Arjuna in his query regarding Gunatheetha, has also asked how one can transcend the three gunas (Gita 14-21). Lord Krishna, in his reply, discusses this in two verses 14-26 & 27 after briefly enumerating the qualities of Gunatheetha. He prescribes ananya, nish-kama bhakthi to ‘Him’ i.e. unswerving all-time devotion to ‘Him’ seeking no material benefits but only ‘His’ Grace, as a sadhana for transcending the gunas in verse 26, and in verse 27 explains who that ‘He’ is. It is not that Krishna, son of Devaki-Vasudeva, with a form and a body that is mortal and subject to changes which Arjuna is seeing before him, but the Uttama Purusha, the eternal, immutable Supreme, who pervading the three worlds sustains them, and is called the Paramatma (15-17). Such a bhakthi is called parabhakthi, the supreme devotion and one who has this bhakthi is parabhaktha, the supreme devotee. This parabhaktha is one who through total surrender to Paramatma, rises above the gunas, overcomes the spell of maya, sheds his identification with body-mind-complex, realizes his true Self as Athma, and continues to live in the body as Jeevanmuktha, free of samsara, until the exhaustion of prarabhdha. “Such a bhaktha who holds me extremely dear, I too hold him dear” Lord Krishna has declared earlier (7-17). The characteristics of this bhaktha, whom Lord Krishna holds dear, the Parabhaktha that is Jeevanmuktha, Lord Krishna lists out in detail in 7 verses, from 13 to 19, in chapter 12. Since the qualities of a Parabaktha are listed elaborately here, they are listed in groups and not individually. They are:
1) अद्वेष्टा सर्वभूतानां मैत्रः करुण एव च adveshta sarva bhuthanam maitrah karuna eva cha– Parabhaktha bears no hatred, ill-will or malice towards all other creatures, humans included, and he is friendly and compassionate towards one and all.
2) निर्ममो निरहंकारः nirmamo nirahamkaraha – He is free from the feeling of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. He is always conscious of his real identity as sakshi ‘I”, and the ego ‘I’ he uses for transactions with the world as slave ’I’. He has no attachment either to his meagre possessions, nor to any relationships.
3) समदुःखसखः क्षमी sama-dukha-sukha kshami – He views with equanimity, pleasure and pain, and he is of forgiving nature. In fact, in his vision, there is nothing for him to forgive as he lives in the present, carrying no memory of past wrongs or insults, and in the present, as he does not identify himself with the name and form, any offence or insult, does not touch him.
4) संतुष्टः सततं योगी santhushtah satatam yogi – He is always happy and contented and is firmly established in meditation.
5) यता्मा दृढनिश्चयः yatatma drdha-nischayaha – His body, mind and senses are under his control and he is a man of firm conviction
6) मय्यर्पितमनोबद्धिः mayyarpitha mano buddhihi – His mind and intellect are ever dedicated to Paramatma
7) यस्मान्नोद्विजते लोको लोकोन्नोद्विजते च यः yasmanno dvijate loko lokanno dvijate cha yaha - He feels oneness with the world and his heart is full of love for all other living beings, and his calm, peaceful, compassionate composure is one that is not affected by the happenings in the external world, nor does it cause agitations in the external world.
8) हर्षामर्षभयोद्वेगैर्मुक्त: harshamarsha bhayodvegair mukthaha – As regards inward agitations, he is also free of them for excesses of joy, fear, intolerance, and anxiety do not touch him. Whatever feelings or emotions that come to his mind, they have no force, and are short-lived.
9) अनपेक्षः सूचिर्दक्ष उदासीनो गतव्यतह: anapekshah suchirdaksha udhasino gathavyathaha – Here another set of mental qualities are described. His mind has no dependence on external things, is pure, alert, unconcerned and untroubled
10) सर्वारम्भपरित्यागी sarvaarambaparityagi – He has renounced all ego-centric selfish undertakings. Whatever he does is for universal welfare and social good and without any selfish motive.
11) यो न हृ्ष्यति न द्वेष्टि न शोचति न काङ्क्षति yo na hrishyathi na dweshti na sochathi na kankshathi – He does not become elated when something agreeable happens nor does he suffer pangs of regret if something disagreeable happens. He does not grieve over a loss or long for a gain.
12) सुभासुभपरित्यागी भक्तिमान् subhasubhaparityagi bhakthiman – He is ever devoted to Paramatma. As he is beyond dharma and adharma, right and wrong, he is not concerned about the punya or papa attached to his action. Acharya Sankara, while discussing Jeevanmuktha in Tattva Bodha states in section 13 that any punya arising out of his action will accrue to those who praise, adore and worship him, while papa, if any, will go to those who insult or abuse him.
13) समः सत्रौ च मित्रे च तथा मानपमानयोः samah satrau cha mitre cha tatha manapamanayoh – He is the same to all whether they are his well-wishers or ill-wishers as he has love for all. He treats alike honour and dishonour, i.e. with total nonchalance.
14) शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु समः सङ्गविवर्जितः sithoshna sukha dukheshu samah sangavivarjitaha – He is free from all attachments, including his body-mind-complex. So he is immune to bodily and mental discomforts and disturbances, and his placidity suffers no change in all circumstances affecting the body-mind, like climate changes from one extreme to other or swings in experiences like pleasure and pain.
15) तुल्यनिन्दास्तुतिर्मौनि tulyanindasthuthrmouni – His equanimity is undisturbed by praise or blame. He does not indulge in loose talk or gossip and enjoys silence as a means of communion with his Self. This state of silence arises out of intoxication with the supreme love for the Supreme Lord. This is described in Narada Bhakthi sutras in sutra 6 as मत्तो भवति, स्तब्धो भवति, आत्मारामो भवति matho bhavathi, sthabdho bhavathi, athmaramo bhavathi i.e. he becomes intoxicated with devotion, and enjoys silently that state of ecstacy, united in the Self, that is Paramathma.
16) संतुष्टो येनकेनचित् अनिकेतः स्थिरमतिः भक्तिमान् santhushto yena kenachit anikethah sthiramathihi bhakthiman – In all places he feels at home, while calling no place as his home. He is happy and contented with whatever he has or gets and has no demands from anybody and no expectations in life. He has a steady mind, fixed in devotion to Paramatma.
This parabhaktha, Lord Krishna describes as ब्रह्मभूतः Brahmabhuthaha, one who has attained Brahman, in verse 54 of Chapter 18. A Parabhaktha is indeed a Parama Jnani, as it is true in reverse as well..