A common concept in many spiritual paths such as Sanatana Dharma, Hinduism, Jainsim, Buddhism, and Sikhism is the state of existence called Nirvana. In this article we will explain Nirvana with respect to its position along the path of self realization.
What are two types of people?
In Vedic scriptures, the mind is understood as an instrument that entertains thoughts temporarily. Its function is to either accept or reject an idea. This duality is one of the causes of entanglement in the material world. The mind cannot sit idle for even a moment. It must be at all times engaged in one activity or another.
Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 41
bahu-sakha hy anantas ca
In this verse, Lord Krishna informs us that a person who has faith in God and is pursuing the spiritual path towards Him is resolute and has a singular aim. On the other hand, a person who is not engaged in spiritual activities is bewildered because his mind is continuously accepting and rejecting things. In fact, the same object is perceived by mind as a source of pleasure and after some time as pain.
The latter stage where the mind is uncontrolled is called the conditioned state of living entities. But when a person is actually elevated to the platform of loving Lord Krishna, then his mind is uninterruptedly absorbed in the divine thoughts of Lord. This perfect stage is called Nirvana or making the mind one with the Supreme Lord.
What is the meaning of being one with God?
In the Bhagavad Gita we see how Arjun refused to fight the miscreants because most of them were his family members. After listening to the instructions from Lord Krishna, Arjun realized his mistake and dovetailed his mind with Krishna’s desire to defeat the unjust rulers. This is a perfect example of oneness with God.
This oneness is on the spiritual platform. Even after becoming one they retained their individuality. The identity is eternal.
Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 verse 12
न त्वेवाहं जातु नासं न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः ।
न चैव न भविष्यामः सर्वे वयमतः परम् ॥१२॥
In this verse, Lord Krishna informs us that there was never a time when He and the living entities did not exist. Furthermore, in future also neither of the two will cease to exist. So Nirvana does not mean that an individual soul unites with Supersoul and loses its identity, rather it means that the individual soul acts in resonance with the Supreme Soul. The state of Nirvana is also called liberation. The mind of a liberated soul acts with the exclusive inspiration to please the Supreme Soul. This is in stark contrast to the mind of the conditioned soul, which is impelled by Material Nature to act.
How to reach the state of Nirvana?
Nirvana or oneness with God has been sought by generations of spiritualists. In the present age the process for achieving Nirvana is very simple i.e. Krishna Consciousness. Krishna Consciousness means to dovetail one’s activities to fulfill the desires of Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. The activities of a person in Krishna Consciousness appear to be similar to the activities of a conditioned soul, but upon closer observation a gulf of difference can be noticed.
For instance, a materialist eats bread, butter, eggs, vegetables, fruits, meat, etc. whereas a liberated soul eats only the food that has been first offered to Lord Krishna. Vedic scriptures tell us what can be offered to God and how to offer it to God.
Another example is of a materialist who indulges in indiscriminate sexual activities for sensual pleasure and sometimes even with more than one partner, whereas a liberated soul either completely refrains from sexual intercourse or is involved only with their lawfully wedded partner and that too for the purpose of procreating God conscious children rather than sense enjoyment. Similarly all other activities such as studying and education, profession, are also regulated according to the Vedic scriptures.
In this regard, the scriptures lay utmost emphasis on hearing and chanting the Holy Name of the Lord and Glories of the Lord. In Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya Lila Chapter 6 Verse 242 it is said:
harer nāma harer nāma
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā
In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way. Thus we can conclude that the pure or liberated stage of Nirvana can be achieved by anyone by dovetailing one’s thoughts, words and activities in service of Lord Krishna.