Continuing his talk, Swamiji reminded us that Arjuna asked Sri Krishna, what is the life style of a Sthitaprgyaha? How does such a person respond to situations?
Sthita pragyaha is one who has attained self-knowledge. A Karma Yogi also has knowledge. A Karma Yogi is, however, not yet a Gyani. One is called a Gyani only after one who has obtained Jivatma Paramatma aikyam. He has the realization “ Aham Atma Asmi”.
Shlokas 12-25 details the nature of the Atma as Akarta, Abhoktha, Nithyaha etc. This knowledge, which is an intellectual knowledge, must then be converted into emotional strength. Such a person is a sthithapragyaha. I am Atmana Tushtaha (self sufficient without expectations). This is the first attribute of a Sthithapragyaha.
And the second attribute is “because I am as I am; I do not require things to complete me.” Missing things in life is desire. Thus, one has desire for marriage or a home or a car. The seeking for the missing is the beginning of desire. The Sthithapragyaha, however approaches this differently. He feels “I am happy as I am”. He does not miss anything, or need anything. Possessing and needing are different, says Swamiji. Possessing does not mean that the object I possess binds me. However, in case of need it is the need that makes me the possessed one. So, never be the possessed. Sarva Kama Tyaga or no more need for things.
The third attribute of a Sthithapragyaha is Samatvam. He maintains an emotional balance in both favorable and unfavorable situations.
The fourth attribute is Vairagyam. He does not emotionally depend upon anything. Emotional dependence is our biggest problem.
The fifth attribute is a lack of fear. He is ready to lose anything at any time. That preparedness to lose anything at any time is the inner strength. It is also called Abhayam.
The sixth attribute is his freedom from anger. Anger is a converted form of desire. When one has expectation, potential for anger exists. I never want to give freedom to others because I need them, to depend on them. If anybody says: I am happy without you, we cannot stand it. We want everybody to say, I am missing you. Raga, bhaya and krodha all go together. The Gyani is free from all of them.
In Shloka # 57 Sri Krishna says, the Sthithaprgyaha is not carried away by favorable or unfavorable situations. His intellect is not clouded by happiness or sorrow. No person can make my life meaningless. Gyani is not carried away by any situation.
Swami Chinmayananda used to say: We all have come alone, travel alone and go alone. Our intimate feelings, we will not be able to share with anyone.
Shloka 58: “ When he wholly withdraws his senses from their objects, just as a tortoise does his limbs from all sides, his wisdom is stable.”
Upto shloka # 57 Sri Krishna talks of a person who has converted knowledge to emotional strength. Thus, from a pragyaha he becomes a sthitapragyaha. Now, from shloka 58 onwards Sri Krishna changes the subject. He now discusses how can a person converts self-knowledge to emotional strength. This knowledge must be converted to mental strength. Swamiji says there are three disciplines one has to follow for this conversion. They are:
- Nidhidhyasanam: or Vedantic meditation. Dwelling on the teaching that I do not depend on anything. Aham Atma Asmi. Aham Purnam asmi. Imagine a smoker. He cannot imagine a life without a cigarette. He forgets that he was once happy with out it before he started smoking. He is now used to a particular way of life. Similarly, we think that life is complete only when certain things and people are around and without them life is impossible. Our vasana is very strong here. I have to break that vasana; by repeatedly asserting I do not need the so-called people and situations to be happy.
I may need things for physical survival such food clothing etc. however; I do not need anything for emotional survival.
One must break this emotional dependence on people and things. Just as a child is taught to learn to cycle, where someone holds the back of the bike and then releases the hold as the child starts cycling. The child is not aware that it is now independently cycling. So, also, we need Vedanta to help us realize our emotional independence. This process is called Nidhidhyasanam. This means, after the class, you should spend some time in introspection on the teachings.
na ca srotrajivhe na ca ghrananetre
na ca vyomabhumih na tejo na vayuh
cidanandarupah sivoham sivoham.”
Focusing on the essence of this shloka written by Shankaracharya, and internalizing it, is called Nidhidhyasanam.
