By Gururaj Mutalik
The Means and Mind-Set for Its Attainment (The Science of Samkhya-Yoga Leading to Sthita-Prajna state)
Having helped his friend, the warrior Arjuna, to recover from his emotional turmoil, Sri Krishna proceeds to further enable him to understand the true meaning of duty, and the right attitude required for performing this duty. This concept of enlightened knowledge as being the right means and mind-set one is required to acquire and apply; Sri Krishna terms the science of Samkhya-Yoga. Commentaries and explanations have been written on this pivotal part of the Bhagavad-Gita, and indeed, Samkhya-Yoga is known as the very kernel and essence of this great teaching. Some have rightly pointed out that Samkhya-Yoga is neither the classical Samkhya set of philosophy attributable to its founder, Kapila, nor is Yoga a derivation of Patanjali’s teaching (known as Yoga Shastra). In fact, historically, the Gita, as the essence of Upanishad-based vedantic teaching, predates these two systems of philosophy. Without doubt, we have reached a point in the concepts of the Gita that are at its very heart. Samkhya-Yoga, as Sri Krishna terms it, is the foundation of Karma-Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga—all of which will follow in sequence as the Gita unfolds.
Earlier in the Gita, Sri Krishna pointed out emphatically that Arjuna has no other alternative as a Kshatriya than to do his Swa-Dharma, or duty without any personal emotions. He begins by adding that it is not enough to do Swa-Dharma, you have to have the right knowledge, and attitude to do it. Sri Krishna tells Arjuna: This intelligent knowledge of things that I described to you, namely doing Swa-Dharma, with indifference to grief or happiness, loss or gain, and victory or defeat, with singular focus on your call is indeed what I term Samkhya—the intelligent knowledge behind one’s prescribed duty. Now, let me describe to you the other half, without which this cannot be adequately done, namely Yoga. Yoga is the means and attitude to carry out Swa-Dharma. Based on Yoga, Samkhya will be effective, and enable you to break away from the binding shackles of activities (2–39).
When you enter this special path way, there are no obstacles. All your efforts and energy result in significant progress. What is more, even if you do not reach Swa-Dharma’s full-fledged application, you are protected from the great fears of life (2–40).
Such a resolute and intelligent approach leads to a nascent focus on the essence of action. The irresolute, and perplexed people travel on infinite, dividing, blind lanes, and are lost (2–41).
Look at the practices in the world. With flowery language, the Vedas are interpreted for the laity, who, by following such, seek gratification of petty desires from countless gods and goddesses. By the followers’ reckoning, in their understanding, they are seeking fulfillment of physical pleasures; and yet they equate this with heavenly life. Even if this sort of practice yields the fruits of work and worship, it is nothing but the pursuit of enjoyment, and evanescent pleasures. This is hedonism (2–42, 2–43).
Even the intelligent are misled by this flowery interpretation of the Vedas, eternally clinging to the body; they can never acquire the tranquil state of Samadhi, the outcome of Samkhya-Yoga (2–44).
The superficial meaning of the Vedas is based on leading one to the three proclivities of every being Sattva-, Rajas-, and Tamas-Gunas. You have to transcend these Gunas, Oh Arjuna, and only then can you glimpse the true being, without being possessed by the ego-self. (Some people erroneously interpret this verse as being critical of the essence of Vedic teaching. Far from it. The Gita stresses that one should not be misled by the superficial interpretations of pseudo-scholars. The uplifting, and true tenets of the Vedas, are difficult to understand, and are couched in multiple layers of symbolic language) (2–45).
In a flooded land where water is everywhere, a shallow well with little water is of no use to anyone. The unknowing scholar (Brahmin) is in such a state (seeking the water of the well), not knowing the vastness of the Vedas (2–46).
Now comes the iconic, and oft-quoted golden verse of the Gita:
Karmaṇyēvādhikārastē mā phalēṣu kadācana |
Mā karmaphalahēturbhūrmā tē saṅgō:’stvakarmaṇi ||2–47||
Arjuna, You have every right to take action; but never to the outcome (fruits) of action. That should be your motive—the prize being in the process. Under no circumstances subject thyself to attachment to inactivity (or wrong action) (2–47).
