|November 05, 1999 |
Asmitaa refers to the inner sense of identity that remains even after one has dissolved the ego (or "residual ego"). Even for those who have reached an elevated spiritual state, asmitaa may remain. To give an English translation of asmitaa, Dinkar Uncle explained that we might attempt to dissolve our ego by getting rid of "I," but the "am" (in "I am") that corresponds to asmitaa remains.
Take the example of a bucket of kerosene or gasoline. Even after thoroughly cleaning it, a slight smell of kerosene persists. Similarly, despite all attempts to become purified, some flavor of prakruti (inherent nature) still lingers. An example of the effect of inherent nature is given in the Bhagavat with the story of Bharatji (becoming attached to a baby deer).
Kakaji thus describes asmitaa as "prakashamaya andhakaara of mahaamaayaa and yogamaayaa." This is because while the elevated aspirant thinks he is on the correct path, he is actually going away from God. However, because it is the support or life of the aspirant, it is very difficult to remove. When a mukta (liberated devotee) finally dissolves his own existence (or "chaitanya asmitaa"), he gains "gunaateeta asmitaa" where, like Gunatitanand Swami, he is totally devoted to God.
In Patra Sanjavani letter 75, Kakaji describes that the manifestation of asmitaa can be recognized in many ways: sadgururoope (believing that one is a master and a grantor of liberation); updesharoope (insisting that others listen to one's advice); apekshaaroope (holding expectations); mulyaankan karavaaroope (evaluating others); bhaashya karavaaroppe (adding a "commentary" to what God or His saint have said); etc.
To combat the force of asmitaa, we should introspect every night in prayer and find at what point we focused on something other than God during the day. Continuing this practice, slowly, we will get a picture of where there is a disturbance in the way of our real spiritual goal. However, asmitaa can not be eradicated by any spiritual endeavor, but only by the grace of a gunaateeta saint.
An important point is sometimes it may seem that the actions of a gunaateeta saint are influenced by prakruti. In fact, the gunaateeta saint only behaves as such to help others become nirguna (above the qualities of nature) as well.