SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 9 Chapter 2, Verses 51 to 60 – SANKHYA YOGA

Bhagavan Krishna explains that those who acquire spiritual intelligence take refuge in the Supreme and renounce the fruits of their action.  Arjuna wants to know the attributes and characteristics of such a wise man.

Bhagavan explains that a person who is ‘Sthitha-prajna’ has total control over his sense and is not disturbed by miseries, who is not elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger.  Such a Sage is known as steadfast in consciousness i.e. Sthitha-prajna.

In these ten verses, Bhagavan explains the qualities and attributes of a wise man. He also explains the process to attain spiritual intelligence and how can seek to realise the Self (Atma) and experience the union with Ultimate Consciousness. Krishna also cautions that the senses are so strong and impetuous that they can forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is vigilant and endeavouring to control them.

2.51     Shloka 2.51

कर्मजं बुद्धियुक्ता हि फलं त्यक्त्वा मनीषिणः।
जन्मबन्धविनिर्मुक्ताः पदं गच्छन्त्यनामयम्।।2.51।।

Karma-jam buddhi-yukta hi phalam tyaktva manisinah             |
Janma-bandha-vinirmuktah padam gacchanty anamayam ||2.51||
Meaning:  Endowed with spiritual intelligence, the wise men, take refuge in the Lord, and free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing the fruits of action in the material world. In this way they attain tranquillity and get beyond all miseries.

Those who are factually situated in spiritual intelligence perform activities as a matter of duty free from conceptions of gain and loss, unconcerned about the resultant rewards. They are assuredly delivered from the bondage of birth and death in the material existence and are liberated to the spiritual realms.

The liberated living entities seek that place where there are no material miseries. Srimad Bhagavatam says:
Samasrita ye padapallava-plavam mahat-padam punya-yaso murareh |
Bhavambudhir vatsa-padam param padam param padam yad vipadam na tesam || (SB 10.14.58)
Meaning: For those who have accepted the boat of the Lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation, and is famous as Murari, the destroyer of Demon Mura, for them the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoof print. Their goal is Parama padam, or Vaikuntha, the place where there are no material miseries. This is not a place there is danger in every step of life.”

One who wrongly thinks that the living entity’s position and the Lord’s position are on the same level is ignorant and therefore unable to engage himself in the devotional service of the Lord. He assumes to be a Lord himself and thus is destined to the repeated cycles of birth and death. But one who, understanding that his position is to serve, engages himself in the service of the Lord, and at once becomes eligible for Parama Padam or Vaikuntha.

Liberation from the material existence is the direction to strive for and attaining the blissful state of the spiritual worlds described in the Upanishads as Vaikuntha which is free from all miseries. The conclusion is that in order to attain the unlimited bliss of boundless joy in the spiritual world one must abandon the fruits of meritorious deeds as well or else they will bestow trivial material rewards.

2.52     Shloka 2.52

यदा ते मोहकलिलं बुद्धिर्व्यतितरिष्यति।
तदा गन्तासि निर्वेदं श्रोतव्यस्य श्रुतस्य च।।2.52।।

Yada te moha-kalilam buddhir vyatitarisyati            |
Tada gantasi nirvedam srotavyasya srutasya ca ||2.52||
Meaning:  When your spiritual intelligence overcomes the myriads of delusion, you shall become indifferent to all that has been heard and all that is to be heard.

There are many examples in the lives of the great devotees of the Lord who became indifferent to the rituals of the Vedas and were engaged in the devotional service to the Lord (e.g. Gora Kumbhar, Sena Nai, Sant Tukaram etc.).

When a person develops deep devotion and firmly establishes his relationship with Bhagavan, he naturally becomes completely indifferent to the rituals of fruitive activities.

The word ‘nirvedam’ means indifferent and here it is to be understood that in the process acquiring wisdom by spiritual intelligence one becomes indifferent to mundane pursuits. As one’s devotions become well established and focussed, that person advances with spiritual intelligence and develops greater awareness of the Self (Atma) and mundane desires wane. Bhagavan is very attracted to devotees possessing these attributes.

