How to cultivate equanimity and detachment?

detachment, Krsna, Spirituality

Arjuna poses a very important question to Lord Krsna when He describes the qualities of the topmost yogi.

In Bhagavad Gita 6.32, Madhusudan says: “I consider that practising yogi who sees equally everything as equal to himself in all circumstances, whether in happiness or suffering, to be the topmost yogi.” This means that the highest yogi carries an equal vision for all. Whatever is applicable to him, it is also applicable to others. He sees Krsna as Paramatma seated in everyone’s heart, and everything around as Brahman manifestation of Krsna.

However to this verse, Arjuna poses a contemplative counter-question that given the nature of our capricious, agitated mind, it is quite difficult to have a permanent/lasting vision. The mind is strong and firm in its fickleness, and that is why it’s more arduous to control it than the wind.

The topmost yogi sees the happiness and distress of all living beings as his own. But how is it possible to embrace that same elevated quality, for the materially conditioned human beings who are caught up in personal likes and dislikes? We naturally carry favors for the ones we are attached to, and repulsion for the ones who hate or criticize us. Maybe through discriminating intelligence, one can have the equal vision for a few days, but the contaminated mind which is attracted to sensual pleasure and gratification can quickly overpower the intelligence.

The roots of attachment stay strong like a firm iron wall, and they cannot be cut simply by the piercing of the fine needle of intellect. What is the solution then?

Krsna agrees that the problem posed is definitely a challenge, but the mind can be gradually controlled by repeated practice and detachment.
When someone suffers from a chronic ailment, initially the administered medicine doesn’t seem effective. However, over time with systematic and correct dosage, the disease gets cured. Similarly, when the mind constantly wanders to the Viṣaya-vastu (worldly objects of pleasure), it is deemed spiritually sick, and it can be cured by persistent practice and vairāgya.

Are we capable of curing it by our will and determination alone? No. Everything, whether it’s our mind, ego, senses, intelligence, determination, etc. arise from the three modes of Prakr̥ti. And these three modes come under the influence of mahāmāyā-śakti.
In Bhagavad Gita 7.14, Lord Krsna says: “My divine energy Maya, consisting of the three modes of nature, is very difficult to overcome. But those who surrender unto Me cross over it easily.” Thus, it’s a futile endeavor if one is not surrendered in one’s heart to the Supreme Being, in order to master their mind and senses.

But this process of surrender, jñāna and vairāgya, is shown by a genuine guru. In Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3.21-22, it is mentioned: “Someone eager to know about the highest good, should therefore take shelter of a spiritual master who resides in the supreme tranquility of the Absolute Truth, and is also well versed in the conclusions of the Vedas. With the guru as one’s soul and worshipable deity, one should learn the science of devotional service [the bhāgavata dharma or emancipation process],by which, free from illusion being of faithful service, the Supreme Soul can be satisfied who bestows His own Self.” This in particular was answered by Sri Prabuddha to the question by honorable King Nimi, ‘Oh great sage, please tell how [even] materialistic people with ease may overcome this material energy of the Lord that is so unsurpassable for those lacking in self-control?’

Also in Bhagavad Gita 4.34-35, Krsna stresses the importance of a guru: “Know this knowledge(atma-jnana) by surrender, questioning and service! The seers of this truth, the jnanis, will teach you this knowledge. O son of Pandu, knowing this, you will no longer be bewildered. By this loss of bewilderment, you will see all entities situated as individual ātmās and as my products.”

However, if one hasn’t yet found a Sadguru, then they should sincerely practice Nāma-japa, hearing and chanting Lord’s name and glory, as there is no difference between the nāma and Bhagavān Himself. The constant chanting of the holy name leads one to the right guru, without one having to exercise one’s intellectual capacity. The Sadguru is beyond our material perception since He is sent by the Lord Himself, as a form of mercy. So first we surrender to Krsna’s holy names and chant earnestly, with the intention to purify our hearts and minds, and seek association of saintly persons and authentic guru. The anartha-nivṛtti happens gradually. We should also stay away from nāma-aparādha and vaišhńav-aparādha as much as possible. (I will make a separate article about it.)

