What does being free from all dualities mean wrt devotional service?
From Pandurang Charan P
In verse 5.3 – what does free from all duality mean with respect to devotional service. Can there be some duality and some non duality since the verse mentions ALL dualities, what does ALL mean from devotional perspective and how can one become free from all duality.
Transcribed by: Shalini Ahluwalia
Question: Question from Pandurang Charan Prabhu. What does being free from all dualities mean with respect to devotional service? Can there be freedom from some duality and some duality remains? What exactly does being free from all duality mean?
jneyah sa nitya-sannyasi
yo na dveshti na kankshati
nirdvandvo hi maha-baho
sukham bandhat pramucyate
So this verse is talking about, this is the verse based on which you are asking the question. So here Krishna is talking about a contrast between karma-sannyas and karamyoga and Krishna is recommending karmayoga. And he is saying such a karma yogi is a nitya-sannyasi, always renounced because na dveshti na kankshati – what causes bondage? Why does one want to take sannyas? Because otherwise one will get bound in material existence. Krishna is saying what causes bondage is the conception of liking and disliking, of dualities. Na dveshti na kankshati – if one is not having either aversion or attachment – nirdvandvo hi mahabaho sukham bandhat pramucyate – joyfully such a person will attain liberation, will attain freedom from bondage. So now Prabhupad translates nirdvandvo as all duality – in Sanskrit itself directly there is nothing like sarva dvandv vimuktaha or anything like that so emphatically but generally it is nirdvandvo. Now we have to look at the context of any verse to understand its applicability. So this verse is not talking about devotional service. It is talking about karmayoga. And in karmayoga the essential point is to go beyond the duality of matter to the unity of spirit. So now to rise thus from the duality of matter to the unity of spirit one needs to just reject the duality. But later on the Bhagavad Gita talks about spiritual emotions and talks about them in a positive sense. For example,
kathayantas ca mam nityam
tushyanti ca ramanti ca
tushyanti ca ramanti ca, tushyanti – one delights Krishna is saying. So that he is talking about spiritual happiness. So we don’t have to go beyond spiritual happiness. We want to relish spiritual happiness. In fact,
prajahati yada kaman
sarvan partha mano-gatan
atmany evatmana tushtah
So here we see Krishna is saying sarvan Kaman mano gatan prajahati. Give up all desires but then if one gives up all desires there is also the desire for happiness. Do we give up the desire for happiness also? But then Krishna is saying one will rejoice. Tushyati. How is that? Atmany. That is spritual happiness. One wants to go beyond material dualities and there is spiritual dualities that Krishna hints at in this verse but he doesn’t talk about it directly. So at the level of impersonal realisation there is just the atma’s nature of sacchidanand and there is some tushyati in that. But at the transcendental level there is the duality in the sense that there is union with Krishna and there is separation from Krishna. Although both are ecstatic the devotee who is separated from Krishna longs for union from Krishna. So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu longs where is Krishna, the Goswamis long where is Krishna? Where is Krishna? That is transcendental duality which of course is very elevated but there is duality at the transcendental level. Now for us as sadhakas do we consider duality? Not exactly duality in the sense in which we normally associate good and bad or pleasure and pain but Roop Goswami also talks about in the Bhaktirasamritsindhu which is quoted again in the Chaitanya Chariamrita – sajaatiya asha snigdha sanga – that associate with like-minded devotees. So now what do we mean by like-minded devotees? That means there are unlike-minded devotees also. So are we not differentiating? We don’t disrespect anyone but we do see who is like-minded and associate with them. And in bhakti it is said there are different levels of devotees – there is kanishthaadhikari, there is madhyamadhikari, there is uttamadhikari. And again we differentiate between them. So here although there is differentiation there is oneness in purpose. The purpose is serving Krishna, pleasing Krishna, going closer to Krishna. In that sense, that purpose is transcendental to duality. And that’s how a devotee remains transcendental to duality although devotee may discriminate. In fact the foundational principle of sharanagati is anukulasya sankalp pratikulasya varjanam – accept that which is favourable, reject that which is unfavourable. And in that way also we accept that it is transcendental duality – selection so that we can attain transcendence. And even with respect to material things we may discriminate – can this be engaged in Krishna’s service, can this not be engaged in Krishna’s service? So if it is engage-able then we engage, if it is not engage-able then we put aside. And in this way we move forward in our devotional service. We don’t normally use the word duality for this because it is transcendental and generally words have certain connotations, they have certain implications which may not be there in the word meanings but they come by their overall usage, nature of usage. So we just talk about this in terms of – discrimination, discerning what is right and what is wrong – and that devotee should certainly do. By that we will be able to advance steadily and swiftly in our spiritual life.
Thank you, Hare Krishna!