Qualities of a Seeker
Be in the association of the wise and noble. Be firm in the devotion to God. Learn to remain calm and quiet. Abandon involvement in activities motivated by desires. In all humility approach the Sadguru, and worship his foot-wear daily. Long for the Imperishable Brahman. Listen attentively to Upanishadic words and messages.
Points for Introspection:
In this rare human birth, the highest goal is to pursue the knowledge of the eternal, imperishable Self, realizing which one attains Supreme bliss, transcending both joys and sorrows of life.
How to attain the knowledge of the Self, the Impersonal, Universal Brahman? What is the pursuit? What are the disciplines and observances to be followed?
One may read, hear and learn about the Self or Brahman, but in order to realize and be stable in that knowledge, one must develop absolute wholesomeness and one-pointedness. That is, the mind must give the supreme position to the knowledge of the Self, to the exclusion of everything else. That would mean pursuing such a way of life and disciplines so that every moment the mind is withdrawn from all perishable, short-lived pleasures and focussed on the Imperishable, Eternal Soul within.
At one time, Sri Śankaracharya's disciples submitted to their Master that they were contemplating on the absolute Brahman in accordance with the guidance of the Master. However, they were not clear about the exact pursuit they needed to follow in their day-to-day life which would be beneficial for them in their contemplation. They requested their Teacher to give them his summary advice and direction.
Sri Śankaracharya composed five verses which were the summary guidelines for his disciples. These are relevant for all seekers of Truth of all times. They are the 'Upadeśapañcakam'.
Through all these verses, the Teacher has guided the disciples to a wholesomeness in spiritual pursuit. The Master has explained extensively in these shlokas the disciplines a seeker should follow every day in life in order to gradually learn to dwell incessantly on the thought of Brahman.
This is the second verse of the five. Right in the beginning, as a first discipline it says one must have the association of the Wise and a Knower of Truth. One must also have unswerving devotion to God. Only when such devotion to God is there, can one grow love and devotion to the Knower, the Sadguru, who is none other than God Himself.
A seeker must cultivate qualities like calmness and tranquillity. This will help him in receiving and following the instructions of the Teacher unquestioningly. Why is the mind restless? It is desires which generate agitation in the mind. In order to become calm and tranquil, involvement in activities with desireful gains should be abandoned. All acts should be performed with utmost sincerity and perfection, but one must not unduly be anxious about the outcome.
One must thus humbly approach a Sadguru and take his guidance. The holy feet and sandals of the Sadguru should be worshipped everyday with devotion. Through such worship, the seeker develops intense love and devotion for the Master and becomes more and more receptive to the knowledge that the Sadguru imparts. The seeker should develop an intense yearning for attaining the Imperishable Brahman. And in order to attain the realization of Brahman, the seeker must listen to Upanishadic Truths over and over again.
Now, what is the aim of these disciplines? The ultimate aim is to realize the Truth, the Brahman. Remaining in the active world, the mind naturally starts dwelling on the variety of the world and fails to remain focussed on the contemplation of the One Absolute Brahman. That is why association with a Knower, a Sadguru, has been advised. In the association of a Sadguru, the seeker will get an opportunity to listen to the Truth again and again. Through his words, the Sadguru strengthens the yearning in the seeker's mind and gradually leads him to a one-pointedness in his aim for realization of the supreme Truth.
These disciplines are all inter-connected and strengthen one another. Through these precise instructions from the Sadguru, any seeker should find a focussed path to pursue with great inspiration.
सङ्गः (saṅga:)= association; सत्सु (satsu) = among the wise and noble; विधीयतां (vidhīyatāṃ) = must do; भगवतः (bhagavata:) = for God; भक्तिः (bhakti:) = devotion; दृढा (dṛḍhā) = firm; आधीयतां (ādhīyatāṃ) = cultivate; शान्त्यादिः (śāntyādi:) = peace, etc.; परिचीयतां (paricīyatāṃ) = learn; दृढतरं (dṛḍhataraṃ) = firmly; कर्म (karma) = (desireful) acts; आशु (āśu) = quickly; संत्यज्यताम् (santyajyatām ) = abandon; सद्विद्वान् (sadvidvān) = One who has realized the Self; उपसृप्यतां (upasṛpyatāṃ) = approach with humility; प्रतिदिनं (pratidinaṃ) = daily; तत् (tat ) = that; पादुका (pādukā) = foot-wear; सेव्यतां (sevyatāṃ) = worship; ब्रह्म एकाक्षरम् (brahma ekākṣaram) = One Imperishable Brahman; अर्थ्यतां (arthyatāṃ) = yearn for; श्रुतिशिरः वाक्यं (śrutiśira: vākyaṃ) = words of Upanishads (Vedantic truths); समाकर्ण्यताम् (samākarṇyatām ) = listen attentively;
सत्सु सङ्गः विधीयताम् । भगवतः दृढा भक्तिः आधीयताम् । शान्त्यादिः परिचीयताम् । कर्म आशु दृढतरं संत्यज्यताम् । सद्विद्वान् उपसृप्यताम् । प्रतिदिनं तत् पादुका सेव्यताम् । ब्रह्म एकाक्षरम् अर्थ्यताम् । श्रुतिशिरः वाक्यं समाकर्ण्यताम् ।
satsu saṅga: vidhīyatāṃ. bhagavata: dṛḍhā bhakti: ādhīyatāṃ. śāntyādi: paricīyatāṃ. karma āśu dṛḍhataraṃ santyajyatām. sadvidvān upasṛpyatāṃ. pratidinaṃ tat pādukā sevyatāṃ. brahma ekākṣaram arthyatāṃ . śrutiśira: vākyaṃ samākarṇyatām .