Realizing the truth
The humanity has been making great efforts to acquire knowledge in order that it may lead a more comfortable and happier life, but it has not been able to find a way to eternal happiness. Science has proved itself a double-edged weapon. The wicked mind of man has often crossed all limits of brutality to satisfy its lust for power. The man exists in the universe as the king of all creatures, because of his superior intellect and superior physical instrument (his body). It is up to him either to improve upon himself and acquire divinity or to degrade himself to the level of beasts. Although a king, the existence of man in the universe is like a tiny particle but his ego knows no end. His quest for more and more knowledge also is un-ending, especially in the fields of science, religion and spirituality, which not only govern his existence, but can lead him to the state of permanent bliss.
Science, religion and spirituality are not contradictory, as is the common belief but these are complimentary, being the different facets of the same Truth. While the science relates to the knowledge that can be perceived through senses and subjected to rational scrutiny, religion relates to training of mind (faculties of mind-Vrati) in order that it may acquire capability of perceiving the knowledge of higher levels of Truth. Spirituality on the other hand is dwelling in the domain of Truth. To realise the Truth, however, one needs to learn through his own experience, practice and participation. Different people have followed different paths and in their own way they have had the glimpse of the Truth. The sages and seers have followed the path of inner journey and have described their experiences, often in metaphorical words. Essentially they have talked about the nature of the world and the way to liberation. An attempt has been made in the present work to explain this ancient knowledge in simple words; to the extent it has been possible for an imperfect mind to understand the same.
In the beginning of the creation, there was only the Absolute Truth, with no manifestation of any sort. It was the Supreme Darkness of absolute non-manifestation. Everything having dissolved in its essence, rested in a state of total concealment in the Essence of all essences i.e. the God-the Truth, who was in the state of absolute peace, perfect harmony and supreme bliss. All His qualities and attributes were resting in Him in a dormant state. In this state, there was no Prakriti (Nature or Maya) and Kaal (Time) in existence, nothing except the One-the Almighty God.
Overwhelming with bliss, all of a sudden, the Almighty God thought of revealing Himself in the form of manifold existence in order that the manifold existence may also enjoy the same state of bliss. The Hindu scriptures mention that ‘before the creation, there was only the God, the soul of all souls. Neither there was anything to be seen, nor any seer. He Himself was the manifold existence that is seen in the created world, as He desired to be alone’ (Srimadbhagwat Mahapuran-Tratiya Skandh, Adhyay 5 Shloka 23). The sages and seers consider this world to have been created in accordance with the principle ‘Ekoaham-Mosyaam’ meaning thereby that ‘I am One, I should become manifold’. The Islamic tradition supports this in the famous Hadith; “I was a hidden treasure. I desired to be known and hence I created the world so that I should be known.”
This was the Primordial Determination, the Cosmic Intelligence to multiply and be blissful that reflects itself at all levels, in all the creatures, and which is the root cause of the entire creation.
The desire of the God constituted a two-dimensional plane. The two dimensions were constituted by the two aspects of the God’s desire, the first aspect being to multiply i.e. to become the manifold creation and the second aspect being the state of bliss enjoyed by the God to be enjoyed by the manifold creation. These two aspects were not unidirectional. The aspect of creation involved manifold existence, which involved separation from the Origin, whereas the aspect of bliss involved union with the Origin, as anything separated from its origin would always long for the unity and can become full of bliss only on removal of this feeling of separation.
This desire was the first illusion (Adimaya), the first plane that received the irradiations from the Absolute Truth in the form of a Marvelous Brilliance-the Supreme Consciousness that appeared instantly with the God’s desire to reveal Himself wherein was cast Its luminous image (known as the Satpurusha, the Adipurusha or Saguna Brahman) shining all around, which is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscience and has all the qualities and attributes.
The universe is created and dissolved periodically by the action of Kaal (time). The lord of creation Brahma has a life span of one hundred divine years. One day of lord Brahma, known as a ‘Kalpa’, is equivalent to 4,32,00,00,000 years* of our time (the time on the earth). Similarly the duration of the night of Brahma is also one Kalpa. Lord Brahma creates the universe in the beginning of every new Kalpa, which exists during the day and is dissolved in the night of Lord Brahma (Pralay). In that dissolved state it rests in Lord Brahma. During the periodical dissolution of the universe, however, the Prakriti (the Nature or Maya) and Kaal are not dissolved. Only at the time of Mahapralay i.e. at the end of life span of Lord Brahma, everything including the Prakriti and Kaal are dissolved in the Essence of all essences-the God, and the process of creation starts afresh, as a result of the desire of the God, as mentioned above.
(*Aryabhatta, a famous Indian philosopher and mathematician, has stated that in 10,80,000 years the planets make an integral number of revolution round the earth in the celestial sphere, which brings them all toether in the same original position. This period corresponds to a quarter Yuga. Four quarter Yuga make one Chaturyuga equal to 43,20,000 years and one thousand Chaturyuga make up one Kalpa equal to 4,32,00,00,000 earth-years. Source-‘What Awaits Man in 2000 AD’ by Prof. M.K.Dave)
The scriptures mention that being the Supreme Consciousness and the treasure house of all knowledge, the God creates the world by His mere thought, which reflects in the form of Cosmic Intelligence and sets in the process of creation. The Holy Qur’an mentions;
‘Verily, when He intends a thing, His command is: Be! And it is’-Qur’an, 36:82. The Holy Bible also mentions in Genesis, Chapter 1 the command of the God as ‘let there be’ and ‘it was so’.
Similarly, it is mentioned in the Srimadbhagwat Mahapuran-Pratham Skandh Adhyay 3 Shloka 1 that “in the beginning of the creation, the God desired to create the universe and at once He revealed Himself in the form of the Adipurusha accompanied with ‘Mahtatva’ (the thought power) etc. at His command.”
The Satpurusha accepted the condition of the Adimaya in order to create the world. He started to look around, but there was nothing to be seen, as He Himself was the all encompassing shining self. This very faculty of differentiating the Seer from the scene was the first manifestation of the ‘Karya Kaaranrupi Maya’ (Maya in the form of cause and effect), with the help of which the God created the world.
The desire of creation contained the seed of Gyan (knowledge) embedded in it, as the world could be created only through knowledge. It is mentioned in the Srimadbhagwat Mahapuran-Dwitiya Skandh Adhyay 9 Shloka 5 that Lord Brahma (the God of creation in Hindu mythology) sitting on the lotus flower, the place of his origin, was contemplating about the task of creating the world. He, however, lacked that aspect of knowledge that was necessary for him to possess to be able to accomplish his task. While he was engrossed in this contemplation, it was revealed to him that he should perform tapa (penance) in order that he may acquire the knowledge for creation. Similarly, there is a reference in the Dwadash Skandh of Srimadbhagwat Mahapuran that lord Brahma sat in meditation to recollect the knowledge of creation that existed before.
