Final-journey of a devotee-soul

A devotee-soul achieves Bhagavān through his grace, when he becomes dearest to Bhagavan through either total surrender or devotion, Bhagavan himself accepts the devotee Jiva. Here final-journey of such devotee-soul is elucidated - the path one follows while going to supreme abode after receiving the grace of Bhagavān. And thus, one goes beyond the ocean of births & deaths and three-fold agonies of the material world, and the liberated Jiva becomes immortal and blissful after achieving the supreme eternal nectarine bliss in the supreme abode.

The elucidation of ‘final-journey of a devotee-soul to the supreme abode’ is based upon Vedas, Upanishads (the concept of devayān-mārga), Rāmāyana, Purāna-s (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, etc), and other Vedic-scriptures. It is a very long topic, and it would be dealt in a greater detail in the coming book. Here, poetic chhands composed by Śrī Yugālānanya-śaraṇa Jī Mahārāj ‘Hēmalatā Sakhī’ of Bhagavān are quoted, and the meaning and detail expositions are provided by me from scriptures : —

यद्यपि सब सम्बन्ध अनुपा । तदपि पति पत्नी सुख रूपा ॥
याहि माहि अति प्रीति प्रकासे । निराबरन प्रीतम रस भासे ॥
स्वर्ग मोक्ष अभिलाष बिसारी । केवल ललन मिलन पन धारी ॥

“Although all relations between Jiva and Bhagavān are uniquely beautiful in themselves, however it is seen the conjugal loving-relation is the most blissful. In the conjugal loving relation, all surpassing love is illuminated, and the most blissful Ras of beloved Bhagavan is experienced. Therefore, a Devotee forsakes all desires of attaining swarga (heaven), and liberation (Mukti), and keeps one and only one craving to meet the Prince-Charming as their beloved.”

A jiva can be in any of these bhāva (mood, sentiment) or Rasa (loving-mellows) towards Śrī Rāma : Śānta-Rasa (mellow of passive devotion), Dāsya-bhāva (servitude), Vātsalya-Rasa (Parenthood), Sakhya Rasa (friendship), and Mādhurya-Rasa (conjugal love in Sakhā-Sakhi bhāva or Kāntā-bhāva). The main motive behind these Bhava-s (moods) is experiencing “love” and “attachment” towards Bhagavan in any form. Different devotees are in different Bhava-s with divine. All relations with Bhagavān are uniquely beautiful in themselves. One should take care of this only one special Bhava can’t be applied to everyone in the leela of Bhagavan e.g. for a devotee in vātsalya-bhāva, mādhurya-bhāva or any other bhāva wouldn’t be appealing; When love reaches it’s peak, it is seen devotees in even Mādhurya whole-heartedly surrenders to Bhagavan through dāsya-bhāva, as love transforms into Kainkaryam (service) of divine couple, that’s why Sakhis (Gopis) beseech Lord to accept them as तेऽशुल्कदासिका tē aśulka-dāsikā (Your maid-servants without any cost - SB 10.31.2). So, one should keep it in mind ‘दासोsहं कोशलेन्द्रस्य रामस्याक्लिष्टकर्मणः’ (- I am the servant of Shri Rama, the Lord of Ayodhya, the Koshala-kingdom), and the True love always bears the fragrance of seeing the beloved Priya-Priyatam happy, and getting bliss and happiness in their happiness, it becomes so natural, when love pervades the soul (whole-being). (read here more ).

वपु चौबीस तत्व कृत त्यागी । समुझि हिये तर प्रभु अनुरागी ॥

“At the time of death, a devotee-soul leaves his material body made of 24 Tatvas. And knowing the deepest desire of the heart of his devotee, beloved Prabhu.....”

Bhagavan remembers his devotee to give mukti, when devotee is about to leave the body of made of 24 elements. The 25th Tattva is Atma (soul), the 26th Tattva is Avyakta (unmanifest Brahman) and the 27th is Vyakta Para-brahma Śrī Rāma himself. “र (Ra) ≡ 27 ≡ 9” also indicates he is Saguna-rup Śrī Rāma, the 27th entity, the supreme source of all.

प्रान सुषमना द्वार निकारी । भाल भेदी गए धाम खरारी ॥

“(Prabhu) makes his Praan (consciousness) leave through Sushmna (the middle naadi), sometimes by piercing the Sahasrara (the topmost thousand petaled chakra) to give entry into his dhaam.”

