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The Power of the Mind - By Shivkumar Yadalam

Uddharēd ātmana''tmānaṃna''tmānamavasādayēt|

ātmaiva hyātmanō bandhurātmaivaripurātmanaḥ||6.5||

One should uplift oneself by oneself. One should not lower oneself. For, the self alone is the friend of oneself; the self alone is the enemy of oneself.

Friends, If you have ever felt that only Destiny, fate, horoscope, prārabdha karma alone is the cause for state of your life and fortune?

Then pl pay attention to this verse.

This verse is an open declaration of Bhagavan Krishna, that the possibility, potential and resources to strive for and achieve self-elevation are available in adequate measure within all of us. The bodily limitations of the lower self are nullified, the moment we tap into this inner potential to attain whatever we aim to achieve. It is true that prārabdha karma- whether punya or papa is responsible for the current body, life, and its influence on our destiny. But it is not the only factor. Here, Krishna is introducing another important discipline, which is self-effort / freewill / Prayathna. Human beings are blessed with freewill, which is absent in plants and other animals.

No doubt, our upbringing, circumstances, etc., are contributory factors. But none of this can take away the intrinsic potential in every one of us, in carving out our own future. The triad – the doer, enjoyer, and sufferer – is a product of ignorance of the ultimate truth. We should strive to become a Karma Yogi as we have learnt in the previous classes. This alone will determine the outcome.

Krishna exhorts us - uddharēdātmana''tmānaṃ na''tmānam avasādayēt. Here ātma means our own Instruments, body, mind, sense organs & intellect complex. Every sense organ, mind & body should be healthy and function in a concerted & well-coordinated manner for intellectual clarity of our life’s goal. First, we must refine our sense organs and then develop a restraint over them. We must integrate the body, with the help of the body itself, refine our mind with the help of the mind, refine our intellect with the help of the intellect. Integrating the instruments with the help of the very instruments themselves is ātmana ātmānaṃ uddharēd. This integral process will then result in the desired improvement, strength, and cohesion of our own instruments for attaining the goal.

Ex: This is beautifully explained in Kathōpaniṣad, where the body is compared to a vehicle or a Chariot. The sense organs are compared to the horses or the wheels of the car, the mind can be compared to the Reins or steering, intellect can be compared to the charioteer or driver. Krishna says fine tune your equipment.

na ātmānam avasādayēt means never weaken the instrument by negative attitude, self-diffidence, inferiority complex, pessimistic thoughts, etc. But be optimistic. Developing self-confidence is self-effort.

ātmaiva hyātmanō bandhu, you are your true friend and

ātmaiva ripurātmanaḥ, you alone are your enemy too.

For one with sufficient self-control and orientation, his self will be a friend; for one devoid of self-control and self-orientation, he himself will be his own enemy.

Krishna’s call, is thus to elevate oneself by himself. Never should anyone on any ground degrade himself at any time. He is addressing those fortunate, who accept freewill. This exhortation for self-effort and self-elevation is in continuation to Krishna’s teachings in the earlier chapters.

I conclude by quoting the sublime and categorical message of our supreme Scripture the Bhagavad Gita, “Elevate yourself by yourself”. The Bhagavad Gita beckon’s us to improve ourselves.

“Raise yourself by yourself, do not let down yourself by yourself, it is the self that gives respect to the self and it is the self that deceives the self. Your Self is your friend. Your Self is your enemy. It is you who need to decide whether to raise yourself or let yourself down.”



Elaborating, Prārabdham can be puṇya prārabdham or pāpa prārabdham.

Puṇya prārabdha karma will influence the mind of the person in such a way that he will realise and use his freewill and he will not allow destiny alone to determine his future.

In case of Pāpa prārabdham, the effect dependents on the intensity.

If it is weak, such durbala prārabdham can be wiped out or nullified with our prāyaccitta karma or good deeds.

If prārabdham is madhyama, a strong freewill can reduce its impact.

If Prārabdha is Prabhala / strong, the very destiny itself will influence the mind of the person, that he will not accept freewill and instead resign himself to his circumstance with full conviction that the circumstance as, preordained and beyond his control.

Imagine if we are caught in a cyclone! That is Prabhala Prārabdham. We can neither prevent nor control, but we can still prepare to face it.

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Very nicely explained. I wish to add that the very purpose of Prarabda Karmas is to exhaust them by experiencing them in this life and our Buddhi helps us to guide us to undergo them by Samattvam.

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