- Indriya Nigraha: This is the second discipline of regulation of sense organs. Until knowledge becomes steady, we should avoid violent emotions. They are detrimental to Vedanta. Knowledge must be protected. It is like protecting a sapling from heavy rain, winds etc. Once it becomes a tree it cannot be destroyed. Emotions come through our five sense organs of sabda, sparsa, rupa, rasa, and gandha. This five-fold world is gatecrashing into my mind. They enter the mind through the five doors and any of them can disturb the mind. Avoid such things that can disturb us.
Never get into arguments as they disturb our mind. In an argument more heat is generated than light.
What we want is enlightenment; light is knowledge; in an argument nobody learns anything. Everyone only wants to establish his or her own ego. So, whenever you get into an argument, tell them “I am sorry, I am not interested” and still if he or she continues to talk, quit that place; this is called Indriya Nigrahaḥ; never allow violent emotions.
Anything that provokes, raga, krodha, dvesa, kama, lobha and moha must be avoided.
(Raga: emotional attachment, Likes.
Kama: lust, craze, desire
krodha :anger, hatred
lobha: greed, miserliness, narrow-minded
moha : delusory emotional attachment)
This is indriya nigrahaḥ.
3) Mano Nigraha: This is the third discipline of regulation of thought process.
Someone tells you your comments are nonsense. You get upset. You keep dwelling on his comments and this keeps building up in your mind. Suddenly a molehill of a comment builds itself into a mountain of anger. No event in itself produces a momentary emotion. Rather, it gradually builds up to a powerful emotion. Thought build up is in my hand. I can control it. This is mental regulation. I can observe the event in my mind to learn from it and then drop it.
With Indriya nigraha and Mano nigraha mind becomes quiet and serene and this will transform my life.
Thus the three sadhanas or disciplines required are: Nidhidhyasanam, Indriya Nigrahaḥ, and Mano Nigraha. This is the process of dwelling upon the teaching, regulating the sense organs and regulating the thought process. Of these three processes, Sri Krishna is highlighting the sensory regulation first from verse No.58 onwards up to 61. These four verses deal with sensory regulation.
Swamiji says a Pragyaha is like a sapling that grows into a tree to Sthitaprgyaha.
Expanding on Shloka # 58 Swamiji says, a turtle can be easily killed, as it does not have a weapon. It only has a thick shell. In danger, it withdraws all limbs and its head until the threat is gone. Similarly a pragyaha when he sees raga, dvesha, kama and krodha, provoked by the ego withdraws. It is difficult to withdraw from an argument. So prevent it. One should also withdraw from programs in TV and content in books that provoke your senses. So, a pragyaha withdraws his senses from sense objects (drugs, liquor etc. come to mind). Do not confront sense objects. Say no, in the beginning itself.
Shloka # 59:
“Objects, but not the taste for them, fall off as regards the man who feeds not on them. When he intuits the supreme (Reality), even this taste wanes.”
Addictions are of two types:
1) Sensory and
Mental addiction is deeper. Even after giving up sensory addictions mental addictions remain. During withdrawal period one has to be very careful to ensure the object of addiction is kept away. It may still be there mentally. This is like person trying to be a sanyasi (physically), but mentally his mind still dwells on worldly pleasures. Growing out is better than suppression.
Even this mental craving will go away when spiritual Ananda in the mind replaces it. This pleasure is much greater than all drugs. Sri Krishna compares this state to having a great lake versus a small pond. It does not mean worldly pleasures have to be given up. The wise person now does not depend on worldly pleasures anymore. Rather, it is a bonus for him.
“ The impetuous senses, Arjuna, of even a learned man who strives, forcibly drive the mind astray.”
Sri Krishna says sense regulation is not that easy. If one fails initially do not feel guilty. Control requires a lot of alertness. Be alert with respect to sensory organs.
Pramathini Manthanam means powerful churning rod (sense organs). Our five sense organs are constantly churning our mind. They can churn our mind into violence. Words are the biggest problem. They can take away the mind from Vedanta. One word uttered by someone can disturb us so violently from all the teachings of Gita that temporarily I can become a violent animal. We must be alert and balanced at all times.
With best wishes