2.53     Shloka 2.53

श्रुतिविप्रतिपन्ना ते यदा स्थास्यति निश्चला।
समाधावचला बुद्धिस्तदा योगमवाप्स्यसि।।2.53।।

Sruti-vipratipanna te yada sthasyati niscala                |
Samadhav acala buddhis tada yogam avapsyasi ||2.53||
Meaning: When your mind is no longer influenced by the actions for fruitive results as prescribed in the Vedas, and when it remains fixed in the trance of self-realisation, then you will achieve a pure spiritual state and unite with the Ultimate Consciousness.

To say that one is in Samadhi is to say that one has fully realised Brahman, ParamAtma or Bhagavan. ‘Shruti vipratipanna’ means not being influenced to perform rituals for rewards as given in the Vedic scriptures.

‘Shruti’ refers to Vedas and scriptures and implies ‘Sravanam’ or learning through hearing them. By listening to Vedic instructions, the mind evolves and begins to reflect and contemplate on the Infinite and subtle nature of the eternal soul. When this consciousness is firmly rooted within the mind and is steadfast and stable, it purifies the mind of all dross and selfish thoughts. One reaches a state of equanimity and the fruit of equanimity is the gradual experience of the soul itself. This eventually leads to achieve yoga and realise enlightenment.

Hearing this Arjuna next desires to understand the components of this unique consciousness. Is it achieved by willpower, by yoga, by knowledge of the soul, by detachment or is it a combination of all of the above?

2.54     Shloka 2.54

अर्जुन उवाच
स्थितप्रज्ञस्य का भाषा समाधिस्थस्य केशव।
स्थितधीः किं प्रभाषेत किमासीत व्रजेत किम्।।2.54।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Sthita-prajnasya ka bhasa samadhi-sthasya kesava    |
Sthita-dhih kim prabhaseta kim asita vrajeta kim ||2.54||
Meaning: Arjuna said: What are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is situated in perfect knowledge? How does a person in such a spiritual knowledge speak and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?

When the mind becomes fixed remaining steadfast on the Supreme, then equanimity arises. One with spiritual knowledge in transcendent meditation realises the ultimate truth perceiving God within.

Arjuna wants to know the characteristics of a person who has perfect knowledge, is steadfast and is Equanimous. He asks Bhagavan Krishna to describe such a person and wants to know how does such a person speak, sit and walk.

2.55     Shloka 2.55

श्री भगवानुवाच
प्रजहाति यदा कामान् सर्वान् पार्थ मनोगतान्।
आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्टः स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते।।2.55।।

Shri Bhagavan Uvaca
Prajahati yada Kaman sarvan partha mano-gatan          |
Atmany evatmana tustah sthita-prajnas tadocyate ||2.55||
Meaning: Bhagavan said: O’ Partha, when a man gives up all varieties of sense gratifications that arise in the mind, and when his mind finds satisfaction in realisation of pure Self (Soul), then such a person is said to be in perfect knowledge.

In order to answer Arjuna’s four questions Lord Krishna begins from this Shloka and continues till the end of this chapter.

Bhagavan answers the first question by explaining that when one completely abandons all cravings of the mind one is ‘Sthitha-prajna’ i.e. one who is situated in transcendental consciousness. What is the indication that one has abandoned all cravings of the mind? Lord Krishna explains that such a being is immersed in the Soul and is completely satisfied by the Soul. The stability of one’s mind can be known when one becomes pleased and satisfied by the resultant purity of the mind after completely abandoning all desires and lust. Such a transcendentally situated person has no material desires and remains always happy in his natural position of eternally serving the Supreme Lord.