We come to ascertain this through what many sādhus speak through their experience, and also this verse in Srimad Bhgavatam 12.3.51- 52 confirms : “My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the holy names of Krsna, one can become free from material bondage and attain supreme bliss. The same result one achieves in Satya-yuga by meditating on Viṣṇu, one in Tretā-yuga achieves by worshiping with sacrifices, one in Dvāpara-yuga achieves by serving the lotus feet [of Him in the form of a king], one in Kali-yuga achieves by singing about [and meditating on the names of] the Lord.”

In Bhagavad Gita verse 6.46-47, Krsna calls the yogi better than all the tapasvis, jnanis, and karma yogis. But He considers that yogi who worships Him with faith, with mind attached to Him, to be greater than all types of yogis. Here, Krsna is talking about the yogi who worships Paramatma, the form of Krsna who resides in all the living beings.
For the ones specifically on the path of yoga-misra-Bhakti, Krsna asks in verse 6.15 to constantly engage the mind in meditation to the impersonal Brahman, and become situated in Him, as the consciousness of the atma becomes devoid of the sense objects, through destruction of the bondage to such objects.

Yet, Krsna calls in Bhagavad Gita 6.47, a devotee to be superior to all types of perfected yogis. In other words, among all the processes such as karma-yoga, Jnana-yoga, tapa-yoga, ashtanga-yoga and Bhakti-yoga, he who worships Krsna and is a devotee, has the best process. A devotee in the truest sense means someone who acts out of devotion and faith, and someone who has surrendered their everything to Krsna, without maintaining any sense of independence, pride, greed, desires and attachment to the worldly objects.

But we were talking about controlling the mind and attaining detachment by fixing our minds on the Paramatma. Does detachment come through devotion and surrender, or is it a separate practice?

In Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.42, it is stated: “Devotion, direct experience of the Supreme Lord, and detachment from other things — these three occur simultaneously for one who has taken shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the same way that pleasure, nourishment and relief from hunger come simultaneously and increasingly, with each bite, for a person engaged in eating.”
This yoga is not based on merging with the impersonal Brahman, but establishing a solid relationship with the Lord’s personal form.

In Bhagavad Gita 12.5, Shyamsundar says: “Those who are attached to the impersonal realization encounter extreme difficulties. Attaining the imperceptible, formless entity brings suffering to those who have bodies.” He has also mentioned previously in 12.2, “I consider those who worship me, desiring to associate with me constantly, absorbing their minds in me, endowed with faith beyond the gunas, to be the best knowers of yoga.”

In Srimad Bhagavatam 4.22.39-40, Sanat Kumar, the self-realized son of Brahma mentions, “The devotees who are constantly engaged in the service of the toes of the lotus feet of the Lord, can very easily overcome hard-knotted desires for fruitive activities. Because this is very difficult, the non-devotees- the jnanis and the yogis- although trying to stop the waves of sense gratification, cannot do so. Therefore you are advised to engage in the devotional service of Krsna, the son of Vasudeva. The ocean of nescience is very difficult to cross because it is infested with many dangerous sharks. Although those who are non-devotees undergo severe austerities and penances to cross that ocean, we recommend that you simply take the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord, which are like boats for crossing the ocean. Even though that ocean of maya is difficult to cross, by taking shelter of His lotus feet, you will overcome all dangers.”

The goal of impersonal Brahman can also be achieved only by a mixture of Bhakti, else it simply gives suffering, and not Brahman realization. Lord Brahma himself says in SB 10.14.4 that one who simply speculates cannot attain self-realization; he only gets troubled while contemplating. It is like an act of beating an empty husk of wheat to get grain.

Devotion naturally gives us the realization that Krsna is present in each and everything around us. All the jivas stay covered by the beginningless avidya through the Lord’s maya-shakti, and forget their own original svarupa and relationship to Krsna. We begin thinking that we are this body, the clothes we wear, the status we hold, the material assets we possess,etc. We grow roots of deep attachment to our mother, father, wife/husband, kids, friends assuming that they will last forever. But in truth, everything is transient except Krsna through whom all the jivas arise. Our bodies made up of the five elements doesn’t sustain for eternity. We go through the phases of childhood, youth and old age, without even knowing for certain when we will die. And yet, we are so scared to face our death, desiring to prolong our lifespan through any means possible?

