Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Song of God (Bhagavad Gita) — Chapter 14: 24-25

October 12, 2018

samaduḥkhasukhaḥ svasthaḥ samaloṣṭāśmakāñcanaḥ
tulyapriyāpriyo dhīras tulyanindātmasaṁstutiḥ (XIV-24)

™mānāpamānayos tulyas tulyo mitrāripakṣayoḥ
sarvāraṁbhaparityāgī guṇātītaḥ sa ucyate (XIV-25)

XIV/24. Alike in pleasure and pain, who dwells in the self,
to whom a clod of earth, stone and gold are alike, to whom
the dear and the unfriendly are alike, firm, the same in censure
and praise,

XIV/25. The  same  in  honor  and  dishonor,  the  same
to  friend  and  foe, abandoning all undertakings – he
is said to have crossed the qualities.

Swamiji's Commentary

      These verses refer to the inner attitude of non-attachment and non-identification with the world, body and senses, not to any physical activity or inactivity. Ignorance of this great truth will inevitably lead the aspirant to tāmasa inertia, heedlessness, delusion and destruction. Cultivate the inner attitude; the activity will take care of itself.

      ‘To whom a clod of earth, stone and gold are alike’ has given rise to grotesque misinterpretations. People imagine that the sage sweeps away  golden ornaments, treat- ing them as dirt. Only madmen do so; sages are not mad – even if their conduct is regarded eccentric by our perverted intelligence! To them, a piece of gold, a stone and a clod of earth all have their own particular use and value – none greater than the other. Hence, they are all alike.

      ‘Abandoning all undertakings’ has also been taken to mean a life of automation or sheer laziness – a deliberate suppression of all urge to life and activity. However, the sage knows his body, vital sheath and even his mental frame are all products of matter together with the guṇā that govern all physical phenomena. He has crossed over them. It is only while one is crossing a stream that one tries to float along with the current or swim against it. Once on the other bank it matters not whether the current stops, flows or dries up.

      One who has thus crossed the guṇā will similarly not bother himself about what matter (including his body and mind) does. However, it is clear that he will not do evil, for the evil fuel of desire is absent. Through him the divine works; it knows what to do with God’s creation (clay and gold) and in his creation (what activities to undertake). In such a sage, life flows in total harmony and bliss.

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