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The original Sanskrit verses and
(word for word translated) of the
Mahābhārata, Bhīshma Parva ch. 23-40.

with comments taken from the writings of




'Detachment from All that is Material' 
A story from the Bhāgavatam [SB
11:9, 5-12]

(5) 'Once arrived at the house of a young girl 
that wished herself to be a wife 
and of whom all the relatives were gone to another place, 
a couple of men that she received with great hospitality. 
(6) Being alone did she, for her guests to eat, 
beat rice so that the conch shell bracelets 
on her forearms made a lot of noise. 
(7) She being shy ashamed of that [servant-] noise, 
thinking intelligently broke one by one the shell bracelets 
from her arms, leaving but two on each wrist. 
(8) Still was there of those two, with her husking the rice, 
the noise of course, so that, as she separated one from each of the two 
leaving one only, not a sound was heard. 
(9) Me wandering the places in search of the truth of the world, 
o subduer of the enemies, with my own eyes witnessed this girl's lesson. 
(10) In a place with many people will quarrels rise, 
even with two people alone conversing; 
for sure one should therefore live like the young girlś bracelet. 
(11) By detachment and a regulated practice [vairāgya and abhyāsa] 
should the mind be steadied, with care being fixed by having conquered 
one's breathing in sitting postures [see also B.G.6:10-15 and 6:46-47]. 
(12) Having obtained permanence in that position, 
step by step giving up the contamination of karma, 
achieves that very mind nirvāna by the having grown strong 
in sattva forsaking of the fuel of rajas and tamas 
[to the fire of material existence, see also B.G. 6:26 and 14:6-8].'

1 2a 2b 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18a 18b


Chapter 12
The Yoga of Devotion
'On fixing oneself on the ultimate of perfection'
Bhakti Yoga



      More than the adherent of the path of karma, jāna or yoga, the follower of the path of bhakti is declared fortunate and superior. He is better than the yogī, the sannyāsī, the jānī and the sadhaka who takes up the discipline of karma. - Prasanthi Vahini, p. 76



     " Listen to this chapter sung!  "
[Slokas 8 to 20]

" Listen to this spoken chapter in Audio "

      Verse 1.

 arjuna uvāca
evam satatā-yukta ye
bhaktās tvām paryupāsate
ye cāpy aksharam avyaktām
teshām ke yoga-vittamāh

      Arjuna asked with a smile and a little tremor of the lips, "Lord! I realize that You are pleased with undeviating single-pointed devotion. But are You pleased with the worship of You-with-form or You-without-form? Do You prefer sakara upasana or nirakara upasana? Which melts You more and contributes to success in getting Your Blessings? Which is easier for the sadhaka and more welcome to You? Please tell me." - Gītā Vahini, p. 176

 Verse 2.

śrī bhagavān uvāca
mayy āveśya mano ye mām
nitya-yuktā upāsate
śraddhayā parayopetās
te me yuktatamā matāh

      Krishna was happy that this question was asked. He said, "Arjuna! I do not make any distinction between the two. I am pleased, however I am worshiped, provided the mind is saturated with Me and there is steady faith in every act, word and thought." Arjuna intercepted with the query, "Krishna! Are mere purity of heart and steady faith enough? Do not sex or status as fixed by caste or the stage of life form obstacles to success?" Krishna chided Arjuna and replied, "I am surprised that you should ask such questions after going through all of this experience. Do you not realize that for those who have fixed their minds on God, who have reposed in Me, the Personification of Truth, eternal and pure, there will not be an iota of 'identification of the self with the body', (deha-bhranthi) ... if they have still the awareness of sex or caste or stage of life with all the attendant pride, humility, etc., it only reveals that they have not surrendered their minds to God. For those who have rid themselves of attachment to the body, there will not be the distraction of caste, status, etc.

      "But the āśrama dharma and the varna dharma (the codes of conduct prescribed for the castes and for those in the four stages of life (student (brahmacāri), house-holder (grihastha), recluse (vānaprastha) and monk (sannyāsa)) do not hinder in any way the discipline of fixing the mind on God or of purifying the mind of evil or worshipping the Lord through all one's actions, words and thoughts. The distinctions of sex or caste or status or stage of life affect only those who live in the awareness of the body as reality and act as if the world is absolute and eternal." - Gītā Vahini, p. 176-7

Verse 3-4.

ye tv aksharam anirdeśyam
avyaktam paryupāsate
sarvatra-gam acintyam ca
kūthastham acalam dhruvam 

sarvatra sama-buddhayah
te prāpnuvanti mām eva
sarva-bhūta-hite ratāh

Verse 5.

kleśo 'dhikataras teshām
avyaktā hi gatir duhkham
dehavadbhir avāpyate

     At this, Arjuna said, "Krishna! The contemplation of the formless characteristicless nirguna-nirakara is very difficult, is it not, for those with deha-bhranthi or identification of the self with the body? The worship of the form-ful aspect of God, which is in reach of the ordinary man, can this yield purity of mind, purity of inner instruments of consciousness? Please enlighten me.

