We are essentially divine, but this divinity remains hidden from us. According to Vedanta, Self-realization, or the manifestation of this divinity, is the goal of human life. Self-realization alone can make our life meaningful, and give us eternal bliss and lasting fulfillment. Our potential divine nature begins to manifest as we grow in purity of mind by practice of spiritual disciplines. Purification of mind involves transformation of character: from animal nature to human nature, and human to divine. This transformation alone indicates if we truly practice religion.
Uprightness helps us manifest our divine qualities. The Bhagavad Gita describes arjava, or uprightness, as a sign of Knowledge (13.7) and as a divine quality (16.1). Sri Shankara explains arjava as simplicity or the absence of crookedness. True simplicity means ensuring that our words tally with our thought. And Sri Ramakrishna considered this quality essential for success in spiritual life: "There is a sect of Vaishnavas known as the Ghoshpara who describe God as the 'Sahaja', the 'Simple One'. They say further that a man cannot recognize this 'Simple One' unless he too is simple." Sri Ramanuja explains arjava as a uniform disposition towards others in mind, speech and body. Perfect alignment in thought, word and deed constitutes true simplicity.
Sant Jnaneshvar gives the following meanings for arjava:
Favoring all equally without likes or dislikes: This amounts to loving all equally. Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi taught a little girl how to do that: "Do not demand anything of those you love. If you make demands, some will give you more and some less. In that case you will love more those who give you more and less those who give you less. Thus your love will not be the same for all. You will not be able to love all impartially."
Not making any distinction of mine or of others': Lack of simplicity is primarily due to selfishness and a feeling of "I" and "mine". Is it possible to get rid of our "I" and "mine"? Certainly it is not easy to give up this "unripe ego" all of a sudden. Nor is it necessary to give up the ego. Sri Ramakrishna advises us to cultivate instead the "ripe ego," which says, "I am a servant of God" or "I am a child of God." He further teaches how to live in the world as a maidservant does in a rich man's house: "Do all your duties, but keep your mind on God. Live with all-with wife and children, father and mother-and serve them. Treat them as if they were very dear to you, but know in your heart of hearts that they do not belong to you. A maidservant in the house of a rich man performs all the household duties, but her thoughts are fixed on her own home in her native village. She brings up her master's children as if they were her own. She even speaks of them as 'my Rama' or 'my Hari'. But in her own mind she knows very well that they do not belong to her at all." (To be continued)