Patanjali Yoga Sutra — 1.33॥maitrī karuṇāmuditopekṣāṇāṃ sukhaduḥkhapuṇyāpuṇya viṣayāṇāṃ bhāvanātaścittaprasādanam

By developing friendliness towards delightful, sympathy towards distressed, gladness at pious men, indifference or unresponsiveness towards demoniac or the wicked, sādhaka achieves quietude or peacefulness.

There are three branches in philosophy:

  1. Ontology: ‘Ontos’ means ‘Being’, ‘State of affairs’, ‘Status’, ‘Nature’. For example, if I question ‘What is God?’ it is an ontological question.
  2. Epistemology: ‘Epistem’ means knowing. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy dealing with knowledge. For example, if I question ‘How do I know God?’ it is an epistemological question.
  3. Axiology: The branch of philosophy dealing with values is Axiology. For example, if I question, ‘Is it good to know God?’ it is an ethical question and thus axiological.

Normally Philosophy answers any of these three questions.

This particular sutra deals with the methodology of quietening the mind; thus, dealing with ‘How’ aspect. Hence, it is ‘Epistemological’ in nature.

Just imagine the state of mind of a person who displays enviousness towards delightful, indifference towards distressed, sadness towards virtue, sharp reciprocative retort for every incitation by a demoniac. Alas! God only should save him. When milk is stored in an unclean bottle, it gets spoiled in no time; but remains unsullied when stored in a clean bottle. In the same way, if the ambrosia of scriptural teachings is given to an unripe, impure person, it gets stained.

In this sūtra, Patañjali Maharṣi conveys four more ways to the path of spiritual upliftment and yogic advancement.

  1. Maitri (Friendship): Normally, we develop a friendship with people for the following four reasons:

i. Vyāsaṅga (Education) maitri (Conducive for spiritual growth)

ii. Vyavahāra (Business) maitri

iii. Vyavasāya (Creativity) maitri

iv. Vyasana (Bad habits) maitri

  1. Mudita: Gladness at another is possible only when one loves that another.
  2. Karuṇā: Compassion towards distressed can be achieved only when one sees the Supreme Soul in everyone.
  3. Upekṣā: Indifference towards the wicked is accomplished only when one raises above the rest with magnanimity.

The word ‘cittaprasādanam’ in this aphorism implies, being composed, unperturbed by dualities like success or failure, loss or gain, honor or humiliation, tribute or disgrace, praise or curse, etc. The aforesaid ethical principles advocated by Patañjali Maharṣi are very effective in achieving this end.

Bhagavān says:

श्रेयः स नित्यसन्न्यासी यो न द्वेष्टि न काङ्क्षति।

निर्द्वन्द्वो हि महाबाहो सुखं बन्धात्प्रमुच्यते॥गीता ५.३॥

śreyaḥ sa nityasannyāsī yo na dveṣṭi na kāṅkṣati |

nirdvandvo hi mahābāho sukhaṁ bandhātpramucyateGītā 5.3

मय्येव मन आधस्त्व मयि बुद्धिं निवेशय।

निवसिष्यसि मय्येव अत ऊर्ध्वं न संशयः॥गीता १२.०८॥

mayyeva mana ādhatsva mayi buddhiṃ niveśaya|

nivasiśyasi mayyeva ata ūrdhvaṃ na saṃśayaḥ Gītā 12.8

Arjuna, a sādhaka should be considered renounced, when he hates none and desires nothing. Such a Yogi, having transcended the dualities, undoubtedly gets established in serenity and will be liberated from all kinds of bondage (that which binds him to the mundane world).

This does not mean that he is blind to what all happens around him. He is ever engaged in his karmas without being attached to the end results. Great sādhakas never sat quiet, blindfolded. They were the first to respond to social needs. Even today, great yogis, spiritual leaders are actively participating in social services in areas affected by floods, famines, earthquakes, etc.

  1. Mumukṣu: A spiritual sādhaka interested in his own liberation.
  2. Bubukṣu: Endowed with all the four qualities namely, maitri, mudita, karuṇā and upekṣa, one who feels alleviation of suffering of the fellow beings more important than his own emancipation.

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