Constantly Filled Yet Undisturbed
आपूर्यमाणमचलप्रतिष्ठं समुद्रमापः प्रविशन्ति यद्वद्।
तद्वत् कामा यं प्रविशन्ति सर्वे स शान्तिमाप्नोति न कामकामी॥
Ãpooryamãnamachalapratishtham samudramãpaha pravishanti yadvad,
Tadvat kãmã yam pravishanti sarve sa shãntimãpnoti na kãmakãmee.
“Just as the ocean is filled with water from all sides yet maintains unwavering stability, in the same manner, a person in whom all pleasures enter yet remains unagitated, such a person attains peace, not one who desires pleasures” (Gitã 2.70).
To partake in pleasures yet not be bound by the desire for them! This is an astonishing, counterintuitive statement, yet it establishes an important principle. This is not a lesson on spiritual endeavour, but an acquaintance of the realized state. Here we see the rich fruits that one who masters the sthitapragna state attains. If one has complete conviction in Paramãtmã, then one’s mind never wavers even when exposed to the sensual pleasures.
Using the analogy of rivers and the ocean, Shri Krishna explains the above principle to Arjuna. ‘Ãpaha’ means flowing water in rivers; ‘ãpooryamãnam’ means that which is filled from all sides; ‘achalapratishtham’ means unwavering stability. The ocean is filled from all sides by gushing rivers and has thus been called ‘ãpooryamãnam’. Moreover, it does not overflow from its boundaries; it has unwavering stability and is tranquil. Therefore, it has been described as ‘achalapratishtham’. Being exposed to a variety of material pleasures is the ‘ãpooryamãnam’ aspect of a sthitapragna person, and never being disturbed within by desires is their ‘achalapratishtham’ state.
A Boon for the Undisturbed
For such a person, Shri Krishna says, “स शान्तिम् आप्नोति” – “Sa shãntim ãpnoti” – “Such a person attains peace.” This is a boon to those who are exposed to material pleasures and yet remain tranquil, a boon of peace. Although the ocean is constantly pounded by gushing rivers, it remains calm and tranquil within. Similarly, so is the lifestyle of the sthitapragna.
The Desiring have No Peace
One thing should be clarified here. To indulge in material pleasures and yet remain unaffected by them is not to be taken to authorize a life of indulgence. Nor is it intended to imply that the sthitapragna oversteps the boundaries of the shastras and act as they wish. This is a mere description of the peak of the sthitapragna state. Self-control is part of their lifestyle, and that is why Shri Krishna Bhagwan had previously given the example of a turtle:
“यदा संहरते चायं कूर्मोङ्गानीव सर्वशः। इनिद्रयाणीनिद्रयार्थे यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता॥” – “Yadã samharate chãyam koormongãneeva sarvashaha, inidrayãneenidrayãrthebhyastasya pragnã pratishthitã.” – “When a person withdraws one’s senses from their pleasures, like a turtle withdraws its limbs from all directions, that person is said to have a stable intellect” (Gitã 2.58). Therefore, controlling one’s senses like a turtle and remaining undisturbed like the ocean when exposed to pleasures are two aspects that are both present in great people who are at rest in the form of Paramãtmã. This is purport of what the Gitã is telling us.
For this very reason, immediately after giving a boon to those who are undisturbed within with the words, “Sa shãntim ãpnoti”, the Gitã also specifies the principle, “न कामकामी” – “na kãmakãmee”, i.e. one who desires sensual pleasures will never attain peace.
Thus, the words “Ãpooryamãnamachalapratishtham” reveal the outstanding portrait of the sthitapragna.
We have been informed that the sthitapragna attain peace. The Gitã then reiterates this in a different manner.
विहाय कामान् यः सर्वान् पुमांश्र्चरति निःस्पृहः।
निर्ममो निरहङ्कारः स शान्तिमघिगत्व्छति॥
Vihãya kãmãn yaha sarvãn pumãnshcharati nihispruhaha,
Nirmamo nirahankãraha sa shãntimadhigachchhati.
“One who sheds all desires, and lives free of covetousness, attachment and ego attains peace” (Gitã 2.71).
Here, the Gitã introduces us to the enemies of peace. Mãyã fools us with its many disguises, four of which have been mentioned here: desire, covetousness, attachment and ego. The desire to indulge in material pleasures, coveting worldly things and ambitions do not let a person sit at ease. They make one restless. Therefore, for peace, one should shed such longings.
‘Nirmamaha’ means to become free of attachment. ‘Mama’ means mine. When one feels that ‘this is mine’ for a certain object, one should realize that the mãyã of that object has seized their ãtmã. That mãyã is called attachment. Such an attached person will never attain peace. He constantly smoulders with desires. Therefore to rid oneself of attachment is the only way to attain peace.
Furthermore, the origin of attachment, the feeling that this is mine, is ‘me’. Wherever there is ‘me’ or ‘I’, there is ‘mine’. Attachment is just evolved ego. To believe ‘I am the one doing this’ is our ego, and wherever ego rules, there is always unrest, distress, quarrel and worry. Ego and peace can never go together. Therefore the root of peace lies in humility.
The final virtue mentioned in a sthitapragna person is being egoless. Why was this put last? To ensure that one does not develop ego for one’s virtues. One who is a true sthitapragna (i.e. one who has firm conviction in the form of Paramãtmã), has the aforementioned virtues of self-control, equality in pleasure and pain, etc., yet has no ego of those virtues.
Thus we realize that mãyã in the form of ego and attachment has no scope to overcome one who has attained the sthitapragna state.