The desire that the manifold creation should be blissful contained the seed of ‘Kaal’ (time) in it. It is the Kaal that sets in the process of differentiation, movement, action and ultimately dissolution of everything in its essence, which alone could lead one to the state of bliss. So long there is a feeling of separation bliss cannot be complete. It is only through dissolution of the self and merger of the self with the Source that one could experience the eternal bliss.
By the inspiration of the Satpurusha, the Adimaya transformed itself into Gyan (knowledge) and Kaal (time), which constituted the second plane of reflection (the second veil of illusion). The reflection (or the shadow) of the Satpurusha, intermingled with the Gyan (knowledge) and Kaal (time), gave rise to the Kaalpurusha, representing the temporal and spatial principle that governs all contingent beings subject to the condition of time, birth and death. Looking at the luminous Satpurusha, the Kaalpurusha claimed its own separate existence, giving rise to the principle of Ahankar (ego-the principle of individual consciousness) in the formula “I am”.
At the due moment, under the influence of the Cosmic Intelligence, the Kaalpurusha was transformed into two components, a spiritual component (pertaining to the Satpurusha) and a Prakratik component (pertaining to the Maya). The Gyan (knowledge) and Kaal (time) together with Ahankar (ego), constituted a three-dimensional plane. The spiritual component appeared in the form of the trio comprising of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, the lords of Rajoguna, Satvaguna and Tamoguna respectively, who govern creation, preservation and dissolution of the world respectively and are subject to the condition of time. The Prakratik component on the other hand transformed into three-fold energy, the creative energy (Rajas energy), the preserving energy (Satvik energy) and the dissolution energy (Tamas energy), which represent the trigunas of the Prakriti (the three modes of Nature) i.e. the Rajogun, the Satvagun and the Tamogun.
In turn, the three-fold energy was transformed into various elements. The Satvik (or the pure-causal) energy got transformed into the Manas (mind-heart) and the governors of the organs of senses and action. The Rajas (or the subtle) energy got transformed into the power associated with the organs of senses and action, Buddhi (intellect, which is the basis for acquiring knowledge) and Prana (breathing, which is the basis for all actions). Lastly the Tamsic (or the gross-material) energy got transformed into the gross-material existence. At the level of contingent beings, the eyes, the sight or vision and the Sun (light) represent an example of the transformation of the three forms of energy where the eyes are the gross organs, sight or vision is the power to see and the Sun (light) is the governor of this power enabling one to see.
All the gross elements arose from the Tamas energy and Kaal (time). The interaction between Tamas energy and Kaal created mass (material) in the form of the most fundamental particle (called Paramanu in the Hindu mythology) setting up a two-fold motion in the fundamental particle around its own axis, as well as in the space, causing the mass to spread in the space at a tremendous speed and thus creating space in the form of Aakash (ether). This movement so caused in the fundamental particles resulted in the big bang. This was the moment when the matter in its physical form came into existence, for the first time. With the passage of time, the mass has kept on moving farther and farther in space, resulting in the expansion of space. This is also explained by the physical formula E=mc2. The energy E causes mass ‘m’ to move in space with an acceleration (c2 can be taken as d.d/t.t, where ‘d’ stands for distance-or space and ‘t’ stands for time, d/t.t represents acceleration).
The time taken by the Paramanu to complete one revolution around its own axis is the fundamental or the basic unit of time measurement. Each particle in the universe has its own time, because of which the principle of relativity (i.e. the seer and the scene) is set up in the material world. In our Solar system the time taken by the earth in making one revolution around its axis is known as a day. Similarly, the time taken by the moon in making one revolution around its own axis is known as a moon-day, which is much shorter than the day on the earth. However, the time is zero (or infinite-depending upon the way one looks at it), i.e. non-existent at the very center of the Paramanu, and similarly at the poles of the cosmos. In regard to time, the Srimadbhagwat Mahapuran-Tratiya Skandh, Adhyay 11 Shloka 4 mentions that ‘the time pervading the Paramanu is extremely minute and the time that enjoys the universe from the moment of its creation through its dissolution is supremely great’.
Similarly in Shloka 1 of the same Adhyay, it is stated that ‘the minutest particle of the bodies like earth, which can not be divided any further, and which has not reached the state of effect of any material action and which has not combined with other particles (Paramanus), is known as Paramanu. As a result of combination of Paramanus and due to illusion people look upon them as a different body’. Combination of Paramanus in different ways produces various materials. The gross elements in the universe, therefore, appear to have been created in an orderly fashion as a result of various modes of combination of the same fundamental particle with other similar particles and so on. This combination of Paramanus is a reflection of the Primordial Determination (to create the universe), and the movement set by the Kaal is again a reflection of the same Primordial Determination (to enjoy the same state of bliss). The movement set in by the Kaal does both, it allows the Paramanu to exist and simultaneously it sets in the process of dissolution. If there were no movement (and hence no centrifugal force), the whole creation would have collapsed. On the other hand, this very movement causes dissipation of energy and thereby resulting in the dissolution ultimately.
As mentioned above, the dissolution energy transforms into the matter, which by the action of time starts moving and produces vibration (Shabd). The vibration (Shabd) is the immediate principle or cause for the creation of Aakash (ether), in which the matter vibrates/expands. Aakash (ether), with its subtle principle (tanmatra) Shabd (vibration or movement) was the root of all other subtle principles and corresponding gross elements. The movement of matter causes the matter to expand, resulting in the formation of gasses. Various gasses are formed as a result of combination of Paramanus in a particular manner. In turn combination of various gasses leads to the formation of Vayu (air). The subtle principle of Vayu is Sparsh (touch). Being the effect of its cause-Shabd, it (Sparsh) also carries the characteristics of vibration in it.
The Vayu moving with a tremendous force (arising due to expansion), causes fusion of gasses, thereby releasing energy in the form of fire (Agni-Tej). Fusion of gasses and consequential release of energy causes fission to take place, which in turn releases great energy that helps in further fusion to take place and so on, setting up a series of fusion-fission reactions and release of energy in the form of fire (Agni-Tej). The subtle principle of fire is ‘Rupa’ i.e. ‘form’ (fire consumes all things and their form, reducing them to ashes). Being the effect of its cause Aakash and Vayu, it also carries their characteristics i.e. vibration and touch.
The heat so produced causes hydrogen gas to burn in oxygen, resulting in the formation of the next gross element in the series i.e. Jal (water), with its subtle principle Rasa (essence). Being the effect of its cause- Aakash, Vayu and Agni, it (Rasa) also carries the characteristics of vibration, touch and form in it.