Then, devotee-soul follows the archirādi mārga to the supreme abode of Bhagavān:

अर्चिरादी पथ होय प्रबीना । रवि मंगल छेद्मो अति झीना ॥

“Then soul treads efficiently the Archirādi-Mārga, It passes piercing all different layers of material-creation.”

प्रकृति आबरन उतरि बहोरी । विरजा सरित लख्यो रंग बोरी ॥

“And thus, soul comes across all the layers of three-fold material-creation, and in the end it sees the divine Virajā river which is the boundary of Mahā-Vaikuntha..”

तेहि सरि मज्जन करि बड़ भागो । लिंग देह सब विधि तेहि त्यागो ॥

“Whoever takes a dip of bath in that divine Viraja-river is the exceedingly fortunate one, there soul abandons its linga-sharir (the astral body) and...”

कारन तन बासना विनाशी । शुद्ध भयो बहु विधि सुखरासी ॥

“ ...all the layers of Vāsanā characterized by infatuation and intense deep desires for the worldly objects and pleasures associated with the Kāran-Sharir (causal body) are destroyed, and soul becomes completely purified, achieves its original swarupa (form/nature) there by grace of Bhagavan, and becomes blissful.”

Sthula Sharīr, Linga Sharīr, Kāraṇa-Sharīr and Liberation

A Jiva has three bodies: (a) physical or gross body (Sthula Sharīr), (b) subtle body or Astral body (Linga Sharīr), and (c) causal body (Kāraṇa-Sharīr ). This whole Sharir (body) is made of total 24 tattvas over soul after its interaction with Maya / Prakruti (three fold material-creation), when a Jiva thought to enjoy the material creation in the beginning, it ended in interaction with Jada-Prakruti, and became trapped in the ocean of nescience (of repeated births and deaths). Out of 24 tattvas, Sthula-Sharir is made of five primordial elements (earth, water, air, fire and space). Mana (mind) and Buddhi (intellect) are parts of the linga-Sharir. Just after death of the physical-body (sthula-sharir), the mind quickly achieves a fresh body called linga-Sharir (subtle or astral body). After leaving linga-Sharir, soul is left with Kāraṇa-Sharīr which is associated with Vāsanā i.e. impressions of infatuation and intense-desires carried from many births. It is Kāraṇa-Sharīr (causal body) which accepts other two bodies subtle-body and then gross physical body. (A person can gradually experience the subtle-body as well as the causal-body as different layers on their soul, by rubbing one fire-stick i.e. the name ‘Rama’ or ‘Rama-Mantra’ against another fire-stick i.e. heart, and in the end realization of soul and the super-soul happens, as like fire appears from rubbing the two fire-sticks against each other as said in Upanishad. To accelerate the experience, one can harmonize (do laya-baddha-chanting of) the name ‘Rāma’ or ‘Rāma Mantra’ in breathe. Rubbing on heart means chanting with great faith and love.)

Many Jivas also live in earthly-dhāma in their subtle body. As we can see in Vālmīki-Rāmāyaṇa , many Jivas were present in their subtle-body (invisible to physical-eyes) in Ayodhyā. At the final-departure of Śrī Rāma, not only ordinary Jiva-s, but even those invisible Mahātmā-s (great-souls) who were living in Ayodhyā Ji in their subtle-body also followed Bhagavān to achieve the Supreme Mādhurya abode Nitya-Ayodhyā which is situated beyond all-Vaikunthas and desired earnestly by even great personalities, and Bhakti-Yogis. Those invisible-souls also discarded their linga-Sharir and karan-sharir in Sarayu, and they achieved the supreme abode of Bhagavān along with innumerable Jiva-s. The glory of Sarayu and Ayodhyā Ji are incomparable. Bhagavān Śrī Rāma and his brothers have suddha-satvamay transcendental divine bodies, they went Sashariram (along with their divine bodies), without discarding their earlier Rupa-s (forms), into the Supreme abode (Ramayana-serials’ presentations on TV to viewers are not perfect as per Rāmāyaṇa. Bhagavān Śrī Rāma only touched the Sarayu river with his feet, and he didn’t go much into River, and then maha-BrahmA of Saket-Loka appeared to welcome him in his divine abode. ).