However, what is the use of such a life where we stay in a consciousness devoid of Krsna? We are truly living only when despite having all the worldly responsibilities, we stay rooted in our faith and love towards Krsna, and make every life decision filter through that lens. Else we are as good as a corpse, even though in our material body we seem to be functioning.

“The head decorated with turban and crown, which does not bow to Krsna, is simply a heavy weight which will sink the person in samsara. The hands which do not make offerings to the Lord, though decorated with glittering gold bracelets, are those of a dead person.” -SB 2.3.21.

This means that no matter who we are in this material realm, no matter what status we hold, no matter the amount of wealth we have, if we do not bow down to Krsna who is the Supreme controller, the possessor of all the shaktis, having six opulences namely: wealth, fame, strength, influence, beauty and renunciation, and unlimited other qualities, we are like a dead person, and our attachments will sink us deeper in the material world.

All the jivas stay covered by the five anarthas: avidyā, asmitā, rāga, dveṣa and abhiniveśa. Avidyā makes us think that the temporary things are real, and that which isn’t real to be our true self. Asmitā is attachment of one’s ego to the body. Rāga gives us intense desire to accumulate material objects, and leads to attachment to such objects. Dveṣa(hatred) arises when something stands as an obstacle in the path of our wordly desires. Abhiniveśa gives us fear of death because we become completely absorbed in our bodies. These anarthas control our mind and cause six passions: lust, anger, greed, delusory emotional attachment, pride and envy. These are the reasons why we become unable to see Paramatma in everyone.

The anartha nivritti happens through sadhu-sanga, association of pure devotees, service to an authentic guru and sincerely hearing, chanting and remembering the names and glories of the Lord. If the association is not available for whatever reasons, we should stay focused in our remembrance, chanting and hearing about Krsna. For the jñāna-yogis, this can take the form of meditating on the universal form of the Lord, then focusing on Paramatma within the Self, and chanting Aum.

Every time our mind tries to agitate us, through awareness, we should bring our attention back to Krsna remembering Lord Shiva’s words, “Uma kahaun mei anubhava apna, Sat Hari bhajan jagat sab sapna”, which means, “O Devi Uma! I speak this from my experience that the only truth is the remembrance of Lord Hari; except that the entire world is an illusion.”

Our senses should be in constant service to Brajendra-Nandana. They are not meant for personal pleasure. We have to become eager to only see and drink the nectar of the Lord’s beauty; we have to listen only about His sweetness and glories; we have to internally smell his beautiful feet, flowers, body and stay absorbed in it; our lips and tongue should be talking only about Him. Our hands should be in service to Him thinking that we do the household chores or job as a seva to Krsna, because it is all given by Him. Nothing belongs to us; we are simply caretaking of our family, parents, kids, coworkers, etc. as a form of service to Krsna, and not to grow personal attachments. Happiness and suffering arise when we forget these core aspects of devotion and surrender.

When we execute our responsibilities externally, but internally we offer our entire existence to Krsna, the detachment naturally comes. When our mind tries to run around seeing faults in everyone else, and desires selfish pleasures, we should constantly ask ourselves if doing that particular thing pleases Krsna. Within our hearts, we always know the right answer. Our mind tries to convince us through all the leaks in our faith, about giving in and enjoying for a while. But that in itself is a matter of practice.

Nilsundar is the Supreme controller of the entire creation. He is the cause of all the causes. He is the wielder of all kinds of Shaktis and through His will, the entire creation, maintenance and destruction takes place. When we surrender with no other desire but to attain Him according to our bhava, and give up all sense of ownership and control of our lives, knowing that He alone is in charge, He out of love and compassion lifts up the veil of maya. We start seeing the Absolute, eternal truth about the existence of all the jivas in relation to Him.

Hence, this completes our discussion about the method to bring our minds under control.