The last of the gross element to be created was Prithvi (earth), which was formed as a result of dissolution of various gasses in water and so on. The subtle principle of Prithvi is Gandha (odour). Being the effect of its cause- Aakash, Vayu, Agni and Jal, it (Gandha) also carries the characteristics of vibration, touch, form and essence in it.
It is stated in the Holy Qur’an that the God has created the heavens and the earth in six days: Qur’an 7:54. Similarly, in the Holy Bible one finds the description of six days in Genesis, Chapter 1. The reference to six days in the Qur’an and the Bible is not six earth-days, but the six days of the Brahmaloka (Brahma being the lord of creation in the Hindu mythology, or Allah in His aspects of al-Bari or al-Khaliq).
In the context of the creation of the contingent beings, the Srimadbhagwat Mahapuran states that the subtle principle Shabd (vibration), along with the gross element Aakash (ether), gave rise to the organs of hearing, the ears. The Shabd is the subtle form of ether, which has the qualities of revealing the meaning of words and the identity of the speaker. The qualities of ether are to provide space for all the gross existence, to be present within and beyond, and providing support to Prana (breathing), organ of senses and the Manas (mind).
Sparsh (touch) along with the gross element Vayu gave rise to the organ of touch i.e. skin. Touch is the subtle form of Vayu having qualities of sensing softness, hardness, coldness and warmth. The qualities of Vayu are to shake the branches etc. of trees, gather straw, reach all over, and carry odour and vibrations. Rupa (form) along with the gross element Tej (fire) gave rise to the eyes. The Rupa is the subtle form of fire, which has the qualities of revealing the shape of objects, to figure and be subsumed in the matter and to be perceived according to the shape and measure of things. The qualities of Tej are to shine, to cook, to evaporate, to produce thirst and hunger and to digest food. Rasa (essence) along with the gross element Jal (water) gave rise to the organ of taste i.e. the tongue. The Rasa (essence) is the subtle form of Jal, which in its pure form is unique but due to combination with other substances it becomes bitter, sweet, pungent, sour and salty etc. The qualities of Jal are to wet, to make lump of clay etc., to sate, to keep alive, to quench thirst, to soften and cool things and to reappear again and again on emptying out from wells etc.
Gandha (odour) along with the gross element Prithvi (earth) gave rise to the organ of smell i.e. the nose. The Gandha is the subtle form of Prithvi, which in its pure form is unique like Rasa but due to association with combination of various substances it assumes different textures like good or bad, mild or strong smell etc. The qualities of Prithvi are to exhibit shapes, to remain steadfast without support, to absorb water etc., to occupy space and to reveal the bodily characteristics of all creatures. Being the effect of its cause, the qualities of all gross elements, i.e. Shabd, Sparsh, Rupa, Ras and Gandha are found only in Prithvi (earth).
According to the Sankhya Yoga, the twenty three elements comprising of Mahtatva, Ahankar, five gross elements (namely Aakash, Vayu, Agni, Jal and Prithvi), their five subtle principles (namely Shabd, Sparsh, Tej, Rasa and Gandha), Manas (the mind), five organs of senses (namely, the ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose) and the five organs of action (namely, the speech, hands, feet, the genitals and anus) could not combine together to result into a human aggregate. The Satpurusha, therefore, cast His irradiation to bring life to this conglomeration, into the human being.
The human body is formed by the combination of these elements, which are responsible for its organisation and systematisation. All these elements originated from the desire of the God. This desire in itself was the first veil of illusion. Being an illusion, it could not have created on its own ‘the multiple existence that enjoyed the same state of bliss as the God’. This, therefore, required the God to cast His irradiation i.e. the soul in the human body to bring it to life.
It is stated in the Qur’an that the God said to the angles: Behold, I am going to create man from clay. When I have fashioned him and breathed My spirit in him, fall ye down in prostration to him: Qur’an 38:71-72.
The superiority of the man over other creatures is evident from the fact that the man is made from all the elements used in the creation of the universe and contain in him the seed of all possibilities. The man was created with the irradiation from the Satpurusha, or in Qur’anic terms by God’s breathing in him His spirit. The Holy Bible says that the God created the man in His own image. It is stated in Genesis, Chapter 1: ‘And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth over the earth’, and ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them’.
The spirit breathed in man by the God is known as soul, which, however, lost its original luminosity while descending in the human aggregate, due to falsely associating itself with the ego and the elements of Nature.
All this explanation of the metaphysical reality is, however, relevant only from a contingent point of view, for realising the Truth through an inner journey and self-experience of the all-pervading transcendent principle. As already mentioned earlier, the first veil of illusion that befalls on human mind is the feeling of a separate existence of one who affirms the Truth and the Truth by Itself. This is the feeling of duality, i.e. the very feeling of being, the separate existence of the self.
The faculty, which realises, however, is not the soul since the soul is the very object that is to be realised. The soul is the reality, the real state of being. That which realises the soul is not the soul. When one realises the soul all is left behind, as everything gets merged in the soul. Everything in the first instance has originated from the soul and one can get back to it only when all that is created by it gets dissolved in its essence.
The first glimpse of the soul occurs in the ‘Chitta’ (the faculty of thought), where alone the knowledge of Truth is first perceived. The feeling of duality very much persists at this plane, as the one who perceives and the one that is perceived stand distinctly apart. The ‘Chitta’ (Mahtatva in the Sankhya Yoga) is the second veil of illusion in a descending order. This plane of reflection comprises of Gyan (knowledge) and Kaal (time) i.e. it has both the attributes that of knowledge and time.
Descending down from ‘Chitta’, the next plane of existence of the man is his ‘ego’ (Ahankar). This is the most prominent level of existence of the man. ‘Ego’ arises from the feeling of separation from the Origin. It has been mentioned earlier that the reflection (or the shadow) of the Satpurusha, intermingled with the Gyan (knowledge) and Kaal (time), giving rise to the Kaalpurusha, claiming his own separate existence, giving rise to the principle of Ahankar (ego, the principle of individual consciousness) in the formula “I am”. Since the Kaalpurusha in itself is only a reflection or shadow of the Satpurusha, the human ego is also a deceitful false existence. At this level the man perceives the knowledge, but that knowledge is not the knowledge of the Truth. It is covered with a veil and, therefore, an incomplete and imperfect knowledge. Here the man perceives the knowledge as ‘me and mine and you and yours’. Ego obstructs one’s awareness of being the whole, as it wrongly identifies oneself with the body and mind.
The feeling of man’s existence as a separate individual arises because of his ego. The individual’s mind and his physical body are the manifestation of man’s ego. The mind, however, assumes the position of the ruler and rules over not only the physical body but also over the soul (the Jeeva or the embodied soul), which due to this false association has lost its original luminosity and has assumed a false identity.
