A heart touching and very practical question from dear blessed soul Rajendra Hardial jee from Toronto, Ontario.
We will take up this question in two phases. In first phase, we will try to explore what this stage of “Stitha Prajna” is and what are the attributes of a steady minded sage?This stage is almost the highest stage of spiritual attainment and once you reach to this stage, there is no question of calculation of any longer or shorter time for staying in that state.That Soul which has resolved his doubts is in the state of samadhi or perfect absorption of thought in the Supreme Spirit, the one worthy object of meditation. One who has achieved even- minded discrimination by identification with the eternal essence, which has neither a beginning nor an end, is said to be in the state of abstract contemplation of the nature of the Supreme Spirit and only such may lead spiritual aspirants as a real Guru. This state is called the state of “Stitha Prajna”.
Arjun has asked a question in Chapter Two, Verse Fifty Four of Bhgavad Gita:
sthitaprajñasya kā bhāṣā samādhisthasya keśava,
sthitadhīḥ kim prabhāṣeta kim āsīta vrajeta kim (2.54)
“What, O Keshav, is the mark of the man who has attained to the state of true meditation and equanimity of mind, and how does this man with firm discrimination speak, sit, and walk ?’’
Arjun asks Sri Krishn for the qualities of the man with a mind of equanimity engaged in such contemplation. How does a man with steadfast wisdom speak? How does he sit? What is his gait? Arjun has thus asked four questions.
And in reply, sings Yogeshwar Krishn:
prajahāti yadā kāmān sarvān pārtha manogatān,
ātmany evā’tmanā tuṣṭah ̣sthiaprajñas tado’cyate
duḥkheṣu anudvignamanāh sukheṣu vigataspṛhah,
vītrarāgabhayakrodhah ̣sthitadhīr munir ucyate
“A man is then said to be steadfast in mind when he has renounced all the desires of his mind and achieved contentment of the Self through the Self.”
When a man has renounced all his desires and achieved his Soul’s contentment through the contemplation of his Soul, he is said to be a man of firm discernment. This Self is apprehended only through complete abandonment of passion. The sage who has viewed the ineffable beauty of his Self and found perfect satisfaction in him is the man with a steady judgement.
“He is indeed a steady-minded sage who is unmoved by sorrow and indifferent to happiness, and who has overcome his passion fear, and anger.’’
He whose mind is untroubled by bodily, accidental, and worldly sorrows, and who has rid himself of desire for physical pleasures, and whose passions, fear, and anger have been subdued, is the sage with discrimination who has achieved the culmination of spiritual discipline.Sri Krishn then points out other qualities of this saintly man in next verses.
yaḥ sarvatrā’nabhisnehas tat-tat prāpya śubhāśubham,
nā’bhinandati na dveṣti tasya prajnā pratiṣṭhitā
yadā samharate cā’yam kūrmo’ngānī va sarvasah ̣,
indriyān ̣ī’ndriyārthebhays tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā
“That man has a steady mind who is entirely free from attachment and who neither gloats over success nor abhors failure.”
That man has a firm wisdom who is totally free from infatuation and who neither welcomes good fortune nor repudiates misfortune. That alone is auspicious which draws a Soul to the being of God, whereas that which pulls the mind to temptations of the material world is inauspicious. The man of discrimination is not too happy in favourable circumstances and he also does not scorn adversities, because neither is the object which is fit for attainment different from him nor is there for him any evil that may sully the purity of his mind. That is to say that he has now no need for further striving.
“As a turtle pulls in its limbs, this man reins in his senses from all objects, and then he truly has a steady mind.’’
When a man pulls back his senses from all sides and restrains them within his mind like a turtle pulling its head and feet within its shell, his mind is steady. But it is only an analogy. As soon as the turtle knows that the danger is gone, it again expands its limbs.
