Samatvam Yoga Ucyate: The Path to Spiritual Equality and Inner Peace

Sampadananda Mishra
10 min readApr 28, 2024


Samatva and Ekatva

Samatva or equality and Ekatva or oneness are two fundamental ideas of Sanatana Dharma. In the language of the Gita, Samatva itself is Yoga. The concept of samatva or equality in yoga is not just about treating others equally; it is about attaining a state of inner calm and equanimity. In the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavan Krishna guides Arjuna to embrace this principle of samatvam, stressing that true yoga is achieved when one remains unmoved by the dualities of life — success and failure, pleasure and pain, praise and criticism. This journey towards inner peace and self-mastery leads to the ultimate transformation from lower to higher divine nature.

The Story of Krishna, Satyaki, and Arjuna

Krishna, Satyaki, and Arjuna were traveling through a dense and dangerous jungle, filled with wild animals and other unseen threats. As night fell, they decided to rest near a small temple. To ensure their safety, they agreed to take turns keeping watch. While Krishna and Arjuna slept, Satyaki stood guard.

In the middle of the night, a Brahmarakshasa, a formidable spirit, appeared, hurling insults and threats at the sleeping Krishna and Arjuna. Satyaki was immediately troubled by the demon’s aggressive behavior. Despite his initial attempts to remain calm, Satyaki eventually engaged in a heated argument with the Brahmarakshasa, leading to a verbal battle that almost escalated into a physical confrontation. The noise woke Krishna and Arjuna, who quickly joined Satyaki in driving the Brahmarakshasa away.

After things settled, Krishna and Satyaki went back to sleep, leaving Arjuna to take the next watch. However, the Brahmarakshasa soon returned, again with a barrage of abuse and threats. Arjuna, like Satyaki, became agitated and was on the verge of engaging in combat. Krishna and Satyaki woke up and together helped Arjuna drive the Brahmarakshasa away.

Now it was Krishna’s turn to keep watch while Arjuna and Satyaki slept. The Brahmarakshasa returned, but this time, Krishna remained completely calm. He didn’t respond to the insults, taunts, or provocations. Despite the Brahmarakshasa’s efforts to incite a reaction, Krishna’s serene presence remained unshaken. As the night passed, the Brahmarakshasa’s strength seemed to wane, and by morning, it had dwindled to the size of a mosquito, barely noticeable and completely harmless.

When Arjuna and Satyaki awoke, they were surprised to find that the Brahmarakshasa had not troubled them during Krishna’s watch. Curious, they asked Krishna if the spirit had come back during his watch. Krishna replied that it had indeed appeared, but because he did not give it any reaction, the Brahmarakshasa lost its power and shrank to insignificance.

Krishna’s lesson to Arjuna and Satyaki was clear: when faced with aggression or provocation, maintaining one’s equanimity is crucial. By remaining calm and refusing to engage with negativity, one can neutralize even the most threatening of enemies. The more one reacts to provocations, the more strength is given to adverse forces. By remaining unperturbed, one can ultimately transform these negative energies into harmlessness.

Equality in Practice

Equality in yoga ( समत्वं योग उच्यते samatvam yoga ucyate) means having a quiet and unmoved mind, regardless of external circumstances. It requires the self-mastery to not react impulsively to things that are said or done, allowing for a clear view of situations without distortions created by personal feelings. This approach demands control over vital movements such as anger, desire, sensitivity, arrogance, jealousy, and greed. When something unpleasant happens, like someone saying something irritating, one should not act or speak in a rush. Instead, yoga teaches us to respond with calm inner poise and consider the broader perspective.

For instance, if someone criticizes you harshly at work, the natural reaction might be anger or defensiveness. But if you practice yoga and embrace samatvam, you would take a deep breath, assess the situation calmly, and respond without letting emotions take over.

The First Step: Equality of the Vital (Prana)

The source of most troubles is often the vital force within us — the prana. The first step towards equality is to establish harmony here. This involves overcoming desires and the sense of possession. Aparigraha, or non-attachment, is key to achieving this freedom from material cravings. As the Gita says, “The wise see the same in a clod of earth, a stone, and gold” (6.8). This verse underscores the need to transcend material attachments and view all things equally.

