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Divinity, the Geeta Way

by T.N. Dhar 'Kundan'

Swami Vivekananda’s mission was to raise man from animality to divinity. He emphasised that divinity should be made manifest in every movement of his life. The Geeta in chapter XVI has summed up, in just two and a half shlokas, the traits of divinity and explained in detail the various traits of animality. The former is called ‘Daivam Sampadam’ and it liberates. The latter is called ‘Asuri Sampadam’ and it binds. Analysed below are the traits of divinity vis-a-vis those of animality as given in the Geeta:- 

1.     Abhayam: fearlessness is the prime quality for the one born for divine state. One has to be fearless in the face of death, dejection, pain, defeat, disrespect, and all other pitfalls of the human existence, for the Geeta proclaims ‘Samatvam yoga uchyate’.B.G : 2.48 - equilibrium alone is yoga. This equilibrium can be achieved by being fearless in the face of all odds. And fearlessness can be achieved by complete surrender unto the Lord who is bound by his divine promise ‘Tesham nityabhi-yukhtanam yoga-kshemam vahami-aham’ B.G. 9.22 - I provide gain and security to all those who are ever devout to me. So when He has taken full responsibility for our security where is the question of our fearing at all. 

2.     Sattva sanshuddhih: purity of heart is the other trait essential for divinity. We all pray in the morning : ‘ma vidvishavahay’ - let us not hate any one and again: ‘tan-me manah Shiva sankalpam-astu ‘let my mind be filled with noble resolve.’ Both these Vedic prayers indicate that we are required to aspire for purity of heart. The Geeta says that as against this quality of the divine, those with evil disposition are ‘ashuchi-vratah’ of impure resolve. They are full of malice and hatred for others. 

3.     Jnana-yoga vyavasthitih: steadfastness in the yoga of knowledge. The emphasis here is on steadfastness. Whether it is to achieve merger with the Divine through knowledge or to gain knowledge, one has to be steadfast. The Geeta is on record to say, ‘aneka janma sansiddhah tato yanti param gatim- B.G:6.45’ birth after birth one has to strive with steadfastness and then alone one attains the supreme position. The evil, on the other hand will be ‘ajnani’ without knowledge  and if at all he makes an effort to know, he will be fickle-minded. 

4.     Daanam: giving alms is also a great virtue. Divine are those who give their wealth and knowledge to others, who help others physically, monetarily as also by giving good counsel. A wealthy virtuous person gives alms but the foolish pride their wealth and covet for more. Sharing is a divine trait and those who are evil cook for themselves: ‘te pachanti atma karanat. B.G.: 3.13’ 

5.     Damah: control over senses is an important step in yoga. One must be the master of one’s senses and not their slave. For, if they get out of control, we become ‘ugra karmanah B.G.16.9’ men of fierce deeds. That would lead us to destruction. If we cannot control our senses, we are prone to think of sense-objects all the time and a chain of cause and effect follows, viz; attachment, desire, anger, delusion, confused memory, loss of reason, loss of wisdom and finally the destruction. B.G.2.62-63. 

6.     Yajna: the ritual of sacrifice is another important requirement for a person of divine qualities. Performance of Yajna and partaking of the left over from oblations ‘yajna-shishta-ashna’ is what the Geeta prescribes. This inculcates a sense of sacrificing in us and disciplines our life  so that  we enjoy every thing with a detached mind as the Ishavasya upanishad would have it : ‘tena tyakhtena bhunjithah.’ In contrast to this, those who are of demoniac disposition, perform yajna for ostentation disregarding the prescribed procedures. ‘yajante nama-yajnaiste dambhena avidhi-purvakam.’B.G. 16.17. 

7.    Swadhyayah: study of the scriptures is also important about which we are told not to shirk , ‘ swadhyayat ma pramaditavyam.’ For it is the study of scriptures that gives us the right direction and shows us the right way. In the words of Yudhishthara, ‘mahajano yena gatah sa panthah,’ the path shown by sages and savants, recorded in the scriptures, is the path to follow. If we do not take to the study of scriptures we are bound to act on the impulse of our desire giving a go bye to what is prescribed: ‘shastra- vidhim- utsrijya vartate kama-karatah. B.G.16.23’ That takes us away from our goal, perfection and happiness and consequently we lose our divinity. 

8.     Tapah: penance or austerity is yet another quality which should be inculcated. This quality hardens us and enables us to face the ups and downs of the life. It helps us maintain a balanced posture and remain dogged and steadfast in all our endeavours. Without this quality we become ‘chanchala’ restless and remain ever dissatisfied: ‘aneka-chitta-vibhrantah mohajala samavritah B.G.16.16’ bewildered by many a fancy, and caught up in the web of delusion. To avoid such a situation the only answer is tapas or the penance. 

