A verse in the Kathopanishada tells us about who is eligible for getting the soul. The first line tells us who is not eligible for getting the soul.
Nayamatma pravachanen labhyo
Na medhya na bahuna shruten
It means something to the effect: No one can get the soul through Pravachanas. There are so many kirtankars and Pravachankars in our country. However, no one can get the soul by listening to their kirtans or pravachanas.
This is for the simple reason that the soul can be understood only through direct experience. The thing that is beyond words can not be experienced through words. So, however excellent it may be no kirtan or pravachana can give us a direct experience of the soul. So, the listener of kirtan or a Pravachana is not eligible for getting the soul.
Similarly, an intellectual is not eligible for getting the soul. However great his intellect may be, he can not get the soul for the simple reason that getting the soul is beyond the pale of intelligence. The person who has heard a lot is also not eligible for getting the soul because the thing that is beyond description can not be acquired through listening to its descriptions. Then who can get the soul?
The answer has been given in the next line:
Yameveish vrunute ten labhya:
Tasyesh atma vivrunute tanumsvam
This line tells us that the soul is labhya, accessible for the one who ‘vrunute’ it. The word ‘vrunute’ has many meanings, out of which two meanings are applicable here.
One is ‘accepts as one’ own’ and the other one is ‘loves and adores’. A true spiritual seeker accepts the soul as its own, acknowledging the fact that out of the thousands of impermanent material objects around him, the soul is the only thing that is permanently his and that his body will slowly slip out of his grasp but his soul is going to survive even his death.
The person who thus acknowledges the importance of the soul naturally loves and adores it. In his comments upon the verse, Adi Shankaracharya uses the word ‘prarthyate’ while elaborating upon the word ‘vrunute’. If that word is taken in the sense of ‘prays’, it can be said that the seeker prays to the soul to reveal itself. However, the original verb in the word ‘ ‘prarthyate’ is ‘prartha’, which not only means ‘ to pray’ but also ‘to long for’.
If the word is taken in this sense, it can be said that the seeker longs for the soul. Such a person is bound to go in for a rigorous spiritual sadhana, bringing the soul itself to him. The line further says that the soul itself ‘ vivrunute’ discloses itself before him and from that soul, he can understand how the soul is. So the process of getting the soul has three steps:
- The first one is acceptance of the soul as one’s own.
- The second step is having love and adoration for the soul.
- The third step is longing for the soul and praying to it to reveal itself and doing sadhana for the same.
The person who goes through this process is alone eligible for getting the soul. Let us get through the process and know the soul through direct experience.