Śrī Kanakadāsa, the great mystic, said this -
Ṣaḍurasadannakè nalidāḍuva jihvè । kaḍurucigoṃbuva ruciguṇa ninadayya ॥
(Yours is the tongue that enjoys food with six rasas;
yours is the nature that deeply relishes all tastes)
The beauty, the very essence of the things that are present in the universe, the senses that experience them, and their capability to discern and enjoy belong to Bhagavān.
annaṃ ca brahma । bhoktā ca brahma ॥
(Food is Brahma, the eater is Brahma).
brahmārpaṇaṃ brahma-haviḥ brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam ॥
Therefore, one should experience pleasure with the feeling that the thing that is giving happiness, and one’s own energy that is experiencing pleasure are both the boons of Bhagavān. Bhagavān is the owner of everything, and I am a mere beggar — this is the common meaning of some of our traditional statements. Hindus first offer the food that is cooked, fruits and even flowers that are to be worn, to the divine. Only after that do they consume it themselves as prasāda. Muslims have this tradition (Bismillah) too; Christians also have Grace. Objects of pleasure are not one’s own, nor are they of one’s own earning. They belong to the Divine, who has given it to us as a boon. A man who enjoys worldly pleasures in this manner will never need to have apprehensions about his karma accruing pāpa. Even if the fruit of the karma is obtained from his karma — his own effort, he should not try to own it, that is karma-phala-tyāga. Thus, removing the connection of ego from the result and connecting Īśvara with it instead, is karma-phala-tyāga.
Thus, karma-phala-tyāga has four aspects : (1) Discernment about kartavya (2) equanimity about good or bad results (3) giving up the results to Kṛṣṇa (the mindset of Kṛṣṇārpaṇa) (4) acceptance of prasāda.
The summary of this discussion is to remember Bhagavān in times of happiness and think of it as his boon, and remember him in times of adversities and look upon them as training for the jīva.
Thus, the instruction is step-by-step. At its most advanced, it is worshipping the abstract. The second step is resorting to the worship of Īśvara with form. The third step is the practice of the remembrance of Īśvara and the fourth is the practice of performing one’s duties for the love of Īśvara. The fifth is understanding Īśvara’s will.
Jñāna is at a higher level than practice; dhyāna is higher than jñāna; karma-phala-tyāga is better than dhyāna; from this renunciation of the fruit of karma results peace; peace itself is the ultimate fruit.
Abhyāsa is to believe an instruction that is received, and to follow it without independent questioning or reasoning. Jñāna is internalizing the instruction by deliberating upon and analyzing it. Dhyāna is having this guiding philosophy constantly in one’s sight. When the mind is fixed upon this principle, selfishness vanishes. Thus, when ego and attachment gradually lessen and the jīva offers itself completely to paramātma, peace is then readily obtained.
Bhakti has many outcomes — worldly pleasures, wealth, fame, long life, children, accomplishment of all desires, getting rid of hardships and misfortunes, waning of sins, obtaining svarga — thus there are many benefits. Above all, is Ātma-śānti — peace for the ātma. In the eight verses from “adveṣṭā sarvabhūtānāṃ” to “te’tīva me priyāḥ”, svāmī enunciates the qualities of devotees who perform bhakti for peace of mind, so that we keep them in mind.
adveṣṭā sarva-bhūtānāṃ: does not hate anything or anyone;
maitraḥ: friendly towards everyone;
karuṇa (eva ca): Merciful; friendship is between equals, compassion is for everyone;
nirmamaḥ : Doesn’t have the feeling of “mine”;
nirahaṅkāraḥ : Has lost self-centeredness ;
samaduḥkhasukhaḥ : is not exuberant in happiness or depressed in adversities, equanimous always;
kṣamī : Forgiving, behaves with wrongdoers as though they did not wrong him at all;
santuṣṭaḥ satataṃ : Always happy ;
yogī : has joined his mind with Bhagavān ;
yatātmā : Controls himself;
dṛḍha-niścayaḥ : overcomes his doubts with deliberation and analysis, and is a believer;
mayyarpitamanobuddhiḥ : Has offered his mind and intellect to the supreme Īśvara —
(yo) madbhaktaḥ : such a devotee of mine
sa me priyaḥ : is dear to me.
yasmānnodvijate lokaḥ : by whom the world is not perturbed; and
lokānnodvijate ca yaḥ : one who is not perturbed by the world;
harṣāmarṣabhayodvegairmuktaḥ yaḥ : One whose mind does not experience overpowering happiness, anger, fear or excitement —
sa ca me priyaḥ : Such a man is dear to me.
anapekṣaḥ : One who does not have any desires;
śuciḥ : impeccable inside and out;
dakṣaḥ : capable in discharging his duties ;
udāsīnaḥ : Does not worry about himself;
gatavyathaḥ : One whose mind is not depressed;
sarvāraṃbhaparityāgī : One who does not embark on ventures that are not for him, or are for selfish ends —
yo madbhaktaḥ sa me priyaḥ : Such a devotee is dear to me.