Mahā-Prayāṇ of Śrī Rāma

After Bhagavān Śrī Rāma decided to leave the earth, He asked his people to disseminate everywhere the news of his desire to depart from earth very soon, then innumerable Jiva-s came from all over earth in Ayodhya to follow Śrī Rāma. Para-bhakti, the supreme devotion which is rarest to be achieved, appeared in those all souls, and They all happily left all desires to live anymore on earth without Śrī Rāma’s presence. That Sweetest Lord was so much loved by all, and by even creepers, plants, & trees; these immobile-beings present in Ayodhyā also got the mobility at the time of final-departure of Śrī Rāma. All creatures whether humans or demons, birds or beasts, trees or even smallest straws, etc on earth present in Ayodhyā Ji, all followed Śrī Rāma so happily. All Jiva-s entered in Sarayu river to take a sacred dip and discard their body (made of Sthula-deha, Linga-deha and Karan-deha), and by the touch of the divine water of Sarayu river, those all Jivas left their bodies without any mortal-pain and immediately received divine-bodies. Thereafter, Bhagavān Śrī Rāma lodged those most fortunate souls, from an ant even to a straw, in Sāntānik-vanam (सान्तानिक-वन) in Sākēta-Lōka (also known as in broader sense brahm-loka, the supreme abode of brahman is called brahm-loka or divine Ayodhya -- (read here more . There are many divine-forests within Sākēta-Lōka, Sāntānik-vanam is one of those divine forests). (#A nice devotee painter is required to depict these pastimes of Mahā-Prayāṇ of Śrī Rāma.)

So, all Vaishnava-s should aspire to do the Sevan of river Sarayu as much as possible, take a dip into her at least once. Among all Brahm-bhuta divine-rivers, Only Sarayu ji gives Jiva-s the supreme Mādhurya abode of Bhagavan.

यथा सर्वावताराणामवतारी रघूत्तमः ।
तथा स्त्रोतसां सौम्या पाविनी सरयू सरित ॥
(अगस्त्य-संहिता )

“As like Bhagavan Śrī Rāma, the best among Raghus, is the Avatari-Purusha of all Avatara-s, similarly among divine rivers Sarayu is the most sacred river.” (Agastya-Samhita)

click here to read more on the glory of Sarayu Mahārānī.

Sarayu is the exalted form of Ganga Ji, and existed even before appearance of Ganga on earth. In beginning, Sarayu ji originated in form of tears of joy of Bhagavān Nārāyana, and Gangā Ji originated from the feet of Bhagavān Vishnu. Nitya-Ayodhyā is present on the bank of Sarayu river as like Bhauma-Ayodhyā is.

Is there anyone so generous in the whole world who melts (out of love and compassion) on even those who were never in his service? There is indeed none like Śrī Rāma, the supremely generous one. Bhagavan brought innumerable Jiva-s, from even an ant to a straw, into his supreme abode ! How much sweet and generous He is that he brought everyone into his supreme abode even without considering who really deserved who didn’t deserve, such is the causeless mercy of Śrī Rāma ! Such supremely generous leela at the time of departure of bringing everyone into supreme abode is not shown by any other god or the god of gods or any other incarnation, except Śrī Rāma.

Whoever just saw that sweetest prince only for once, whoever just touched him anyhow (even ordinary insects, flies etc who sat on his body ever), whoever sat with him, whoever ate with him, whoever followed him few-steps ever, they all became so fortunate, that sweetest Prince lodged them all in his supreme abode, so what to talk about his devotees who are/were engrossed in him (Srimad Bhagavatam 9.11.22). There is indeed none like Śrī Rāma.

Back to the subject -

विरजा पार भयो अनयासा । निज संकल्प सहित गत आसा ॥

“After taking a sacred dip into Virajā river, soul without any effort crosses the divine river Virajā, keeping its Sankalpa (determination) of meeting with Bhagavān Śrī Rāma.”

अमल अमानव* कर परस्यो । महाप्रेम सागर सुख रस सरस्यो ॥

“There, soul meets and accompanies an immaculate holiest Humanoid-personality (Hanumān Ji), who is the ocean of Mahā-Prema, and immersed in supreme-bliss.”

* Here amaanav Purusha of Chhandogya Upanishad is Hanumān Ji who accompanies the soul to guide it beyond the divine river Virajā, and he brings the soul to Parabrahman Bhagavān Śrī Sītā-Rāma in Saket-loka.

As soon as one takes bath in divine Viraja river, one is immediately freed from Sukshma and Karana-sharir both, and after crossing the Viraja, one sees Amanav-Purusha (Hanuman Ji). When soul gets the divine touch of Amanav-Purusha, it immediately receives a divine body as per his/her Bhava as per Sakhi or Sakha or Dasa as per grace of Bhagavan. That divine-body is made of the tattva of which soul is made of i.e. Sat-chit-anandamay Swarupa, then there remains no difference between the body and the soul, shuddha-satvamay transcendental body itself has the nature of the soul.