      "Arjuna! People think that the worship of God with form and attributes is quite enough. This discipline will only be of some help; it will guide the person along the road for a little while. For the Lord will not condescend to grant liberation for just this! For he who aims at liberation must first give up attachment to the body. Without that, the atmic stage cannot be attained. The identification with the body is the expression of ignorance. The ātmā must be recognized as distinct from the prakriti." - Gītā Vahini, p. 177-8

Verse 6-7.

ye tu sarvāni karmāni
mayi sannyāsya mat-parāh
ananyenaiva yogena
mām dhyāyanta upāsate

teshām aham samuddhartā
bhavāmi na cirāt pārtha
mayy āveśita-cetasām

      Dedicate all worship, all adoration, all Vedic rituals and other vows and vigils with all the fruits that may accrue, to Me. Take Me as the ultimate goal, as the final aim which transforms all acts into worship; fix your mind on Me, meditate on Me; I shall then shower My Grace and take you across the ocean of change, of samsāra; I shall favor you with the goal you seek. Arjuna! It is not an easy task to fix your mind steadily on Me. Not everyone can succeed in this. However long the practice, it is hard to keep the mind on Me, without deflecting it towards other things or ideas." - Gītā Vahini, p. 179
Verse 8.

mayy eva mana ādhatsva
mayi buddhim niveśaya
nivasishyasi mayy eva
ata ūrdhvam na samśayah

Verse 9.

atha cittam samādhātum
na śaknoshi mayi sthiram
abhyāsa-yogena tato
mām icchāptum dhanajaya

      "You might therefore ask, 'Have we no other means?' My reply is, 'Yes, there iś. Even those who are eager to engage themselves in acts that please Me can get established in the atmic consciousness and gain liberation. By means of prayer, recitation of the name, adoration of the glory, worship, etc., the sins of the past can be destroyed, the inner consciousness purified of impulses and urges; then the light of wisdom will dawn, leading to liberation from darkness." - Gītā Vahini, p. 179

Verse 10.

abhyāse 'py asamartho 'si
mat-karma-paramo bhava
mad-artham api karmāni
kurvan siddhim avāpsyasi

      Devotion to the Lord is only a form of discipline to reach the goal. The seeker should not stop with the acquisition of devotion; he should pay attention not so much to the devotion or love that he has toward the Lord, but to the love and grace that the Lord bestows on him! He must always be eager to find out which behavior of his, what acts of his, will be most pleasing to the Lord, will fill the Lord with anandam. Inquire about that, yearn for that, carry out the things that will secure that objective - be engaged in acts conducive to gain it - that is real bhakti.

      But people generally do not follow this ideal of bhakti, nor do they think about the implication of that ideal. They pay attention only to the love that the devotee has to the Lord; and in the process, they do not pay much attention to the dharma and the karma that the Lord approves or appreciates! This is why Krishna says, "Karma that pleases the Lord is superior to the kama that fulfills the yearnings of the devotee." Whatever the devotee does or thinks or plans or observes, they should draw down the grace of God". They should not be subject to his own will; they should be in accordance with His Will. The devotee must test every thought and feeling on the touchstone of the Lord's declared preferences. - Gītā Vahini, p. 179-80.

Verse 11.

athaitad apy aśakto 'si
kartum mad-yogam āśritah
tatah kuru yatātmavān

      This is that path: Establish your mind and intelligence in Me. If you cannot accomplish this and find it difficult, give up your egoism and carry on activities that are moral and holy. If even this is too difficult, give up attachment to the fruits, the consequences of all your acts; offer them to Me as Krishna-arpanam. Offering your acts to Me should not be a mere vocal exercise. Take care that you do so, by word, by deed and by thought, mano-vak-kaya-karma, as they say.- Gītā Vahini, p. 187.

Verse 12.

