Right from the period of Upanishadic age through Sankaracharya to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Ramana Maharshi, it has been held, that the highest goal that a man could aspire to achieve is to attain NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI, where-in you become THAT THOU ART THAT (TATVAMASI). In that state one is said to realize the unchanging ‘Brahman’ is that existence and the rest of the phenomenal worlds is nothing but ITS REFLECTION. Many are the paths prescribed to achieve this goal and each prescribed a particular path to be the most efficacious. While Acharya Sankara accepted all the six systems (SHANMATHRAS, HE SAID THAT KNOWLEDGE ALONE WOULD TAKE ONE TO REALIZE ‘Brahman’ and Acharya Ramanuja claimed that devotion (BHAKTHI & PRAPTHI) leads us to that goal. Geeta of course preaches BHAKTHI, KARMA, GNANA methods and above all prescribes NISHKAMA KARMA as the path. People who follow Hinduism in general have catholic concepts and accept any path that leads to realization as the path intended for that particular person. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has through his personal experience proved that not only paths as prescribed by Hinduism but by other religions like Christianity and Islam also would lead to the realization of Truth. Hence insistence on a particular path may be according to one preceptor his particular experience, about it, by and large it would not exclude the other parts. AMMA of JILLELLAMUDI said there is BHAKTHI involved in every path.
Mother hardly preached anything but bestows what all is needed to the practitioner. There is no specified path as such that she would particularly prescribe and whatever path one chooses would be His path. In fact the spiritual practice is not the one that is prescribed but ‘what is possible’ for a particular person he pursues it. In her concept, when the volition itself is not in one’s hands the whole process in the concept to the practice is also ordained. Hence the question of prescription for the practice and for the ‘success’ or failure. It is said in the SHASTRAS, the ideal preceptor is one who does not simply prescribe a particular path but leads the aspirant towards realization. She, instead of talking directly, confers that on the person. Hence the discussion of path in her case is pure feelings and superfluous.
NIRVIKALPA is a state of being whose external consciousness is absolutely minimal and the mind is said to be absorbed in BRAHMAN the pure power, oblivious of external sensory perceptions. In this absolute Nirvikalpa state one is said to enjoy bliss (ANANDA), not of a communion with BRAHMAN but becoming BRAHMAN itself, when the consciousness of the self is, thought at the minimal level so that the person can return back to the normal plane when he makes it sahaja. Hence ‘MANOLAYA’ does not mean annihilation of individual consciousness but only retaining it at the barest minimum level, where for all practical purposes it seems to be non-existent. Otherwise, returning to the normal plane would not at all be possible. The person who attains this state is said to ‘know everything’ and his knowledge is said to be absolute. Hence it is said by knowing this that by realizing BRAHMAN, everything can be known. Compared with this state of knowledge the empirical knowledge where the perceptions could be only relative, is called MAYA or relative knowledge. Hence the highest goal prescribed by SHASTRAS for an individual, is to attain the nirvikalpa state and make it ever sustaining or natural.
From the scriptures it is evident the people who had attained this state would not verbalize this experience and their pronunciation have limitations. Of the two great saints whose life is recorded in detail i.e., Ramakrishna Paramhamsa and Ramana Maharshi have attained the state and they did not stop at just attaining this state but went further to make it natural (SAHAJA). While the UPANISHADS proclaimed that BRAHMAN alone is real and the phenomenal world is an illusion. Both these saints proclaimed that after realizing, the world also becomes BRAHMAN. Paramhamsa says that once you land on the terrace through discarding the steps one after another, you realize that the steps are also THAT. Maharshi proclaims that when he closes his eyes it is NIRVIKALPA and when he opens them it is Savikalpa. Even Sankaracharya says that while in continual being in NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI one must make it SAHAJA (natural). This in essence is SAHAJA SAMADHI.
To perceive things in their real perspective one is to attain SAHAJA and then only, the real nature of this phenomenal world could be realized. One who attains NIRVIKALPA can perhaps see only a part of the truth, but not the complete truth. It is only in the SAHAJA state that the completeness of Truth may be understood. Historically, a statement about “that by knowing which everything could be known”, leaves the doubt why the seers of that could not contribute anything towards the development of scientific knowledge though many of the scientific truths are perceived from their intuitions.
Mother of Jillellamudi (ANASUYADEVI) says the whole creation is real and is ‘THAT’ alone. There is nothing ‘beyond’ this phenomenal universe and every process in this is THAT. Besides this, there is nothing to perceive. To realize that the whole universe is ‘THAT’ is realization. To see everything as GOD and every process as ordained is realization. Whatever method or path one may choose for practice, the ultimate would be to realize this Truth.
Should one necessarily go through the process of NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI for one to realize this TRUTH? According to my mother ‘Not necessarily’. If one cognizes in every state of consciousness that all is THAT. It is the highest state that a human could achieve. According to mother NIRVIKALPA also is a transitory state, where the complete truth could not be perceived. If one goes on to think that everything is BRAHMAN and goes on increasing it to all levels of consciousness, a stage would arrive where he completely identifies himself with the whole AND reaches complete ADVAITIC consciousness.
Viewed from this angle, NIRVIKALPA could be only a method to a partial realization of the Truth but not the method for its complete realization. Some preceptors contend that whatever path one chooses, at the ultimate stage of realization one gets into SAMADHI. Perhaps this could be. But why it has been prescribed in the scriptures and laid down a detailed methodology by the (Gurus) teacher’s method of RAJA YOGA to attain SAMADHI, is to the genuine seekers purifying their mind.
SAMADHI as a state of being need not necessarily be associated with religion, or for that matter even spiritual practice. If an artist concentrates on some beautiful idea he might become oblivious of his external circumstances. Similarly Scientists are known to be so completely absorbed in their work that at least ten times they enter into the state of SAMADHI. It only goes to prove that concentration of thought on any idea could be so absorbed in the mind, that one could become unaware of the external conditions and a single-idea-oriented state of mind could be attained. But NIRVIKALPA is not exactly the state of losing the external consciousness but almost the annihilation of the mind. (The minimal consciousness would be present; else the return would not be possible). Hence the self perceives only awareness without any ideation. Does this in any way confer the entire knowledge, wherein the person who achieves that state could know everything about all the phenomenon? Perhaps the ‘relative nature of the phenomenal world’ is realized, but that has not been proved, though knowledge is basically intuitive and perhaps at the time of intuition one could be in that state of consciousness. It has not so far come to light that by attaining NIRVIKALPA all else could be understood. To know that our knowledge being relative is itself realization, rich and pregnant with higher consciousness.
From all this. one could understand that the goal of life would be to realize that all is that, and whatever path one chooses it could ultimately lead to that. One need not necessarily go through the state of NIRVIKALPA though for some it might be an easier or shorter path. For a common man in the present world, who cannot afford to become a recluse (withdrawn from society) or retire into the solitude of the Himalayas, the way that mother seems to suggest is to toe the line as that might seem an easier path. It is not a question of theory as to which path is better, but the question of the practice of each particular individual as to what suits him best.
It is therefore clear that NIRVIKALPA IS A STATE OF MIND BEREFT OF VAIKALYA
OM TAT SAT