WHEN ONE ABANDONS ONE’S DESIRES
Answering the question, Shri Krishna says, ‘प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोज्ज्तान्। आत्म’येवात्मना तुष्टः स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदो’यते॥’ – ‘Prajahati yada kaman sarvan Partha manogatan, atmanyevatmana tushtaha sthitapragnastadochyate.’ – ‘O Arjuna! When one abandons all desires that arise in the mind, and finds contentment only in Paramatma who resides within one’s own atma, one can be called sthitapragna’ (Gita 2.55).
‘Prajahati’ means to renounce, to abandon. Renunciation is the first step to becoming sthitapragna. It is not possible to become sthitapragna while still continuing to do as one has always been doing. There is no choice but to adopt renunciation. Therefore, renunciation has been put first.
‘Kaman’ means desires. Desires for worldly pleasures. It is these desires that need to be renounced. As long as one has such desires, one cannot experience stability in life. The influence of these desires is not insignificant. The dominance of these desires is not limited to just humans, but affects animals also. Observing the day to day activities of animals will reveal this. Birds are always eager to go to a place they like and rush to eat something tasty. If they do not like the taste of something, they show their dislike. This is the impact of desires.
Once, I saw this in a snake first hand. One afternoon during the monsoon season, a snake caught a frog. A sadhu saw this and before the snake could swallow the frog, he clapped and made a loud noise. The snake dropped the frog and slid away. The sadhu remained there, curious to see what would happen. After a while, the snake came back to the same spot looking for the frog. This is the dominance of desires.
Now let us talk about ourselves. Everyone, from a new born baby to an old person, is chained by the shackle of desires. As children we had certain wishes. Childhood passed, but the desires continued: “I have seen this, now I want to see that. I have tasted this, now I want to taste that. I have got this, now I want to get that. I want to go there, I want to meet that person…” These waves of desires continue to flow in one’s mind. We are unable to sit in peace. Desires do not let us rest, and the restlessness increases. Moreover, we cannot settle on one decision, new desires continue to arise. When this increases, mental restlessness takes root. As a result we are subject to feelings of anguish, incompleteness and emptiness.
That is why the Gita inspires us to overcome mundane desires.
Another thing worth noting here is that Shri Krishna does not just say ‘kaman’, but ‘sarvan kaman’. ‘Sarvan kaman’ means all desires. One becomes sthitapragna when one abandons all mundane desires. It is easy to abandon the desires for a couple of things. There is no effort involved in abandoning desires for things that one does not like. But not having one or two desires does not make one free of desires, for that one has to abandon all mundane desires.
SATISFIED BY PARAMATMA ALONE
‘Atmanyevatmana tushtaha sthitapragnastadochyate’ – ‘When one finds contentment only in Pa-ramatma who resides within one’s own atma, 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 Paramatma 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.”