Gita Study: Class 36


Topics for today:

  1. Opening prayers and Gita Dhyanam
  2. Chapter 2 verse 54-55

 Highlights of today’s class:

Verse 2.54

Arjuna uvaca:

sthitaprajnasya ka bhasa samadhistasya kesava | sthitadhih kim prabhasheta kimasita vrajeta kim ||

  • After listening to Krishna’s discourse thus far, Arjuna asks his first question. Gita is a conversation wherein Arjuna asks many questions and Krishna replies to them all.
  • Through this question, Arjuna wanted to know more about the person whose wisdom is steady. He also asked a few pointed questions such as ‘how does such a person speak, sit and walk?’ with the intention of knowing how a wise person interacts with the world. Krishna addresses this spirit of Arjuna’s question starting with the next verse.

Verse 2.55

Bhagavan uvaca:

prajahati yada kaman sarvan partha manogatan | atmanyevatmana tustah sthitaprajnastadocyate ||

  • Starting with this verse and for the next few, characteristics of a wise person, a sthitaprajna or sthiraprajna, meaning one whose prajna or knowledge with regard to one’s self is sthira or firm, are described. Sankara highlights that the spontaneous expressions of a wise person are to be deliberately cultivated by seekers. That is, the sahaja lakshanas of a jnani become sadhanas of a mumukshu. For this reason it is important for mumukshus to know the characteristics of jnanis.
  • A sthitaprajna is one who is happy in himself or herself.. atmani eva atmana tustah. Without any external props or circumstances, without expecting or depending on any condition whatsoever the person is happy.
  • Such a person does not pursue fancies that may arise in his or her mind,  manogatan sarvan kaman prajahati. This has to be understood well.

Binding vs Non-Binding desires:

  • Kamas or desires are of two types – ragas and dvesas. Kama is a common word for both of them. in case of raga the desire is to acquire or protect something and in case of dvesa the desire is to avoid or get rid of something.
  • Raga-dvesas are of two types – binding and non-binding. Whenever the sastra talks about kama in the form of raga and dvesha it is referring only to those that are binding. This is because non-binding desires are not the problem.
  • Non-binding desires may include a desire to write, a desire to teach, a desire to give, etc. If a wise person gives up all desires including non-binding ones, then Sankara would not be writing his commentary, Krishna would not be teaching or driving Arjuna’s chariot, Vyasa would not have written the Mahabharata, and so on. They would have been ajnanis since they pursued these desires. Therefore non-binding desires are not the problem.
  • Binding desires are those whose non-fulfillment will cause a person to become miserable. Binding desires are those whose fulfillment is necessary for the person to become happy.
  • A sthitaprajna is one who naturally gives up, i.e. does not pursue desires of a binding nature, because he or she is fully contented with oneself.

om tat sat


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