Jnana Bhumikas (Stages of Wisdom)
The Varaha Upanishad lists seven stages of wisdom. These stages mark the journey from striving for truth until the final state of self realization. These seven stages belong to the realm of jnana yoga (the yoga of knowledge).
The seven stages of wisdom are:
- Subheccha (yearning for truth)
- Vicharana (enquiry, investigation)
- Tanumanasi (the mind becomes like a thread)
- Sattvapatti (attaining purity)
- Asamsakti (detachment)
- Padartha (continuous awareness of the self)
- Turiya (the superconscious state)
Subheccha (Yearning for Truth)
In this state, there is a strong will to study scriptures and to practise them. The spiritual aspirant longs to mingle with gurus and teachers. He/she has a strong yearning to realize the self.
Vicharana (Enquiry, Investigation)
This stage is marked by deep inquiry. The aspirant puts the teachings into practice through self-inquiry and meditation.
Tanumanasi (Thread-like Mind)
The practice of meditation and inquiry transforms the aspirant’s mind. He/she slowly loses interest in worldly affairs and passions, and starts to concentrate more on spiritual practice. The mind slowly moves away from desires and emotions, and longs to pursue selfless spirituality.
Sattvapatti (Attaining Purity)
In this stage, the mind becomes pure. The lower qualities of passion (rajas) and dullness (tamas) are transformed into purity (sattva) and awareness. A pure mind is akin to a lake’s calm surface. It is able to directly perceive the Absolute Self. Deep rooted tendencies in the mind are destroyed and the aspirant breaks frees from the clutches of maya (illusion) and sees the world as a dream.
In this stage, the aspirant becomes completely detached. He/she becomes utterly selfless and inwardly experiences complete bliss. He/she is not affected by external circumstances, but still performs voluntary actions, when the need arises. The aspirant becomes a jivanmukta (liberated while alive).
Padartha (Continuous Awareness of the Self)
In this stage, the person is continuously immersed in the Absolute Self and acts only when impelled by others.
Turiya (The Superconscious State)
In this final stage, the aspirant sees the world and the Absolute Self as one. Ramana Maharishi said turiya is natural and real state of one’s self.
These seven stages can be used a guide to gauge spiritual progress. If you are a spiritual aspirant, check which stage you currently in, and strive to improve further.