Does a man of steadfast wisdom also, in the same way, let his senses loose after restraining them, and resume enjoyment of worldly pleasures?
viṣayā vinivartante nirāhārasya dehinah,
rasavarjam raso’py asya param dṛṣṭvā nivartate
“While objects of sensual pleasure cease to be for the man who withdraws his senses from them, his desire for these objects yet remains; but the desires of the man of discrimination are completely erased by his perception of God.’’
The objects of sense come to an end for the man who has rejected them because his senses no longer perceive them, but his desires yet survive. The feeling of attachment lives on. But the passions of the yogi, the doer of selfless action, are annihilated by his perception of the ultimate essence that is God.The accomplished, or enlightened, sage does not, like the turtle, re-extend his senses to objects which are pleasing to them. When once his senses have shrivelled, all the influences and impressions (sanskar) he has carried with him from a previous existence are irrevocably dead. His senses do not then return to life.By apprehending God through the observance of the Way of Selfless Action, even the attachments to objects of sensual pleasure become extinct. Force has often been a feature of meditation, and by its use seekers rid themselves of objects of sense. But thoughts of these objects persist. These attachments are brought to an end only with the perception of God and never before that, because before this stage residues of matter persist.Sri Krishn proclaims that although a man’s association with objects of sense ends when he restrains them from reacting to these objects, he is rid of desire for these objects only when he knows his own Self as the identical God through meditation. So we have to act until we have achieved this perception.
yatato hy api kaunteya puruṣasya vipaścitaḥ,
indriyāṇi pramāthīni haranti prasabham manaḥ
tāni sarvāṇi sanyamya yukta āsīta matparaḥ,
vaśe hi yasye’ndriyāṇi tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā
“O son of Kunti, men ought to subdue their senses which seize forcibly even wise and striving minds, and devote themselves to me with perfect concentration, because only that man’s mind is unwavering who has achieved control of his senses.”
Mutinous senses ravish even discerning and active minds, and undo their steadiness. So with full control over his senses, equipped with yog and devotion, seeker should find shelter in God, for that man alone has a firm mind who has subdued his senses. Here Yogeshwar Krishn explains what ought to be prevented in the course of worship, as also the components of spiritual seeking which it is the duty of men to undertake. Restraint and prohibition alone cannot subdue the senses. Along with negation of senses there must also be incessant contemplation of the desired God. In the absence of such reflection, the mind will be preoccupied with material objects, the evil consequence of which we see in the words of Sri Krishn himself.
dhyāyato visyān punsaḥ sangas teṣu’pajāyate,
sangāt samjāyate kāmaḥ kāmāt krodho’ bhijājāte
krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ sammohāt smṛtivibhramaḥ,
smṛtibranśād buddnināśo buddināśāt praṇaśyati
“They whose thoughts are of sensual objects are attached to them, attachment gives rise to desires, and anger is born when these desires are obstructed.’’
The feeling of attachment persists in men who have got over their concern with the objects of sense. Desire is born from attachment. And there is anger when there is an obstacle in the way of satisfaction of desire. And what does the feeling of anger give rise to ?“Delusion is born from anger, by which memory is confused; confusion of memory undermines the faculty of discrimination and, when discrimination is lost, the seeker deviates from the means of absolution.’’Confusion and ignorance arise from anger. Distinction between the eternal and the transient is obliterated. Remembrance is shaken by delusion. Sri Krishn says again that in such a state of mind one cannot determine wisely what to do and what not to do. Confusion of memory weakens the seeker’s dedication and loss of discrimination makes him deviate from his goal of being one with God.Here Sri Krishn has emphasized the importance of cultivating unconcern with sensual objects. The worshipper’s mind should rather always be concerned with that-word, form, incarnation, or abode-by which his mind may be enabled to be one with God. The mind is drawn to sensual objects when the discipline of worship is relaxed. Thoughts of these objects produce attachment, which in its own turn results in desire for them. Anger is generated if the satisfaction of this desire is obstructed in any way. And ignorance finally undoes the power of discernment.The Way of Selfless Action is also said to be the Way of Knowledge, for it has always to be kept in view that desire must not be allowed to enter the worshipper’s mind. There are, after all, no real fruits. Advent of desire is inimical to wisdom. Steady contemplation is, therefore, a necessity. A man who does not always think of God strays from the right path that will lead him to ultimate bliss and glory.However, there is one consolation. The chain of worship is only broken, not completely destroyed. Once the joy of worship has been experienced,when taken up again, it resumes from the same point at which it was discontinued.This is the fate of the worshipper who is attached to sensual objects. But what is the lot of the seeker who has mastered his mind and heart?