The Second Step: A Free Heart and the Mind’s Balance

To achieve a free heart, one must overcome the storms of affection, grief, hatred, and other emotional disturbances. The Gita guides us to keep the Divine in our hearts and remain open to higher truths. By focusing on the Divine’s presence, we transform our emotions without suppressing them.

The mind is the most challenging aspect to equalize. It requires openness to higher light and truth, while rejecting egoistic or rajasic tendencies. In the Gita, it is stated, “He who sees inaction in action and action in inaction, he is wise among men” (4.18). This verse points to the subtlety of mental equality, where one can maintain balance and act with wisdom.

The Third Step: Achieving Higher Spiritual Equality

Higher spiritual equality is when one experiences the eternal balance of Sachchidananda — Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss. To achieve this level of equality, three key elements are necessary: inner surrender to the Divine, a descent of spiritual calm from above, and persistent rejection of egoistic or rajasic feelings. With this higher equality, one can experience the joy of total self-giving and embody the light, power, and truth of the Divine.

Stages of Equality

In the Bhagavad Gita, there are two distinct types of equality: nishkriya samata (inactive equality) and sakriya samata (active/dynamic equality). Here’s a refined explanation of each concept, preserving the spirit and style of your language:

Nishkriya Samata (Inactive Equality): This form of equality involves stillness and observation. It encompasses three distinct aspects:

  1. Forbearance and Endurance (Titiksha): In daily life, we encounter dualities — joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, heat and cold. Titiksha is the power of endurance, the ability to withstand these dualities without being deeply affected. Just as a rock remains unshaken by the elements, our physical body and inner self should develop resilience through awareness. This kind of equality comes from recognizing that dualities are temporary and will eventually pass, so we endure without undue attention. This stage involves enduring the trials of life with a strong will. The Gita advises, “Bear with patience heat and cold, pleasure and pain, for they are fleeting” (2.14). This stage emphasizes resilience and the ability to withstand life’s fluctuations.
  2. High-Seated Impartiality and Indifference (Udasinata): This term literally means “sitting above” or “going beyond.” It suggests approaching situations from a higher level of consciousness, maintaining a detached perspective. Instead of getting entangled in the turmoil of daily life, one observes from a distance, quietly and calmly. This inactive form of Samata focuses on developing the power to witness events without reacting impulsively. It is about cultivating a silent awareness, allowing one to watch internal and external circumstances without disturbance. This stage is marked by a higher level of knowledge, where one can remain impartial and indifferent to outcomes. The Gita encourages, “He who, established in a position as of one seated high above, is unshaken by the gunas…” (14.23). Here, one is not swayed by personal biases or attachments.
  3. Supreme Period of Joy of Total Self-Giving (Nati): This aspect involves accepting whatever comes your way — be it good or bad — as a divine gift, recognizing it as part of a larger cosmic design. It is not merely passive acceptance but a sense of alignment with divine will. True Nati requires total acceptance, without being inwardly disturbed by the outcomes. Your individual will should harmonize with the divine, fostering a sense of gratitude and trust. This stage represents complete surrender and devotion, leading to profound joy and oneness with the Divine. The Gita says, “He who sees the Supreme in every being, neither destroys nor is destroyed” (13.29). This level of equality brings a deep sense of unity and harmony.

Sakriya Samata (Active/Dynamic Equality): This form of equality relates to action and engagement. It involves maintaining a balanced mind while performing any task, without being swayed by inner enemies like lust, anger, greed, delusion, arrogance, and envy. In sakriya samata, one undertakes tasks in a way that aligns with divine principles, keeping a steady and tranquil consciousness even in the midst of action.

Sakriya Samata becomes possible when the intellect (Buddhi) is stable, unwavering, and rooted in calmness. This allows one to accomplish tasks without succumbing to feverish emotions or inner turmoil. One remains centered and serene, carrying out one’s actions with a sense of divine purpose and equality.

