The Lord told Arjuna that when his mind would have crossed the mire of delusion and would develop indifference towards the enjoyment of this world and the next and when his mind would rest steady and undistracted in meditation on God, he would realize God or attain union with Him. With reference to this advice, Arjuna desires to know the marks and conduct of the perfect Yogi, possessed of a stable mind who is termed as a sthita prajna. He asks Krishna to describe the nature of such an enlightened Soul. Viz. How would he express himself in the world? What happens to him internally? How does he contact the external world?
Krishna answers, “Reveling in the bliss of the Self, the enlightened one stays free from all egocentric attachments and desires. In the state of absolute fulfillment, all worldly enjoyments fall into insignificance and fail to have any impact on him. He is like a river which has entered the ocean. Having reached that supreme state he has merged with eternity. He is liberated, attained Moksha, the ultimate Purushartha and the goal of life.
The last eighteen verses of this chapter give a brilliant exposition of a Self-realized soul, a perfect personification of a stress-free complete man. These verses can be easily taken as a dissertation on Stress Management Technique from a spiritual angle eliminating the necessity to use anti-depressant drugs without any side effects.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A PERSON WHO HAS ATTAINED WISDOM THROUGH SAMADHI.
sthitaprajnasya kaa bhaashaa samaadhisthasya keshava
sthitadheeh kim prabhaasheta kimaaseeta vrajeta kim // 2.54 //
O Keshava, what is the description of him who has steady wisdom and is merged in the super conscious state (Samadhi)? How does one of steady wisdom speak? How does he sit? How does he walk?
With the advice thus far given, Arjuna seems to have got a better understanding and a doubt appears to have crept in his mind as to whether a person after gaining the goal of life through Buddhi Yoga may yet have a vigorous life at all in the outside world. This doubt is because of the common notion that a perfected individual is ill-suited to lead a normal day-to-day life.
‘The man of steady wisdom” means the one who, through direct realization, has the settled knowledge of his identification with Brahman, the Self. He is the one who realizes that he is Brahman.
The two questions asked by Arjuna are:
1. How is a man of steady wisdom described by others?
2. How does the influence of wisdom manifest itself in his actions in the outer world when he comes out of Samadhi?
The answers to these questions occupy the rest of this Chapter. They comprise of the characteristic attributes of a man of steady wisdom and also the means of attaining such wisdom. These attributes apply equally to Jnana Yogis and Karma Yogis.
Arjuna’s questions simply mean:
- How does a wise person respond to the daily situations in life?
- What are the distinguishing marks or characteristics of a wise person?
The characteristics of a wise person are also the characteristics of one who wants to be wise. In the case of a wise person, such characteristics are natural to that person; but, in the case of one who is not yet wise – but wants to become one – such characteristics need to be cultivated by proper attitude, discipline and practice.
In the next 18 verses, Sri Krishna responds to the question of Arjuna. Sri Krishna does not say how a wise person talks, sits or walks. Appreciating the spirit of Arjuna’s question, Sri Krishna tells Arjuna – and indeed all humanity, the characteristics of a wise person, and also, what makes a person wise.
These verses are of extraordinary significance for two reasons - they tell precisely what wisdom means in practical every day life - with that knowledge, one can help oneself, to uplift oneself spiritually by understanding and appreciating these verses and by meditation and contemplation on the content of these verses. For these reasons these 18 verses are the best known and the most often recited verses in the entire Bhagavad Gita. Therefore, let us now try to understand these verses as well as we can.
sri bhagavaan uvaacha
prajahaati yadaa kaamaan sarvaan paartha manogataan
atmanyevaatmanaa tushtah sthitaprajnastadochyate // 2.55 //
Sri Bhagavan said
O Partha, when a man completely casts off all the desires of the mind, his Self finding satisfaction in itself alone, then he is called a man of steady wisdom.
An exhaustive exposition of the inner and outer life of the `man of steady wisdom' or the `man of Self-realization' follows now. This section of the Gita enumerates the guidelines one should follow as to what types of values and mental attitudes he should develop during his spiritual practice in order that he may come to realize the Divinity in himself.
The man of steady wisdom does not long for external possessions for he enjoys the Supreme Bliss of Self-Knowledge. Such a man of wisdom has renounced all cravings like progeny, wealth and attainment of heaven etc. and enjoys the bliss of communion with the Self. This is what is meant by the self finding satisfaction in itself alone.
Man is a bundle of desires. They may be strong or weak and have an origin and a seat in his mind for whatever cause it may be. Therefore when the mind along with the intellect rests stable in God, all the desires will vanish. After the cessation of all the desires, when a seeker perceives the Supreme Self and rests in the perpetual calm, he is known as ‘satisfied in the self through the self’.
A spiritually ignorant or immature person hangs on to desires, because that person depends on the fulfillment of such desires for his happiness. When a person grows into maturity, and naturally and completely casts off one's dependence on the fulfillment of one's desires for one's happiness, one then becomes a wise person.
Now, when does that happen? Bhagavan says that in the second line - When one discovers happiness in oneself by oneself - then one is called - a wise person.
When one recognizes that one's very nature is “ananda”- one’s very nature is happiness, then there is no need for one to depend on the external objects for fulfillment of one's happiness. When one recognizes that one's very nature is sat-chit-ananda-svarupa-atma - one discovers that one has nothing to gain from outside to be happy - and also, one realizes that one has already gained everlasting happiness in the form of Vision of oneself everywhere and in everything including oneself.
The happiness arising from such vision is called “one discovering Happiness in oneself, by one self in the wake of self knowledge”. When that knowledge takes place, there is no craving for any object or experience external to ones own self, to be happy. At that time all desires have no hold on oneself and they naturally fall from one's mind and buddhi, which is same as telling that one naturally and completely grows out of one's dependence on the fulfillment of one's desires for one's happiness. Discovering happiness as one's own very self, one has no need to go after something else to be happy. Such discovery is indeed the mark of a wise person.
Negatively, this state is one of freedom from selfish desires and positively, it is one of concentration on the supreme. This verse answers the first part of Arjuna's question.