Shaanti usually means peace. Does this mean that after doing meditation, all you will get out of it is the same peace that can be gained from a tranquilliser or a shot of something? No, this shaanti is not that kind of peace; it is matsamstha and nirvanaparama. In his commentary, Shankara defined shaanti as uparati, uparati meaning resolution or sarvakarmasannyasa, wherein doership and enjoyership are renounced as discussed at length previously. Nirvana means moksha. Therefore, this is a shaanti that has its basis in moksha. It is moksha-shaanti itself.
And what is this moksha-shaanti ? There are three types of shaanti. One shaanti is where there is no thinking whatsoever, which can be induced so that the frequency of thinking is cut down. Another shaanti is when you enjoy a shaanti along with a certain capacity to manage an active mind. This is important because you need the mind in order to think.
The first shaanti, which is freedom from thinking, can only be temporary and requires a lot of inducements. This shaanti is that which is there between two thoughts or between two spells of agitation. Whereas the second shaanti is there when there is a certain distance between yourself and the mind, whatever be the situation. And because of this you are able to manage your affairs with a certain amount of composure.
And the third shaanti is moksha, wherein the mind becomes a privilege. Whatever the mind is, it is me, but I am not the mind. This knowledge is the freedom, total freedom. You do not control the mind. You do not take the mind somewhere. Rather, wherever the mind goes, the person always has this knowledge. Then, the person is truly a devotee because, wherever the mind is, there the Lord is for this person.
KNOWLEDGE BASED DEVOTION
To express this knowledgebased devotion, there are many stories. One such story is about a great devotee of Lord Shiva. One day he came and found a sadhu sleeping with his feet placed on a linga. For anyone to do such a thing, let alone a sadhu, is a desecration. Therefore, the devotee shouted angrily at the sadhu, 'Wake up! How can you dare to put your feet on the linga!' To this, the sadhu replied, 'I am very old. I am tired and sleepy. I have no strength to move my feet. Therefore, please put my feet wherever you want. I cannot lift them.' Then the devotee picked up the sadhu's feet and moved them away from the linga. But to his surprise, another linga appeared under the sadhu's feet. Confused, he moved the sadhu's feet again. But wherever he placed them, yet another linga appeared in that very place! Then he understood that there is no place where the Lord is not. In other words, there is no place to put one's feet that is not the Lord.
Similarly, wherever the mind goes, it remains in the Lord's presence. There is no question of getting the mind out of or into anything here. To make this point, a seeker in the Brhadaranyakopanishad said, 'It is as though the mind has gone away and, therefore, I am as though meditating.' For the 'as though' gone away mind, 'as though' meditation is good enough. And, when the 'as though' becomes clear to you, then the mind does not go away and therefore, does not require any meditation. This is the shaanti called nirvana-parama shaanti, moksha, the shaanti that is one's svarupa, in which there is no coming and going, no degrees or variations, and for which no comparison to anything is possible.
THE SHAANTI THAT IS ONESELF
Because this shaanti is identical with oneself, Krishna describes it as mat-samstha, meaning matadhiina, that which always obtains in the paramatma because paramatma does not move at anytime; it is kutastha, immutable; it does not get involved with anything, and does not stand opposed to anything either. If there is opposition, there is some rub or resistance, which is ashaanti. Shaanti is identical with paramatma in that it is not opposed to thought, it is not opposed to the world, it is not opposed to knowledge, it is not opposed to ignorance, it is not opposed to anything. At the same time, it lends itself to everything. Thus, the meditator gains this shaanti, this freedom or liberation — matadhiinaam shaantim adhigacchati.Om Tat Sat