(Recap: Presenting us with the various aspects of the sthitapragna state, the Gitã gives us lessons on life; it gives us a means for living in sansar yet remaining aloof; and it shows us the pathway to supreme peace. Previously, we saw the sthitapragna state through virtues such as being ever free of desires, having control of the senses, being centred on Paramãtmã, etc.)
Shri Krishna Bhagwan tells Arjuna:
Yã nishã sarvabhootãnãm tasyãm jãgarti sanyamee,
Yasyãm jãgrati bhootãni sã nishã pashyato munehe. (Gitã 2.69)
“What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage.”
Using the analogy of day and night, Shri Krishna explains the greatness of those who are sthitapragna. Shri Krishna uses the word ‘awake’ to reveal the difference in lifestyles between ordinary worldly people and the self-controlled. It is important to be awake, but the purpose and manner in which one is awake is of more importance. The Gitã guides us in the true direction of being awake.
To be awake means to engage in one’s work with understanding. A student who understandingly focuses on studies is an awake student. Parents who understandingly continue to help their child to develop are awake parents. In the same manner, the sthitapragna are continually awake; they have surmounted the state of understanding yogis. Their spiritual endeavours include control over the senses, conquering the mind, conviction of being Brahman, and performing the bhakti and upasana of Parabrahman. Those who are bound by material desires never choose such a path of endeavours; they believe this path to be false and the path of indulgence to be true, and thus impatiently take that path.
The Gitã explains these contradictory behaviours with an analogy of being awake and asleep. The sthitapragna satpurush is awake on the spiritual path, where those who are filled with material desires and have a wavering mind are overcome by sleep. In the same manner, those who are filled with material desires are awake in indulging in pleasures, whereas the sthitapragna satpurush chooses to rest, i.e. remains aloof from indulging in material pleasures due to material desires.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan explains the meaning of the above shloka saying, “In the context of worshipping God, all worldly people behave as if their mind is shrouded in darkness, like the night; i.e. they do not worship God. The devotees of God, however, are awake in worshipping God; i.e. they are constantly engaged in worshipping God. Furthermore, everyone’s mind is awake with respect to the panchvishays – sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch; i.e. they continuously indulge in the vishays. The minds of the devotees of God, in contrast, are shrouded in darkness with regards to indulging in the vishays; i.e. they do not indulge in them.
“Therefore, only one who remains alert regarding his own liberation can be said to possess a sharp intellect. As for others, they are all mere fools” (Vachanamrut, Gadhada I 50).
Being awake means being alert. Alertness is the secret behind the self-control of those who are sthitapragna. Like a guard who is is alert while on his watch, the self-controlled sthitapragna remains alert. Bhagwan Swaminarayan calls this state of being awake as awareness. Giving the example of the gateway of awareness, he explains by saying,
“The senior sadhus in my muni-mandal behave in such a manner that the awareness within their hearts is the gateway to the abode of God. It is at this gateway where all of the sadhus remain standing. Consider the following analogy: a king’s guards, while standing at the entrance of the king’s palace, do not allow any thieves or robbers to come near the king. They courageously believe, ‘If anyone comes near the king to cause problems, we will cut them to pieces, but in no way will we let them reach the king.’ With such courage, they wait, armed with shields and swords. Similarly, all of these sadhus are standing at the gateway of the abode of God in the form of awareness. Inside that gateway of awareness – in Akshardhãm – dwells God, of whom they do darshan. There, they do not allow wealth, women, or any other worldly object to enter and infiltrate that form of God in their heart... In this manner, they constantly remain alert like a brave warrior. But they do not move from their position – regardless of whether they encounter progress or regress, happiness or misery, praises or insults, or countless other types of difficulties... In the same way, all of these sadhus... are not deflected from their state...
“Therefore, one who wishes to keep one’s bhakti free from obstacles and to attain the holy feet of God, should remain constantly vigilant at the gateway of the abode of God in the form of awareness, and should not allow any objects except God to enter therein” (Vachanamrut, Gadhada III 9).
Thus, Shri Krishna Bhagwan in the Gitã explains that understanding and awareness are the key aspects of the manner in which the sthitapragna are awake.
Thereafter, Shri Krishna Bhagwan once again acquaints us with another unique aspect of the lifestyle of the sthitapragna.