We all crave for supreme happiness, and continuously strive for it too. But without true direction, proper effort and correct understanding everything goes in vain. The sthitapragna state explained in the Gita gives us true direction, it shows us the proper method of endeavour, and makes us come to understand the true eternal principles. As a result, life overflows with supreme happiness.
The Gita revealed by Shri Krishna was not just for the benefit of Arjuna; it has, in fact, come into existence to make us all eligible for supreme peace, supreme happiness, and supreme bliss. The true wealth of this treasure trove comes into full light in the description of the sthitapragna state.
The previous shloka told us that ‘Veetarãga-bhayakrodhaha sthitadheermuniruchyate’, i.e., ‘A person who is free of attachment, fear and anger is called a steady-minded muni.’ This was discussed in the last article. Now we will take a look at the words thereafter.
Free of Desires
Shri Krishna Bhagwan says,
यः सर्वत्रानभिस्नेहस्तत्तत् प्राप्य शुभाशुभम्।
नाभिनन्दति न द्वेष्टि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता॥
‘Yaha sarvatrãnabhisnehastattat prãpya shubhãshubham, nãbhinandati na dveshti tasya pragnã pratishthitã.’
‘One who is free of all desires, and on attaining good or bad things does not become elated or miserable, such a person is steady-minded (Gita 2.57).’
The shloka commences with the words, ‘Yaha sarvatra anabhisnehaha...’. To understand the true meaning of the term anabhisneha, we must understand the connotations of the two words sneha and abhisneha.
Sneha means love. It is a pure emotion, a source of happiness and a force that provides motivation to fulfil one’s duty. It inspires one to accomplish even one’s difficult and risky responsibilities. It gives one the momentum to continue with and carry out tedious tasks. It leaves no room for sadness or dejection. It is a source of energy.
Abhisneha means desire. When love is contaminated with desire, smeared with mundane selfishness, and tainted with domination, demands, inappropriate expectations or obstinacy, then love loses its purity and is transformed into mere enjoyment of sensual pleasures. Abhisneha refers to this desire for sensual pleasures. On the spiritual path such desires result in mental disturbance. These desires turn a person away from one’s duty, they make a person weak, and they make a person do what should not be done.
Anabhisneha means one who is free of the abhisneha described above. By using this word, the Gita presents us with the state of desirelessness; it reveals the state of desirelessness ornamented with sincere love.
Arjuna is a loving person; that is a good thing, but he does not realize that it has currently taken the form of desire and family affection. Thus, Shri Krishna is teaching him about anabhisneha, i.e., being free of desires. Being free of desires is a barometer for steady-mindedness. One whose mind has settled on the form of Paramãtmã naturally has no mundane desires. Thus, Shri Krishna is telling Arjuna to drop these desires in the form of family affection and attain the true sthitapragna state.
The words, ‘sarvatra anabhisnehaha’ mean ‘Free of all desires’. The adjective ‘sarvatra’ extends the meaning of being detached. Thus, ‘sarvatra anabhisnehaha’ means to have no attachment to anyone, no desire for anything, no expectation for any place and to have attachment only for Paramãtmã. To truly love Paramãtmã one must rid oneself of all desires. If we understand the true meaning of ‘sarvatra anabhisnehaha’ we will be able to easily tell the difference between love and desire.
The true essence of ‘sarvatra anabhisnehaha’ can be seen in the life of the satpurush.
Once, while Pramukh Swami Maharaj was taking lunch in Jamnagar, Bhagvatcharan Swami told Swamishri, “I have inspected the whole building, everything is satisfactory, splendid in fact. How do you like it?”
“Everything is the same for us. What is a mansion and what is a hut? Whatever we get by Paramãtmã’s wish is well and good,” Swamishri replied, reflecting his sthitapragna state.
Once, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was in Atlanta, America. The volunteers helping in the kitchen department brought a dish full of food items, that were to be served to the devotees at lunch, before Swamishri. One volunteer asked Swamishri, “Bapa, which of these items do you like?” Swamishri immediately answered, “Whatever Paramãtmã eats; we should accept whatever is offered to Paramãtmã.”
Once, in London, Swamishri went to consecrate a shop. The owner of the shop asked Swamishri, “Did you like the shop?” Swamishri replied, “What is there to like? Everything will one day become dust. How much we worship Paramãtmã is what counts.”
Once, in Bochasan, the sadhus were sitting around Swamishri, engaged in a light discussion. It was the last day of Swamishri’s stay there. Janmangal Swami asked, “You have stayed here this long, therefore you must have become settled. Do you feel like going elsewhere?”
“Why not? We are settled wherever we go! There is no question of ‘getting’ settled.” Swamishri replied. He then said softly, “Wherever we go we worship and speak about Paramãtmã. As long we are settled in that, we are settled. What need is there to be settled with regards to accommodation and other things? We should never believe that we will only be comfortable in certain places. However much we serve and speak about Paramãtmã is how happy we are; that is true comfort.”
Truly, the satpurush is content within due to his state of being free of material desires.
Thus, being free of desire is a mark of being sthitapragna. The Gita then reveals a further quality.