rāgadveṣaviyuktais tu viṣayān indriyaiś caran,
ātmavaśyair vidheyātmā prasādam adhigacchati
“But that man achieves spiritual tranquillity who has mastered his mind, and who remains unaffected by sense-objects although he may be roaming amidst them, because his senses are properly restrained.”
Possessed of the means of spiritual realization, the sage who has experienced an intuitive perception of the identity of Self and the Supreme Spirit achieves the state of the most sublime peace, because he has subdued his senses, and therefore remained untouched by their objects even though he may be wandering in their midst. No prohibitions are needed for such a man. There is for him nothing unpropitious anywhere against which he should fight and defend himself. There is also for him no good for which he should yearn.
prasāde sarvaduḥkhānām hānir asyo’pajāyate,
prasannacetaso hy āśu buddhiḥ paryavatiṣṭhate
“After realizing the ultimate repose, all his (the seeker’s) sorrows disappear, and the blissful mind of such a man quickly grows in firmness.”
Blessed with a vision of God’s ineffable glory and his divine grace, all the worshipper’s griefs-the temporal world and its objects which are the abode of all sorrows-vanish and his power of discrimination grows strong and steady. Hereafter,Sri Krishn dwells upon the lot of those who have not achieved the saintly condition in next verse.
nā’sti buddhir ayuktasya na cā’yuktasya bhavanā,
na cā’bhāvayatah ̣śāntir aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham
“A man without spiritual accomplishment has no wisdom nor true faith, and a man without devotion knows no peace of mind. Since happiness depends on peace, how can such men be happy?”
A man who has not undertaken meditation is devoid of selfless action oriented wisdom. This impoverished man is even deficient in the feeling of devotion to the all-pervading Spirit. How can such a man, without an awareness of the Self within and the God without, be at peace? And how can he, without peace, experience happiness? There can be no devotion without knowing the object of devotion and knowledge comes from contemplation. Without devotion there can be no peace and a man with a disturbed mind cannot experience happiness, much less the state of changeless, eternal bliss.
indriyāṇām hi caratām yan mano’nuvidhīyate,
tad asya harati prajñām vāyur nāvam ivā’mbhasi
“For, as the wind captures the boat on water, just so even one of the senses, that roam amidst objects of their gratification and with which the intellect dwells, is strong enough to sweep away the discrimination of one who is unpossessed of spiritual attainment.’’
As the wind drives a boat far away from its destination, even one out of the five senses roving amongst objects perceived by the intellect can get hold of the man who has not undertaken the task of spiritual quest and discipline. Therefore incessant remembrance of God is essential.Sri Krishn again dwells upon the importance of action-oriented conduct.
tasmād yasya mahābāho nigṛhītāni sarvaśaḥ,
indriyāṇī’ndriyārthebhyas tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā
‘‘Therefore, O the mighty-armed (Arjun), the man who prevents his senses from straying to objects has a steady discrimination.”