The man was created to enjoy the state of eternal bliss, which can be achieved only by knowing the true nature of the self. This is possible only by traveling back to the original state through an inner journey.
Realizing the Truth
The true nature of the soul is eternal bliss. It, however, forgot its true nature on descending down in the material body due to association with the false ego because of which its attention is totally focused on the body and mind. It started considering itself affected by the sorrows and pleasures of the body and mind. Since its nature is eternal bliss, the soul always keeps on searching for the happiness. The man can return to his original state of eternal bliss only by reversing his path of journey i.e. from the body and mind back to the soul. This journey back to realise the true nature of soul has been called by various sages as ‘Yoga’, ‘Kundalini’ and ‘Chakra Vidya’ etc. and involves purification and subjugation of various centers of energy in the human body.
The Almighty God has conferred special capabilities to the man alone by gifting him the human body, which contains in it the seed of all possibilities. In practical terms it means that it is possible only for the man to reach the highest level of spiritual attainments. The human body reflects the cosmos at a micro level and the soul pervades each and every cell of the human body in the same manner as the God pervades the entire cosmos. While descending down in the human body, however, the soul rested at some stations and chose them as the centers of energy in the human body, which are called spiritual Chakras.
The saints belonging to different traditions have described the stations of initiatic path i.e. the spiritual Chakras in different manner according to their own experiences and the method followed by them. In India the knowledge of spiritual Chakras is traced historically to Nath Sampraday, who traditionally followed the path of Hatha Yoga to awaken their Kundalini. While most of the saints prior to saint Kabir are believed to have talked of stations only up to the Sahastradal Kamal, saint Kabir is considered to be the first, who spoke of spiritual Chakras beyond Sahastradal Kamal up to the highest station of the abode of the Truth.
Saint Kabir has talked of twenty-one Lokas or Chakras in his treatise ‘Granth Adibhed’. Giving an account of the process of creation, saint Kabir refers the Absolute Truth as ‘Purush Ninavam’ i.e. ‘the Nameless’. The time had not come in to existence then, as it was the beginning of creation. He was all alone, the only Himself. This is the Highest State of Truth i.e. the Truth by Itself, with no manifestation, no description, no attribution and no duality whatsoever. The beginning started from this Supreme State. One can have a glimpse of this stage only through realisation through the grace of the Satguru (Master) when the Satguru causes ascension of the consciousness to that state.
Everything has originated from the ‘Nonbeingness’, which is the highest state, the state beyond all attributes. The first state of ‘coming into being’ of the Absolute Truth was the state of flux or the state of twinkling in which It was both manifested as well as hidden, or in other words neither this nor that. Saint Kabir has called Him as ‘Videhi Purush’ (the bodiless).
Saint Kabir has explained the different states of existence in terms of ‘Surat’ and ‘Shabda’. Both are the characteristic properties of the soul. While ‘Surat’ is the consciousness i.e. the attentive power of the soul, ‘Shabda’ is ‘word’, about which the Bible says ‘In the beginning there was the word, the word was with the God and the word was the God’. He has, however, distinguished ‘Saarshabda’ (essential word) from ‘Shabda’ as would be clear from the following descriptions.
The ‘Videhi Purush’ is the treasure house of all consciousness. The souls that have reached this state rest along with the ‘Videhi Purush’ in this ‘Videhi Loka’. In this Loka, however, the ‘Nirat’, ‘Surat’ and ‘Shabda’ all are in a hidden state. ‘Nirat’ is the power of soul that awakens the ‘Surat’ (i.e. the consciousness) and leads it to move on to the higher planes. Unless ‘Nirat’ is activated ‘Surat’ cannot move ahead. It is the Satguru, who activates the ‘Nirat’. It may be mentioned that all the three ‘Nirat’, ‘Surat’ and ‘Shabda’ existed in the ‘Videhi Loka’ but they were in a hidden state, i.e. this was a state superior to the state of manifestation of ‘Nirat’, ‘Surat’ and ‘Shabda’. ‘Nirat’, ‘Surat’ and ‘Shabda’ are all the characteristic powers of the soul and, therefore, in the ‘Videhi Loka’ the soul rests in a higher state beyond the state of manifestation of these powers.
The next state was that of ‘Agam Purush’ (the unapproachable or beyond reach). This was the state where the ‘Agam Purush’ like the Satguru activated the ‘Nirat’, which in turn awakened first the ‘Shabda’ and then the ‘Surat’. The ‘Sat Purush’ then manifested in the form of ‘Saarshabda’ the highest state of ‘Shabda’ whereas ‘Surat’ still was in a hidden state. The ‘Sat Purush’ was Perfect, the highest state of ‘Sat, Chit and Anand’, the ocean of pure love and bliss and the highest state of consciousness and enlightenment. Those souls that have reached the state of ‘Sat Purush’ rest in this Loka with eternal peace and enjoy the perfect state of Sat, Chit and Anand.
The ‘Surat’ was in a hidden state in this ‘Loka’. When the ‘Sat Purush’ desired to manifest Himself the ‘Surat’ i.e. consciousness was awakened and it spread like a boundless ocean, which was the next state, the highest state of consciousness, known as ‘Pad Nirvan or Surat Loka’ or the state of eternal bliss.
The. ‘Videhi Purush’, ‘Agam Purush’ and ‘Sat Purush’ all are the different states of the Absolute Truth, the ‘Purush Ninavam’ i.e. ‘the Nameless’. While the ‘Videhi Purush’ is the state of Truth when ‘Nirat’, ‘Surat’ and ‘Shabda’ are still in a hidden state, the other three are the highest states of ‘Nirat’, ‘Surat’ and ‘Shabda’, ‘Surat’ and ‘Shabda’ and the ‘Surat’ respectively. The entire creation is based on ‘Surat’ and ‘Shabda’. While the capability of expanding existed only in ‘Surat’, it exhibited its presence in the form of ‘Shabda’.
Here it will be important to understand the true nature of ‘Shabda’ and the ‘Saarshabda’. As described earlier the ‘Shabda’ (vibration) was produced as a result of transformation of the dissolution energy into the matter and the action of time. This ‘Shabda’ was the immediate principle or cause for the creation of Aakash (ether) and all other gross elements. The ‘Saarshabda’ on the other hand is the reflection of the Primordial Determination, the desire of the God, in all that has originated from Him. It is like the genes carrying the memory of the forefathers, the ‘Saarshabda’ exists in the entire creation, gross, subtle or causal, as the reflection of the Truth from which everything has originated. The ‘Saarshabda’ is the essential remembrance of the Highest Truth and it is this remembrance of the Origin, i.e. the ‘Saarshabda’ alone that can lead one back to his Reality. The ‘Nirat’ awakens the consciousness to this essential remembrance of its Origin in order that it can lead back to the Origin. Once the ‘Surat’ gets turned on to the ‘Shabda’ it gradually becomes one with it and effortlessly reaches its Origin.
