by Swami Krishnananda
The nature of those who seek God, either as a Supreme Person or as an Impersonal Universal, has been described in the beginning of the twelfth chapter of the Bhagavadgita. These great geniuses of the spirit, whether they are devotees of the Almighty and visualise Him as a Supreme Person or as a Transcendent Eternal, have a common characteristic between them. Their behaviour is of a uniform nature, though their internal methodology of attunement with the Supreme Spirit slightly varies because of the distinction that we are obliged to make between the personality of God and the universality of God. The common features among all these great saints and sages are now delineated in the coming verses, from the thirteenth onwards.
Adveshta sarva-bhutanam maittrah karuna eva cha, nirmamo nirahankarah sama-duhkha-sukhah kshami (12.13): Eternally free from hatred towards any living being, they extend love and compassion to all creatures. Dislike and hatred, in any manner whatsoever, is unknown to them. That characteristic is here mentioned in the word adveshta. Sarva-bhutanam: It is not absence of hatred only towards some. It is absence of dislike and hatred towards anyone. That is the universal compassionate outlook of these great spiritual heroes.
Maitra: They are very friendly with persons of any category whatsoever, whether high or low. Karuna eva cha: They are compassionate at all times. They have no sense of ‘I’-ness and ‘mine’-ness. They never believe that they exist independently at all outside the supreme beatitude of God. Neither the devotee of the Supreme Person nor the devotee of the Universal Being ever considers himself or herself as existing independent of God. In either case, it is an abolition of personality – either by self surrender or inner communion of spirit with Spirit. That is nirahankarah: no sense of ‘I’-ness. ‘I’ does not exist, because there is only one ‘I’ that can exist – the supreme ‘I’ – and, therefore, nothing belongs to me: nirmamah. Neither they have any sense of existing independently, by themselves, nor have they a sense of possession of any article whatsoever in this world. So they are free from ‘I’-ness and ‘mine’-ness: nirmamah nirahankarah.
Sama duhkha sukhah: Whether pleasure comes or pain comes, they accept both with equanimity. Matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitoshna-sukha-duhkha-dah, agamapayino’nityas tams titikshasva bharata (2.14) was said in the Second Chapter. Pleasures and pains are due to the reactions set up by the qualities of the elements in respect of the constitution of our body. Knowing that pleasures and pains are only reactions to certain prevailing conditions, one is not perturbed either when there is a pleasurable sensation or when there is a sensation which is contrary. Sama duhkha sukhah: Pleasure and pain are equal. Kshami: They are quick to forgive, and never get irritated or angry.
Yadrccha-labha-santushto (4.22): They are always contented with whatever comes. If something comes, fine; if nothing comes, fine. Santushtah (12.14): Always in a contented state; never greedy, never asking for anything. ‘All is well’ is their motto. Santushtah satatam yogi yatatma (12.14): Always contented, they are yogis whose self is united with God. Dridha-nischayah: Determined to realise God in this birth, they take a vow that “In this birth itself I shall realise the Almighty.” That determination counts very much in actually attaining success. If we are diffident – “I may not even pass; where is the question of attaining first class?” – if this kind of feeling is there in the beginning itself, nothing is going to be attained. But we must have a determination – “I shall be first.” Then we will be at least second. Here is the determination of the spirit of the seeker: “Everything is well with me. I am not doing anything wrong. My technique of meditation is perfectly all right. I shall attain God in this birth itself.” This determination, or dridha-nischayatva, is what characterises all yogis. Mayy-arpita-mano-buddhir: As already mentioned, their mind and intellect is dedicated to the Supreme Being. Mad-bhaktah: They are the supreme devotees. They are dear to God.
