वदान्यता

A Virtue from Gurumayi Chidvilasananda
for June 24, 2021

Vadanyata

Commentary by Ami Bansal

Shri Gurumayi has given everyone a beautiful birthday gift. I am so delighted that I have been given the seva of writing a commentary on Gurumayi’s gift to everyone—the virtue in honor of her birthday on June 24, 2021.

वदान्यता

Vadānyatā

Whenever I come across a new word, and especially when it is a gift from Gurumayi, the very first thing I like to do is to say the word out loud. It’s like having Gurumayi’s prasad and relishing her prasad as a mantra. So I invite you to do just that. Read the word, mentally formulate the pronunciation correctly in your head, enjoy the beauty of the syllables. For example, when written in roman script, the word has many “a” vowels: va-dānya-tā (va-daanya-taa). It’s a bit like saying “Aaaaaah,” like freeing the breath. Repeat the word a few times out loud to yourself.

When Gurumayi says something to us, we feel an ethereal resonance in our hearts, in our beings. It is indescribable. For this reason, with the virtue that Gurumayi has given us as a gift, when we say it out loud, it invokes a certain bhava, an inner state of being, a familiar yet novel feeling, which holds divine inspiration. So once again, repeat this word aloud or if you wish, say it in your mind:

Va-dānya-tā

As you repeat this word, let it pulsate in every cell of your body. Simply enjoy it. Relish it. Let the beauty of it permeate your being.

The virtue vadānyatā is replete with profound meanings. No single word in any other language can express exactly what vadānyatā means and all the other qualities it encompasses and evokes.

Therefore, I will elucidate here its multifaceted denotation and multihued connotations, in order for you to understand its essence, admire its exquisiteness, and be able to apply it to your Siddha Yoga sadhana.

Let’s begin. Vadānyatā can be derived from two different Sanskrit verbal roots: vad  “to speak” or “to express,” and   “to give.” Inherent in this derivation is an array of meanings that include the qualities of magnanimity, nobility, and benevolence; friendliness and affability; as well as eloquence and speaking kindly.

Now, let us look at these different flavors of vadānyatā and how they apply to everyone’s life.

Vadānyatā is magnanimity, nobility, and benevolence.

The glow of goodness in a person evincing vadānyatā  is like a beam of sunlight that brightens the darkness of a thick forest. People with hearts full of goodness naturally believe in caring for and looking out for one another. They have faith in the circuit of munificence in which one good deed inspires another, creating a ripple effect that encourages others to also be thoughtful and empathetic. Their magnanimity is devoid of selfishness as they genuinely look for opportunities to offer their best to their world. Their nobility comes from their dedication to implementing the virtues of the Heart, the divine virtues that Gurumayi teaches. And their benevolence is founded in the knowledge that everything in this universe is one principle; therefore, they act with the understanding that when one helps others, one also helps oneself. There is no holding back in their giving and no ulterior motive to their altruism. The only parallel to the virtues of such people is in nature’s immeasurable bounteousness.

A well-known subhashita, a wise saying in Sanskrit, draws this picture of the virtue of vadānyatā:

धत्ते भरं कुसुमपत्रफलावलीनां मर्मव्यथां स्पृशति शीतभवां रुजं च ।
यो देहमर्पयति चान्यसुखस्य हेतोस्तस्मै वदान्यगुरवे तरवे नमोऽस्तु ॥

dhatte bharaṁ kusuma-patra-phalāvalīnāṁ
marma-vyathāṁ spṛśati śītabhavāṁ rujaṁ ca
yo dehamarpayati cānyasukhasya hetostasmai
vadānya-gurave tarave namo'stu

I bow to the great magnanimous tree,
which holds the weight of its branches
laden with leaves, flowers, and fruits.
It endures pain as it offers its branches
and stands through severe cold,
and in this way gives its whole being
for the welfare of others.1

motif

Vadānyatā is friendliness and affability.

The nature of people who embody the virtue vadānyatā is to be friendly and affable. They are welcoming, hospitable, and ready to lend an ear. As friends, they are warm, and their presence evokes easefulness and spontaneity.

Sage Bhartrihari in his text Nitishatakam says:

तन्मित्रमापदि सुखे च समक्रियं यत् ।

tanmitramāpadi sukhe ca samakriyaṁ yat 

A friend is one who is present in both
times of hardship and times of happiness.2

A good friend is someone whose steady presence and guidance give you strength in times of adversity, and who adds to your delight in times of joy.

Mitra, one of the Sanskrit words for “friend,” is also one of the names for the god of the sun. As the source of light and vitality on this planet, each morning the sun invariably awakens all life forms, summoning them to live, breathe, and flourish. As mitra, a friend of this universe, the sun keeps an eye on the entire creation, sustaining the earth and the planets. The sun is an equal friend to all, be it animals, birds, humans, trees, rivers, mountains, or oceans.

motif

Vadānyatā is eloquence and speaking kindly.

Words—whether they are spoken, written, or experienced through thoughts—are the main way we have to express ourselves. Our words have a lasting impact on our life, our destiny, and the people we love—they can either mend or bend, enliven or dishearten. The virtue of vadānyatā teaches us to express ourselves with care and clarity. We are manifesting vadānyatā when we are lucid in our communications.

Vadānyatā mirrors God’s bounty and affection through words. It guides us to speak kindly. Speaking kindly is not about indulging in insincere “sweet talk.” We speak kindly when we are respectful yet honest. We speak eloquently when we are coherent. We speak sweetly when the intention behind our words is to support others. Vadānyatā shines most brightly when our words are thought through and well chosen.

motif

Vadānyatā is magnanimity, nobility, and benevolence.
         Vadānyatā is friendliness and affability.
                  Vadānyatā is eloquence and speaking kindly.

I invite you to look closely at these flavors of vadānyatā. If you look at your surroundings, you will find many examples of this noble virtue emanating from all living beings and inanimate objects. My staunch belief is that by revealing this virtue, vadānyatā, to us and by giving it as a birthday gift, Gurumayi is emphasizing that—at any time in our sadhana and especially during this turbulent, uncertain time—we need to guard, practice, and embody this virtue vigilantly, for it will act as an anchor in our own lives as well as for others.

The recognition of vadānyatā will give us the drishti, the outlook, that the sages of India possessed and taught to their disciples. Expounding on this sublime outlook, the sage Vasishtha says:

समदृष्टिरुदारात्मा वदान्यः संविभागवान् ।
पेशलस्निग्धमधुरः सुन्दरः पुण्यकीर्तनः ॥

samadṛṣṭirudārātmā vadānyaḥ saṁvibhāgavān
peśalasnigdhamadhuraḥ sundaraḥ puṇyakīrtanaḥ

Having the vision of equality, wise beings
are greathearted, magnanimous, and charitable.
They are calm, loving, kind in their speech,
and graceful in their looks.
They truly are famed for their virtuous deeds.3

Isn’t this beautiful? Isn’t this a wonderful goal to envision, to strive for, and to live by?

I firmly believe that when Gurumayi gives us something, she has full trust in our ability to experience what she is giving us. Therefore, I encourage you to know that you do have the virtue vadānyatā within you. You might not have known how to describe these amazing qualities that are inherent within you, and now you know.

I am imbued with the hues of vadānyatā.
1Subhashita; English rendering © SYDA Foundation 2021.
2Bhartrihari, Nitishatakam 68; English rendering © SYDA Foundation 2021.
3Yoga Vasishtha 7.170.34; English rendering © SYDA Foundation 2021.