śreyo hi jānam abhyāsāj
jānād dhyānam viśishyate
dhyānat karma-phala-tyāgas
tyāgāc chāntir anantaram

      Take note of this. The aspirant for grace must have before his mind the act and not its consequence, beneficial or otherwise. That is the reason why Gopala said that jāna is superior to abhyāsā, dhyāna is superior to jāna, and the giving up of attachment to the consequences of your acts is superior to dhyāna. Such nonattachment, Krishna said, will confer śāntih. - Gītā Vahini, p. 187

      The Gītā says, śreyo hi jānam abhyāsāj. Abhyāsā or practice is the crux of the problem. Through that, victory can be won. Concentration can be mastered in dhyāna and this will lead to disinterestedness in the results of one's actions, for the actions are not one's own, but God's. The results too are not one's; they are God's. When you become detached from the fruits of your actions, though intent on action (offering to the Lord your skill and energy), then, you attain peace of mind, prasanthi. If, however, you cultivate attachment to the things of the world, land and houses, bank balances and insignia of power, then attachment towards God weakens and concentration in dhyāna fails - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, p. 407

Verse 13-14.

adveshthā sarva-bhūtānām
maitrah karuna eva ca
nirmamo nirahankārah
sama-duhkha-sukhah kshamī

santushthah satatam yogī
yatātmā dridha-niścayah
mayy arpita-mano-buddhir
yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah 

      See God in every being; and then, true sneha (affection, tenderness, love) will blossom. This type of true sneha can come only when you follow the advice of Krishna: "He who has no trace of hatred towards any creature, who is friendly towards all and compassionate, who is free from the bondage of 'I' and 'Mine', who takes pleasure and pain as equally welcome, and who is forbearing in spite of provocation ... "

      These are the signs of true sneha, and it is only when you are on the godward journey along the nine stages of bhakti that you can attain this divine ideal of true friendship - Sanathana Sarathi, Sept. 1979, p. 167

      "That is to say, you will have to rid yourself of the feelings of 'Mine' and 'I'. They are not distinct; the first springs from the second and both arise from ajāna, the ignorance of the fundamental truth. For, once rid of ajāna, the sense of 'I' and 'Mine' will not give trouble; they have no place in him. Hence, it is laid down that the aspirant for bhakti must possess santushthah satatam, contentment always. What does this mean? It implies contentment under all conditions, good health or illness, loss or profit, grief or joy. Whether one's wish is fulfilled or not, the mind should not lose equanimity and poise. - Gītā Vahini, p. 189

      The Gītā says you must be adveshthā sarva-bhūtānām, without hatred to all beings; but, that is not enough. A wall has no hatred towards any being! But, is that the ideal? No. You must positively love all beings, actively love, actively engage yourself in acts of love. That alone can win the grace you crave for. - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, pp. 465-6

Verse 15.

yasmān nodvijate loko
lokān nodvijate ca yah
mukto yah sa ca me priyah

      The mind loses balance if the slightest obstacle arises in the path it frames for itself. It is so fickle. Why, if the cup of coffee is not forthcoming in time, if you miss seeing two films in one week, if you could not squat before the radio both in the morning and the evening for long hours; if many such trifles are denied or disturbed, you feel overshadowed by discontent. Santushthah is the state of mind that is unaffected by the achievement or non-achievement of any wish, the happening or nonhappening of any event; the mind must be undisturbed, without excitement or disappointment - Gītā Vahini, p. 189-90

Verse 16.

anapekshah śucir daksha
udāsīno gata-vyathah
yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah

Verse 17.

yo na hrishyati na dveshthi
na śocati na kānkshati
bhaktimān yah sa me priyah

      The Gītā declares that though a person may have deep devotion to the Lord, he cannot be called a bhakta if he lives without regard to the commands of the Lord; that is, the dharma laid down in the śāstras, which embody His orders, revealed to saints and seers. It is in this sense that Krishna uses the word bhaktimān, when He declares in the Gītā, 'bhaktimān yah sa me priyah'. - Gītā Vahini, p. 180

Verse 18-19.

samah śatrau ca mitre ca
tathā mānāpamānayoh
samah sanga-vivarjitah 

tulya-nindā-stutir maunī
santushtho yena kenacit
aniketah sthira-matir
bhaktimān me priyo narah

Verse 20.

ye tu dharmyāmritam idam
yathoktam paryupāsate
śraddadhānā mat-paramā
bhaktās te 'tīva me priyāh

      What a grand idea this sloka conveys! This is the concluding sloka of the series that gives the qualities one has to develop. It calls the entire group dharmyāmritam, the dharmic way to immortality! The Lord has declared therein that those who have these qualities, those who trust in Him as the only ultimate goal, those who are attached to Him single-mindedly are dearest and nearest to Him.

      Note the expression dharmyāmritam used here. Ponder over it and draw inspiration from it. The nectar of the Lord's grace is deserved only by those who adhere to the Lord's dharma. Simple folk believe they have bhakti towards the Lord; but they do not pause to inquire whether the Lord has love towards them! People who pine to discover this are rather rare. That is really the true measure of spiritual success. - Dharma Vahini, p. 18










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