2.56     Shloka 2.56

दुःखेष्वनुद्विग्नमनाः सुखेषु विगतस्पृहः।
वीतरागभयक्रोधः स्थितधीर्मुनिरुच्यते।।2.56।।

Duhkhesv anudvigna-manah sukhesu vigata-sprhah    |
Vita-raga-bhaya-krodhah sthita-dhir munir ucyate ||2.56||
Meaning: One who is not disturbed in spite of the threefold miseries, who is not elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, that Sage is known as steadfast in consciousness.

A ‘sthita-dhi-muni’ mentioned herein by the Lord, is one who has surpassed the stage of mental speculations and has come to the conclusion that the Supreme Lord is everything. Such a person is undisturbed in sorrow.

There are three types of sorrow or pain:

  • Adyatmika (Physical) – pain of the body and pain of the mind. The pain of the body is diseases and ailments attacking it such as fever, gout, diabetes etc. The pain of the mind is due to insult, jealousy, shame and the like.
  • Adhi-daivika (Supernatural) – misery caused by natural calamities such as drought, flooding, cyclones, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.
  • Adhi-bhautika (Natural) – pain caused by demons, animals, ghosts, etc.

Those whose minds remain unperturbed by these afflictions as they have become devoid of expectations and desires in whatever the results as they are free from passion, fear and anger. Passion is the extreme mental attachment to objects cherished with intense desire with the intention of never letting these objects to be dispossessed. Fear is the pain caused by the approaching agony arising from separation from what is cherished. Anger is a specific mental attitude which appears in one who experiences separation at the time of loss of cherished objects. These three passion, fear and anger all arise due to the lack of discrimination regarding the eternal nature of the soul. By gradually developing this discrimination one becomes free from these three impediments and with constant contemplation one becomes steadfast with equanimity.  Such a being is a ‘sthitha-dhi-muni’ or one with a steady and profound contemplation of the soul. This being is known as ‘Sthitha-prajna’, one who is situated in perfect knowledge of transcendental consciousness.

2.57     Shloka 2.57

यः सर्वत्रानभिस्नेहस्तत्तत्प्राप्य शुभाशुभम्।
नाभिनन्दति द्वेष्टि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता।।2.57।।

Yah sarvatranabhisnehas tat tat prapya subhasubham  |
Nabhinandati na dvesti tasya prajna pratisthita         ||2.57||
Meaning: He who is without attachment, who does not rejoice when he obtains good, nor laments when he obtains evil; he is firmly established in perfect knowledge. 

There is always some commotion in the material world due to good or evil outcomes. One who is not agitated by such material outcomes and is unaffected by good and evil is to be understood to be established in perfect knowledge, technically called Samadhi.

Forming no attachment in any situation means to be indifferent or unconcerned attitude. Lord Krishna is instructing not to be overjoyed by pleasant outcomes nor become despondent over the unpleasant results. One who can successfully be equipoised is said to be a Sthitha-prajna, situated in the perfect knowledge of transcendental consciousness.

Thus, the characteristic of a Sthitha-prajna is such that he uses his words sparsely, praises no one and blames no one. Because such a person possesses neither love nor hatred for any living being he is not afflicted by any sense desires and is said to be situated in transcendental consciousness.

2.58     Shloka 2.58

यदा संहरते चायं कूर्मोऽङ्गानीव सर्वशः।

इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता।।2.58।।

Yada samharate cayam kurmo ‘nganiva sarvasah         |
Indriyanindriyarthebhyas tasya prajna pratisthita ||2.58||
Meaning: When one can completely withdraw his senses from the sense objects, just like the tortoise withdrawing its limbs within its shell, he is said to be firmly established in perfect knowledge. 

The test of a yogi or a self-realized soul is that he is able to control the senses according to his will. Most people, however, are subservient to their senses and are thus directed by the strong desires of the senses. The senses are compared to serpents which want to act without restriction. The yogi, or the devotee, must be very strong to control the senses—much like a snake charmer controlling the serpents.

