"Unflinching devotion to the Teacher is paramount in the life of a true seeker. To begin with, an external God can be the object of faith. But once the devotee grows to be a seeker, only a Wise Teacher can fulfil his quest.  It is then for the seeker to get purified and enlightened by the words of wisdom from his Guru.  Their bond and attunement put the Teacher on the pedestal of God.  Such an impeccable Guru-sishya bond alone bestows wisdom, strength and fulfillment to the seeker."

The Guiding force of Narayanashrama Tapovanam & Center for Inner Resources Development

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

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Samatva, which Krishna enjoins with regard to sukha and duhkha during his Sankhya discussion in the 2nd chapter, marks only the beginning of a sublime full-fledged pursuit. Krishna's exposition and discussion on the subject finds ample place throughout his dialogue.

For Krishna, samatva is a great concept, value and ideal, suggesting a comprehensive pursuit, transforming the whole life of the seeker and leading him to the pinnacle of full Yogic attainment. In fact, the excellence of Bhagavad Gita consists in discussing the principle of samatva in multiple ways and making the pursuit comprehensive in every way. The links of samatva, which Krishna has made out, are quite numerous and assorted. One has to pause, think and contemplate upon their relevance and implications, in order to realize how basic, thorough and conclusive the practice is when taken up in full earnestness.

The samatva discussion initiated in the 2nd chapter reaches, in a way, its climax in the 5th chapter, which is devoted to an exposition of true sanyasa or renunciation. Krishna explains sanyasa in his own unique manner, which itself calls for a very special study. As sanyasa marks the finale of spirituality and spiritual life, the linkage Krishna has made there for samatva becomes very deep and important. Samatva, given to samya becomes the same as Brahman. And hence, the `even' mind is the Brahmic mind too, at once. No more is the Reality to be thought of separately or contemplated upon. The even mind is itself seated in Brahman, by virtue of its samatva refinement.

Thus samatva-sadhana, which made the seeker fit for immortality, now rewards him with immortality. It makes the seeker Brahman Itself. The value, range, subtlety and comprehensiveness of samatva are sovereign.

In the 4th chapter, which is devoted to a discussion of how explicitly spiritual Wisdom works in the active life, Krishna speaks about samatva in sloka 22. The mind. he says, should rise above the conventional constraints induced by activity, the usual notes of preference, competition and the like. Make the mind flexible and broad so as to receive everything that comes indispensably, and reconcile with whatever goes. Be satisfied with whatever Providence or Chance brings in your life from day to day. Rather than getting vexed or agitated by the events and developments, be content with whatever comes.

Krishna presents and emphasizes samatva in many other places of Bhagavad Gita. In the very first verse commencing the karma yoga exposition in the 2nd chapter, he lays down samatva as the pronounced attitude enfolding and enriching the performance of actions.

 

योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय ।
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्योः समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ।।
yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmāṇi saṅgaṃ tyaktvā dhanañjaya ।
siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṃ yoga ucyate ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 2.48)

'Yogasthah' denotes the state of being established in yoga. Yoga is the fruition of spiritual sadhana. The yogic fruition is achieved by karma yoga. And this yoga is samatva towards siddhi (fruition) and asiddhi (non-fruition) of an effort aimed at achieving a goal. Yogic discipline, says Krishna, is to remain equal to siddhi and asiddhi. Is this not then the samatva of sankhya ? In Sankhya, the samatva is towards sukha and duhkha. In Yoga, it is with regard to success and failure of the actions as such.

Normally your own tendencies and qualities, your own course of life and work, will determine what is to come. The success or non-success of the actions should not rob one of his contentment. The psychology must get the spiritual enrichment of being happy with whatever is and will be. Such a harmonious mind will be more effective in its ventures and pursuits. Here again the samatva of the mind is sufficiently stressed by Krishna.

Pandita isa word which Krishna uses with profound meaning and import. For him a Pandita is a Self-Knower. The Pandita knows what most others around fail to. He delights in the Self alone, whereas for others, Self is a non-entity. The Self is a presence which equally fills every form of existence, alive or non-alive (5.18):

 

विद्याविनयसंपन्ने ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि ।
शुनि चैव श्वपाके च पण्डिताः समदर्शिनः ।।
vidyā-vinaya-sampanne brāhmaṇe gavi hastini ।
śuni caiva śva-pāke ca paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 5.18)

Thus the knowledge of Self instantly means the insight of equalness. Krishna relates to a few widely different beings: the Brahmana, the cow, the elephant, the dog and the chandala. The Pandita sees the untainted and ever-pure Self equally present in all these different persons and creations. Self-vision is equal vision indeed.

