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KARMICvoyage by Alka Tyagi-Counter Emotion


The Counter-Emotion



alka tyagi - karmic voyage-fnbworld



 “Pratipaksha Bhavana”: Cultivating the Opposite Virtue

“Mala Pherat Jug Bhaya, Phira na Man ka Pher

  Kar ka Manka Daar de, Man ka Manka Pher”  - Kabir

[Turning and turning the beads of Mala, your life has gone by, yet your mind is restless. Discard the beads in your hand; just turn the mind around].


Amaltas Tree, photo by Shuchi Mathur-fnbworld

Photo by Shuchi Mathur; Copyright: Right Impact Media Inc.

To continue with our discourse on Mind, its power on us and the ways to channel the mental energy, let us direct our attention to other methods which can help to transform our oppressive and negative life-conditions into conditions of positivity, balance  and equanimity. 

The spiritual guides endlessly emphasise upon the significance of the practice of meditation,’Dhyana' to purify mind from ‘Vrittis’, mental formations and to eventually enable it to focus on the desired object. In last months, we discussed how with Sraddha, Abhyasa and Vairgya i.e with faith,regularity in practice and by freeing ourselves from attraction to and repulsion from situations and people , we can  be successful in stilling our turbulent mind. Once the mind is still , we can surely tap its enormous powers. Lord Krishna states:


Shraddhaavaan labhate jnaanam tat-parah samyatendriyah

Jnanam labhdhva param shantim achirenaadhigacchati  [4:39]


[One who has faith, is attentively focussed and has used his mind to keep his senses under control attains knowledge].

Attaining knowledge, s/he achieves supreme peace without any delay.] Chapter 4, verse39.

In this verse the focus is on words “Shraddha”, “Tat-Parah” and “Samyatendriyah”. We are aware of the need for faith, readiness and focus in our practice and in our seeking, now  we are dwelling  further over the nature of obstacles that arise in our mind and disturb its peace path and equanimity. 

Here we have to be clear that unless we are able to persuade our mind to be in harmony with its surroundings, it will just refuse to focus and do meditation is just not possible without stillness and silence Mind. At the same time we know that the situations that life throws us into and the people that come into our life all the time do not always suit our expectations and our desires. Such situations and people become oppressive and may suck the life force out of our being. The question arises, “How do we behave in difficult situations and with difficult people without getting angry, violent, jealous, irritable or depressed?

Lord Jagannath of Puri-fnbworldMany of us are mature enough to know that anger, greed, jealousy, irritability, procrastination and violence etc. are self destructive and are actually in present ear have become obsolete emotions in interactive behaviour.  Besides, these attitudes in no way can get us the desired result. These emotions only leave us either under a subtle sometimes almost invisible burden of guilt or leave us with a sense of wasted energy and helplessness .At the same time they leave little or no effect on the person or situation they are directed at.

Our scriptures suggest that we transform our base instincts like kama, krodha, lobha, mada, moha,irshaya  with higher virtues of ahimsa, karuna, aparigrah, viveka and vairagya.

However, we often try yet fine that these base instincts often catch us  unawares and snatch our peace of mind. We seem to need ever new ways of dealing with them.


Swami Sivananda Saraswati who founded Divine Life Society in Rishikesh in 1928, he talked about the concept of “Pratipaksha Bhavana” or “the counter-emotion” as one of the strategies to gain peace of mind. He said, whenever we are taken over by negative emotions, we should quickly become aware of it and should deliberately try to invoke an opposite positive emotion in our mind and then should put it to practice. Hence, if for instance, we are caught by the emotion of ‘anger’, let us quickly replace it with the counter emotion of ‘compassion’ by trying to understand the situation from other person’s perspective. If we are greedy about something, we can turn within and could deliberately practice giving little “Dana” quickly. Then we will see that the greed which is a constricting emotion has left us and we feel generous and more expansive in our heart centre. 

Another similar and very clear instruction is given by Sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. He says:


Sukh-dukha-punya-apunya vishyanam

Bhavanaatchittaprasaadnam. Chapter 1, Sutra 33.


[By cultivating a counter emotion and being friendly, compassionate, glad and indifferent in response to situations or people that make us feel happy, miserable, virtuous or vicious respectively, we can make the mind pure and peaceful.]

In his commentary to the above sutra in his book on Four Chapters on Freedom, Swami Satyananda Saraswati says:

By maintaining this attitude, that is, friendliness to the happy, compassion for the unhappy, gladness about the virtuous and indifference to those who are full of vice , the mind of the aspirant becomes free from disturbing influences and as a result it becomes peaceful and undisturbed.

In other words, if someone makes us feel happy, we can be friendly with them. If someone makes us feel miserable, we could develop the attitude of compassion for them. If someone pure and virtuous comes in our way, we should allow pure joy to take over us. If we come across vicious people, let us invoke indifference towards such people. Same principle is applied to the life situations which could be happy, miserable, positive or vicious like people.

Lord Jgannath-fnbworld


On the Jyeshtha Purnima (Full moon day of May-June), City of Puri in Orissa celebrates Snana-yatra for Lord Jagannath and His siblings. This year the date for this sacred ritual is 2nd of June.

It is interesting to note that after getting bathed with 108 pitchers of water in the Snana-Vedi of the temple, the images lose their colours and embellishments. They become completely discoloured. In order to avoid arousal of any inappropriate attitude in the devotees’ mind due to viewing of barren images, the images are quickly decorated in Ganesha-besha. After the Snana, the images are kept out of public view for a period of fifteen days. During these fifteen days they are decorated into their sacred form. During this period, the daily rites of the temple are suspended as this period is considered to be improper for worship. The deities become suitable for worship only after they are fully embellished and the ritual of ‘Chakshurunmilana’ or “Opening of the Eye’ has been performed.


One of the ideas that is suggested in the above ritual performance is that there is no use for the devotee to engage in the act of worship unless the devotee can cultivate the right attitude within. We may also say that there is no use in engaging in meditation unless we have resolved the conflicts in our life situations by cultivating the right attitude.

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