An enlightened person is one who frees self from bondage of birth and death, becoming a pure soul atman in the cosmic journey of life. For an enlightened one the physical journey on mother earth would finally come to an end. After death of mortal body, the enlightened one becomes a free soul to venture into any part of cosmos.
For an enlightened person the circle of life finally comes to an end forever. No more on reincarnation, rebirth for an enlightened one.
In the last about 150 years amongst 7 billion people existing world over only Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana succeeded in gaining enlightenment. These two enlightened ones as of today exists as freed souls whose spirits can be called on mother earth for blessings by those who had achieved a very high-level of spirituality.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa was an enlightened one and so was Maharshi Ramana. In the chain of enlightened ones Mahavira (24th Tirthankara of Jainism), Gautama Buddha and also Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed gained enlightenment in their lifetime. In the entire history of Hinduism, India many more starting from Adi Shankaracharya followed by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Eknath, Tukaram, Namdev etc. also succeeded in reaching state of enlightenment.
All these enlightened ones had one thing in common. The goal of all was the same, reaching god. All wanted to liberate self from cycle of birth and death forever. All these enlightened ones in their spiritual travail knew, if they succeeded in gaining enlightenment then moksha salvation would automatically follow.
Becoming an enlightened one is not that easy. Even the likes of Swami Vivekananda did not become one for he never wanted to.
In earlier times and also now enlightenment can be gained only by following path of spirituality as detailed in Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads (independent spiritual treatises). In the entire history of mankind every single person who succeeded in reaching stage of enlightenment was from India (erstwhile Bharatvarsha). Before coming to India Jesus Christ knew nothing much about spirituality. But he had definitely heard about Indian spirituality, the prime reason for his coming to Taxila and Nalanda universities of India to indulge in teachings of Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads, even Vedas.
Prophet Mohammed also belonged to Persia a region bordering erstwhile Bharatvarsha. All the wisdom of Prophet Mohammed flowed from the University of Taxila (the ruins of which presently lay in Pakistan).
Who is the Enlightened One
For all practical purposes Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana enjoyed the same status as that of Mahavira, Gautama Buddha and Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed. If one indulges in teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana one would realize that gaining enlightenment in ones lifetime was quite easy.
All the enlightened ones detailed above were free of all bondages of earthly life. None of them had even a hermitage (ashram) of one’s own, prime reason why both Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana always lay on a cot and imparting back to community the valuable wisdom gained by them on spiritual journey. They were never after luxuries of life.
From the very beginning of spiritual pursuit, every single enlightened one all the time worked for welfare of entire mankind. If humanity ploughed through the entire spiritual wisdom contained on mother earth, one shall find not a single trace of working for the benefit of self or the family. Even enlightenment is never gained for the self. It is bestowed on the seeker by grace of God Almighty only on those who worked for welfare of entire mankind all the time.
Enlightenment always comes as a byproduct of spiritual journey undertaken by serious seekers’ like Swami Vivekananda. How difficult gaining enlightenment is, can be gauged from the fact that most people world over hesitated indulging in teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa or Maharishi Ramana. Everyone seems to revere them as spiritual masters’ but never desire becoming one like them. This is the biggest folly of mankind.
Enlightened one like Mahavira always said; do not give back to humanity anything unless you become an enlightened one… a Jina, Mahavira forever. One must never preach anything about spirituality or enlightenment to anyone unless one gains enlightenment.
Essence of life never lay in revering enlightened ones but becoming one like them. Ritually going to religious centres and praying to Mahavira, Gautama Buddha and other enlightened souls does not mean anything. Enlightenment was all about self becoming an enlightened one.