Gita Study: Class 37


Topics for today:

  1. Opening prayers and Gita Dhyanam
  2. Chapter 2 verse 56-58

 Highlights of today’s class:

Verse 2.56

duhkhesvanudvignamanah sukhesu vigatasprhah | vitaragabhayakrodhah sthitadhirmunirucyate ||

  • Continuing the description of a wise person, Krishna says in this verse that a wise person is not affected by adversities (duhkah), does not yearn for pleasures (sukhah) and is free from longing (raga), fear (bhayah) and anger (krodhah).
  • A wise person’s response to duhkha: Sources of pain are broadly of three types, viz. adhyatmika (originating from one’s own body, mind and senses), adhibhautika (arising from situations around, including people and beings) and adhidaivika (arising from natural or divine phenomena on which one has no control, such as earthquakes or lightning). These sources of pain normally lead to sorrow. A wise person also is subject to pain from these sources.. however he or she does not undergo sorrow due to them. He or she does no get shaken by them and become disturbed.
  • A wise person’s response to sukha: Sources of sukha can also be described in the above threefold manner. A wise person does recognize pleasure but is not carried away by it and give into longing for a repeat experience. Sankara gives the example of how feeding fire will only cause it to grow. Normally an experience of pleasure could lead to yearning for more of it, whereas in a wise person that yearning is not there. In other words there is no binding raga.
  • Fear: A wise person who sees oneness everywhere has no reason to fear anyone or anything. A second thing has to exist for fear to arise.
  • Anger: Anger is another form of raga. By being free from binding raga a wise person is free from anger.

Verse 2.57

yah sarvatranabhisnehastattatprapya subhasubham | nabhinandati na dvesti tasya prajna pratisthita ||

  • In this third verse in the sequence of verses describing a sthitaprajnah, Krishna says that  wise person is unattached in all situations (sarvatra anabhisnehah) and does not rejoice on gaining the pleasant nor hates the unpleasant (subhasubham prapya na abhinandati na dvesti).
  • In Sanskrit, sneha is anything that is sticky. Affection is considered to be sneha because the person for whom you have affection sticks to you. You are deeply affected by the person and therefore there is sneha. Affection itself is not a problem. However it usually leads to abhisneha, attachment, which is definitely a nuisance. Attachment means there is strangulation of some kind. Instead of being an object of affection, a person becomes an object to be possessed and controlled. A wise person may have affection but no attachment. He or she is always free and his or her heart is never caught up anywhere.
  • In the face of both subha, auspicious, and asubha, inauspicious, a wise person is the same, samah. To hate an undesirable situation is nothing but refusal to accept a fact. A wise person does not hate a situation meaning that he or she accepts it as it is, and therefore does not subject himself or herself to sorrow.

Verse 2.58

yada samharate cayam kurmonganiva sarvasah | indriyanindriyarthebhyastasya prajna pratisthita ||

  • In the fourth verse describing a sthithaprajna, Krishna gives a simile of a turtle which withdraws its limbs at will, to describe how a wise person is able to completely withdraw his or her sense organs from their objects.
  • A wise person’s capacity to manage his or her mind and senses is being described here. A person may have jnana, but for that knowledge to be steady, he or she must be able to withdraw sense organs from sense pursuits at will.
  • Sense organs are themselves not harmful, they are mere reporters or means of knowledge. They do not ask you to do anything; it is the mind that chooses to go after its fancies based on the stimuli reported by the sense organs.
  • A sthitaprajna has the capacity to dismiss fancies at will and goes only by what he or she wants, meaning what is considered to be right and is not dictated by fancies.
  • The topic of keeping one’s mind and sense organs under one’s control will be commented upon in the next few verses which we will see in next class.

om tat sat


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