Sunday 30 July 2017


2017 0730 31  Bhagavad Gita 13.7: Accomodation [ क्षान्ति kshanti] the Greatest Virtue

Here is an uncommon definition and explanation for क्षान्ति kshanti, in BG Ch13 Sloka7, by Pujyashri Swami Dayananda Saraswati Swamiji, from one of his Satsang Talks at Coimbatore, worth studying deeply and assimilating.

Pujyashri Swami Dayananda Saraswati [1930-2015]

अमानित्वं अदंभित्वं अहिंसा क्षान्ति आर्जवं  |
आचार्य उपासनं शौचं स्थैर्यं  आत्म विनिग्रहः  ||   BG 13.7*

Amaanitvam adambhitvam ahimsaa kshaanti aarjavam |
aachaarya upaasanam shaucham sthairyam aatma vinigrahaha || 

The Attitude of Kshānti [क्षान्ति] by Pujyashri Swami Dayananda Saraswati Swamiji [taken from the 8th Anniversary Souvenir of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam 1994].

Kshānti is generally translated as forbearance or forgiveness.  Such a definition, however, connotes arrogance. Who are you to forgive someone else? Forgiveness implies a “holier than thou” attitude which only stems from pride.  And so, to forgive someone is not what is meant by kshānti. A more meaningful translation is letting people live as they do, and letting situations be as they are without wanting them to be different.  

The value of kshānti is accommodation – a very beautiful human embellishment which takes a certain inner richness.  Unless you are big enough inside, it is not possible to accommodate another person or a situation.  In the list of values to be cultivated, I would say that kshānti is the most important attitude for the seeker who really wants to understand Vedanta. One must enjoy a relative degree of accommodation in order to discover the ātmā, the self, which accommodates the entire world.  

Ātmā accommodates ignorance, it accommodates error, it accommodates jealousy, it accommodates passion, it accommodates anger, it accommodates the world with all its limitations.  The self accommodates all the pairs of opposites. Thus, to know the ātmā, my mind should enjoy the capacity to accommodate.  To the extent that one has the capacity to accommodate, to that extent one is objective. 

Accommodation is an inner disposition which has nothing to do with suffering or enduring the wrongdoing of other people.  One does not accommodate a person’s wrongdoing.  One simply chooses not to internalize whatever the person has said or done and instead allows the person to be as he or she is.   

A person’s behavior cannot be different from what that person is.  And each person is exactly as he or she is because of his or her background. You may ask what is the difference between accommodation and compassion, sympathy?  Compassion is a trait born of accommodation.  Daya, compassion, does not happen immediately.  What happens first is accommodation which allows you to understand another person and let him or her be as he or she is. 

If you want to help a person, you can do so only by first accommodating him.  It is something like being a good doctor.  When the patient comes to see the doctor, the doctor cannot complain that every day people come to him complaining about one thing or another. 

Patients go to see a doctor because they have problems. A doctor can deal with a patient only when he first has accommodation.  First he accepts the person with his illness, and then afterwards, he does what he must.   This is true in life too: people are people.  You take them as they are.  In fact, your freedom lies only in this.  The more you allow people to be what they are, the more you are free inside.  

Many of our problems like anger, jealously, and so on arise due to lack of accommodation. We do experience accommodation with reference to certain things in the world.  You do not want to change the stars or the mountains or the trees.  You let them as they are.  You accommodate them.  The same is possible with human beings.  They all come from different backgrounds which condition their behavior.  You cannot expect them to behave as you want. If I consult those people whom I want to change, they say that I have to change.  

We try to change each other and tensions develop because each one wants to control the other.  This controlling behavior is due to a sense of insecurity. Kshānti frees you from reactions and allows you to act.  Action is possible only when there is kshānti.  Reaction is intolerance or incapacity to accept a fact.  A situation is a fact, but it is only a fact when I perceive it without a reaction.  

When I react, I do not see the fact.  If I allow the fact to sink into me without the interference of reaction, then I will be able to act.  But if I react to a situation, due to a lack of accommodation, I will not be able to respond appropriately.  A reaction is the incapacity to accept a fact.  

Only if you understand people and let people be as they are can you help them.  In other words, you have to be free.  I allow people to be what they are, situations to be what they are and try to improve them if I find them unpleasant.  To do this, I act, not react.  From mistakes we can learn but not from reaction.   

Thus kshānti is an amazing virtue.  It just accommodates everything.  It has no designs or manipulations.  All these things have no place in one’s heart if one can accommodate. Accommodation does not involve an “I am holier than thou” attitude. It is a simple acceptance of facts as they are and doing what one can.   That is healthy living, intelligent living.  And therefore, kshānti is not a value, but an attitude.  

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