Lord Shree Swaminarayan, in the Vachanamrut Gadhada middle section 62, explains the three types of propensities that exist for the salvation of a soul and which lead to immense bliss. Of these propensities, the first is a resolute conviction about the soul (aatma-nishtha), the second is the propensity like that of a chaste (pativrata) woman and the third propensity is that of servitude.
Of these, a person who has a conviction about the soul (aatma-nishtha) has the thought and knowledge that on one side is the soul, and on the other side is the constellation of Maya (57 aspects), i.e., the body, indriyas, antah-karans, the three attributes, five sensations, etc. The thought that remains between these two is spiritual knowledge. The knowledge and thought that the soul is true and full of bliss, and the soul is separate from the body. This spiritual thought remains steady, just as the tip of a flame remains totally still in a place where there is absolutely no wind. That thought does not allow the body, indriyas and antah-karans to integrate with the soul.
When it attains a soul, its inclination becomes shortened. If it was as long as the distance to Kashi, it becomes shorter, like the distance to Vadtal. When that thought becomes affirmed, it becomes shortened from being like the distance to Vadtal, to being like the distance to this Gadhada. When the inclination that is as long as the distance to Gadhada becomes consolidated, it remains in the region of one’s own body. From the body, the inclination becomes shorter and remains only in the source of the indriyas. Then, from the source of the indriyas, the inclinations of the indriyas turn towards the antah-karans. The inclinations of the indriyas and antah-karans then become merged with the soul. This is referred to as the destruction of the soul’s passion-filled [karan] body. When that thought unites with the soul, enlightenment occurs within that person’s heart and he is able to visualise his soul to be Brahm-roop. Within that, he also visualises the Lustrous Murti of the Lord. Someone who visualises this realises, ‘I am a soul and the Lord eternally resides within Me.’ The existence of such a perpetual state is the highest level of having a conviction about the soul.
Jeevanpran Bapashree explains this context further in the Rahasyarth stating that;
- An inclination that reaches throughout the actions of Maya is referred to as being as long as the distance to Kashi. Through satsang and affiliation with sants one attains the knowledge that this sansar (the realm of relativity, transience and illusion; the process of worldly life; the bondage of life, death and rebirth) is merely a ditch full of mud and sludge, the Lord has given this human form as a means to stop the cycle of births and deaths and through which the soul attains eternal salvation and that the soul is distinct from the actions of Maya, such as the body, and that is the truth. When one acquires this spiritual knowledge and develops a wish to attain salvation, it should be known that the inclination has become shorter, and is like the distance to Vadtal. This is known as the first stage (bhumika) [one of the stages of enlightenment/knowledge)] and is referred to by the name Shubhechcha (auspicious wish-desire/longing for the truth).
- The soul is separate from the body. Remaining contented with this firm understanding of the soul being separate from the body and gaining bliss from this knowledge through listening (shravan) and constant reflection (manan) about this, is referred to as the inclination becoming shorter, and becoming like the distance to Gadhada. This is known as the second stage and is referred to by the name Vicharna (contemplation).
- Examining oneself through constant intense deliberation (nididhyas) and having a deeper understanding about the soul being separate from the body and the actions of Maya, leads to the discarding of inauspicious thoughts and a realisation of the appropriateness of accepting the soul as one’s own, is referred to as the inclination becoming shorter, and being like the distance to the body. This is the third stage and is referred to by the name Tanumansa (tenuous mind/attenuation of mental activities).
These three stages mentioned (Shubhechcha, Vicharna and Tanumansa) are of the wakeful (jagrat) state.
- When the body is forgotten and the inclination unites with the soul, it should be known that the inclination at this stage resides within the organs of the indriyas. This is the fourth stage and is referred to as Satta-patti (attainment of authority).
- Gaining knowledge about the Murti of Lord Shree Swaminarayan, without having any kind of doubts about Him, while having an appreciation of His greatness; and the mind becomes steady on this knowledge and letting the mind forget aspects that arise whilst in the wakeful state, just like it forgets about those that may occur in a deep sleep (sushupti) state; but still, maintaining affection for spiritual prowess, is referred to as the inclination turning towards the antah-karans. This is the fifth stage and is referred to by the name Asansakti (detachment from maya).
- Having destroyed affection for the spiritual prowess and uniting one’s soul with Akshar-brahm, i.e. Shreejimaharaj’s lustre - Akshardhaam, is referred to as the inclination becoming merged with the soul. This is the sixth stage and is referred to by the name Padarth-abhavi (absolute non-perception of objects and spiritual prowess).
- When one visualises the soul as Brahm-roop; and within that soul, attains the sakshat darshan of the Murti of Shreejimaharaj; and remains eternally engrossed with that Murti,. This is the seventh stage and is referred to by the name Turyaga (realisation).
Gnan Mahodadhi Acharya Shree Jitendriyapriyadasji Swamiji Maharaj further explained that there are three bodies of a human (Deh) nameley; Sthool (material body), sukshma (invincible body) and karan (eternal body). if we go deep in the sukshma there is a fourth one namely mahakaran.
Someone who visualises the Lustrous Murti of the Lord realises, ‘I am a soul and the Lord eternally resides within Me and In this Lustre (the Lord’s lustrous Dham) I stay engrossed and immersed in the darshan of the Murti of the Lord.’ This is the paramekantik stithi. Jeevanpran Bapashree talks about the highest state of a soul i.e. anadimukta stihti, they reside within the Murti of Lord Shree Swaminarayan as His eternal servants.