Before you read further,
– Relax and deep breathe for a few minutes.
– Then, try to slow down and keep a calm mind.
– Offer obeisance to Adi Shankara Acharya.
– Thank him for the wisdom he imparted.
– Absorb this verse with that attitude.
क्षुद्व्याधिश्च चिकित्स्यतां प्रतिदिनं भिक्षौषधं भुज्यतां
स्वाद्वन्नं न तु याच्यतां विधिवशात् प्राप्तेन सन्तुष्यताम् ।
शीतोष्णादि विषह्यतां न तु वृथा वाक्यं समुच्चार्यता-
मौदासीन्यमभीप्स्यतां जनकृपानैष्ठुर्यमुत्सृज्यताम् ॥४॥
pratidinaṃ bhikṣauṣadhaṃ bhujyatāṃ
svādvannaṃ na tu yācyatāṃ
vidhivaśāt prāptena santuṣyatām
na tu vṛthā vākyaṃ samuccāryatā-
janakṛpānaiṣṭhuryam utsṛjyatām ॥4॥
25: Cure yourself of the disease of hunger
26: Consume food daily with the attitude of Bhiksha
27: Stop demanding delicious food
28: Be satisfied with whatever destiny brings your way
29: Conquer all pairs of opposites, like heat-cold and so on
30: Do not utter (even a single) unnecessary word
31: Maintain an ascetic attitude (of non-attachment)
32: Abandon (reacting to) people’s sympathy and admonition
- The first verse gave us the eight foundation steps of spiritual life, and the second verse presented the eight beginner-level steps. The third verse listed the eight intermediate-level steps, and the current verse throws light on the eight advanced steps of Sadhana.
- In Step 25, hunger represents the cravings of all senses. In other words, we should prevent ourselves from becoming a slave to our sensual pleasures.
- Step 26 suggests that we consume food with the attitude of Bhiksha or seeking alms.
- As per tradition, monks ate by asking for donations. This practice taught them to reduce their ego. Also, it made them realize that every morsel consumed happens by Divine grace.
- The householders didn’t directly seek alms (because someone has to make the meal!). Yet, they too ate with the same awareness that we have food on the table only due to the Divine’s blessings.
- As a side note, many so-called monks even own islands and estates by receiving donations today! The age-old practice of Bhiksha has become a social evil now. To end such misuse, some saints like Om Swami have entirely stopped taking donations for their personal needs.
- Step 27 suggests that we should stop demanding delicious food. That doesn’t mean we stop eating or enjoying tasty food! The problem starts when we become addicted to it and feel that we can’t live without such food.
- Step 28 denotes the attitude of contentment. It doesn’t imply that we stop making ourselves financially independent.
- Step 29 refers to the pairs of opposites. A few common ones are:
- As mentioned in Step 30, the scriptures give great importance to Mauna or silence. If we think deeply, most people accumulate a ton of Karma through their fair or foul speech. The more talkative a person, the greater their chances of falling prey to vices like speaking lies and giving out false flattery. So, advanced-level seekers refrain from talking as much as possible.
- Non-attachment is one of the most outstanding spiritual achievements. All of the Sadhana steps mentioned so far lead us to that ascetic state of mind. Nevertheless, maintaining that mindset is austerity in itself, as noted in Step 31.
- In general, maintaining non-attachment needs some effort. It becomes challenging to retain that state when people criticize us. Remaining non-attached becomes a herculean task when people show sympathy to us. Therefore, it takes many seekers years to master Step 32.
You can read the next verse here: Verse 5.