sthita-dhir munir ucyate
He, whose mind remains unperturbed in sorrow, who does not crave for pleasure, and who is free from passion, fear and anger is called a sage with stable wisdom.
There is no end to sorrow, calumny, dishonour and unfavourable circumstances, in this world. But a man of wisdom remains unperturbed, because the aim of his life is to discharge his duty to the best of his ability and capacity, for the welfare to others, without having any desire for its fruit. So, he always remains happy and unperturbed even in the most unfavourable circumstances. He does not crave for any kind of pleasure such as praise, honour and favourable circumstances etc., nor does he have a desire to prolong, such a state. He remains unruffled in the midst of favourable or hostile circumstances.
There are three types of sorrow or pain: ‘adyatmika’ or physical, ‘adhidaivika’ or supernatural and ‘adhibhautika’ or natural. Adyatmika is pain of the body and pain of the mind. The pain of the body is diseases and ailments attacking it such as fever, rheumatism, gout, etc. The pain of the mind is due to insult, jealousy, shame and the like. Adhidaivika is pain caused by drought, flooding, cyclones, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. Adhibhautika is pain caused from people, demons, animals, ghosts, etc. All these three are destined by fate and as such are not transitory and after experiencing them they fade into oblivion. Determining in this way that those whose minds remain unperturbed in affliction coming due to fate as well as in happiness rising up by chance, these beings have become devoid of desires in whatever results occur. The reason is they are free from passion, fear and anger. Passion is the extreme mental attachment to objects cherished with intense desire with the intention of never letting possession of these objects be discontinued. Fear is the pain caused from the approaching agony arising from separation from what is cherished. Anger is a specific mental attitude which appears in one who experiences separation at the time of loss of cherished objects. These three passions, fear and anger all arise due to the lack of discrimination regarding the eternal nature of the soul. By the gradual development of this discrimination one becomes free from these three impediments and by this discrimination when the introspective one’s contemplation becomes mature they’re known as sthita-prajna.
If a stronger person tries to deprive us of worldly possessions, it arouses fear in us, whereas if a weaker person does so, it arouses anger in us.
So long as there are perturbations, cravings, attachment, fear and anger, even in a small measure, a man is called a seeker. But when he is totally free from them, he becomes an enlightened soul.
tat tat prapya subhasubham
nabhinandati na dvesti
tasya prajna pratisthita
He, who remains unattached under all conditions, he who is neither delighted at good, nor dejected with evil, is stable in wisdom.
Lord Krishna now answers the question of how one situated in transcendent consciousness speaks. When exposed to sources of pleasure like mouth-watering delicacies, delicious drinks, silky, fashionable clothes or luxurious homes such a person does not rejoice at receiving these things neither give praise to those who have bequeathed these things. Similarly when exposed to sources of unpleasantness like unpalatable food and drink, coarse unfashionable clothes and humble homes he does not show disdain. Such a person is the one who is situated in transcendent consciousness.
In the previous verse, Lord Krishna explained that a man of stable wisdom remains unperturbed, while discharging his duty. In this verse, he explains, that such a man remains stable in favourable and unfavourable circumstances, which he comes across as a result of the deeds he performs. He remains untainted and unaffected by good and bad, favourable and unfavourable circumstances. Experiencing good or pleasant, he is not delighted. This delight means mental joy and expression of joy through words. By encountering evil or unpleasant, he is not dejected. This dejection means mental suffering and despair, and the thought why and how this situation has occurred, and how to get rid of the unpleasant situation. He remains untainted in favourable and unfavourable circumstances, which we got as a result of destiny.
yada samharate cayam
kurmo ‘nganiva sarvasah
tasya prajna pratisthita
When, like a tortoise, withdrawing its limbs from all sides, he detaches completely his senses from sense-objects, his wisdom is stable.
The test of a yogi, devotee, or self-realized soul is that he is able to control the senses according to his plan. Most people, however, are servants of the senses and are thus directed by the dictation of the senses.
Lord Krishna gives the analogy of a turtle which withdraws its limbs inside when faced with danger. Similarly when one is able to keep their senses from pursuing sensual objects of mundane pleasure by withdrawing the senses inside and who also consciously reflects upon the soul within, such a one is ‘sthita- prajna’ situated in the perfect knowledge of transcendent meditation.
As a tortoise withdraws its six limbs-four legs, a tail and a head-into the shell to protect itself against possible dangers, so does an enlightened one withdraw his five senses and one mind from sense-objects. If he has the least affinity with senses, he cannot be a man of stable wisdom.
rasa-varjam raso ‘py asya
param drstva nivartate
The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.
It may be said that lack of inclination towards sense objects may not necessarily be a defining characteristic to determine whether one is of steady wisdom.
A man becomes an abstainer in two ways (i) Fasting by one’s own will or owing to sickness. (ii) Abstaining from sense enjoyments. Here, the term has been used, to refer to a seeker, who withdraws his senses from sense-objects. The senses of a sick man become unfit for indulgence, but craving in them, for sense enjoyment persists. He hopes to enjoy these after recovery. Similarly, sense-objects cease for the abstinent seeker, but the taste persists. It means that his body and senses come under restraint, but his mind wanders. When one decline to enjoy sense objects the physical experience ceases; yet the residue desire for sense objects still remains and the craving for them actually has not departed. But when one has experienced what is Supreme then even this residue desire for sense objects is dissolved. Another meaning is that although inclination for the objects of the sense automatically ceases for one who is sick having no desire to enjoy the senses; but as soon as one’s health has been regained the desire to relish the objects of the senses returns again being only temporarily inoperative.
yatato hy api kaunteya
haranti prasabham manah
The senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavouring to control them.
There are many learned sages, philosophers and transcendentalists who try to conquer the senses, but in spite of their endeavours, even the greatest of them sometimes fall victim to material sense enjoyment due to the agitated mind. Even Vishvamitra, a great sage and perfect yogi, was misled by Menaka into sex enjoyment, although the yogi was endeavouring for sense control with severe types of penance and yoga practice. Therefore, it is very difficult to control the mind and the senses without being fully God conscious.
The term, ‘wise man’ has been used, for the man who practises self-control, who performs his duty without attachment and desire for its fruit, one who discriminates between the real and the unreal and who thinks of the welfare of all creatures. The turbulent senses of even such a wise man carry away his mind towards pleasures. The reason is that so long as mind is not permanently established in God, the past influences of enjoyment of pleasures attract the senses and mind towards pleasures, forcibly.