Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
Sukha comes as an alternate to duhkha and vice versa. Both are verily mutual and complementary. Duhkha passes to bring sukha, sukha too transits fetching duhkha. Each is the cause and predecessor of the other. Both are a beautiful pair. Neither can be without the other. Where is then the question of preferring one and abhorring another? Both have equal place in any one’s life.
Dear and blessed souls:
Harih Om Tat Sat.
Krishna now summarizes whatever he had said so far, exposing Sankhya, the science and philosophy of the Soul, the ‘I’, in a very novel and arresting manner, infusing into his words a marvellous note of courage and confidence (2.38):
Sukha-duhkhas – a beautiful pair
Make sukha and duhkha equal in your mind and vision. Let there be no preference towards sukha and no abhorrence to duhkha. Both are equal facets of human life. They are together triggered by our senses, when they (the senses) interact with objects of the world. Interactions transpire in sensory level, and sukha-duhkhas, their resultants, occur in the inner plane of the mind. Notice the differing dimensions!
Interactions begin every day when one wakes up in the morning and eyes open to see the roof and the walls around. From then on, he sees, hears, smells, tastes and touches various objects. There is no time one or more of these senses are not active during wakefulness. Each sensory contact is either pleasant or unpleasant to the mind.
Sensory interactions and the resulting inevitable sukha-duhkhas cannot be ruled out as long as one is awake. Sukha comes as an alternate to duhkha and vice versa. Both are verily mutual and complementary. Duhkha passes to bring sukha, sukha too transits fetching duhkha. Each is the cause and predecessor of the other. Also, both are succeeding each other. Both are a beautiful pair. Neither can be without the other. Where is then the question of preferring one and abhorring another? Both have equal place in any one’s life.
Impartiality towards sukha-duhkhas
So, fostering equality and impartiality towards sukha and duhkha alike is the only option for the wise, to live in this world and move forward steadily and gloriously. Every time you do so, you become more and more spiritual, sublime and expansive. The practice is in the mind, guided by intelligence. But, the benefits are to one’s life as a whole. There will be no time in one’s wakeful life when he will not be doing samatva pursuit!
When senses interact with objects, the mind employing the senses and the intelligence helping and guiding the mind, what the seeker will experience, undergo and generate, is only sukha-duhkhas. Sukha and duhkha become co-existential with one’s life. These alone are the outcome the senses, mind and intelligence produce and preserve every time during our wakeful hours. Reflect well, reason duly and comprehend this truth. You will find samatva – equalness and equanimity – gets ingrained in you, so much so that your life becomes synonymous with it.
Sankhya and samatva – both bring stability
So far Krishna was speaking about the singular Self and the ceaseless knowledge of it. The emphasis was on applying the intelligence and through reflection and rumination develop discrimination and comprehend steadily the Self, the ‘I’, different from the body. The word ‘Sankhya’ refers to this assiduous, inner Self-introspection, rendering the resulting knowledge steady, unshakable and absolute.
Think well. Here now, Krishna summarizes the whole instruction he gave so far. He speaks of making the repetitive sukha-duhkhas equal in your mind. He wants Arjuna and all else devoted to his instructions, to understand, instil and preserve equanimity in their mind. The very sukha-duhkhas as well as the senses, mind and intelligence that seem to cause them, will themselves inspire, force and persuade the seeker to practise and pursue the inner equanimity. Something more.
All dvandvas result in sukha-duhkhas alone
You may live in any manner, doing whatever and wherever you like, aspiring and meeting many an individual, engaged in many an act, interacting with various persons, places and events. Despite all this variety and compulsions, all you will have to face and undergo will be sukha and duhkha alone, the repetitive pair of opposites.
Mind you, the entire life as well as the world is full of dvandvas, pairs of opposites – good and bad, virtue and vice, gain and loss, heaven and hell, previous life and this life, this life and next life, gross and subtle, outside and inside, victory and defeat, friends and foes, men and women, yesterday and today, today and tomorrow, day and night, summer and winter, ups and downs, etc.! Whether objective or subjective, they can cause or bring only the sukha-duhkha alternates. The entire life in the world thus is synonymous with sukha-duhkhas. And you have to become even and uniform towards the two. Such equanimity includes and comprehends all experiences and knowledge emanating from the whole world and life.
A beautiful formula to be a master of the world
Thus, Krishna gives you a beautiful formula to lead and guide your life. Sukha-duhkha-samatva, the sublime attitude, is the resolve and pursuit, whereby you can meet any eventuality with ease and stability, and be a master of the world. Follow this, and be dexterous in leading your life. Understand the magnitude and might of the attitude of samatva towards sukha-duhkhas. Nothing in your life or world is besides or beyond sukha-duhkhas. Sukha-duhkhas enfold and comprehend all actions, thoughts, reason and ego-creations. All these will irresistibly lose their power to disturb or dislodge your stability, peace and harmony.
