Ashtavakra Samhita, Chapter 4, Verse 02

Dheera, the Stable Minded Seer

Dheera, the Stable Minded Seer

Translation and Commentary by Jayaram V

Chapter-Index | Verse Index

Verse 02

yat padam prepsavo deenaah shakraadyaah sarvadevataah
aho tatra sthito yogee na harshamupagachchati


Oh, that state which Indra and other gods eagerly seek but become unhappy for not attaining it, situated in that state, a yogi does not show any elation at all.


The indifference of a self-realized yogi

A yogi who attains purity and reaches perfection in his practice is not easily disturbed or excited by anything. Having or not having something does not make any difference to him. Having surrendered to the will of God, he remains contended within himself and allows himself to be guided by It The dualities of life cease to bother him as he becomes a self-conqueror (jita), keeping his mind and body under firm control.

The yogi may not feel excited about anything, but he does not lapse into a morose state. Since he lives in the contemplation of God, he remains full of positive energy and his mind in a state of positive aspiration. In him arises indifference to the worldly life and its myriad appearances as a natural response to the predominance of sattva (purity) and suppression of impurities. He possesses discernment, whereby he can see through things and intuitively make decisions or draw conclusions without having to spend a lot of time.

True yogis remain aloof. You cannot easily draw them into worldly matters. If at all they speak about them, it is to help someone gain an insight or understanding into the nature of the world. True yogis do not align themselves with any groups. For them all are aspects of God or the Self. The outward diversity is a mere distraction to keep the beings deluded and bound to the cycle of births and death.

King Janaka stated here that the yogi was not excited even by the prospect of attaining liberation, which even the gods could not resist. Spiritual life is a life of hardship. You can imagine the extent of sacrifices one has to make, the hardships one has to face and the austerities one has to practice to purify oneself and attain liberation. Yet, when a yogi is on the cusp of self-realization, how can he not any elation, excitement, fear or anxiety?

Yoga is restraint of the mind and senses. Its purpose is suppression of the modifications of the mind. A yogi restrains his mind and body and overcomes desires. Thereby, he gains control over his thoughts and emotions, feelings of attraction and aversion, and becomes equal to all. When you have no preferences, priorities or expectations, you will not react to the happenings in your life. You will embrace all the conditions and circumstances and remain satisfied within yourself. It is not easy to attain this state, which is why it is hard to find true yogis.

The state of liberation or self-realization is also the state of equanimity, detachment, oneness and sameness. In that state a yogi remains free from emotions, passions and desires. He sees the world as the play or projection and empty in itself. Therefore, he is not disturbed by the dualities and difficulties of life. The liberated state of boundless joy becomes his natural state. That joy is so powerful that having tasted it, he no more hankers after lessor joys of worldly pleasures.

In worldly life, how we may cultivate this attitude? The answer is found in the Bhagavadgita. We can overcome the desire for success and the fear of failure by practicing karma yoga. If you do not want to feel excited about any outcome, you must perform your actions to the best of your ability, with concentration and dedication, and leave the result to God. If you focus on the task rather than the result, you can control your emotions and stay calm when your actions bear fruit. Yogis perfect the practice of karma yoga in their quest for liberation. They surrender to the will of God and do not complain.

Gods and liberation

The gods are bound to their duties and divinity until the end of creation. They are immortal. Hence, liberation is not ordained for them. Liberation is for those who are caught in the cycle of births and deaths and go through suffering. Gods are not bound to it. Further, they represent the pleasure principle in creation, and do not experience suffering as an essential part of their existence.

Therefore, they do not require liberation. Yet, gods yearn for liberation because the liberated state is much more blissful than the state that arises from the enjoyment of heavenly pleasures. However, because of the limitations imposed upon them, they have to take a human birth and engage in spiritual practice to attain it.

Although in cosmic hierarchy, human beings are inferior to gods, self-realized yogis and seers are superior to them as they verily become Brahman by achieving the union. Hence, gods not only envy those who strive for liberation but also disturb them during their practice to prevent them from reaching the highest heaven.

Gods in the microcosm

In the macrocosm, the body is represented by the earth (bhu), breath by mid-region (bhuva), the mind by heaven (suva). The Self is represented by Brahman or the Supreme Self. The world of Brahman is the highest, and it is beyond all the worlds. It is also the support. In the Upanishads, the entire existence (sat) is symbolized as an inverse tree. The roots represent Brahman and the branches and leaves, creation. The two do never meet.

In the microcosm of the body, gods belong to the physical and mental realm. Functionally, they represent the organs. Indra, who is their lord, represents the mind. The Self is distinct from both. Although it resides in them and supports their functions, it remains unknown to them. As the Upanishads declare, it is not the mind, but because of it the mind works. It is not senses, but because of it the senses grasp.

In other words, it is not possible to know the Self mentally or physically. You attain that pure state only when you withdraw the mind and the senses and silence them through breath control, concentration, meditation and concentrated meditation (samyama). When the mind becomes silent, all that which the mind builds, including the desires, attachments, formations, modifications and past life impressions become extinguished or suppressed. In that state, one becomes free from both happiness and sorrow.

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