9.     Aarjavam: straight-forwardness in dealings is another positive feature of a good person. In order to qualify for a divine nature, one has to be forthright. There should be no contradiction between what one says and what one does. The conduct should be simple and straight, the actions should reflect the pious intentions and one should be as clear as a crystal. In contrast, the one with an evil nature  has neither purity nor right conduct: ‘na shaucham napi cha-acharah. B.G. 16.7”.      

10. Ahimsa:  non-injury by itself is an essential quality of a person of divine disposition.  He injures neither in deed, nor by utterances, nor even by thought.  In contrast a person of evil disposition says ‘Asau maya hatah shatruh, hanishye cha-aparanapi’, that enemy has been slain by me and I shall kill others also - B.G :16.14’.

11. Satyam: truth.  What is, is called ‘sat’ and the fact of being is ‘satya’, the truth.  We pray to God to lead us from ‘asat’, non-being, to ‘sat’, being.  Therefore it is of paramount importance for us to be truthful in word and deed in order to be divine.  Seeking and aiming at truth,  practising and experiencing truth, truth in thought and conviction makes a person divine.  Others of demoniac traits practise only falsehood.  They consider the entire universe as unreal and without any basis, ‘Asatyam-apratishtham te jagad-ahur-anishvaram - B.G :16.8’, the universe is unreal, they say, and is without any moral basis and without any God. 

12. Akrodah: devoid of anger.  Since the person divine controls his senses, it, ipso facto, means that he will have no anger.  Anger is the result of intense desire.  Conquering it is a step towards divinity.  Anger is the trait of the evil as has been stated, ‘Ashapasha-shatair - baddhah kama krodha-parayanah - B.G :16.12’, they are entangled in multiplicity of hope and are given to lust and anger.  Anger is conquered by non-anger.  We have the authority of ‘Setu-sama’, from the Sama Veda, which says that we can cross the chasm of anger over the bridge of non-anger - ‘Setuns-tara, Akrodhena krodham tara’ 

13. Tyagah: relinquishing.  This has been defined in Chapter 18 of the Geeta, thus, ‘Sarva-karma-phala-tyagam prahus-tyagam - B.G. : 18.2’, abandonment of the fruits of all actions is called Tyagah.  Again it has been stated ‘Sangam tyakhtva phalam chaiva tyagah sattviko matah - B.G.: 18.9.  Abandoning attachment and fruit is a superior tyagah.  The Geeta has right from Chapter 2 repeated it several times that actions cannot and should not be relinquished for the cycle of actions must go on.  Even the existence is not possible without performing actions.  But, what is required to be relinquished is the attachment to and the fruits of these actions.  In other words one has to consider the Divine as the real doer and oneself only as a tool.  However, a person of demonic traits thinks in a different way, ‘Idamadya maya labdham, imam prapsya manoratham.  Idam asti-idam-api me bhavishyati punar-dhanam - B.G.:16.13.’, this has been gained by me today, this desire I shall fulfil.  This is mine.  That wealth also will be mine.  Not only is such a person after everything with greed but also considers himself as the real doer. 

14. Shantih: serenity and peace come naturally to a person with divine traits because he is ‘Santushto yena kenachit - B.G. : 12.19.’ satisfied in all circumstances anyhow and ‘Atmaneva-atmana tushtah - B.G : 2.55’, fully satisfied in himself.  He is at peace with everyone because he sees himself in all beings and all beings in himself, ‘Sarva-bhutastham-atmanam sarva bhutani cha-atmani - B.G.:6.29’,  he also knows the gospel ‘ashantasya kutah sukham B.G.:2.66’  how can one be happy if he has no peace.  Peace is the direct result of relinquishment,  the quality discussed earlier.  Relinquishment, says the Geeta, is superior to practise, knowledge and meditation, and it leads to peace ‘Shreyo hi Jnanam - abhyasat Jnanad -dhyanam vishishyate dhyanat-karma-phal-tyagah, tyagat shantir - anataram - B.G :12.12’ and it is the peace that we pray for every morning after our ‘sandhya vandanam’ and other routines chores.  While the one with divine nature has complete peace of mind,  those of evil nature have, ‘Chintam-aparimeyam B.G 16.11’, unlimited worries.   

15. Apaishunam: aversion to fault-finding. A person, in order to be divine, has to be sedate, simple and soft. He should be devoid of aggression, harshness and vehemence. He should have a gentle and pleasing demeanour. He should be averse to finding fault with others. There is a Sanskrit shloka which says, ‘A bad person sees the smallest fault of others but even after seeing, he ignores his own gravest faults, however big and sizeable they may be,’ A heavenly person on the other hand, is conscious of his own short comings but never finds fault with others.  

