Can anyone of us say with absolute certainty: “Nothing binds me. I am absolutely free”? Each and everyone of us is bound by the fetters of karma.
The three types of people
Our ancient scriptures tell us of three different types of people: nityamukta, mukta and badha.
The nityamuktas are those blessed souls that are not subject to the law of karma. Its effects can no longer touch them; for they have attained the Lotus Feet of the Lord; they are the ever-free, the eternally-free, who are above and beyond the cycle of birth and re-birth, above and beyond karma.
The muktas are the liberated or emancipated souls; those who, through the grace of God or the grace of their Guru, have succeeded in librating themselves from the bondage of karma.
The third type, badhas, are bound souls like us who are still bound by the toils of their own karma. Many of us, alas, are still in a state of ignorance about our own condition.
I recall a memorable evening, when my Beloved Master, Sadhu Vaswani, was pacing up and down on the terrace of Krishta Kunj, his residence in Karachi. As he looked down the street below, he exclaimed “Prisoners! Prisoners!”
I looked down too, but I saw no prisoners. I saw the traffic, and I saw a number of people who were going about their business. But there was no sign of prisoners!
Actually, Krishta Kunj was situated close to the Karachi District Jail, and prisoners would pass by the house from time to time, as they were led out by their wardens for labour routines, or accompanied by policemen to appear in court. But on this occasion, there were no prisoners to be seen. Surprised, I said to him, “But Dada, I see no prisoners here!”
Sadhu Vaswani’s reply still echoes in my ears. For long have I meditated on the profound wisdom of his words to me that evening: “Prisoners, prisoners of desire are the people,” he said. “Alas, they know not of their bondage!”
Are you aware?
Prisoners of desire are we all! We are bound by our own joys and sorrows. We are happy with what the world gives us; we take great joy in our pleasures and possessions.
We celebrate the birth of a child, and we mourn over his loss when he passes away. We weep for a while, and then we beget more children. We are not aware of the fetters that bind us!
Those of us who become aware of our bonds, make the effort to seek liberation. This state of awareness is known as mumukshatwa, the desire to attain liberation. In this condition, our deep consciousness is awakened and urges us on the path of liberation.