Satisfied by Paramãtmã Alone
‘Ãtmanyevãtmanã tushtaha sthitapragnastadochyate’ – ‘When one finds contentment only in Paramãtmã who resides within one’s own ãtmã, one can be called sthitapragna.’
A satisfied person is forever happy. Why? Because he has no desires. Discontent and feelings of incompleteness are the root of desires. Desires arise in the discontented. The discontented scrounge desperately. Discontentment does not let a person be calm and sit peacefully. Only complete satisfaction brings an end to desires.
It is true that everyone aspires for complete satisfaction. However, instead of striving for the complete, people desire trivial things. Limited things cannot give unlimited satisfaction. The benefit of limited satisfaction is also finite, and therefore one does not experience total fulfilment. One can only attain supreme satisfaction if one attains something that is supreme. Paramãtmã is complete and supreme. One’s thirst for satisfaction is only quenched when one attains him and develops firm conviction in him. Then one becomes submerged in fulfilment. The mind is no longer agitated by mundane desires. The antahkaran becomes like a pure, still and peaceful lake – this, according to the Gita, is the sthitapragna state.
The lives of Satpurushas are examples of such a sthitapragna state. On 4 July 2004, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was in Orlando. Seeing his old age, illnesses and hectic travels, a devotee named Rajan expressed his thoughts saying, “Swami, you endure great strain even at such an old age. All we want for you now is to remain happy.
Hearing this, Swami said, “My friend, we are always in Akshardham. We have attained Maharaj (Parabrahman Paramãtmã Shri Swaminarayan Bhagwan) and we have attained our guru. If we always remain elated about that, then we will always be happy.”
His body was weak, yet his words showed his sthitapragna state oozing from the complete attainment of the supreme.
Once, someone expressed their wish to Swamishri, “Looking at your work which is for the benefit of all, you should get a Nobel Prize.”
In reply, Swamishri said, “I have obtained something much greater than a Nobel Prize. I have obtained Bhagwan Swaminarayan, and both Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj. I have obtained the blessings of Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj. I have obtained this chance of service. I have obtained Bhagwan, and all these sadhus and devotees; what greater attainment is there in this world?”
This is the sparkling satisfaction of one who has reduced all mundane desires of fame to ashes, and is fully content with Paramãtmã. Nothing and nobody can disturb such a person’s mental stability.
Thus, Shri Krishna Bhagwan says to Arjuna, “O Arjuna! When you abandon all mundane desires in this way, and remain content with Paramãtmã alone, you will also be called sthitapragna.”
Shri Krishna informed Arjuna that ‘Shrutivipratipanna te yadã sthasyati nishchala, samadhavachala buddhistada yogamavapsyasi.’ – ‘You will attain yoga when your int ellect, which has become unstable due to hearing a variety of words, becomes stable in samãdhi’ (Gita 2.53). Now let us take a look at what Arjuna asked thereafter.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A STHITAPRAGNA PERSON
Arjuna asked, ‘स्थितप्रज्ञस्य का भाषा समाघिस्थस्य केशव। स्थितघीः किं प्रभाषेत किमासीत व्रजेत किम्॥’– ‘Sthitapragnasya ka bhasha samadhisthasya keshava, sthitadheehi kim prabhasheta kimaseeta vrajeta kim.’ – ‘O Krishna! What are the characteristics of a stable minded person? In what way does such a person speak? In what way does he sit? In what way does he walk?’ (Gita 2.54).
This is Arjuna’s aspiration, his hope, his prayer. This is not a question asked for the sake of asking. Some have a habit of asking questions, but not Arjuna. Some have a hobby of just gathering information; they like to know new things and increase their information bank by asking question after question. However, Arjuna is genuinely interested; he is a spiritual aspirant. Just like the ill crave for a cure, Arjuna’s intense craving is evident here. At this time he is distraught by the unsteady state of his mind. He desperately wants to be freed from this distress. Moreover, Shri Krishna has already told him to attain unwavering conviction in the form of Paramatma (see previous article, Swaminarayan Bliss, pgs. 10-14). He has told him to become a true yogi and to focus his mind on the form of Paramatma. Arjuna wants to become such a yogi and attain such a state of samadhi in which his mind is steady on the form of Paramatma. Thus, his wish is naturally revealed in the form of this question.
Based on grammatical derivation, the word ‘sthitapragnaha’ means ‘one whose intellect is steady’, ‘samadhisthaha’ means ‘one who is stable in samadhi’ and ‘sthitadheehi’ means ‘one whose intellect is stable’ – this is synonymous to ‘sthitapragnaha’.
HOW DOES A STHITAPRAGNA PERSON SPEAK?
Along with the characteristics of one who is sthitapragna, Arjuna also asks questions regarding the manner in which a sthitapragna person speaks, rests and moves. Arjuna wishes to adopt a clear path by which he can mould his life. He wants to understand this by learning from a living example, since anyone wishing to master an art keeps someone who has mastered that art as their role model. An aspiring sportsperson constantly tries to learn from an expert sportsperson. He takes a detailed look at everything his role model does. He engrosses himself in his thoughts, and as a result, he too reaches the peaks of success. Arjuna has a similar expectation in his mind. He wants to know the art of seeing mental stability in the ordinary activities, like speaking, resting and walking, of great men.
Also apparent from this question regarding how a sthitapragna person speaks, rests and walks, is that Arjuna understands the importance of body language. Body language is the language of actions, the language of conduct. One’s actions in the form of speaking, sitting and walking are a reflection of one’s true character. One’s thoughts can be deduced from what one says. Often, a person’s mental state can be inferred just from hearing them speak. Sometimes, the unstable minded do not themselves know what they are saying. The same applies for other actions, such as resting and walking, as well. Arjuna wants to know about the inner calmness that is reflected in one’s conduct.
In this way, Arjuna’s question unites philosophy with life. Philosophy is not me rely a matter for debate. It is not merely about churning out thoughts. It is not just an intellectual exercise. It is not merely a wave of thoughts that builds imaginary ideals. Philosophy is a means to a concrete goal. It is true experience of that which exists. It plays a major part in how we conduct our lives. That which cannot become a part of one’s life, cannot be called philosophy. Arjuna’s question clearly shows this.