yo na hṛṣyati : One who is not given to excessive mirth;
na dveṣṭi : Does not hate anything or anyone;
na śocati : Does not grieve over anything;
na kāṅkṣati: Does not desire anything;
śubhāśubha-parityāgī : Does not differentiate between auspicious and otherwise —
bhaktimān yaḥ sa me priyaḥ : Such a devotee is dear to me.
samaḥ śatrau ca mitre ca : One who is equally just with his enemies just as with his friends;
tathā mānāpamānayoḥ : Is not excited by felicitations or depressed by insults;
śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkheṣu: Is similarly equanimous in all dualities of the world ;
saṅgavivarjitaḥ: is not attached to any worldly relationship;
tulya-nindā-stutiḥ: whose mind is calm and unperturbed by insult or praise ;
maunī: Reduces empty speech and is engrossed in remembrance and dhyāna;
santuṣṭo yena kenacit: Satisfied by the quality and quantity of whatever is available;
aniketaḥ: Is not narrow-minded about his own home and hearth and his own people;
sthiramatiḥ: is of firm mind —
bhaktimān me priyo naraḥ: such a devotee is dear to me.
ye tu dharmyāmṛtamidaṃ yathoktaṃ paryupāsate: Those who follow this instruction in dharma as it has been explained
śraddhadhānāḥ: Are trusting and faithful;
matparamāḥ: seek me Bhagavān alone —
bhaktāḥ te atīva me priyāḥ: such devotees are my most beloved.
These eight verses are akin to the pot of amṛta obtained out of the ocean of milk that is the Gītā. Just as the verses about equanimity — “prajahāti yadā kāmān” were highly regarded by Mahatma Gandhi, the eight verses starting from “adveṣṭā sarva-bhūtānāṃ” were cherished by the Rt.Hon.V.S.Srinivasa Sastry. When he was tired of worldly affairs, when he suffered from anguish whether his work would continue or not, when people became furious with him for no reason at all, when his friends were depressed or when he felt agitated for whatever reason, Sri.Sastry would recall these verses. In particular, he would always say that the precept “tulya-nindā-stutiḥ” was a necessary quality for the public servants of our country. If you permit me to say so, Sri.Srinivasa Sastry had followed this ideal to the last letter.
Who can say to what extent we can practise the qualities of adveṣṭā, maitra, etc? I believe that if we recall these qualities again and again and try to follow them, Īśvara might bless us with compassion.
bhagavad-upāstiya lakṣyaṃ ।
saguṇamò nirguṇamò yuktam-ènè bhajakana- ॥
nigaditam-arhatèyin-embudu dvādaśakaṃ ॥
The goal is to worship the Divine,
Should it be it with form or without it?
The twelfth chapter says that this depends on the inclination,
Energy, limit and proclivity of the worshipper.
sarvāntaḥsthaṃ prakṛti-rasikaṃ viśvalīlāvilāsaṃ ।
jīvotkarṣa-krama-naya-vidaṃ sānukaṃpaṃ śaraṇyam ॥
megha-śyāmākṛtiyoḻu taṭid-dīptivol torè netraṃ ।
vyaktāvyaktaṅgaḻa miḻitadiṃ sṛṣṭivol kṛṣṇa-rūpaṃ ॥
He who is the present within everything, whose pastime is the working of the universe
One who guides the jīva in its path elevation, compassionate, the refuge of all,
Whose eyes are like the flash of lightning in the body that is dark as a cloud
Whose form is both tangible and intangible, like creation itself.
Summary of the second hexade
dhānagaḻindeka-lakṣya-doḻ mana-viripā ॥
dhyāna-sthita-bhaktigè ta- ।
ttvānubhavaṃ sulabham-èndu madhyamaṣaṭkam ॥
The middle sextet says that the experience
Of Brahma is easy for those who practise devotion,
Focusing and meditating upon it alone
By prāṇāyāma and other methods.
jīvaveṃ brahmaṃ svavaibhavada sukhavan-uṇè
sāvayava-dindāda veṣada vinodaṃ ।
ā vinodadi bhāgagoḻutè dharmada nayade
kevalātmavan-arasal-aduvè śubha-yogaṃ ॥
What is jīva? Brahma itself, when it takes a physical form
To experience the pleasure of its own grandeur.
Taking part in this drama, and plodding ahead in the path of dharma
In search of the Supreme ātma, that is beneficial.
sakala-hita-vicāraṃ satya-dharmādhikāraṃ ।
durita-vana-kuṭhāraṃ jīvitoddhāra-dhīraṃ ॥
śaraṇa-jana-vihāraṃ śānti-saukhya-prasāraṃ ।
kavi-budha-gala-hāraṃ kṛṣṇa-gītāvatāraṃ ॥
With thoughts are auspicious to everyone,
The supreme authority in Truth and dharma,
Akin to an axe to the forest of evil,
Adept in elevating all lives,
Dwelling always in the minds of its devotees,
Exuding peace and happiness,
The garland that adorns the necks of sages and wise men
Is the Gītā, imparted by Śrīkṛṣṇa.
To be continued...
The present series is a modern English translation of DVG’s Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award-winning work, Bhagavad-gītā-tātparya or Jīvana-dharma-yoga. The translators wish to express their thanks to Śatāvadhāni R Ganesh for his valuable feedback and to Hari Ravikumar for his astute edits.