Lord Krishna gives the analogy of a turtle which withdraws its limbs within its shell. Similarly, when one is able to control their senses from pursuing sensual objects of mundane pleasure and consciously reflect upon the soul within, such a person is Sthitha-prajna, one who is situated in the perfect knowledge. There are four stages in developing to this plane each of which develops on its preceding stage. 

Lord Krishna answers the question, ‘How does such a one sit’, with the word ‘yada’ meaning when. When one is in meditation they do not let their senses go out, for e.g. mobile message beeps and controls the organs of action to perform only the basic functions of utmost necessity.

2.59     Shloka 2.59

विषया विनिवर्तन्ते निराहारस्य देहिनः।
रसवर्जं रसोऽप्यस्य परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते।।2.59।।

Visaya vinivartante niraharasya dehinah                       |
Rasa-varjam raso ‘py asya param drstva nivartate ||2.59||
Meaning: The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, even this desire for sense enjoyment ceases for one who has realised the Ultimate Consciousness.

Sensual objects of enjoyment are fuel for the senses. Unless one is transcendentally situated, it is not possible to cease from sense enjoyment. Lord Krishna states that the desire for these sensual objects departs when one starves them by restraining the senses from indulging in them. Although the action is restrained, the craving remains subtly entrenched within the mind. Rasa is taste and raga is attachment. So the craving for taste of sense objects remains. Lord Krishna states that this taste can only be terminated by spiritual intelligence and by the attainment of Sthitha-prajna transcendental meditation.

In the Vedic scriptures it has been stated that the wise master their senses by abstaining from feeding them. But this verse illustrates abstinence alone is not enough because even when abstaining attachment to them continues to grow.

However, when the eternal nature of the soul is realised in all its glorious splendour and it is seen that it is infinitely more attractive than the most delightful sense object. At that time all desire for sense objects completely vanishes along with the residue of craving.

One who realises the Supreme soul within is no longer attracted to the trivial, mundane objects of the material world. The word Param in this verse denotes ParamAtma the Supreme soul in every living entity, the source of eternal bliss, devoid of all material attributes and thus is the exclusive goal of meditation.

2.60     Shloka 2.60

यततो ह्यपि कौन्तेय पुरुषस्य विपश्िचतः।
इन्द्रियाणि प्रमाथीनि हरन्ति प्रसभं मनः।।2.60।।

Yatato hy api kaunteya purusasya vipascitah              |
Indriyani pramathini haranti prasabham manah ||2.60||
Meaning: The senses are so strong and impetuous, O’ Arjuna, that they can forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is vigilant and endeavouring to control them. 

There are many learned sages, philosophers and transcendentalists who try to conquer the senses, but in spite of their endeavours, even the greatest of them sometimes fall victim to material sense enjoyment due to the agitated mind. Even Vishvamitra, a great sage and a perfect yogi, was misled by Menaka into sense enjoyment, although the yogi was endeavouring for sense control with severe penance and yoga. Lord Krishna use of the word ‘pramathini’ meaning ‘turbulent’ to emphasise the force with which it sweeps some away.

Until and unless self-realisation is attained by direct soul cognition the cravings and attachments for sensual experiences will never entirely cease to exist subtly or physically.

The control over the senses is essential for stabilising the mind. The senses are so strong that they forcibly invade the mind, disrupt this meditation and forcibly overpower the mind and indulge it in contemplating sense gratification and bodily attachment. How is it possible that the senses can carry away one’s mind while they are intently striving? It is because the senses are so restless and turbulent that they totally disregarding all efforts in discrimination, besieging the mind they direct it towards sensual objects that will gratify these senses by engaging the mind in sense contemplation.

Thus, the conquest of the senses is ultimately dependent upon realisation of the eternal soul and the perception of the soul is dependent upon control of the senses. Lord Krishna alludes to the difficulty in striving for soul cognition following jnana-nishta by knowledge only. Therefore, it is very difficult to control the mind and the senses without being fully devoted to the Supreme Lord. Without engaging the mind completely in Krishna, one cannot overcome the draw of the sense objects.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

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