यत्तदग्रे विषमिव परिणामेऽमृतोपमम् |
तत्सुखं सात्त्विकं प्रोक्तमात्मबुद्धिप्रसादजम् || 37||
yat tad agre viṣham iva pariṇāme ‘mṛitopamam
tat sukhaṁ sāttvikaṁ proktam ātma-buddhi-prasāda-jam
yat—which; tat—that; agre—at first; viṣham iva—like poison; pariṇāme—in the end; amṛita-upamam—like nectar; tat—that; sukham—happiness; sāttvikam—in the mode of goodness; proktam—is said to be; ātma-buddhi—situated in self-knowledge; prasāda-jam—generated by the pure intellect
That pleasure which is like poison at first but in the end is like nectar, born of the purity of one’s own mind of Self-realisation, is declared to be Sattvic.
In the spiritual life, the practice of self-restraint, mind-control, and the destruction of impure tendencies produce a slight feeling of unrest, physical and mental pain. But the pain is turned into pure joy in the end. As the seeker acquires facility in sadhana, he begins to experience Sattvic joy. This is like nectar. The aspirant should never forget that the pain which he is enduring will yield the richest and the most plentiful joy in the end. So he should remain strong and determined and should not waver in continuing his sadhana. The pain is like poison, and certainly not poison (visham iva). The struggle with the impure tendencies accumulated in innumerable past births would be naturally severe and painful, but the pain is only apparent and not real. This should be clearly kept in mind so that the seeker is not depressed by the painful experience of self-discipline in the early stages of the sadhana. The struggle is inevitable. It is a part of spiritual life and no one can hope to attain the highest without going through the conflict between the lower and higher natures. But one can rest assured that the higher nature is the real power behind everything and so it shall come out victorious at the end, however deep-rooted the impure vasanas might be in the mind of the Sadhaka. The apparent pain of self-denial is only the prelude to the attainment of Brahmananda.
For certain diseases, very bitter medicines are administered. Though the medicine is bitter to the taste, it gives good health. One has to take the medicine for his own good. When a shapeless stone is transformed into a beautiful image of God, it receives the hard knocks of the sculptor’s hammer. When a lump of gold is transformed into a beautiful ornament, it receives the sharp strokes of the jeweler’s hammer. So also to attain Brahmananda man has to practice self-denial and sacrifice. The little sense pleasures which man gives up give him some pain in the beginning. They have been with him as relation in home during a long series of births. When they are given up, some slight pain is caused as when a dear relation passes away. The Sadhaka should not be disheartened. A little persistence and pursuance will bring about the necessary change and when the difficulty passes away the joy of the spirit begins to manifest slowly.
Hard work and study in student-life results in prosperity and joy in later life. We see that in the lives of many people. So also in spiritual life, the aspirant has to endure some initial discomfort and pain, and move forward with firm determination. He should not be deterred by the obstacles of the early passing phase. That is why the Lord here declares that ‘sattvic happiness’ which apparently appears painful contains the seeds of divine bliss. To throw away the inherent divine bliss by fear of external discomforts would be very foolish. So, the seekers should constantly remind themselves of the pure bliss that awaits them when the initial obstacles are overcome by firm resistance, and indomitable will. One should be a hero on the spiritual path. The Upanishads declare that only a hero (Dhirah) can obtain the vision of Paramatma. The lives of Lord Buddha, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and others reveal this truth. This Atmic bliss is not like the drink of the Gods which enables them to live longer than the mortals. It is pure nectar, conferring everlasting bliss unaffected by anything whatsoever. It takes mankind beyond the whirlpool of birth and death and establishes the original state of freedom and perfection.
Atmabuddhi prasadajam: This Sattvic joy is born of the purity of the intellect, freed from all sensual contacts, pleasures, and delusions. So, the seeker should keep the ‘buddhi’ clean and clear, and thus he perceives and experiences the bliss of Atma. Freedom from all sorrow and suffering is not to be found everywhere in the upper or the underworlds. It is directly present in the purified ‘Buddhi’. Maharshi Vasishta declares the same truth in Yogavasishta.
Question: What is the nature of Sattvic joy?
Answer: It appears bitter like poison in the beginning but turns out to be sweet and blissful like nectar in the end.
Question: How can man experiences this bliss?
Answer: It flows from the purified intellect (‘buddhi’). So, man has to give up the hankering for sense-pleasures and purify his mind.
Question: What then is the duty of man?
Answer: He should not be deterred by the initial difficulties on the spiritual path, but continue his Sadhana with firm faith in God. He should wash the mind thoroughly of all impure tendencies which bind him to the material world.
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 18 🔻 (78 Verses)