Prisoners are we - by Dada JP Vaswani

Prisoners are we!

“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.” - Dada JP Vaswani
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Can anyone of us say with absolute certainty: “Nothing binds me. I am absolutely free?” Each and every one of us is bound by the fetters of karma. Our ancient scriptures tell us of three different types of people: nityamukta, mukta and badha. The nityamuktas are those blessed souls who 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 liberating 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 the terrace of Krishta Kunj, his residence in Karachi. As he looked down at 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 quite 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!” 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!

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