The next state is that of ‘Akshar Purush’ in the ‘Akshar Loka’ where the souls lie in a dormant state. These are those souls, which have not yet overcome the bondage of action. Their accumulated actions are not yet over and they are waiting in a dormant state for the right time to get an opportunity to make further progress. It was to awaken these souls and to provide them with an opportunity to move further that the ‘Kaal Purush’ came into being.
The ‘Kaal Purush’ has been named as ‘Niranjan’, who represents the temporal and spatial principle that governs all contingent beings subject to the condition of time, birth and death. As mentioned earlier, looking at the luminous ‘Sat Purush’, the ‘Kaal Purush’ claimed its own separate existence, giving rise to the principle of Ahankar (ego-the principle of individual consciousness) in the formula “I am” or ‘Aham Asmi’.
The creation required two things to interact in order that a third thing could be created. These are the ‘Surat’ i.e. consciousness and the ‘Shabda’. The ‘Kaal Purush’ was made of causal element and was full of light (a derivation of Shabda) but it lacked the ‘Surat’ i.e. consciousness, which alone feels the bliss and can achieve the higher states of Truth and can engage in multiplication or creation. In order that further creation could take place, the ‘Sat Purush’ caused ‘Adi Maya’ to associate with ‘Kaal Purush’.
The ‘Kaal Purush’ in association with the ‘Adi Maya’ was called as the ‘Avigat Purush’ (the one not yet gone away-not yet over). This was the state of the merger of the ‘Shabda’ and ‘Surat’ into one. Before this the ‘Kaal Purush’ was in the state of pure ‘Brahm’, when the desire for creation had not yet arisen. This ‘Loka’ of the ‘Kaal Purush’ was called ‘Anami Loka’ also known as the ‘Amarkot’ and ‘Akah Loka’. This was their first creation and it was a copy of the abode of the ‘Purush Ninavam’. Some saints state it as the place of ‘Brahmarandhra’. The Sushumana Nadi (nerve), which originates from the heart, goes up to Brahmarandhra. The tenth chapter of Srimad Bhagwat Mahapurana mentions this path as the one “followed by the Seers belonging to the lineage of the Sun (Arun-vanshi) to realise the Truth. One, who gets an access to this lighted path and moves forward on it, does not then fall in the trap of life and death.”
The ‘Anami Loka’ is full of light and various sounds. The ‘Avigat Purush’ created this Loka with five words, the secret of which is known only to those, who have reached this state. Similarly the ‘Adi Maya’ also revealed five words, which are: Sohum, Ni:Akshar, Rarankar, Omkar and Niranjan. All these five words are echoing continuously in all human beings and in the universe, but only some saints have their knowledge. The original place of the Sohum Shabda is near ‘Bhawar Gufa’; Ni:Akshar originates in Mahashunya; Rarankar in the Shunya; Omkar near the Trikuti and Niranjan near the Agya Chakra.
The creation below this ‘Loka’ was called the ‘Avigat Srishti’ in which the creation of the upper Lokas was copied. The first ‘Loka’ of the ‘Avigat Srishti’ was the ‘Saptam Shoonya’ i.e. the ‘Seventh Void or Vacuum’. Here the ‘Avigat Purush’ copied the ‘Videhi Loka’ and named it as ‘Agam Loka’. This Loka is free from all sorrows and is full of light. The word ‘Agam’ sounds here continuously. One, who reaches this state is entitled to all the four kinds of liberation i.e. Salokya (in the same Loka), Samipya (being near), Sarupya (same form) and Sayujya (being united).
In the ‘Sixth Void’ the ‘Avigat Purush’ copied the Loka of the Agam Purush and named it as ‘Alakh Loka’. The state of soul here was called ‘Alakh Purush’. Similarly in the ‘Fifth Void’ it created the ‘Sat Loka’, which is also full of light and free from joy and sorrows. ‘Anahat Nad’ echos here uninterruptedly.
The ‘Fourth Void’ is called ‘Bhawar Gufa’, which is a copy of ‘Pad Nirvan or Surat Loka’. This is the place of origin of the ‘Sohum Shabda’. The Muslim saints name this sound to be ‘Anahoo’. This is the state of realisation ‘So am I’ i.e. ‘I am a part of the Truth’. The souls up to this Loka are liberated souls as they are in a highly conscious state although the level of consciousness declines from higher state to the lower.
The ‘Third Void’ is divided in ‘Mahashunya’ and ‘Shunya’. The ‘Mahashunya’ is known as the abode of ‘Nirgun Parbrahma’ or ‘Nirgun Ni:Akshar and the Muslim saints have called it ‘Alam-e-Hahoot’. It is also known as ‘Mahakaal’ and there is darkness. The disgraced souls from the ‘Fifth Void’ i.e. ‘Sat Loka’ are dropped here. Although they do not suffer in any way but they lose the bliss of ‘Sat Loka’. They regain their position when saints passing through this path seek God’s mercy for them. The ‘Nirgun Parbrahma’ now took the form of Brahma. This is the last conscious state of ‘Surat’, below which it takes the form of ‘Jeeva’ i.e. embodied soul, the one craving for life. This is the last state of the association of ‘Surat’ and ‘Shabda’.or in other words the ‘Niranjan’ and ‘Adi Maya’ separated from this station. This provided the base for creation from cohabitation.
The ‘Shunya’ is also known as the ‘Dasham Dwar or the Tenth Gate’. The Sufi saints call it ‘Alam-e-Lahoot’. It is also called ‘Aranya Dweep’. The soul lost its state of consciousness to a further degree here. ‘Rarankar’ is the sound that echoes here. It is said that one whose soul departs from the body through this ‘tenth gate’ is a liberated person. The other gates are eyes (2), ears (2), mouth (1), nostrils (2), genitals (1) and the anus (1). After the ‘Shunya’, ‘Surat’ and ‘Shabda’ separated. According to saint Kabir, ‘Surat’ now turned into ‘Yog Maya’, which is called ‘Prakriti’ in the ‘Vedas’ and ‘Shabda’ into ‘Purush’.
The ‘Second Void’ is at the ‘Trikuti’ in the human body. The Sufi saints call it as ‘Musallasi’. This is the place of the revelation of the four Vedas or the other divine books that descended as a divine order according to the belief of different religions. Here the sound of ‘Omkar’ echoes. The Sufi saints have described this sound as ‘Hoo-Hoo’. This is the place of the origin of the five gross elements and the three ‘Gunas’, which are created by the ‘Prakriti’ and ‘Purush’. The creation beyond this was the material creation and the ‘Jeevas’ (embodied souls) descended from the ‘Nirgun Parbrahma’.
