1.40 World in the Palm of my Hand
Updated: Mar 13
YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI | CHAPTER 1 - SAMADHI PADA | VERSE 40 | COMMENTARY
Paramaanu parama-mahattva-antah-asya vashikaaraha
parama̅ṇu paramamahattvaantaḥasya vaśi̅ka̅raḥ ||1.40||
The practitioner gains control over the smallest as well as the infinitely large.
“When I look inside and see that I am Nothing, that is wisdom. When I look outside and see that I’m everything, that’s Love. And between these two, my life turns.”
- Nisargadatta Maharaj
The story of Sri Krishna and Sudama is well known in India. Childhood friends who studied together, Sri Krishna became the King of Dwarka, and Sudama lived a Brahmin’s life. At that time, it was a rule to live on alms for a Brahmin, and it was considered a privilege to give alms to a Brahmin. But Sudama was the poorest of the poor. Encouraged by his wife to ask Sri Krishna for help, Sudama reluctantly reaches Dwarka. A frail man, skin barely hanging to his bones and bloody feet, with dirt in every pore of his skin and a thin cloth to cover his trembling body, stood at the gates of Dwarka. The guards refused to believe that this was a friend of their King. Yet, brahmins were not to be turned away in Krishna’s Dwarka. Krishna was informed. Krishna dropped everything and he ran. Krishna sat Sudama on his throne and washed his feet – the King became the servant of the poorest, but he was not a King when he welcomed and hosted Sudama…he was a friend, hosting an old friend who was weary from travel as well as life. There was no status, no ego, no pride. On receiving such respect and honor, and being treated like an equal, Sudama could not being himself to ask Krishna for any help.
When Sudama returned home, he found a well-built house instead of his dilapidated hut. His children were well-fed and well-clothed. This was the work of a King – how could a kingdom prosper if a pious man of honor, integrity, and knowledge could not support his family and they were all dying of hunger? Why would then anyone go in pursuit of knowledge? Why would anyone be proud of integrity? Why would anyone have faith in a King? It would simply destroy the kingdom for people would give up these qualities. Even as a King, Sri Krishna was a servant.
Go back in the pages of history. Find out all the great people who went on to change the world and improve millions of lives in and beyond their lifetime. Kings, queens, knights, generals, slaves, scientists, doctors, philosophers, athletes, social workers, politicians, businessmen, and most of all saints, spiritual masters, poets, writers, painters, sculptors and other artists. People with vision, and a will to commit to that vision. By greatness, I do not mean those who earned a lot of fame for their work, but who stayed true to their life. People, who no matter how high in the skies they rose, did not forget they came from the same earth as everyone else, and would return to it one day. Actually, there are a lot of such people who do not have their names in the history books because they would not trade their integrity for anything.
An actor who has fame and the value to earn a studio millions of dollars wields a lot of power on the set. But, if the actor starts believing he is above everyone in the crew, he will not be cooperative. The ‘#MeToo’ movement clearly showed what happens when people start believing they are above others. But if he has a partner to whom he can return to at the end of the day who will tell him to take out the trash, I believe he will be a little humbler. A CEO of a big company employing hundreds of people must understand that it is the employees and the customers who make the company, and that he is a part of the network. He cannot survive without them. There is no CEO if there are no employees. Otherwise, that company might be generating billions of dollars in revenues, but no one will want to work there except for money, and for most people, there comes a day even money doesn’t feel like “worth it”.
A great person understands the fragility of his own existence. In his own self, he is a nobody. He does not take himself too seriously. In his outer self, he is aware of how life is interconnected – each and everything affects each and everything. Nothing is outside Life. John Green put it beautifully in The Anthropocene Reviewed, “All life is dependent on other life, and the closer we consider what constitutes living, the harder life becomes to define”. In this sense, he is everybody and everything. He cannot be indifferent. Yet his internal state makes sure is also never feverish or afraid. There is control over the smallest and the largest of issues. There is balance.
But from chaos comes order. Sleep comes to those who are awake during the day. Effortlessness blossoms in those who cross the limit of effort. Balance comes to those who have fallen innumerable times and yet continue forward without blaming and complaining. So, it is not an easy path. It is not easy to simply be – to be receptive of each second and experience eternity in it. This is the result of a steady mind, one which has been decluttered and steadied, one which Maharishi Patanjali offers freely to anyone brave enough to aim for it.