawan, Maya creates a veil around the living entity and keeps it bound to matter. Maya becomes the controlling principle that is the greatest impediment that blocks a living entity in its journey towards Bhagawan. Unless the living entity applies the truth-principles as enunciated in Vedic Scriptures, removal of Maya is impossible.
(3) Jeev or Living entity
The principle that “experiences” life is Jeev. The Jeev, unlike Maya, is the living principle in line with Bhagawan. Maya on the other-hand is a “lifeless” principle. In that sense the Jeev is a superior principle as compared to Maya. However in the normal circumstances Jeev is controlled by Maya and deluded, by the will of Bhagawan. Spirituality is the process by which Jeev is able to understand his position and summons the Bhagawan principle to topple Maya and ascend to his rightful position as the rightful heir to the Lord. Thus, before enlightenment, the Jeev is under the clutches of Maya but post-enlightenment Maya becomes subservient to the Jeev and Bhagawan gets established or realized in the Jeev.
The fundamentals of these three principles is that each principle has the other two principles miscible in them. It is inside Bhagawan that both Maya and Jeev operate. Even the Jeev has a body, which is composed of Maya and inside the heart of the Jeev, Bhagawan exists in the form of Paramatma, the Universal soul. Maya has Bhagawan within Her because all of time, place and circumstances come into being or enlivened by Bhagawan alone. Maya or all things that are matter, is composed of millions of Jeevas which operate within Maya. Thus there is inter-interdependence of Jeev and Maya and both have their total dependence on Bhagawan. However the controller of Jeev and Maya is only Bhagawan and nothing happens without His ultimate sanction.
Thus the goal of the Jeev is to surrender to Bhagawan. The duty of the Jeev is to accept his subservience to Bhagawan and pray for the removal of Maya. Under ordinary conditions the Jeev is bound by Maya and Maya keeps the Jeev away from Bhagawan. This state has existed from beginningless time. However if one surrenders to an enlightened being and takes the help of Vedic scriptures, the means to get Maya out of the way becomes evident. It is for the living entities, Jeevas, to understand that other than Bhagawan everything else is Maya. No Jeev has any direct relation with other Jeevas or even Maya. His infinite relationship is only with Bhagawan alone and hence his ultimate goal is to attain Him, removing the effects of Maya from his life.