Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 11 Nov 2019

     

Are pravrutti and nivrutti sequential steps or opposite to each other?

Pravṛtti means attachment to legitimate worldly bonds. Nivṛtti means detachment from the same legitimate worldly bonds. Both are opposite to each other. Then how can You bring both together saying that pravṛtti is the primary part of the same spiritual path and nivṛtti is the advanced part? This question is part of a mahā satsaṅga or a great spiritual discussion between Swami and several devotees who had come from various places, seeking the clarification of their doubts.

Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! In pravṛtti there is forced detachment from unjust and illegitimate worldly bonds and a forced attachment to just and legitimate worldly bonds. Since pravṛtti is mandatory, the human being is forced to follow it. If the soul refuses to reject illegitimate bonds, the soul will be sent to hell. If the soul favors legitimate bonds, the soul will go to heaven. Hence, in pravṛtti, there are both, the force to reject sinful illegitimate bonds, due to the fear of hell and the attraction to maintain the meritorious legitimate bonds, due to the desire for heavenly pleasures. Pravṛtti means voting for justice instead of injustice, when both justice and injustice compete for your vote.

The case of nivṛtti is totally different because it is completely optional. There is no force here to make you vote for God instead of even your legitimate bonds (Sarvadharmān parityajya...—Gita). There is neither the threat of punishment in hell nor is there the temptation of divine pleasures in the abode of God. In nivṛtti, the detachment from the justified legitimate bonds is not by force. The bonds drop off naturally, due to the attraction developed by the soul for God. It is not motivated by any pleasures that might be granted by God. The devotee’s attraction to God is not for any reason such as some new pleasures to be granted by God. The only reason for the devotee’s attraction to God is true love for God. In fact, the devotee filled with such true love is not even afraid if his or her love for God will lead to miserable punishment. The detachment from the legitimate worldly bonds developed by the devotee is very natural. The worldly bonds drop off even if the devotee is threatened with punishments in hell for dropping the bonds and even if the devotee is promised heaven for remaining attached to them! In nivṛtti, both detachment and attachment are natural. There is neither force nor temptation.

The basic essence of pravṛtti is the selfish love towards the legitimate bonds, without causing any injustice to anybody. The basic essence of nivṛtti is selfless love for God, which is even beyond justice. In this sense, both are opposite to each other as said in the Veda (Dūramete...). Duṣpravṛtti is the lowest level in which the love for illegitimate worldly bonds surpasses the love for legitimate worldly bonds. This duṣpravṛtti should be resisted, either out of the desire for heaven or forced by the fear of hell. Pravṛtti is the middle-level in which the love for legitimate worldly bonds surpasses the love for illegitimate worldly bonds, either out of the desire for heaven or forced by the fear of hell. The legitimate bond of Rāma with His wife Sītā surpassed the illegitimate proposal made to Him by Śūrpaṇakhā. God’s expectation from human beings is that they avoid duṣpravṛtti and stand firm in pravṛtti. Almost all human beings can only attain pravṛtti, at the most. Only a very few humans can enter nivṛtti and reach its climax by even sacrificing justice.

Actually, nivṛtti exists even in pravṛtti to some extent since human beings in pravṛtti have some devotion to God. Of course, their devotion to God is selfish. They want God to protect them from worldly suffering, which is the punishment for the sins they have done. They also want to attain benefits and pleasures for the meritorious deeds that they have not done! When Krishna pretended to have a headache and asked Nārada to get the dust from the feet of a devotee as medicine, the eight wives of Krishna, who were in the stage of pravṛtti, refused to give the dust of their feet saying that they would have to go to hell if they gave it. Since Krishna was not only their Husband but also God, it would be sin to apply the dust of their feet on His head. But the Gopikās willingly gave the dust of their feet. They were in the stage of nivṛtti and their love for Krishna had reached its climax, due to which, they were prepared to go to hell for giving that dust, if it would cure Krishna’s headache and give Him happiness.

If you take the case of Rāvaṇa, he appeared to be at the climax of nivṛtti. His devotion was so full of self-sacrifice that he cut his heads for pleasing God. But, on the other hand, he failed even at following worldly justice, which places him at the lowest level of duṣpravṛtti. He captured Sītā, the wife of Rāma and wanted to marry her. His desire for such an illegitimate bond had surpassed his legitimate worldly bond with his own wife Mandodari. This shows that he was not actually in the stage of nivṛtti. He did not have true love for God. The climax-love for God expressed by him was only to get more divine powers from God. It was selfish love. To add to that, he also failed in the lower level of pravṛtti.

A nivṛtti devotee must develop natural detachment not only from all legitimate bonds but also from all illegitimate bonds due to the climax-love for God. Therefore, entry into nivṛtti is possible only after passing in pravṛtti. In this way, pravṛtti and nivṛtti come one after the other along the same line. A girl joined as a clerk in the office of a man. She wanted to marry him due to her love for him. But if the girl is corrupt in her work at the office, will the man agree to make her his wife? If she proves to be a good employee in the office, there is a possibility of the man considering her proprosal for marriage. The employee-employer relationship between God and a soul is pravṛtti, while the husband-wife relationship is nivṛtti. Success in pravṛtti is the inevitable pre-requisite for entering into nivṛtti.

pravrutti pravritti nivrutti nivritti dushpravrutti Sarvadharmaan Parityajya Duuramete Shuurpanakha Sita Rama Mandodari Gopikas Ravana