The Pursuit of Equality in Yoga

While perfect equality may seem elusive, the journey towards it is essential for spiritual growth. It is a lifelong discipline that requires dedication and practice. The ultimate goal is to transcend the lower undivine nature and embrace the higher divine nature, allowing for a life of peace, balance, and spiritual fulfillment.

Relevant Gita Verses (With Sri Aurobindo’s Interpretation)

Chapter 2, Verse 14

मात्रास्पर्शास्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्णसुखदुःखदाः।

आगमापायिनोऽनित्यास्तांस्तितिक्षस्व भारत॥

mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkhadāḥ

āgamāpāyino ‘nityās tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata

The material touches, O son of Kunti, giving cold and heat, pleasure and pain, things transient which come and go, these learn to endure, O Bharata.

Chapter 2, Verse 15

यं हि न व्यथयन्त्येते पुरुषं पुरुषर्षभ।

समदुःखसुखं धीरं सोऽमृतत्वाय कल्पते॥

yaṁ hi na vyathayanti ete puruṣaṁ puruṣarṣabha

sama-duḥkha-sukhaṁ dhīraṁ so ‘mṛtatvāya kalpate

The man whom these do not trouble nor pain, O lionhearted among men, the firm and wise who is equal in pleasure and suffering, makes himself apt for immortality.

Chapter 2, Verse 48

योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि संगं त्यक्त्वा धनंजय।

सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्योः समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते॥

yogasthaḥ kuru karmāṇi saṅgaṁ tyaktvā dhanañjaya

siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṁ yoga ucyate

Fixed in Yoga do thy actions, having abandoned attachment, having become equal in failure and success; for it is equality that is meant by Yoga.

Chapter 4, Verse 18

कर्मण्यकर्म यः पश्येदकर्मणि च कर्म यः।

स बुद्धिमान्मनुष्येषु स युक्तः कृत्स्नकर्मकृत्॥

karmaṇy akarma yaḥ paśyed akarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ

sa buddhimān manuṣyeṣu sa yuktaḥ kṛtsna-karma-kṛt

He who in action can see inaction and can see action still continuing in cessation from works, is the man of true reason and discernment among men; he is in Yoga and a many-sided universal worker (for the good of the world, for God in the world).

Chapter 4, Verse 22

यदृच्छालाभसंतुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सरः।

समः सिद्धावसिद्धौ च कृत्वापि न निबध्यते॥

yadṛcchā-lābha-santuṣṭo dvandvātīto vimatsaraḥ

samaḥ siddhāv asiddhau ca kṛtvāpi na nibadhyate

He who is satisfied with whatever gain comes to him, who has passed beyond the dualities, is jealous of none, is equal in failure and success, he is not bound even when he acts.

Chapter 6, Verse 8

ज्ञानविज्ञानतृप्तात्मा कूटस्थो विजितेन्द्रियः।

युक्त इत्युच्यते योगी समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः॥

jñāna-vijñāna-tṛptātmā kūṭastho vijitendriyaḥ

yukta ity ucyate yogī sama-loṣṭāśma-kāñcanaḥ

The Yogin, who is satisfied with self-knowledge, tranquil and self-poised, master of his senses, regarding alike clod and stone and gold, is said to be in Yoga.

Chapter 6, Verse 9


साधुष्वपि च पापेषु समबुद्धिर्विशिष्यते॥


sādhusv api ca pāpeṣu sama-buddhir viśiṣyate

He who is equal in soul to friend and enemy and to neutral and indifferent, also to sinner and saint, he excels.

Chapter 6, Verse 32

आत्मौपम्येन सर्वत्र समं पश्यति योऽर्जुन।

सुखं वा यदि वा दुःखं स योगी परमो मतः॥

ātmaupamyena sarvatra samaṁ paśyati yo ‘rjuna

sukhaṁ vā yadi vā duḥkhaṁ sa yogī paramo mataḥ

He, O Arjuna, who sees with equality everything in the image of the self whether it be grief or it be happiness, him I hold to be the supreme Yogin.