16. Daya-Bhuteshu: means compassion for all beings. This is a paramount quality for a person with divine traits. For this quality to develop one has to see everything as a manifestation of the Lord. “Vasudevah sarvam-iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah B.G.7.19” It is difficult to come across a person who sees Vasudeva only in everything. Again, it has been stated that, “Yo mam pashyati sarvatra, sarvam-cha mayi pashyati. B.G. 6.30” One who sees me everywhere and also sees everything in me. Such a state of mind makes us ‘sama-darshanah’ such that we see the same in all. “Vidya- vinaya-sampanne Brahmane, gavi, hastini, shuni chaiva shwapake cha Panditah sama-darshanah.B.G.5.18” The wise have the same approach towards a well read and humble Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a wild person (lit. one who eats  dog’s flesh). On the other hand the persons of evil mind feel thus, “ko-anyo-asti sadrisho maya B.G.16.15” who else can equal me. And, therefore, they work with impure resolve, ‘pravartante ashuchi-vratah, B.G.16.10’ 

17. Aloluptvam: absence of greed or covetousness. It is a matter of common logic as to how a person can be pious if he is full of greed and covets other’s wealth. Ishavasya Upanishad says, “ ma gridhah kasyachit dhanam “ covet not, for who does this wealth belong to ? Once we develop an attitude of sacrificing and relinquishing, once we develop a habit of giving and once we perfect ourselves in the art of control of our senses, the desire (kama) is won over and covetousness and greed vanish. Kabir has said that ‘Lord is he who wants nothing. Now let us see the trait of  those who are not virtuous. They strive to secure wealth by unjust means  to satisfy their sensual requirements, “Eehante kama-bhogartham anyayena-arthaa sanchayam. B.G.16.12”           

18. Mardavam: this means sweet demeanour and gentleness. No doubt a divine person has to be gentle, soft and pleasing. Like a tree whose branches are laden with fruits bending downwards, a person with divine qualities is gentle and full of humility. Such a person knows that it is the ‘Para prakriti’ or the higher element of the Divine that upholds this universe and that he himself is only a ‘nimitta matra’ just a tool or the means through which the Divine makes things happen and, therefore, he is humble and grateful that the Divine has entrusted him with noble tasks. Pride does not so much as even touch him. As opposed to him an evil person is ‘dambha-mana-madanvitah B.G.16.10’ full of hypocrisy, pride and arrogance. 

19. Hrih: or modesty is a complementary trait to gentleness. The opposite trait is ‘darpa’ or self-conceit. For a person with conceit, the Geeta says that, ‘karta-aham-iti manyate,B.G.3.27’  he firmly believes that he is the doer. This makes him conceited and he proclaims, “Ishwaro-aham aham bhogi, siddho-aham balawan sukhi B.G.16.14” I am a lord, the one who enjoys; I have accomplished perfection; I am powerful and happy. The virtuous, on the other hand, says, like Arjuna: ‘shishyaste-aham shadhi mam twam prapannam, B.G.2.7’ I am at your door step as a disciple of yours, kindly order me what to do. After having been shown the path, such a person says, ‘karishye vachanam tava, B.G. 18.73. I shall act as per your command. Such is the modesty of this person that he surrenders completely before the Lord. 

20. Achapalam: meaning firmness. The characteristics of a steadfast person have been enumerated in the second chapter of the Geeta. Such a person is unperturbed in adversity, unattached in pleasure  and unaffected by good or bad. This in effect is the exalted state at which the bewilderment vanishes. “Esha Brahmi sthiti Partha! Na-enam prapya vimuhyati, B.G. 2.72” To attain this position one has to be in full control of one’s senses. The evil, however, is ‘aneka chitta vibhrantah B.G.16.16’ bewildered by many a fancy, that makes him fickle minded not knowing what to do and what to refrain from. “pravrittim cha nivrittim cha jana na viduh-asura B.G.16.7”  

21. Tejah: connotes vigour, splendour and radiance. Even in our day to day life we observe that a pious person has a shining face, glowing forehead and radiance in his eyes. We are attracted towards such a person just by his gaze. It is because of this that the Lord has said: ‘tejas-tejasvinam-aham, B.G. 10.36’ I am the splendour of the splendid. In fact the splendour in itself is the sign of divinity for the Lord has said, “the radiance that is seen in the sun, moon and the fire actually is my own radiance. Yad-aditya-gatam tejah jagat-bhasayate-akhilam chandramasi yat-cha- agnau tattejo viddhi mamakam. B.G. 15.12” Every day we pray that God grant us Tejas: ‘tejasvinavaditam-astu’ Those who are not pious lack this radiance and have been referred to as malicious people: ‘abhyasuyakah. B.G. 16.18’ 