Again in verse 9 of the 6th chapter, Krishna makes a striking description of the enlightened behaviour of the Self-­Knower:

सुहृन्मित्रार्युदासीनमध्यस्थद्वेष्यबन्धुषु ।
साधुष्वपि च पापेषु समबुद्धिर्विश्ष्यते ।।
suhṛn-mitrāry-udāsīna- madhyastha-dveṣya-bandhuṣu ।
sādhuṣv api ca pāpeṣu sama-buddhir-viśiṣyate ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 6.9)

The man of spiritual excellence and sublimity will have such a lofty vision in which all the different kinds of people will stand equally accepted in his mind. The benefactor, friend, enemy, neutral, the mediator, hater, in fact the noble and ignoble people - all will be viewed alike as manifestations of the same supreme Reality. The manifested entities are different, as it is to all else. But the manifesting presence will be singular. This singular factor he realizes is the same in one and all. Self vision will become true only when such an equal extension is perceived, and as a result, be is not dislodged from his supreme inner position of oneness.

सर्वभूतस्थमात्मानं सर्वभूतानि चात्मनि ।
ईक्षते योगयुक्तात्मा सर्वत्र समदर्शनः ।।
sarva-bhūta-stham ātmānaṃ sarva-bhūtāni cātmani ।
īkṣate yoga-yuktātmā sarvatra sama-darśanaḥ ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 6.29)

The Self is in fact not alone there in one's body but also equally present at once everywhere. The one Self is the substratum and support to all bodies and forms of existence. As is the Atma in all, so are all in the same Self too. Thus either thinking about forms of existence or the Self of all forms, he must be able to have the same equal vision. Eyes and other senses bring the vision of differences and plurality. But the spiritual realization must stress oneness, sameness and equalness. Here too the final growth is in samatva and samya.

In the same chapter, Sri Krishna goes a unique step further in sloka 32:

आत्मौपम्येन सर्वत्र समं पश्यति योऽर्जुन ।
सुखं वा यदि वा दुःखं स योगी परमो मतः ।।
ātmaupamyena sarvatra samaṃ paśyati yo'rjuna ।
sukhaṃ vā yadi vā duḥkhaṃ sa yogī paramo mataḥ ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 6.32)

All experiences must , be viewed as the Self's alone. Experiences may differ but all are in, from and of the same Self. The Self need not be specially sought in any particular experience. In fact, It is present in and through all. All objects and perceptions have only two resultants to evoke in the mind: sukha and duhkha. Both are equally the Self. Maybe the Self was experienced as different before, but now everything and all have become the same unmistakable Presence Supreme. Such a yogic vision is the supreme, and one who has it is the loftiest Yogi.

After listening to so much about the Yoga-practice, yoga exposition and their varied descriptions, Arjuna understood the intricacy and supremacy of the practice. He realised that the practice would be difficult because of the desultory nature of the mind. So he makes a confession in sloka 6.33 : "The Yoga you have discussed, as the samya or samatva of the mind, seems very difficult to achieve. Mind being always desultory, how can the saadhaka have stability in the yoga of samya ? Arjuna's reference to the Yoga as samya makes the concept amply clear.

In describing the devotee and his characteristics in the 12th chapter, Krishna again emphasizes the need for samatva

समः शत्रौ च मित्रे च तथा मानापमानयोः ।
शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु समः सङ्गविवर्जितः ।।
samaḥ śatrau ca mitre ca tathā mānāpamānayoḥ ।
śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkheṣu samaḥ sańga-vivarjitaḥ ।
(Bhagavad Gita 12.18)
तुल्यनिन्दास्तुतिर्मौनी सन्तुष्टो येन केनचित् ।
अनिकेतः स्थिरमतिर्भक्तिमान्मे प्रियो नरः ।।
tulya-nindā-stutir-maunī santuṣṭo yena kenacit ।
aniketaḥ sthira-matir-bhaktimān-me priyo naraḥ ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 12.19)

Devotion always is viewed as related to God. But Krishna defines the devotee in relation to the situation around him, to the world sequences prevailing around. The feelings of hatred and allurement, friendship and enmity, in viewing and dealing with the society must vacate his mind. All-pervading God is thought of only to transcend these dvandvas of the mind, and until such transcendence is conspicuous, one cannot claim devotion. With regard to praise and blame also, the devotee must have a sense of strong equality. The opposite effects generally created by these dvandvas must cease to be, and the mind must become light, flexible and unaffected.

