I.33 मैत्रीकरुणामुदितोपेक्षाणां सुखदु:खपुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां भावनातश्चित्तप्रसादनम

maitrī-karuṇā-muditopekṣāṇāṁ sukha-duḥkha-punyāpunya-viṣayāṇāṁ
bhāvanātaś citta-prasādanam

maitrī-karuṇā-muditā-upekṣāṇāṁ sukha-duḥkha-punya-apunya-viṣayāṇāṁ
bhāvanātaḥ citta-prasādanam

“Embodying friendliness toward (the object of) happiness, compassion toward pain, joy toward virtue, and presence and attention toward vice brings the clarification of citta. ”

Swami Satchidananda says that even if you have no interest in samādhi or yoga, it will benefit your life to know this one sūtra. I have found it to be a powerful mantra, a guide to the way forward in personal and public interactions, and a gauge that helps me reflect inwardly: What are my attitudes toward myself?

The sutra is structured as two lists of four things. It is a form unfamiliar to English ears: maitrī-karuṇā-mudita-upekṣa are the four qualities to develop, and the second list of four, sukha-duḥkha-punya-apunya, are the objects (viṣaya) that each quality has a special application towards. Be friendly toward happiness (sukha). When confronted with pain (duḥkha), find compassion. In the presence of virtue (punya), learn to be joyful. In the face of non-virtue, practice being present (upekṣa). 

The four qualities of maitrī-karuṇā-mudita-upekṣa are identical to the Buddhist four “stations of Brahma.” Each, in my experience, is a powerful practice. The last quality–upekṣā–is often translated as indifference. This has never felt quite right to me, at least as I have lived it. The word derives from upa,”near,”+ īkṣ, “to see,” and so I have come to understand upekṣā to be a challenge to bring my awareness close to something that I may indeed prefer to deny or escape. For me, this has important implications for matters of politics and world affairs. I choose to attend to the news, especially to the events unfolding in our country now.

Patanjali tells us that the practice of these four qualities brings a clearing of the consciousness, citta-prasādanam, and so this sūtra is his second recommendation for the handling of obstacles. Prasād means “to sit before” and it refers to the food that is placed at the altar before worship. The food is considered to be sanctified, made especially auspicious, from the vibrations of the chanting; after, it is shared by all. And so, the citta–from the practice of these four qualities–is in its own way sanctified, made more fit and ready for whatever circumstances arrive.

—–

“If we meet someone who is happy in his way of life, we are inclined to envy him and be jealous of his success. We must learn to rejoice in it, as we take pleasure in the happiness of a friend. If someone is unhappy, we should feel sorry for him, instead of despising him or criticizing him for bringing misfortunes upon himself. The virtue of others is apt to irritate us, because we take it as a reflection upon our own shortcomings. We are tempted to sneer at it and suggest that it is only hypocrisy. On the contrary, we should delight in it and see it as an inspiration to ourselves to do better. As for the wicked, we must remember Christ’s words: ‘Be not overcome of evil.’” –Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, How to Know God, p. 66

“These two sutras [I.17 and I.33] opened up my thoughts, enabling me to understand the necessity for balance, harmony and concord between the intellect of the head and the intelligence of the heart.” –B.K.S. Iyengar, Core of the Yoga Sūtras, p. 16

“We should remember to apply [these] to ourselves. We need to cultivate:
• Friendliness toward our own happiness. This is one instance in life when a little indulgence is good, especially when our happiness has its roots in spiritual acts or values.
• Loving compassion for our own sorrow. Be kind to yourself.
• Joy when we manifest virtues.
• Strength, patience, and equanimity when working to eliminate our weaknesses. Forgiveness plays an important role with this.”
–Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Inside the Yoga Sutras, p. 85

Questions:
• How do you experience these four principles in your relationships with others? Or not?
• How do you apply these four principles in your yoga practice – in your relationship with yourself?
• When you experience their opposite (distant, frustrated, negative and angry, etc.), how do you get back on track?
• B.K.S. Iyengar will often refer to a point in a posture when “citta-prasādanam” has been reached. What do you think he means?

maitrī-

feminine noun in compound

friendliness (from mith, “to unite”)

karuṇā-

feminine noun in compound

compassion (from kṛ, “to do”)

muditā-

feminine noun in compound

joy (from mud, “to rejoice”)

upekṣāṇāṁ

feminine noun, 6th case plural

attentiveness, indifference (from upa,”near,”+ īkṣ, “to see”)

sukha-

neuter noun in compound

happiness (from su, “good,” + kha, “axle hole, space”)

duḥkha-

neuter noun in compound

pain (from dus, “bad,” + kha, “axle hole, space”)

puṇya-

neuter noun in compound

virtue (possibly from puṣ, “to nurture, support”)

apuṇya-

neuter noun in compound

non-virtue

viṣayānāṁ

masculine noun, 6th case plural, “of”

object (from viṣ, “to act”)

bhāvanātaḥ

indeclinable

due to the realization, embodiment  (from bhu, “to become”)

citta-

neuter noun in compound

mind, consciousness, life field (from cit, “to perceive, to observe, to know”)

prasādanam

 neuter noun, 1st case singular

clarification, purification (from pra, “to, before” + sad, “to sit”)

2 thoughts on “I.33 मैत्रीकरुणामुदितोपेक्षाणां सुखदु:खपुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां भावनातश्चित्तप्रसादनम

  1. Definitely one of my favorite sutras. I never resonated with indifference, as the translation for upekshanam, either. One translation that I like is “undisturbed, by yourself, or others”. It’s a kin to the sutra of the knower, knowledge and the known become one-becoming like a crystal, transparent, with nothing to protect.

    Like

    • I love the image of the crystal. I am reminded of being in a lake, feeling the various waves, ripples, currents that reverberate through the lake yet, as you say, being undisturbed–being of the lake.

      Like

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