Chapter 9, Verse 9

न च मां तानि कर्माणि निबध्नन्ति धनञ्जय।

उदासीनवदासीनमसक्तं तेषु कर्मसु॥

na ca māṁ tāni karmāṇi nibadhnanti dhanañjaya

udāsīnavad āsīnam asaktaṁ teṣu karmasu

Nor do these works bind me, O Dhananjaya, for I am seated as if indifferent above, unattached to those actions.

Chapter 12, Verse 13

अद्वेष्टा सर्वभूतानां मैत्रः करुण एव च।

निर्ममो निरहङ्कारः समदुःखसुखः क्षमी॥

adveṣṭā sarva-bhūtānāṁ maitraḥ karuṇa eva ca

nirmamo nirahaṅkāraḥ sama-duḥkha-sukhaḥ kṣamī

He who has no egoism, no I-ness and my-ness, who has friendship and pity for all beings and hate for no living thing, who has a tranquil equality to pleasure and pain, and is forgiving, he is dear to Me.

Chapter 12, Verse 18

समः शत्रौ च मित्रे च तथा मानापमानयोः।

शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु समः सङ्गविवर्जितः॥

samaḥ śatrau ca mitre ca tathā mānāpamānayoḥ

śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkhāṣu samaḥ saṅga-vivarjitaḥ

Equal to friend and enemy, equal to honour and insult, pleasure and pain, praise and blame, grief and happiness, heat and cold (to all that troubles with opposite affections the normal nature), not attached to person or thing, that man is dear to Me.

Chapter 13, Verse 28

समं सर्वेषु भूतेषु तिष्ठन्तं परमेश्वरम्।

विनश्यत्स्वविनश्यन्तं यः पश्यति स पश्यति॥

samaṁ sarveṣu bhūteṣu tiṣṭhantaṁ parameśvaram

vināśyatsu avināśyantaṁ yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati

Seated equally in all beings, the supreme Lord, unperishing within the perishing — he who thus sees, he sees.

Chapter 13, Verse 29

समं पश्यन्हि सर्वत्र समवस्थितमीश्वरम्।

न हिनस्त्यात्मनात्मानं ततो याति परां गतिम्॥

samaṁ paśyan hi sarvatra samavasthitam īśvaram

na hinasty ātman ātmānaṁ tato yāti parāṁ gatim

Perceiving the equal Lord as the spiritual inhabitant in all forces, in all things and in all beings, he does not injure himself (by casting his being into the hands of desire and passions), and thus he attains to the supreme status.

Chapter 14, Verse 23

उदासीनवदासीनो गुणैर्यो न विचाल्यते।

गुणा वर्तन्त इत्येव योऽवतिष्ठति नेङ्गते॥

udāsīna-vad āsīno guṇair yo na vicālyate

guṇā vartanta ity eva yo ‘vatiṣṭhati neṅgate

He who, established in a position as of one seated high above, is unshaken by the gunas; who seeing that it is the gunas that are in process of action stands apart immovable.

Chapter 14, Verse 24

समदुःखसुखः स्वस्थः समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः।

तुल्यप्रियाप्रियो धीरस्तुल्यनिन्दात्मसंस्तुतिः॥

sama-duḥkha-sukhaḥ svasthaḥ sama-loṣṭāśma-kāñcanaḥ

tulya-priya-apriyo dhīras tulya-nindā-ātma-saṁstutiḥ

He who regards happiness and suffering alike, gold and mud and stone as of equal value, to whom the pleasant and the unpleasant, praise and blame are equal things, — he is said to be above the gunas.

Chapter 18, Verse 54

ब्रह्मभूतः प्रसन्नात्मा न शोचति न काङ्क्षति।

समः सर्वेषु भूतेषु मद्भक्तिं लभते पराम्॥

brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati na kāṅkṣati

samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām

When one has become the Brahman, when one, serene in the Self, neither grieves nor desires, when one is equal to all beings, then one gets the supreme love and devotion to Me.



Sampadananda Mishra

Author, speaker and researcher on subjects related to Sanskrit, Indian Culture, Spirituality, Yoga and Education. SahityaAkademi and President of India Awardee.