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Raga-Dvesha

by Swami Sivananda

Raga-dvesha-viyuktaistu vishayanindriyais-charan
Atmavasyair-vidheyatma prasadam-adhigacchati

"But the disciplined (lower) Self, moving among sense-objects with senses free from attraction and repulsion and mastered by the Higher Self, goeth to Peace." (Gita, II-64)

Raga-Dvesha, The Cause Of Bondage

Raga (attraction), Dvesha (repulsion) and Tatastha Vritti (indifference) are the three important Vrittis of the mind. Raga and Dvesha (like and dislike or love and hatred or attraction and repulsion) are the two currents in the mind which bind a man to the Samsaric wheel of birth and death. Raga and Dvesha are the two Doshas or faults in the mind that have brought you to this world. The Svarupa of Bandha (bondage) is Raga and Dvesha. The Svarupa of Ajnana is Raga and Dvesha. All the emotions come under the category of Raga-Dvesha. These two currents are the Dharma (characteristics) of the mind and not of the spirit. Pleasure and pain, Harsha and Soka, exhilaration and depression are due to Raga-Dvesha. If Raga and Dvesha vanish from the mind, Harsha-Soka also will disappear.

Selfish Love And Divine Love

When two forces of equal quality or power meet, a third force is formed. When two people of equal force and quality are attracted towards each other, a third force is formed between them. That is termed love. This is the scientific way of explaining what love is. Attraction is Akarshana-Sakti. Repulsion is Vikarshana-Sakti. When I see myself in another man, when I see him as my own self, I begin to love him as my own self. When I find something in you that I myself possess, I am naturally drawn towards you and begin to love you. This is Vedantic way of explaining love. Love is pouring forth one's affection (Prema) on another. Love is God. Love is of two kinds, viz., selfish or physical love and real Love or divine Love which is unselfish and lasting. The first kind is love with attachment. The second one is love without attachment. He who is a real aspirant of Vedantic path, who feels his own self everywhere and a real Bhakta who sees Narayana everywhere in everything can really love others. When an inferior person hangs on another person for his happiness or existence, physical attachment crops up. Attachment causes slave mentality and weak will. Attachment is death. Physical love is death. "Asangasastrena dridhena chhitva-Cut all sorts of attachment by the sword of non-attachment." (Gita, XV-3)

Raga As Painful As Dvesha

Raga (attraction) in the mind is as much dangerous as Dvesha (hatred or repulsion). Whenever there is Raga, there is Dvesha also. Not only the Dvesha-Vritti (the modification of dislike), but also the Vritti of Raga gives pain to man. If an object gives pleasure, you get Raga for the object. But when there is Viyoga (separation) from the object, as in the case of death of your dear wife or son, you get immense pain which is indescribable. Suppose you are in the habit of taking fruits after food. Fruits give you pleasure. You get Raga (liking) for fruits. But if you cannot get fruits in a place, you get pain.

Whenever there is pleasure and Raga, there exist side by side fear and anger. Anger is only a modification of desire. Fear and anger are two old associates of pleasure and Raga. Fear and anger are hidden in Raga. They constantly torment the mind.

Fear is hidden in Raga. When you have got Raga for body, fear of death comes in. When you have Raga for money, there is fear of losing money, as money is the means of getting objects of enjoyment. When you have Raga for a woman, you always take care in protecting her. Fear is a very old, intimate friend of Raga.

The Different States Of Raga-Dvesha

Raga-Dvesha has four Avasthas, viz., Dagdha (burnt up), Tanu (attenuated or thinned out), Vicchinna (concealed) and Udara (fully expanded). The first two states pertain to a Yogin; the last two to worldlings. In a fully developed Yogin, the Vrittis of Raga-Dvesha are burnt up by Nirvikalpa Samadhi. They are Dagdha (like burnt-up seeds). In a Yogin who is practising, the impressions of Raga-Dvesha are tenuous. They are in a fine state. He has control over these two Vrittis. In those who are given to enjoyments (ordinary mortals), they are concealed and fully expanded. In the Vicchinna state, they are concealed. When the wife shows affection to her husband, when the Raga-Vritti is in operation, her anger and hatred remain concealed for the time being. The moment she gets displeased with him for some reason or other, the Dvesha-Vritti manifests itself. In the last (expanded) state, the Samskaras of Raga-Dvesha, having favourable surroundings, attain to great activity. A worldly-minded man is a mere slave of Raga-Dvesha currents. He is tossed about hither and thither by these two currents of attraction and repulsion.

In sleep, these two emotions exist in a man in a Bija state (seed form). They are not destroyed. As soon as the man gets up from sleep, they begin to operate again.

In children, these twin currents manifest for a short time and disappear soon. They fight in this second and join together with joy the very next second. They do not keep up any ill feelings in their minds. They do not brood also over the wrongs done by others. They do not exhibit any grudge. The wave comes and passes away. As the child grows, these currents assume a grave phase by constant repetition and become inveterate.