It is a very big subject, there are many other important stages in the journey which are being skipped now in order to keep the article short.

In journey, the devotee-soul takes bath in a fully conscious-Sarovar known as Smadiya-Sarovar, where divine body gets all conscious-adornments and ornaments. After that divine soul boards on a divine-conscious plane, and enters into Brahm-tejam, thereafter in Vaikuntha, then into Goloka, and then goes into the most superior abode Sāketa-Loka as per his/her upāsanā. In every divine abode, the devotee-soul is greeted and received by the residents (other liberated souls) of those divine abodes as like long-lost friends meet and greet each other with a great happiness. Finally, devotee-soul is brought to Bhagavan by Amaanav-Purusha (Hanuman Ji) in Saket-Loka.

देवयान मार्ग और अमानव-पुरुष
(Devayān-Path and Human-like, Humanoid-Purusha)

तद्य इत्थं विदुः ।
ये चेमेऽरण्ये श्रद्धा तप इत्युपासते तेऽर्चिषमभिसम्भवन्त्यर्चिषोऽहरह्न
आपूर्यमाणपक्षमापूर्यमाणपक्षाद्यान्षडुदङ्ङेति मासाँस्तान् ॥ १ ॥
मासेभ्यः संवत्सरँ संवत्सरादादित्यमादित्याच्चन्द्रमसं चन्द्रमसो विद्युतं
तत्पुरुषोऽमानवः स एनान्ब्रह्म गमयत्येष देवयानः पन्था इति ॥ २ ॥
(छान्दोग्य उपनिषद ५.१०.१-२)

भावार्थ :-जो लोग संसार-सागर को तत्व से जान जाते हैं (जन्म-मरण रूपी आवागमन के चक्कर को समझ लेते हैं), वे गृहस्थी के प्रपंच से ऊपर उठकर एकांत नीरव वन में श्रद्धापूर्वक तप अर्थात परमब्रह्म की उपासना करते हैं, वे अंत में शरीर त्याग कर अर्चिषमार्ग से प्रयाण करते हैं, अर्चि से दिन को, तदन्तर शुक्लपक्ष को, फेर मास को, उनसे संवत्सर को, संवत्सर से आदित्य-मंडल को, उससे चन्द्रमा को, चन्द्रमा से ऊपर विद्युत को प्राप्त होते हैं, फिर उन्हें मानव से विलक्षण एक अमानव पुरुष (श्री हनुमान जी) की प्राप्ति होती है, वही अमानव पुरुष ब्रह्म-विद्या के अभिलाषी पुरुषों को परब्रह्म ( सीतापति परब्रह्म श्री राम) के पास पहुँचा देते हैं। इसी पथ का नाम देवयान-मार्ग है।

Purport:The wise people adept in Vedas know the five Agni-s (fire), they verily know this world in true essence (means they truly know the mystery behind transmigration of birth and death), and therefore they start doing Upāsanā of Param-Brahman with great faith and love in some secluded place in some forest ! [A grihasth can do Upāsanā along with his wife (in even their home in this age) like the first couple of the human-world Swayambhuva-Manu and his wife Shatrupā did in Naimishāranya to get darshan of the original personality of godhead.] In the end, they leave their material body and their soul travels through Arciṣamārga (Archisa Path), they pass through piercing Aaditya-mandal (material-region) to Chandra (spiritual-region), then in the end, they achieve the Vidyut - the supremely effulgent Brahm-loka (the abode of brahman), there they meet पुरुषोऽमानवः a unique personality - Humanoid in look, but not Human (Hanumān Ji in brahm-loka, the servant of Bhagavan Shri Shri SitaRama), that Humanoid-god (Hanuman Ji) brings the soul to Para-Brahman (Shri Shri SitaRama). This Path is known as Devayaan-Maarg. [Chhandogya-Upanishad 5.10.1-2]

Hanumān Ji is present in three forms as per scriptures. In one form he is present in this world, and under the command of Śrī Rāma, He is ruling the kingdom of Kimpurusha-Varsha where celestial nymphs sing Rāmāyaṇa for him, and he listens and relishes the nectarine stories of divine couple Śrī Śrī Sītā-Rāma very attentively. He can immediately go to Sāketa whenever he wishes to see Bhagavān Śrī Śrī Sītā-Rāma. He is present in this world to help the devotees as well. Through another similar form, Hanumān Ji is present in the divine-abode, where he serves divine-couple Śrī Śrī Sita-Rāma, and brings the soul to divine couple when a devotee-soul crosses the Virajā-river. And in the third form of Charusheelā-Sakhi, he serves divine couple in inner core in various ways in Sāket. After reconciliation of different Vedic-scriptures, Jagadguru Madhvachārya of Dvaita-Sampradāya also said Hanumān Ji is present in many similar forms in this world as well as in divam (supreme abode) to serve divine couple Śrī Śrī Sītā-Rāma.