In the 13th chapter while discussing the virtues and excellences of a Jnani ( Self Knower ), and showing what in practice constitutes spiritual wisdom, Krishna has enumerated 20 points.   Of these, the following stands out distinctly ( sloka 13.9 ):

असक्तिरनभिष्वङ्गः पुत्रदारगृहादिषु ।
नित्यं च समचित्तत्वमिष्टानिष्टोपपत्तिषु ।।
asaktir-anabhiṣvańgaḥ putra-dāra-gṛhādiṣu ।
nityaṃ ca sama-cittatvam-iṣṭāniṣṭopapattiṣu ।
(Bhagavad Gita 13.9)

Here Krishna refers to the dvandvas as ishta (desirable) and anishta (undesirable). Any event, person, place or circum­stances will generally be viewed by the mind as what it likes or dislikes. So in making a reference to the mind's desirable and undesirable notes, all external factors stand covered. The mind constantly undergoes these two notes. And samatva must be in and with regard to these. The mind freed from the clutches of ishta and anishta alone is the spiritually refined mind.

When we go to verse 27 of chapter 13, Krishna explains the paramesvara and paramesvara darsana again in the language of samatva

समं सर्वेषु भूतेषु तिष्ठन्तं परमेश्वरम् ।
विनश्यत्स्वविनश्यन्तं यः पश्यति स पश्यति ।।
samaṃ sarveṣu bhūteṣu tiṣṭhantaṃ parameśvaram ।
vinaśyatsvavinaśyantaṃ yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 13.27)

One looking for the Great Lord should not look at any specific place like the temple or river or cave.. He should think of God as equally present in all creatures and forms of existence. In fact, only when such an idea is fostered and pursued, it becomes a true devotional pursuit keeping the Great Omni­present God as the focus. Whether it is thus related to God or not, the idea is one of samatva, says Krishna. This samatva is the great sublimating pursuit for any one's mind.

The same point Krishna emphasizes in verse 13.28 too:

समं पश्यन्हि सर्वत्र समवस्थितमीश्वरम् ।
न हिनस्त्यात्मनाऽऽत्मानं ततो याति परां गतिम् ।।
samaṃ paśyan-hi sarvatra samavasthitam-īśvaram ।
na hinasty-ātmanātmānaṃ tato yāti parāṃ gatim ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 13.28)

Understand God as uniformly present in space and objects. Such a uniformity and equalness alone will make God `Godly'. Thus to perceive God is to perceive verily samatva.. Samatva is such, a sublime and wholesome discipline to the mind and intelligence, that without it neither devotion nor spirituality is conceivable.

And, to crown all descriptions of Samatva and Samya; Krishna makes a summary statement in the 18th chapter ( sloka 54 ):

ब्रह्मभूतः प्रसन्नात्मा न शोचति न काङ्क्षति ।
समः सर्वेषु भूतेषु मद्भक्तिं लभते पराम् ।।
brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati na kāńkṣati ।
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu mad-bhaktiṃ labhate parām ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 18.54)

To become Brahman is not a bodily development. The transformation and sublimation are in the mental plane of the personality. The mind outlives soka (sorrow) and Kanksha (desire). Imagine the mind when freed of this dual hold. It becomes divine, no more the mortal and worldly mind. Such a mind will naturally give rise to the equal perception. In place of the senses bringing all the differences about whatever they perceive, the mind will now be full with the sublimity or samatva. The disharmony which was prevailing earlier due to the mind's constrictions and the dual notes, will now have dissolved and the persistent note of harmony become more and more pronounced.

It is such a samatva-pursuit that constitutes the essence and content of the yoga which Krishna describes, extols and promises to achieve for every discerning seeker. The proposition is paramount, wholesome, unfailing and final. The seeker has to spend enough time to understand himself and stabilize in this pursuit.

 (Part of the series Essential-Concepts-In-Bhagavad-Gita)