Don't Shy Away From Criticism

Patanjali Yoga Sutra Knowledge Sheet 84

Contd. from knowledge sheet 83


“Tato dwandanabhighataha’’ (II Sūtra 48)

tato = then; dwandwa = duality; anabhighataha = rooted out.


“Then, all the duality in you is rooted out.”


It hits the duality in you, all the conflicts in you. It roots out all the conflicts in you. Dwanda anabhighataha. Anytime you are confused and your mind is in conflict, do asanas. Sit in an asana and you see that clarity comes right away. Effect of asana is that it clears out all conflicts, dualities.

The opposites which would bother will no longer bother you. Praise or insult which would throw you out of balance will no longer bother you. Someone comes and gives you all big praises and then you are sold out to them. Then you become blind to their mistakes. There is a proverb in Sanskrit which bemoans you to be watchful of friends than your enemies. Enemy is anyway an enemy. You know that they are enemies and you can be careful about them. But your friend! The way the friend will induce you mind to do negative things or to do things that may lead you to the wrong direction, you must be aware of it.

A friend can make you an alcoholic, a drug addict. An enemy cannot do all these things to you. A friend can mislead you but an enemy cannot, because you are cautious of the enemy. You are stronger in their case. You get swayed by praises easily. It is said that 99% of the people love sycophancy around them. We do not know based on what statistics psychologists have found this out. They say that 99% of the people love sycophancy. People like being praised because they cannot praise themselves, because they do not know their own worth. So they feel very sad when they come across people who are averse to praise them.

A yogi is free from both. He is free from the clutches of praise and insult. Your natural tendency is that - when someone insults you, you stay away from them. You cut off communication with them. You stop them at arm’s length and even run away a mile from them. A saint in India has sung a couplet “Keep the one who blames you close by, for he keeps your courtyard clean without soap and water.” You do not have to wash your home with detergent. You keep your home clean because every time you do a mistake, the opposite person is going to point out at you, “Come on. You have committed a mistake.”

“Do not shy away from criticism”, says Sant Kabir. Our ability to accept and look through the criticism indicates how much we have grown. Otherwise, one criticism and you are off. That is no good. So, then people will know how to put you off the balance. One criticism and that’s it. You are off your balance. So yoga is that which brings the balance. Asanas have this dual effect on the body and mind and it frees you from the turmoil which troubles you. Do you remember this point now, of stable, comfortable posture?

When you stretch, stretch a little longer and make a little effort and feel the pain and find comfort in the pain, you will see that the pain disappears and comfort dawns. They are dual things. When there is comfort there is no pain and when there is pain there is no comfort. Through asanas you will find that shift happening. Suppose you could not stretch your leg too much beyond one point and if you stretch the leg beyond that point and you feel the pain, then you start enjoying the pain and feel a little comfort. You will see that the next day, the pain will not be there and your comfort has extended. Then again stretch a little more and feel the pain. Pain and stretch. You will feel that all the pain has shifted towards comfort.

Once when we were students, we went to a trip to Rishikesh in Northern part of India. The food there was so bad and especially people who were from South India found it difficult to adjust to the food there. All the boys of the camp went and complained to the Manager. So, the Manager of that place said “It will be difficult for you for the first two days and later it will be fine because you will get used to the food served here. The food is not going to change, but your feelings towards the food will change!”  So, the comfort changes. Pain changes into comfort, as you stretch a little more the next day and a little more the next day. Then the effort, prayatna shaithiya, a little bit of effort and then let go. Letting go is all the secret. Letting go is the feeling which lets infinity dawn in your consciousness.

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(This is part of a series of knowledge sheets based on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's commentaries on Patanjali Yoga Sutras.)