The ‘First Void’ is at the ‘Sahstradal’, which is located at a height little above the eyebrows and towards the backside of the head in the human body. It is called ‘Alam-e-Jabroot’ by the Sufi saints and is also known as the abode of Lord Trilokinath. The ‘Avigat Purush’ has taken the form of ‘Niranjan’ and tremendous light here. The divine books descended from here with the breathing. This place is also the abode of Cosmic Mind. One, who reaches this state, leaves behind his Pindi Manas-the psyche i.e. he overcomes his mind.
As mentioned earlier, the Chakra (or the spiritual center) corresponding to the ‘Anami Loka’, the abode of the ‘Avigat Purush’, is located in the human body at the place of ‘Brahmarandhra’ the uppermost reach of the Sushumana Nadi (nerve), which originates from the heart and goes up to ‘Brahmarandhra’. The ‘Avigat Purush’ is the highest creation representing the temporal and spatial principle that governs all contingent beings subject to the condition of time, birth and death and accordingly, his abode in the human body is also at the highest point at the ‘Brahmarandhra’. The other Chakras are also similarly located in the human body at different places between the ‘Brahmarandhra’ and ‘Sahstradal’. The ‘Trikuti’ is above ‘Sahstradal’ and the way to it passes through the Optic Nerve, which is curved like a new moon, which the saints have called as ‘Bunkanal’. It would also be important to mention here that the human body has been cast in the image of the God and that the man is made from all the elements used in the creation of the universe and contain in him the seed of all possibilities, which is evident in the fact that the entire Cosmos is reflected in the man as mentioned above.
In the process of descent to the human body, the soul is believed to have first alighted at the ‘Brahmarandhra’ from where it spread to all the cells in the body. The spiritual centers or Chakras have, however, been identified by the saints, as the major landmarks being the centers for spiritual activation and awareness for a spiritual seeker.
The Chakras below the ‘Sahstradal’ are the ‘Agya Chakra’, ‘Vishuddha Chakra’, ‘Anahat Chakra’, ‘Manipurak Chakra’, ‘Swadhisthan Chakra’ and ‘Mooladhar Chakra’. These are the lower six charkas, which are the subject matter of popular ‘Kundalini Yoga’.
The ‘Agya Chakra’ is located a little above the eyebrows in the middle of the forehead and about an inch inside the skull. The Sufi saints call it as ‘Nukta-e-Suveda’. While awake, it is believed to be the normal resting place for the soul. In the state of sleeping the soul descends down to the throat and in deep sleep to the heart. The ‘Agya Chakra’ receives influences from all other Chakras above it or below it. It is the center that governs human psyche. As mentioned earlier, this is the last point beyond which the Pindi Manas-the psyche does not accompany the soul. This is the highest place that can be achieved through ‘Hatha Yoga’ (i.e. through Pranayam and other yogic exercises). In yogic terminology this is also known as the place of the third eye, which means that one acquires the capability of seeing the inner realities. The way to the ‘Sahstradal’ from here passes through a very fine nerve, which the yogis call it as ‘Mukti Dwar’. Ascent beyond this point leads to liberation of the soul. The soul can move ahead following three different paths, called ‘Triveni’ i.e. confluence of the three rivers, the Ganga, Yamuna and the Saraswati. The path leading straight to the Truth i.e. where the seeker’s sole objective is to realise the Truth is said to be the middle path (the Ganga), and the other paths are for those yogis who are interested to acquire knowledge and powers associated with these Chakras. They, however, face a danger of getting stuck to the wonders and astonishments seen over here.
The next Chakra below the ‘Agya Chakra’ is ‘Vishuddha Chakra’, which is located in the human body in the throat. As mentioned earlier the first element to descend at the microcosmic level in the human aggregate was the ether (Aakash), which took its seat in the human throat, with its subtle principle vibration, which produces sound and is responsible for the faculty of speech. The governor or the lord of this first primitive power is ‘Mahamaya’ or the goddess ‘Durga’. She is the goddess of creation as well as that of destruction. Accordingly, Rajogun and Tamogun predominate this Chakra.
‘Anahat Chakra’ lies below the ‘Vishuddha Chakra’. It is also called the ‘Hridya Chakra’ and is located on the physical heart in the human body. The Sufi saints call it ‘Qulb’. ‘Tamogun’ mostly predominates this Chakra, which is governed by Lord Shiva (Mahesh or Rudra-the Lord of Tamogun and dissolution). As mentioned earlier the Sushumana Nadi originates from the heart and goes up to ‘Brahmarandhra’. The element air took its seat in the heart, located in close proximity to the lungs and it performs an important function of purifying the blood that is so necessary for life. The human heart and mind (psyche) are closely linked. The condition of the heart reflects on the human psyche and vice versa. Concentration at this center connects one to the higher cosmic centers in the mind bye-passing the intermediate centers.
The Chakras below ‘Anahat Chakra’ are common between animals and human beings. The animals work through the lower three Chakras namely ‘Manipurak Chakra’, ‘Swadhisthan Chakra’ and ‘Mooladhar Chakra’, as they live through eating, reproduction and turning things into soil. Their higher Chakras are not developed.
The ‘Manipurak Chakra’ is located under the naval. The element fire took its seat in the naval region. The most important function of fire is to digest the food and to nourish the entire organism. Lord Vishnu is the governor of this center, who is known as the sustainer or the lord of preservation of the world. This center releases energy for the nourishment of the entire body and has the healing power.
The next below Chakra is the ‘Swadhisthan Chakra’, which is located at the height of the genitals. The element water descended and took its seat in the genitals, for the purpose of procreation. The governor of this center is Brahma, the lord of creation. The last Chakra is the ‘Mooladhar Chakra’ where the last of the elements to descend in the gross determination was the earth, which took its seat in the anus, for excretion of waste. The governor of this center is lord Ganesha, who commands precedence over all other deities in the worship. These lower three Chakras are associated with various miraculous powers, which generally act as an obstruction to making spiritual progress. One desirous of realising the Truth should, therefore, not get attracted to the miraculous powers. The level of consciousness of the embodied soul in these Chakras is comparable to that of animals and other lower creatures.
