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The Steadfast and the Loved One

by T.N. Dhar 'Kundan'

A divine poetry, as the Bhagwad Gita is, it is interesting to note, that it is written in conversational form. Conversation between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, which forms the core content and conversation between Sanjay and Dhritrashtra that narrates and reproduces the whole dialogue. Obviously, therefore, there are questions and answers, counter questions and detailed explanations. Out of the many important, inquisitive and interesting questions posed by Arjuna and replied by Sri Krishna, two questions stand out in as much as they sum up the message of the Geeta in respect of the conduct of the mankind. The first one asked towards the last quarter of Chapter 2, is to know the distinguishing features of a steadfast person; his gait, his posture and his speech (Sthittaprajnasya Ka Bhasha.BG 2.54). The second question asked in the beginning of Chapter 12 seeks to know which of the two is superior, one who is a devout with unhindered concentration on the beautiful form of the lord with attributes and the other who is a devotee of the formless and attribute-less Lord (Saguna & Nirguna..tesham ke yogavittama BG 12.1). In reply to this question Sri Krishna lists out the characteristics of a devout loved by Him the most. Earlier, in Chapter 7, the devotees have been classified into four categories (I) one who is drawn to Ishwara Bhakti (Devotion) because of his troubles and tribulations, (ii) one who is inquisitive to know, (iii) one who seeks wealth and (iv) one who is full of knowledge (Chaturvidha Bhajantey Mam.BG 7.16) and the lord says that the fourth type of devotee is endowed with unflinching, constant, and undivided devotion and therefore is distinguished. He loves the Lord and is loved by Him.

These two questions are inter related because the distinguishing features listed out in respect of a steadfast person are the same as the qualities required of a devotee to be the loved one of the Lord Himself. In other words it is the steadfast person who is the favoured and loved one of the Lord.

Let us first see what the qualities of a steadfast person are. Sthitaprajna, shuns all the desires arising in the mind and is satisfied in himself, by himself. He is undisturbed in grief, unattached to pleasures. He is devoid of love, fear, and anger and has a firm intellect. Un-lured all the time, he neither revels on receiving anything good nor hates anything bad. He withdraws his senses from sense objects like the tortoise withdraws his limbs. He drinks deep the nectar of the supreme vision and feels satiated even without actually enjoying worldly pleasures. He controls all his senses, which would otherwise lead his mind astray, trusts in the supreme and diverts all his energy to realising Him with all the concentration. Unattached with the sense objects, he is in full control of himself and is ever happy. Because of this everlasting happiness, all his grief is gone. He is at peace with himself which leads to firmness of the intellect. He is aware that the sense objects divert the senses and thus create disharmony. Therefore he keeps his senses in check and absorbs all the desires in himself without losing his poise and peace. He conducts himself without any attachment, has no attraction, no ego and no affection (Bhagwat Gita 2.55 to 71). This steadfastness is a divine state of mind and leads one to liberation and realisation of the Supreme (BG 2.72).

In reply to the other question, Sri Krishna praises both types of devotees; those worshipping Saguna and those worshipping Nirguna Parmeshwara (Lord with form and without form, with attributes and without attributes) He underlines the fact that both in effect worship one and the same lord and what is important is unflinching faith in Him and undivided concentration on Him. In this context, He enumerates the qualities of a devotee most loved by Him (BG 12.13 to 20). These qualities are that such a devotee bears no ill will towards anyone. He is friendly and compassionate. He is unattached, without any ego and poised in pain and pleasure. He is ever satisfied, his mind fixed on the Lord, his senses under his full command and firm in his resolve. His mind and intellect are placed at the feet of the lord. He is a source of grief to none and no one is a source of grief to him. He is free from joy, envy, fear and grief. Contended, he is pious, efficient, neutral, without any remorse and performs his duties unmindful of the fruit. He is neither pleased nor hateful, neither grieves nor covets. For him nothing is favourable or unfavourable, auspicious or un-auspicious. For him there is no difference between a friend and a foe, respect and disrespect. Be it cold or hot, be it pleasure or pain, he is unattached. His reaction is the same when praised and when criticised. He remains calm and gets satisfaction in whatever he has. He is not attached to any one place but is devoted to the Lord all the time and has a firm intellect. He has unflinching faith in the Lord, acts as ordained with supreme faith in Him.

Now if one were to compare the two sets of qualities, one set prescribed for a steadfast person, and the other set for the devout loved one by the Lord, one would find that these are by and large identical. In order to endear ourselves to the Lord, we have to be steadfast and if the Lord loves us it ipso-facto means that we are endowed with a firm intellect.

Apart from the qualities of unflinching faith in the Lord and supreme devotion, what is needed is harmony, poise, and equilibrium, both in body and mind, i.e. Samatwa. It is this poise that has been likened with Yoga (BG 2.48). Yoga in effect means final merger with the Divine and this can be brought about by adopting a balanced attitude towards life in all circumstances and in divergent situations of gain and loss, pleasure and pain, honour and dishonour and bouquets and brick bats.

These qualities and this state of mind can be developed and acquired by constant practice about which the Geeta says that it takes so many lives to attain such a state where one sees everything in the Divine (Vasudevah Sarvamiti Sa Mahatma Sudurlabhah BG 7.19). Having attained this position and after complete surrender before the Lord, one deserves the Divine grace. The Lord takes note of the fact that the devout is all the time wedded to His love and as stated in Chapter 10,Slokas 10 and 11, He lights the lamp of his wisdom, removes the dark veil of ignorance from his eyes and grants him ways and means to attain Him. This transforms the devout from the position of Dasoham (I am His servant) to that of Soham (I am He). For this he has to (Da) i.e give (up) himself, his ego, and merge with the Ultimate Truth (param Sat). This is the goal that a steadfast and a loved one has set for himself.

T. N. Dhar Kundan's Articles

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