Dvaita slowly develops when the child reaches the second year. Place a baby within one year of age in any place. It will remain there like a block of stone. It will laugh and see alike all people without any Raga-Dvesha. Ask a child of two years of age to sit. It will stand. Ask the child to come near. It will recede back to a distance. Tell the child, "Do not go to the street"; it will immediately march to the street. It will do contrary actions, because Dvaita is developing now in the child.

The Causes Of Raga-Dvesha

Raga-Dvesha is due to the Anukula-Pratikula Jnana. You have Raga for things favourable (Anukula) and Dvesha for things unfavourable (Pratikula). When this Anukula-Pratikula Jnana which depends upon Bheda Jnana disappears, Raga-Dvesha will vanish.

Raga-Dvesha is also due to Abhimana-Ahankara. As soon as Abhimana manifests, there comes Raga-Dvesha. When you conceive yourself as husband, there comes the attachment (Raga) for your wife. As soon as you conceive yourself to be a Brahmin, there comes the love of the Brahmins. Give up Abhimana, if you want to eradicate Raga-Dvesha. If this Abhimana, the result of Avidya (ignorance) vanishes, Raga-Dvesha will vanish.

Some minds hang on you through Raga, while some others hang on you through Dvesha. Ravana's mind was hanging on Sri Rama through hatred and fear. He was seeing Rama everywhere and in everything through constant, intense thinking of Rama. Similarly, Kamsa's mind was hanging on Sri Krishna. This is also a form of Bhakti (Vaira-Bhakti). Anyhow their minds were on God.

Raga-Dvesha Constitutes Real Karma

Raga-Dvesha in the mind is the real Karma. It is the original action. When the mind is set in motion or vibration through the currents of Raga-Dvesha, real Karmas begin. Real Karma originates from Sankalpas of the mind. It is the actions of the mind that are truly termed Karmas. External actions manifest later on. It is desire that sets the mind in motion. When there is a desire, Raga and Dvesha exist side by side in the mind. Desire is a motive force. Emotions and impulses co-exist with desire.

From Avidya emanates Aviveka (non-discrimination). From Aviveka originates Ahankara and Abhimana. From Abhimana emanates Raga-Dvesha. From Raga-Dvesha comes Karma. From Karma comes the body. From body comes misery. This is the chain of bondage with seven links. This is the chain of misery.

If you do not want misery, do not take up the body. If you do not want body, do not do Karma. If you do not want to do Karma, give up Raga-Dvesha. If you want to give up Raga-Dvesha, give up Abhimana. If you want to give up Abhimana, give up Aviveka. If you want to give up Aviveka, give up ignorance. O Rama! If you do not want ignorance, get Brahma-Jnana.

This Samsara or world process is kept up by the six-spoked wheel, viz., Raga, Dvesha, merit, demerit, pleasure and pain. If the root cause, the original Avidya, is destroyed by attainment of Brahma-Jnana, the whole chain of Abhimana, Raga, Dvesha, Karma body, merit and demerit, pleasure and pain will vanish. One link hangs upon another. All the links will be broken totally on the advent of Jnana. Sruti says: "Rite Jnananna muktih-Liberation comes from knowledge of Brahman."

Absence Of Raga-Dvesha Makes For Freedom

That Yogin or Jnanin who has destroyed these two Vrittis of Raga and Dvesha is the highest man in the three worlds. He is the real King of kings, Emperor of emperors. The chief Linga or distinguishing mark of a Jivanmukta or a liberated soul is freedom from Raga-Dvesha. Even if a Jnanin or Yogin sometimes exhibits traces of anger, it is Abhasamatra (mere appearance). Just as the impression made in water with a stick passes away soon, as also the anger will disappear in the twinkling of an eye, even though it manifests in a Jnanin. This can hardly be understood by worldly people.

He who has no Raga but possesses Titiksha (power of endurance) can do anything. He can move about wherever he likes. He is as free as the atmospheric air. His happiness, freedom and peace are unbounded. Their extent can hardly be imagined. The freedom and joy of such Sannyasins cannot be imagined by the poor, petty-minded worldlings. It is Raga and luxury that have enfeebled the householders.

Destruction Of Raga-Dvesha Constitutes

The Essence Of Spiritual Sadhana

I shall tell you the gist or essence of spiritual Sadhana. Destroy the true modifications of the mind, Raga-Dvesha, by Vichara and Brahma-Chintana (right thinking and meditation). Go beyond the Dvandvas (pairs of opposites). You will get eternal, infinite bliss and peace. You will shine in Brahmic glory. You will become Brahman. YOU ARE BRAHMAN.

Just as heat in fire can be removed by Mantra and Oushadha (recitation of God's Name and medicine), so also the Raga-Dvesha currents, the characteristics of the mind, can be removed by Yogic Kriya (practices of Yoga). These can be completely fried up by Nirvikalpa Samadhi or Asamprajnata Samadhi.

Amongst the several Vrittis in the mind, Raga-Dvesha and Moha are very deep-rooted. They demand strenuous and persistent efforts for their eradication. In your mental lives, you can either keep hold of the rudder and so determine exactly what course you take, what points you touch or you can fail to do this and, failing, you drift and are blown hither and thither by every passing breeze, by every emotion, by petty Raga-Dvesha currents.


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