It has been mentioned earlier that the human body is made up of three bodies i.e. gross body, subtle body and the causal body. It is also considered to be made of different Koshas or sheaths, namely the ‘Annamay Kosha’, the ‘Pranmay Kosha’, the ‘Manomay Kosha’, the ‘Vigyanmay Kosha’, and lastely the ‘Anandmay Kosha’. These layers or sheaths got accumulated over the soul in order that the life may manifest in the form of various creatures. The first sheath to descend was the ‘Anandmay Kosha’ or the sheath of bliss consciousness. The next was the ‘Vigyanmay Kosha’ or the sheath of intellect, which includes the faculties of reasoning, discrimination and decision-making. Above this layer descended the ‘Manomay Kosha’, i.e. the mind, which comprises of the faculties of senses, i.e. hearing, Sparsh or touch, sight, savour and smell. The next heath is the ‘Pranmay Kosha’ i.e. the ethereal sheath, which comprises of the five breathing actions i.e. Prana, Apana, Saman, Udan and Vijana. Prana refers to the inhalation of air, Apana refers to exhalation, Saman refers to the breath that nourishes the body, Udan refers to the pharyngeal breath and Vijana refers to muscular stimulating breath. The Chakras described above are related to these bodies and Koshas.
The first three Chakras i.e. ‘Mooladhar Chakra’, ‘Swadhisthan Chakra’ and ‘Manipurak Chakra’ are related to the gross body and the ‘Pranmay Kosha’. These centers can, therefore, be activated and awakened through Pranayam i.e. breathing and other yogic exercises, postures etc. The seekers can acquire a lot of miraculous powers by conquering these Chakras, which, however, is not important from the spiritual point of view rather the miraculous powers act as a distraction for the true seekers. These Chakras are also related to the state of awakening (i.e. Jagrat awastha) where the focus of mind is on the body.
The next four Chakras i.e. ‘Anahat, Vishuddha, Agya Chakra and ‘Sahstradal’ relate to the subtle body and the ‘Manomay Kosha’. These are also related to the state of dreaming in which the focus of the mind is on the subtle body. While it is possible to activate and awaken these Chakras through Pranayam, it may take many years and a lot of effort on the part of the seeker. This is the limit of ‘Hatha Yoga’ i.e. through insistence. One cannot move beyond ‘Sahstradal’ through Pranayam or Hatha Yoga. The grace of a true Master is required to move further. It is not to say that a Master is not required for Pranayam or Hatha Yoga, as without a Master Pranayam or Hatha Yoga can prove to be dangerous, one may follow wrong practices resulting in harm rather than any benefit.
The Chakras above ‘Sahstradal’ starting from Trikuti up to the Anami Loka i.e. Brahmarandhra also relate to the subtle body and to the ‘Vigyanmay Kosha’. This is the state of Sushupti or deep sleep. Here the seekers enter into Savikalpa Samadhi (entering into a trance or getting absorbed with the current of thought in flow) and later into Nirvikalpa Samadhi (without the current of thought flowing). This is the state of receiving the knowledge. While in the Savikalpa Samadhi the seeker may have a doubt about his perception of things, in the Nirvikalpa Samadhi there is no doubt left as the seeker perceives the inner realities of things and the knowledge descends as a divine order.
The Chakras beyond this state relate to the causal body. The state of ‘Pad Nirvan or Surat Loka’ and that of ‘Akshar Purush’ is the Turiya or the fourth state of the soul. Having crossed this state the soul keeps on making further progress by the grace of the God.
More important than knowing the stages of spiritual progress is the way to achieve it. The ultimate objective of human life is to realise the Truth rather than have a theoretical knowledge. There are two ways to this journey back to the Origin. These are called ‘Sulook’ and ‘Jajb’. Sulook is the way of step-by-step journey i.e. starting from the lowest the ‘Mooladhar’ Chakra and gradually moving up to the higher states, whereas ‘Jajb’ is the path of love and devotion.
In ‘Sulook’ the seeker has to pass through various stages, i.e. he has to move from this station of death up to the station of the Truth crossing all the intermediate stages. Most yogis follow the path of Sulook in which they start their spiritual quest from the lowest, the Mooladhar Chakra, and through Pranayam (breathing exercises) and other yogic exercises they activate and subjugate various spiritual Chakras. The yogis generally make spiritual progress on account of their own effort, i.e. by performing Pranayam and other yogic exercises. They follow the path of ‘Ashtang yoga’, which is an eight-fold path and hence named as Ashtang yoga (Ashtang means eight-folded). The first five parts of the Ashtang yoga are external exercises, while the last three are internal practices.
Sufis consider the shelter of a competent master as the most important step for the spiritual training of the seeker. The difference between Sufis and other saints is in the method of their training. The Sufis, especially those from the Naqshbandi Order have developed a system of ‘Tavajjoh’ (or Pranahuti) i.e. transmission of spiritual energy by focusing one’s attention on the other. In the Naqshbandi Order the Master does this transmission of spiritual energy to the disciple from heart-to-heart.
It may be mentioned here that even in the Naqshbandi Order the way of ‘Sulook’ was followed initially. The seekers were required to make spiritual progress starting from the very beginning. Prior to the time of Shah Baha’uddin Naqshband, the Masters of the Order followed the practice of purifying all the Chakras, starting from the lowest, the Mooladhar Chakra. Shah Baha’uddin Naqshband introduced the practice of starting from the Hriday (Anahat) Chakra. The method of practice was further modified and improved by the Masters of the Order after him and Shaikh Ahmad Faruqi Sirhindi considered that purification of latifa-e-kulb (one of the five spiritual organs of the Hriday Chakra) alone was sufficient. Once the Hriday Chakra is activated and awakened the seeker can be immediately taken to the nafs-e-natiqa (Prana Bindu or the Agya Chakra) the subtle abode of the nafs in one step, as sanctioned by Shaikh Ahmad Faruqi and he may be elevated to the Brahmand Chakra (Sahstra dal Kamal) as the second step.
After Shah Baha’uddin Naqshband, Shaikh Habibullah Mazhar Mirza Zanzana (1701-1780 AD) made this spiritual journey much simpler casting a great responsibility on the Pir (Master) for the spiritual progress of the disciple. The role of disciples became more and more passive, seeking the divine grace to flow from the Master, rather than self-effort. The effort on the part of the seeker was to seek the company of the Master (Satsang) and the love for the Master.
The spiritual journey is divided in three parts, namely ascent (Fana), staying atop (Baqa) and descent (Baqa-ul-Baqa). The concept of annihilation, however, is not unique to Sufism alone. The Srimadbhagwat Mahapuran in Dwitiya Skandh Adhyay 2 mentions how a yogi (following the path of Sulook) should prepare for departure from this world. It states that such a yogi who has overcome his desires following the path of knowledge should sit steadfastly pressing his anus with the toe of the foot. He should then direct his breath (Pranvayu) upwards according to the technique of subjugating the six spiritual Chakras (ShatChakrabhedan). He should direct the breath from the Manipurak Chakra on the naval to the Anahat Chakra at the heart, from there to the Vishuddha Chakra on the throat through Udan Vayu (the pharyngeal breath) and then gradually to the top of the Vishuddha Chakra at the root of the palate. Thereafter he should block the seven gates i.e. two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and the mouth and lift that breath to the Agya Chakra at the center of the eyebrows. If the yogi does not wish to go to any Loka, he should hold the breath there for a short while and then with a firm determination raise it to Sahstradal Kamal and get absorbed in the Supreme Soul. He should then cross the Brahmarandhra and leave behind his body and senses (Indriyan).