The man who restricts his senses from being drawn to their objects is a man of steady wisdom. “Arm” is a measure of the sphere of action. God is called “mighty-armed” (mahabahu), although he is bodiless and works everywhere without hands and feet. The one who becomes one with him or is inclined to him and is on the way to his sublime splendour is also therefore, “mighty-armed.”
yā niśā sarvabhūtānām tasyām jāgarti sanyamī,
yasyām jāgrati bhutāni sā niśā paśyato muneḥ
“The true worshipper (yogi) remains awake amidst what is night for all creatures, but the perishable and transient worldly pleasures amidst which all living creatures stay awake are like night for the sage who has perceived reality.”
The transcendental Spirit is like night for living beings because he can be neither seen nor comprehended by thought. So he is like night, but it is in this night that the spiritually conscious man remains awake because he has seen the formless and known the incomprehensible. The seeker finds access to God through control of senses, peace of mind, and meditation. That is why the perishable worldly pleasures for which living beings toil day after day is night for God’s true worshipper.The sage alone, who beholds the individual Self and the Universal Self and is indifferent to desire, succeeds in his enterprise of God-realization. So he dwells in the world and is yet untouched by it. Let us now see what Sri Krishn has to say on the way in which this realized sage conducts himself.
āpūryamāṇam acalapratiṣṭham samudram āpaḥ praviśanti yadvat,
tadvat kāmā yam praviśanti sarve sa śāntim āpnoti na kāmakāmī
“As the water of the many rivers falls into the full and ever constant ocean without affecting its tranquillity, even so the pleasures of sense merge into a man of steady discrimination without producing any deviation, and such a man attains to the state of the most sublime peace rather than yearn for sensual enjoyment.’’
The full and changeless ocean assimilates all the rivers that flow violently into it without losing its repose. Similarly the man who is aware of the oneness of his Self and the Supreme Spirit assimilates all worldly pleasures within himself without in any way staying from his chosen path. Rather than longing for sensual gratification, he aims at the achievement of the most sublime bliss of uniting his Self with the supreme God.Ravaging everything that comes in their way- crops,men and animals, and their habitations-and with a frightening roar, the violently sweeping currents of hundreds of rivers fall into the ocean with a tremendous force but they can neither raise or lower its level by even an inch; they only merge into the ocean. In the same violent way sensual pleasures assault the sage who has attained knowledge of reality and merge in him.They can impress on him neither weal nor woe. The actions of the worshipper are non good and non evil: they transcend good and evil.The minds which are conscious of God, restrained and dissolved, bear only the mark of divine excellence. So how can any other impression be made on such a mind? In this one verse, thus, Sri Krishn has answered several of queries. With the single word- “ocean”-the omniscient Sri Krishn answers all these questions. The mark of a sage is that he is like an ocean. Like an ocean he is not bound by rules,that he must sit like this and walk like that. It is men like him who achieve the ultimate peace, for they have self control. They who yearn for pleasure can have no peace.
vihāya kāmān yaḥ sarvān pumāmś carati niḥspṛhaḥ,
nimamo nirahamkāraḥ sa śāntim adhigacchati
eṣā brāhmī sthitiḥ pārtha nai’nām prāpya vimuhyati,
sthitvā’syām antakāle’pi brahmanirvāṇam ṛcchati
‘‘The man who has renounced all desire, and who conducts himself without ego, arrogance, and attachment, is the one who achieves peace.’’
Men who have given up all desire, and whose actions are entirely free from the feelings of I and mine, realize the ultimate peace beyond which there is nothing to strive for and achieve.
“Such, is the steadfastness of the man who has realized God; after attaining to this state he subdues all temptation and, resting firmly in his faith, even at the time of his death he continues in this state of rapture of the union of his Self with God.’’
Such is the state of one who has realized God. Rivers of temporal objects merge into these ocean-like sages who are endowed with self control and an intuitive perception of God.
~Revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans.
Bow down in lotus feet of Revered Gurudev for such teaching go me.
And only such totally accomplished and fully enlightened sages are “Real Guru” who can lead and guide an honest seeker to traverse upon dedicated devotional spiritual path for attainment of ultimate bliss.