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A technique for non-attachment PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

Gita has a simple beginning. Simplicity is the hallmark of Gita. No conditions are attached. No high sounding sermons appear. Gita happened at the time of Mahabharata war. The book starts with a simple question, a simple request, and a simple desire. Krishna has been scientific, methodical and very practical. There is great depth in Gita, but it is obtained and attained by simple conversations. And there is a flow in Gita as well. One has to open the heart and let Gita flow. And when Shankaracharya felt this depth and flow his heart sang in ecstasy:


Bhaj Govindam, Bhaj Govindam
Govindam bhaj, murha matey
Sampraptey Sannihitey Kaley
Na Hi Na Hi rakshati duukrina karane (1)

Satsangatvey nissangatvam
Nissangatvey nirmohatvam
nirmohatvey nischaltattvam
nischaltattvey jeevanmuktih (9)

Bhaj Govindam.....

Bhagavadgita kinchitdheeta
Ganga jalaalvakaanikaa peeta
Saakridaapi yeena muuraarisamaarcha
Kriyatey tamya yameyna na charcha (20)

Satsangatve nissangatvam
Shankara here has give clues that form the four steps to Samaadhi or say enlightenment. It forms simple yet definitive steps. Many Gurus and spiritual masters teach to us that desire (moha) should be dropped and there are zillions of people trying to practice ‘dropping of the desires.’

Shankara knows better. And this is Krishna’s approach in Gita as well. Moha or desire is not like a cricket ball that you catch or drop. It is more like a habit or addiction. J Krishnamurthy calls it conditioning. No body has quit smoking by throwing a packet of cigarette. The individual when ready to quit, throws the packets of cigarette, but only when the individual changes that this happens. Similarly no body quits drinking by breaking a bottle of Johny Walker whiskey. Again, once the changes in the individual happen, he is ready to throw away the bottles. The change to get rid of a habit or addiction has to happen at the level of the personality and outlook of the individual concerned.

Shankara therefore starts at the level of an individual and emphasizes the importance of satsang as the starting point. Satsang is similar to right company. We all know that for advancement of our career we need the right company. I as a urologist go to urological conferences and socialize with other urologists. We listen to talks and interact. We come back to our towns and apply that knowledge in our practice. There are conferences in every topic around the country and people come for developing better understanding in their field of interest. There is no reason to get attached or hooked to these conferences; there is no need to get attached to these conventions.

Similarly, in the field of spiritualism satsang should lead to nissang (anasakti or non-attachment). This is so significant and is worth pondering over. Basically, Shankara here is defining what satsang is. Any company that leads to non-attachment is satsang. Conversely, if it does not lead to non-attachment, then it is not a satsang. This is immensely helpful in finding the right Guru. This is just one simple formula. If a Guru tries to bind you down and is producing attachment, he is not the right Guru. A Guru who is simply pointing his fingers to the direction you should go and is showing you the path to non-attachment (anasakti or nissang) is the right Guru for you or me.

What is satsang and how does it work? And the missing link is awareness. The guru or the right company encourages you or me to bring awareness to our lives. This company of awareness is ultimately the right company or the true satsang. The awareness that ‘every action occurs at the periphery and nothing happens at the center’ is the starting point. And then, by and by, it becomes obvious that the natural state of being is non-attachment. There is never a connection between me the center and I the periphery. And this realization is the realization of anasakti or non-attachment.

Krishna does talk about abhyas (practice) yoga and he lays a lot of emphasis on this yoga. But we have to know what we have to practice. We cannot and should not try to practice non-attachment, because it is not an acquired phenomenon; non-attachment is our default status, it is the natural state of being. All we have to do is realize it. But practice is required and the practice is required in bringing our awareness to it. The mind likes to get attached to the periphery and keep us busy there. Practice is needed in bringing it to the center and keeping it there. Acts will still continue, but will continue with awareness. All techniques of meditation and all modes of satsang try to make this happen. And once this becomes the steady state, it becomes hard to get attached or detached.

It is also important to realize that both attachment and detachment happen at the periphery and that effort is needed for both. To come close to some one needs effort and similarly effort is needed to hate some one as well. Non-attachment does not require an effort; it is simply realization of our natural state of being. And once it happens, it produces qualitative changes in life. There may not be any changes obvious to some one watching from outside. Krishna still eats food and drinks water. He still plays tricks like any one else, but there is qualitative difference in him and someone else doing the same thing. Krishna is established in the center, and all acts for him are happening at the periphery. There is no possibility of any attachment.

Satsang leads to non-attachment and in simple terms satsang is living life with awareness; satsang is spending time with the center and watching the actions at the periphery as a witness. Any company that promotes this to happen is the right company. We will examine how non-attachment leads to dropping of desires in the next column. Shankaracharya truly has taken the gist of Gita and put it in a formula for us here and it is worth spending some time on understanding these gems of Bhaj Govindam.

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