The Srimadbhagwat Mahapuran states further that when the yogi moves ahead on this lighted path of the Sushumna for the Brahmaloka, he first goes to Agni Loka where the remainder of all his vices are burnt and from there he moves up to the lighted sphere ‘Shishumar’ of Lord Sri Hari (Lord Vishnu), which is the center for the movement in the entire universes. After crossing it, he acquires a very subtle and pure body that enables him to go to Maharloka, which even those possessing knowledge of Brahma praise and which is inhabited by the angels (gods-Devta). When the time of dissolution (Pralay) arrives, the yogi moves to Brahmaloka, which has the life span of Brahma. Here there is existence of no sorrow or pain, nor that of aging and death. The only discomfort they have is to witness other creatures suffering the pain of life and death.
On reaching the Satya Loka, the fearless yogi now dissolves his subtle body in the element earth and proceeds to subjugate the seven sheaths. He now proceeds to dissolve his earthen form into the element water; water into the element fire and then gaining the form of Tej (fire), into the element air. At the due moment his subtle form then gets dissolved into the element ether, which imparts the experience of the boundless Brahman. While going through the dissolution of the gross elements, his organs of senses (Indriyan) also get dissolved in their subtle principles. The organ of smelling gets dissolved in the subtle principle Gandha (odour); the organ of savour in its subtle principle essence; the organ of vision in its subtle principle form (Rupa); the organ of feeling in its subtle principle Sparsh (touch); the organ of hearing in its subtle principle Shabda (vibration) and the organs of action in their respective powers of action. Having thus dissolved the gross and subtle principles, the yogi now enters the sheath of ego (Ahankar). Here he dissolves the subtle elements in the Tamas Ahankar, the senses in the Rajas Ahankar and the Manas (mind) and the governors of the organs of senses and action into the Satvik Ahankar. Thereafter he dissolves the Ahankar in the Mahatatva and lastly in the Prakriti (the Adimaya), the origin of all Gunas (modes of Nature). When the time of Mahapralaya (the ultimate dissolution) comes, the yogi now having no sheath over his true Self becomes the abode of eternal bliss and becomes one with the Truth.
In regard to the yogis following the path of love and devotion, the Srimadbhagwat Mahapuran states that they should withdraw their attention from all other engagements and restrain their mind and senses. They should then absorb their mind and intellect (Buddhi) into the embodied soul and the embodied soul into the inner Self (Antaryami). The inner Self is then to be absorbed in the Truth. Such yogis have no duty left for them. In such a state the Trigunas, Ahankar, Prakriti or Mahatatva none exists for the yogi. This supreme state is achieved only through the unqualified love and devotion for the Almighty God.
Different Sufi Orders follow different paths for achieving the state of Fana (annihilation). Most of them follow the path of Sulook and start with the purification of the lower spiritual Chakras and then gradually move up to the purification and reintegration of the higher spiritual Chakras. In the Naqshbandi Sufi Order, which is considered to be highly advanced in the science of spiritual centers, this process is reversed. They usually start from the Anahat Chakra or the Agya Chakra, leaving apart the lower Chakras. The Master through his grace (Tavajjoh) leads the seeker to experience the state of annihilation (Fana). This part of the spiritual journey is known as spiritual ascent or Uruj.
The Naqshbandi Sufis consider Shagl Rabta (meditating on the Master) as an important aspect of the spiritual practice. In fact the process is that of internalization of the presence of the Master, to feel his presence in the heart of the disciple all the time. The transmission of the spiritual energy from the heart of the Master to the heart of the disciple takes place through the transmission of the Shabda i.e. vibration, through his (Master’s) Tavajjoh. Gradually the disciple starts feeling the presence of the Shabda inside him and a time comes when the disciple starts identifying the Shabda itself as the Master within him. This is what is meant by the internalization of the presence of the Master. Truly speaking the reality of both the Master and the disciple is that of Shabda, both being an expression of the Shabda. When the disciple acquires this firm faith that the Master is always with him in the form of the Shabda, it is the state of annihilation of the self (Fana). This is the state when the disciple develops true love for the Master and witnesses His presence all over.
Gradually the consciousness (Surat) of the disciple starts getting absorbed in the Shabda and when such a state is reached that the Surat gets completely absorbed in the Shabda i.e. when Shabda alone remains, the seeker is said to have achieved a state of permanent realisation i.e. Baqa. The seeker reaches the height of ascent and now starts for the Nuzul or the descent. Here he knows that it is only the Master (or the God) that exists and that everything that is happening is happening in accordance with and in accordance with His desire. He is blessed with complete faith and he lives in a state of total peace. He lives like an ordinary person but internally he is on a much higher platform. He has reached that state after making a complete circle. This is the state of the ‘Farthest and the Nearest’.
The phase of descent, however, is completed only after the purification of the gross elements, which form the contingent body of the seeker. These gross elements are purified as a result of the influence of the purification and consequential elevation of the five spiritual constituents namely Qulb, Sirr, Rooh, Khafi and Akhafa, belonging to the ‘World of Order’ (Alam-e-Amr) and which bear strong relationships with the respective gross elements. The last of the gross elements to be purified is the earth, which completes the process of purification and reintegration of the gross elements with their causal elements. It may be mentioned here that Prithvi (earth) was the last gross element to be unfolded in the sequence of unfolding of gross elements and being the effect of its cause, the qualities of all gross elements, i.e. Shabda, Sparsh, Rupa, Rasa and Gandha are found only in Prithvi (earth). Purification and reintegration of element earth, therefore, completes the process.
In the Naqshbandi Order, the grace of God works through the Tavajjoh of the Master, which helps the seeker to achieve his goal in an effortless manner and in the shortest time. The Masters lift the consciousness of the seekers to higher states through their grace. This experience of the seeker not only makes him believe in the truth of these higher states but also the impression of this experience constantly propels him towards this state. The Naqshbandi Masters thus guide their disciples first through the movement from God, traveling from the higher states to the lower. They, therefore, maintain the common veils over the spiritual vision of the seeker, removing the veil of ordinary consciousness only at the final stage. All other systems begin with the movement to God, moving from the lowest states to the highest, and removing the common veils first.