Yasman nodvijate loko lokan nodvijate cha yah, harshamarsha-bhayodvegair mukto yah sa cha me priyah (12.15): They do not shrink from anything, nor do they behave in such a way that the world will shrink away from them. It is possible that we may not shrink away from anything, but how would we expect the world not to shrink away from us? This is a difficult thing. We may have no dislike or disgust towards anything in the world, but the point is that the world should behave towards us in a similar manner. This is possible in heightened forms of self-expansion. When the moods of love and compassion rise to a sufficiently high pedestal, the aura of this great yogi touches everything in the atmosphere around, and the world will behave in respect of that person in a similar manner as the person behaves in respect of the world. That is to say, our behaviour towards the world largely conditions its behaviour towards us. So if we do not shy away from the world, the world will not shy away from us. That is the meaning of yasman nodvijate loko lokan nodvijate cha yah.
Free from exhilaration, free from anger, free from fear, and free from agitation of any kind – such a person is harshamarsha-bhayodvegair mukto. Harshamarsha means getting exhilarated when something pleasant comes and becoming angry when something unpleasant comes; bhaya is the fear that something may come and hinder our path of pleasure, and udvega is agitation caused when all these are present. One who is free from harsha, amarsha, bhaya and udvega is dear to God – sa cha me priyah.
Anapekshah (12.16): wanting nothing at all, and expecting nothing even for tomorrow. If something comes today, okay; tomorrow will take care of itself. Suchir: inwardly and outwardly contented, free from any kind of expectation and desire. Therefore, he is pure, inwardly and outwardly. Dakshah: Very able in the performance of his duties. Whether they are spiritual duties in the form of meditation or external duties in the form of relations with society, he is expert, adroit and very precise in his behaviour, and he will not bungle in his attitude. But he looks like an uninterested person. He does not talk much; he does not take any initiative, and keeps quiet as if he is not interested in anything in this world. Yet he is very able – a very great expert – and when he starts doing a thing, he will do it in a more expert manner than anybody else in the world. But mostly he will not interfere with things; that is the meaning of udasina.
Gata-vyathah: Free from grief of every kind. He has no sorrow, no grief, no feeling that something has come which he doesn’t want, or something has not come which he wants. This grief does not touch him because there is nothing that he wants, and there is nothing that he does not want. Sarvarambha-parityagi: He does not take initiative. If something happens, he acts in accordance with that happening. If nothing happens, he keeps quiet. He does not plan what he will do tomorrow and what he will do the day after that. He remains quiet, as if nothing is happening and the world itself does not exist. But if occasions arise when he has to take a step in a given direction, he does it in a most expert manner. Otherwise, he does not take initiative in any direction. Yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah: Such a devotee is dear to God.
Yo ha hrshyati na dveshti na sochati na kankshati, subhasubha-parityagi bhaktiman yah sa me priyah (12.17): “Who is dear to Me? He who is neither happy nor unhappy, neither likes nor dislikes, neither wants nor does not want, asks neither for pleasant things nor unpleasant things, and does not even make a distinction between good and bad – such a person is the true devotee of God.”
Samah satrau cha mitre cha tatha manapamanyoh (12.18): He is equal in attitude towards friend and towards enemy. It does not mean that he hugs the friend and hates the enemy. His internal spirit that has communed itself with the Universal Spirit sees the same light scintillating in both of what are called friend and enemy. Whether he is praised or insulted, it makes no difference because for him, words are only vibrations in the air and they make no sense. Only if we make sense of the vibrations, they seem to affect us. But vibration is vibration – and if we let them go, they vanish into thin air. Hence, neither praise nor insults make any difference to him. He is totally unaware of anything happening at all. They are empty words, with no sense or meaning for him.
Sitoshna-sukha-duhkheshu samah sanga-vivarjitah: Heat and cold, hunger and thirst are the usual concomitants of a human being embodied in a physical sheath. They have to be born somehow or other. We cannot ask why there should be hunger, why there should be thirst, why there should be heat and cold. They are natural, and have to be born with fortitude as long as the physical body continues. Sanga-vivarjitah: He does that. He is attached to nothing.