On the other hand, everything will stand sublimated and resolved, giving rise to a full homogeneity radiating fullness, abundance and fulfilment. It is a dimensional ascent in your inner personality. I want you to comprehend the depth, vastness and profundity of samatva pursuit, its relevance and absoluteness.
Gain and loss, victory and defeat
Krishna has added only two more pairs of opposites to the sukha-duhkha pair, namely gain and loss, victory and defeat. It is for you to add as many more as you want. But all of them will have no prevalence in the endless ocean of sukha-duhkha-samatva. All activities and interactions, together with whatever they bring or cause, will but be the waves arising and subsiding in the vast, deep ocean of your mind-samatva. Grasp your inner depth and loftiness. What more can or need anyone aspire for and attain?
“You will not incur sin”
The second half of the verse is also immensely significant and relevant. After emphasizing the need for equalness and equanimity, see how Krishna steps up his exhortation: “Equipped with equanimity, get up, O Arjuna, ready to fight. Feel sure that you will not incur sin at all.”
Dear souls, understand that spiritual wisdom is to help and strengthen your mind and intelligence to undertake any and all activities necessary in your life. Do not shrink from any responsibility, however baffling or tormenting it may be. Knowledge and enlightenment are the one source that should inspire human life every time, everywhere. Krishna spoke to Arjuna, and Arjuna heard what all Krishna said. Krishna’s intention is not to dissuade Arjuna from activities, however troublesome and afflicting they are. If anything needs to be done, do it by all means. Spiritual wisdom is meant to give you all the necessary strength and confidence for the purpose.
Krishna assures Arjuna that by battling he will not incur any sin at all. Like so many other dvandvas, papa and punya, sin and virtue, are also a set. The attitude towards it is the same samatva, as you feel to all other pairs of opposites. If you live and move with samatva, no sin will touch you, and no virtue will have to grace you either. All the grace is in the samatva practice itself. Sin and virtue will be like any and all other dvandvas. Where is the need then to cook up sin, and then grieve and fear about it unduly? It is a question of developing a clear insight.
Do not shun activity at all
The entire Bhagavad Gita enlightens and empowers Arjuna to fight the war. The enlightenment is equally applicable to all others as well, in their respective fields of activity and interaction. The message is universal. It exhorts all to be sufficiently active and interactive. Do not shun activity at all. Do not be a hypocrite, pretending to be inactive or a renunciate, nonetheless thinking always about the objects and interactions with them.
When samatva grows abundantly towards sukha and duhkha, by the same token the sin and virtue also will be harmonized with evenness. Let the world be what it is. Be equanimous towards everything and all. What a wonderful harmony, integration, comprehensiveness and fulfilment!
Self-knowledge and samatva lead to the same goal
Do not miss the point: Whatever the intelligence seeks and gains through the lofty, esoteric Self-knowledge, the ultimate spiritual achievement, the same is gained with facility by the pursuit of equanimity as well. You can easily, comfortably, apply this divine attitude throughout your wakeful activities and interactions. Every interaction will only strengthen the place and importance of equanimity – samatva. You will be getting steeped in it more and more every time. It is like pouring water into a jar, filling it every time.
Interactions become the means for growing samatva in the mind. They will alone be sufficient to bestow samatva and the consequent spiritual fulfilment. Knowledge of Sankhya is the same as samatva in daily activities and interactions. Judge well, the complementariness of both as a full spiritual sadhana. The achievement in both is the same inner sameness, evenness, equanimity.
Grief and fear are unfounded
The second half of the verse 2.38 is thus especially important and its message is arresting, sterling! Equipped greatly by inner samatva, if one proceeds with his activities and interactions, as Arjuna is called upon to, there will be no effect or outcome called sin. Krishna’s words are quite distinct and forceful: “Therefore, get up with full readiness to fight.” Remember, Arjuna turned to Krishna seeking advice and instruction as a sequel to the colossal war that confronted him, generating turbulent emotions of grief and fear, sinfulness being their sole pivot.
“Make sukha and duhkha equal in your mind and vision. Let there be no preference towards sukha and no abhorrence to duhkha. Both are equal facets of human life.”
“Fostering equality and impartiality towards sukha and duhkha alike is the only option for the wise, to live in this world and move forward steadily and gloriously.”
“Sukha-duhkha-samatva, the sublime attitude, is the resolve and pursuit, whereby you can meet any eventuality with ease and stability, and be a master of the world.”
“Dear souls, understand that spiritual wisdom is to help and strengthen your mind and intelligence to undertake any and all activities necessary in your life. Do not shrink from any responsibility, however baffling or tormenting it may be. ”
“When samatva grows abundantly towards sukha and duhkha, by the same token the sin and virtue also will be harmonized with evenness. Let the world be what it is. Be equanimous towards everything and all. ”
“Knowledge of Sankhya is the same as samatva in daily activities and interactions. The achievement in both is the same inner sameness, evenness, equanimity.”