It is difficult to achieve supreme Lord in a single birth, unless a soul with utmost humility surrenders completely to Bhagavan by thinking his lotus feet alone are the only bark for crossing the ocean of mundane existence, Śrī Śrī SītāRāma alone is Upaay (the means to achieve him) as well as Upeya (the one who is achieved). Bhagavān Śrī Śrī SītāRāma can’t be found except through loving-devotion (read here). And that loving-devotion in the feet of Bhagavan is achieved only after moha is dispersed and intellect is refined through the teachings of a brahmnishth-sadguru well versed in Vedas and through pious-association (Satsanga) of saints and Vaishnavas.

After this final journey, soul achieves the Param-amrut (supreme-nectar) in form of unceasing loving-devotion of Śrī Śrī Sītā-Rāma, and thereafter there is no return in material-world unless a soul wishes to participate in leelā of Śrī Rāmāvatar in leelā-Vibhuti. Since, leelā of Bhagavān in leelā-Vibhuti is superior than leelā of Nitya-Vibhuti, devotee-souls love to participate and incarnate in avatar-leela of Prabhu.

परम-पुरुषार्थ - सर्व-विधि-कैंकर्य
Param-Puruṣārth (the ultimate fruit — sarv-vidhi-kainkaryam)

A tat-sukh-Sukhi Vaishnava serves (does Kainkaryam of) divine couple, Shri Ji and Bhagavan, in all possible ways, to see Bhagavanmukhōllās (happiness on the countenance of beloved Priya-Priyatam) thinking self as the Bhōgya (the object to be enjoyed), it is the supreme satisfaction and supreme bliss (one can experience it after love pervades the soul that supreme bliss is there in serving beloved).

After achieving Saguna-Brahman Śrī Śrī Sītā-Rāma, a liberated soul achieves his original swarupa of Sakhi / Sakhā / Dāsa etc of Bhagavan Śrī Śrī Sītā-Rāma in the most superior Mādhurya-abode Śrī Sāket-Loka. For Sarv-Vidhi-Kainkaryam, sometimes a liberated soul manifests (assumes) more than one form at same time, e.g. a Sakhi / sakha / dasa can become sometimes bird, sometimes flowery-garland on his chest, sometimes ornaments like anklets of his lotus feet, sometimes servant or maid-servant, sometimes friend or girlfriend etc as per leela. In whichever form of the soul, in whichever Rasa, in whichever time as per leela, Bhagavan wants to enjoy the soul, that liberated soul instantly (manifests) assumes that (many) form(s) to give that particular Rasa to Bhagavan as per his desire. While in all forms the soul remains Sat-Chit-anandmay-Swarupa. In this way, a soul serves and becomes the object of enjoyment of divine couple in all possible ways, to give them those particular rasa-s, while keeping his original another swarupa of Sakha or Sakhi or Dasa also.

प्रदीपाधिकरणम् (- ब्रह्म-सूत्र ४.१५-१६)

pradīpādhikaraṇam (-brahma-sūtra 4.15-16)

“The liberated soul which has attained the Saguna Brahman can animate several forms at the same time.”

संकल्पादेव तु, तच्छ्रुतेः ॥ ब्रह्म-सूत्र ४.४.८ ॥

saṃkalpādeva tu, tacchruteḥ ॥ brahma-sūtra 4.4.8॥

“Through mere will (the released souls attain their purpose), for the scriptures say so.”

So, just by their will, liberated souls (Sakhi / sakha / dasa) in Śrī Sāket-Loka can assume the form of sometimes bird, sometimes flowery-garland on the chest of Bhagavan, sometimes his ornaments, sometimes servant or maid-servant, sometimes friend or girlfriend etc to serve and give particular Rasa to Bhagavan, and enjoy with him.

Thus, 'Sarv-Vidhi-Kainkaryam of the divine couple, Shri Ji and Bhagavan', is the ultimate Purushartha, the supreme fruit in form of happiness and bliss in serving divine couple in all possible ways.

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॥ श्रीसीतारामचंद्रार्पणमस्तु ॥