suhrinmitraaryudaaseenamadhyasthadveshyabandhushu |
saadhushvapi cha paapeshu samabuddhirvishishyate || 9 ||

Well-wishers, friends, enemies, the unbiased, mediators, irritators, relatives, and also saints and sinners; one who views these as same is superior.

suhrida : well-wisher
mitra : friend
ari : enemy
udaaseena : unbiased
madhyastha : mediator
dveshya : irritators
bandhushu : relative
saadhushu : saint
api : also
cha : and
paapeshu : sinner
samabuddhihi : same vision
vishishyate : superior

In this shloka, the last shloka within the series of shlokas about the realized meditator’s vision, Shri Krishna speaks about how such a person views people. He says that regardless of how other people are connected to this person – they could be friends, enemies and so on – he views them as alike. Now, having this kind of attitude towards people is far difficult than maintaining such an attitude with objects and situations. So for that reason, Shri Krishna calls such a person “superior”.

There is diversity of individuals in this world, most of whom we do not deal with, but some of whom we do. By themselves, they are perfectly fine. But when we transact with them, we tend to categorize them through the lens of roles. A wide variety of such roles are provided here by Shri Krishna.

A “suhrida” is well wisher who does not expect anything in return from us, but is intent on doing actions that benefit us. Such people are rare. They do not keep a mental account of the good deeds that they have done, so that we can one day pay them back.

A “mitra” is friend, someone who cares for us. If we call him at midnight and ask for help, he will be there to help us. There is no doubt in our minds about whether or not he will help us. Consequently, we have raaga or desire towards that person.

An “ari” is our enemy. For reasons that are justified or even unjustified, we think that such a person wants to trouble us without any reason. We have dvesha or hatred towards this person. This becomes especially troublesome in meditation, because what we hate will come out as thoughts that disturb us in our meditation, not what we love.

“Udaaseena” literally means one who has lifted himself higher. He is indifferent and unbiased towards us and others. We have a neutral attitude towards such a person.

A “madhyastha” is a mediator. If there are two sets of people, he cares for both parties that could either have something in common, or are even opposed to each other. Such people are known to arrange weddings between two families, or even resolve disputes.

A “dveshya” is a person who we cannot stand. It is not necessary that such a person is our enemy or wishes ill of us. It is someone who irritates us for no reason. Either we wants to pick a fight with us, or we want to pick a fight with them.

A “bandhu” is a relative. It is someone who, whether we like it or not, has a relationship with us due to a familial tie. In fact this word is derived from the word “bandhan” which means tie or knot.

A saadhu is a totally pious and noble person whom we have utmost respect for. The opposite of such a person is a “paapi” or a sinner, one who has committed great crime.

So therefore, Shri Krishna says that the person whose mental state remains same whenever he thinks of or encounters any of these types of people, he is superior. But to get to this stage first requires a more basic level of sameness when we perform actions. That can only be achieved through karma yoga. Unless the mind is steady while performing actions, we cannot rise to the level of sameness mentioned in this shloka. Our thinking has to change from the ground up.

How does our thinking have to change? Our outlook towards people is usually in terms of gains and losses. We tend to evaluate people by the notion “what can they do for me?”. But one who has truly understood law of karma will know that whatever is happening in their life is nothing but a product of their actions. Another way of looking at people is “why does not he or she behave like I want?” But that is like asking “why is fire hot” or “why is salt salty”. People have in-built behaviour that is hard to change.

So, when someone upgrades himself to the karmayoga vision and submits all actions to Ishvara, he leaves all results to Ishvara also. He then begins to view the workings of world as Ishvara’s plan. Regardless of whether he encounters a good or bad situation, person or object, he will say “this is Ishvara’s plan” or “this is nature working through its laws”.

Once he has taken himself out of the picture, there no need to hold grudge against any one person, no room for complaint. It makes us become unperturbed and gradually, free of any worries caused by the world. This is how we develop the vision of sameness towards people.

So here, Shri Krishna concludes the topic of the realized meditator’s vision of the world. Next, he introduces the main topic of meditation.