Asaktirnabhisvangah putradaragrhadisu

nityam cha samacittatvam ishtanistopapattisu

…absence of sense of ownership, absence of obsession towards son, wife, house and the like, and constant evenness of mind regarding the gain of the desired and not desired….(Verse 9)

The next value Krishna takes up in the Gita is `asakthi’’, which can be loosely translated as `unattachment’.  I’ll come to the exact translation shortly. Krishna himself explains this as `anabhiswanga putra, dara, griha adhishu’, meaning `not being excessively emotionally dependent on your child, your wife or husband, your house, etc…’ Krishna’s not saying, `Don’t have love for the people in your life’, he’s not saying, `Don’t look after your house…’ What he’s advocating here is a non-dependence, an emotional independence from all of them, he’s talking about love without dependence or, in other words, love in freedom….Freedom in love is what he’s advocating here. When we love somebody, often it’s out of need and not love. Our stance is usually, `I need you, therefore I love you…’ That’s a highly dependent form of love. A more mature love would be, `I love you, therefore I need you…’ Of course, there will be some sense of need, but the idea is to be very objective with respect to that need so that in time you will be able to say, `I don’t need you, but I still love you…I love you, I choose to be with you even though there is no need…’

The above perspective comes at the height of self-knowledge, not before that. But at this point he talks about it as a preparation or a working on one’s sense of objectivity, because of which one’s emotional dependence is less. I will love, I will respect, I will do all I can to take care, but I will not be overly emotionally dependent on any person or thing in my life. It’s a wonderful value to have, and when you have it you will discover a certain sense of freedom. You must have read about these values in Archie’s greeting cards or in some philosophical literature. I’m sure you’ve read, `If you love something, set it free/If it comes back, it’s yours, otherwise it never was.’ We read these statements and sigh, `How beautiful’. But Krishna is saying something more here: Nothing belongs to anyone anyway. Recognize that and then love. Once you realize that nothing belongs to you or you don’t belong to anyone, you can then have a very healthy attitude towards love and relationships. That is what is being highlighted in this value of emotional independence.

The next value (Verse 9) is `nityam cha samacittatvam ishtanistopapattisu’. It’s a very beautiful value, a lot of the sadhna in the Gita is based on this. Krishna says, `Sama-chittva….’, `being of balanced mind’, or having a sense of equanimity when things happen to you, desirable or undesirable. Life is full of experiences, and some you will be happy with and with some you won’t. This is a fact of life. Nobody can be happy with everything that comes to him and neither is anyone unhappy with everything. Krishna is advising us to maintain balance in both types of situations. This is also spoken of in the second chapter, `Samatvam yogam……’ `Balance is yoga’. This value is easy for one who has been living a life of karma-yoga, which is a sense of acceptance. Once you have a sense of acceptance of everything that happens to you–the good, the bad, the ugly–then you will have a certain balance in life. To have this value, you need the next value that is coming up.

Krishna says, `Mayi cananyayogena bhaktiravyabhicarini’ (Verse 10).`Avyabicharya…’ means `unshaken’, `bhaktihi’ is `devotion’, `Ishwara’ is `to me’, `ananya…’ means `by understanding that Ishwara is not different from me’. If you understand that `Ishwara is non-different from me’, then you have attained to the vedic wisdom that the Gita is unfolding. But we are not talking about this wisdom here; this is still at the level of the student and not at the level of the wise person. What it means here is that one should try and understand Ishwara properly, which involves understanding that Ishwara is not in Timbuctoo, he is not located in a place.

The whole universe including my body, mind, etc. is a manifestation of Ishwara, is a manifestation of the Reality, the awareness-existence manifested in the totality is what we call Ishwara. Understanding this is followed by a natural sense of devotion to this Reality, to Ishwara. If there is devotion, there is acceptance. Love for Ishwara is called devotion. If there is love based on understanding, there is a greater sense of identification. You don’t try to validate Ishwara in terms of your life-experiences, but you validate your life’s experiences in your understanding of Ishwara. Let us say one has some belief in God and something unpleasant happens. If I am trying to validate God with reference to my experiences, my reaction would be, `Why me?’ or `God doesn’t care’ or `He is punishing me’, etc. If one has understood Ishwara as I have explained in my posts, then one would see that it is my karma—part of the Lord’s plan for my growth—and have a sense of acceptance, take it as prasada and do what is necessary. This makes a huge difference to the way you approach life.

Therefore, what Krishna is presenting here is unshaken bhakti. If it is belief-oriented bhakti, that will be shaken, because `belief’ really means to conclude before knowing and belief is, therefore, subject to correction on verification. This is what my teacher always says. He says, `If you believe in God, then there’s always the possibility that God does not exist…’ Instead of merely believing, one has to understand what God is about. The more you understand, the more you are sure. If you understand what God is, then bhakti is very natural. Therefore, based on what he has said in the ninth, tenth, chapters etc., he is mentioning this value of `unshaken devotion to the Lord’ here

I will elaborate some more here about the `belief’ bit….If you believe I’m a good man but you don’t know me, you believe this on the basis of what you have heard. When you meet me, there’s always a chance that the belief is confirmed that I am a good man or a crook masquerading as a good man. Your belief now either stands validated or corrected.  Similarly, if you believe in God, there’s always a possibility that God doesn’t exist. The moment you say that you believe, then you’re admitting that possibility.

Also, `devotion’ is a much misunderstood word. `Devotion’ doesn’t mean blind acceptance. My freedom of thought, my freedom of action, everything is a part of my devotion. Remember what Krishna said earlier; he said, `Be an instrument in my hands’. Yes, there is a plan and the purpose of that plan is my growth, but the plan is flexible enough to include all the choices I make. It’s not a rigid plan, it’s not a grand design where every detail is worked out, but is an overall thing and my freedom of action is included in that. I can live my life the way I want to live it. People take  `devotion’ to mean blind devotion, devotion without understanding,  without questioning. In the earlier chapter, Krishna himself has said, `Serve the teacher with a lot of questions’. For understanding, you need questioning. The idea is to come to an understanding of Ishwara, not a blind belief.

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