22. kshama: forgiveness is a weapon of the strong. Those who are strong physically, mentally and spiritually and yet forgive others show that they are imbued with divine qualities. Our morning prayers conclude by saying: ‘ma vidvishavahai’ let us not hate anyone. This prayer presupposes that those who might have wronged us are forgiven by us. Only then do we resolve not to hate them. The Pauranic story  wherein it is stated that Bhrigu hit Vishnu with his foot is an excellent example of forgiveness. Vishnu not only did not retaliate, but in stead asked Bhrigu if his foot was not hurt. This quality places one in an exalted position. Compared to this is the trait of the evil. They are revengeful and carry hatred for their adversaries to the hilt. They always think ill and of destroying others. ‘ksheyaya jagato-ahitah B.G.16.9 

23. Dhritih: is both tolerance and fortitude. This trait is developed by having poise and equilibrium in the face of all ups and downs of life. It has been stated that one should not waver in the face of one’s duty: ‘swadharmam-api-cha-vekshya na vikampitum-arhasi, B.G. 2.31’ Tolerance and fortitude are imbibed only if actions are performed with mind firmly fixed in yoga. ‘yogasthah kuru karmani sangam tyakhtva Dhananjaya, B.G. 2.48’ Those with demonic traits are naturally of wavering mind: ‘Aneka-chitta-vibhrantah. B.G. 16.16’ 

24. Shaucham: is purity and cleanliness at all levels. Physical purity by cleaning and washing, adoring clean clothes and having clean habits. Mental purity by having pious ideas, noble thoughts, and pure resolve and by keeping at bay all malice, ill-will and hatred. Spiritual purity by transcending Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, all the three attributes as prescribed: ‘nistrai-gunyo bhava-Arjuna B.G. 2.45’ Purity is the second nature of the divine person. In contrast to this those who are of evil disposition have neither purity nor good conduct. ‘na shaucham na-api cha acharah. B.G.16.7’ 

25. Adroha: absence of ill will. It is a well known fact that the Indian tradition believes in ‘Vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ the entire universe is but one family. Our prayers are not self-centred. We pray, ‘sarve bhavantu sukhenah.’ May all be happy and well. ‘ma kaschana dukha bhag- bhavet’ Let no one come to grief. This prayer stems from a state of mind where there is no ill will . This comes natural to a divine person for he sees everyone in himself and himself in every one. Every one for him is an eternal portion of the Divine, “Mamaiva-ansho. B.G.15.7”  So how can he harbour ill will towards any one. It is the evil who hate every one and thereby the Lord existing in every body, ‘mama-atma-para-deheshu pradvishanto B.G.16.18.” these people hate Me (the Lord) in their own bodies and in those of others. 

26. Natimanata: Absence of pride and hot headed-ness. Pride is the symbol of ignorance, shallow knowledge, ego and arrogance. While the pride for one’s wealth, power, position and such like things can be tolerable, the pride for being virtuous, knowledgeable or wise is a paradox in itself. There is no limit to knowledge, no boundaries of virtuosity  and with any amount of knowledge, virtue or wisdom one has still  quest for more of these. This situation removes pride, if any, from a person of virtue. He knows that perfection is the name of God and as a human being he is imperfect. So there is nothing to be proud of. He is well aware that he is limited in Sat, Chit and Anand, the being, the consciousness and the bliss which makes him Jeevatma, the individual soul. It is the Paramatma, the Universal soul which is unlimited in these three and is  independent in every respect. There is, therefore, no reason to be hot headed or proud. It is the demonic who are, ‘dambha-mana-madanvitah, B.G.16.10. full of hypocrisy, pride and arrogance. 

These qualities and traits have been divided into two broad categories. The first category comprise serenity, restraint, austerity, penance, purity, forgiveness, uprightness, knowledge and faith. These are intellectual traits (B.G. 18.42) and could include other items like study of scriptures and performance of yajna etc; The second category consists of heroism, radiance, firmness and expertise and is termed as heroic traits (B.G. 18.43) . This could include the qualities of fearlessness, forgiveness, tolerance and  absence of ill will. 

The Geeta says that lust, anger and greed are self destroying and lead to hell. ‘Trividham narakasya- idam- dwaram nashanam- atmanah, Kamah, krodhah- tatha- lobhah B.G.16.21’ and one who shuns these along with ego, violence, arrogance and possessiveness (attachment) attains peace and eventually, the Brahman status. “Ahankaram, balam, darpam, kamam, krodham, parigraham, vimuchya nirmamah shantah Brahma-bhuyaya kalpate. B.G.18.53.”     

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