Immersed in Yoga, with a resolute focus of your mind, carry out your duties (Swa-Dharma) without any attachment. Take success or failure with equanimity, because equanimity is the essence of Yoga—Samtvam Yoga uchyate (2–¬48).
Oh Dhananjaya (Another name for Arjuna), mere actions are far inferior to Samkhya-Yoga, or actions guided by enlightened intelligence. There are those poor souls who always seek the fruits of their work, and this permeates all their thoughts and action (2–49).
By Yoga, having acquired enlightened intelligence, and not worrying about doing good or evil, resolve to be a Yogi. What is Yoga, but an exquisite skill of doing things (and solving problems) (2–50)?
The great sages are those in whose mind reason, and freedom from the fruits of action resides. They have succeeded in liberating themselves from the bondage of earth. They have crossed the realm of misery (2–51).
When your enlightened intelligence shines to dispel the darkening delusion, then you do not need to hear the perplexing interpretations of teachings on Shruti’s—those heard, and those yet to be heard. (2–52).
Arjuna, frankly, as it is for most people, it may be confusing for you to be buffeted with conflicting, and confusing opinions derived from erroneous, ritualistic doctrines preached by many in the name of Shruti. You should ignore such teachings, and stay focused on the essence of Divinity in the form of Paramatma; this is a sure path for self-realization (2–53).
The first meaningful response at this point from Arjuna for further clarification is proof positive that he has recovered rapidly, and has absorbed Sri Krishna’s counseling on both emotional, and ethical issues. So, Arjuna asks: Oh Sri Krishna, what is the profile of a person who has attained such a state of steadiness of intellect? How does such a Sthita-Prajna person live? What does he say? How does he do all the activities? (2–54).
Oh Arjuna, the essence of Sthita-prajna state is freedom from base desires, which is an affliction of the mind. And a Sthita-Prajna is immersed in experiencing and contemplating the ecstasies of realization of the Atman surrendering to Paramatma; because his intellect and focus is steady and resolute, he is called a Sthita-prajna (2–55).
He is undisturbed and unswayed by sorrow, and unmoved by pleasure. Furthermore, he has no attachments. He is free from fear, anger, and passion. He is therefore, a sage, with a steady state of mind (2–56).
The one who is not attached to anything, who is neither excited by the fulfillment of his heart’s desires, nor is ever disappointed if they do not come his way, has the steady state of mind—the state of a Sthtita-prajana (2–57).
Total withdrawal from the senses, and sense objects, just as the tortoise’s withdrawal of its limbs into its impregnable shell, is the hallmark of a person who is of the steady mind—the state of a Sthtita-prajana (2–58).
In day-to-day life, Arjuna, if one abstains from the enjoyment of the sense objects, the craving does not disappear. But one who has learned to merge himself in the focus of the Supreme, he has attained the state of Sthita-prajna (2–59).
Even a sagacious person, when he tries hard, loses his balance when dealing with senses that sway his mind. Such is the power of the senses. When the senses are under full control, and the mind is fixed, and focused on Paramatma, then one has attained the state of Sthita-Prajna (2–60, 2–61).
When one indulges the sense objects without control, there develops the deadly desire, Kama, which, when unfulfilled, is the harbinger of another deadly vice, anger, or Krodha. Anger in turn leads to delusion, Sammoha. Delusion results in loss of perspective awareness, Smriti-vibhrama, which in turn is the basis of loss of wisdom. An individual caught in this vicious cycle perishes (2–62, 2–63).
When one conquers passion and hatred, and detaches himself from likes and dislikes, the threshold of tranquil self-realization is attained (2–64).
When one turns his back on sense objects, by His grace, all misery and suffering disappears. In this state of steady intellect, one experiences the bliss of self-realization (2–65).
Arjuna, when the senses are not under the control, there cannot be self-awareness. Without self-awareness, there will not be a tranquil state. Without the tranquil state, one can never be truly happy (2–66).
In an uncontrolled mind, with senses at full play , the intelligence loses its sense of direction toward its final destination, very much like a storm that tosses a boat away from its destination of the shore (2–67).
Therefore, when the senses are completely detached from sense objects, one acquires steady intelligence—the state of Sthita-prajnata (2–69).
When most people are in slumber, the enlightened one is fully aware, and awake. When most are awake, and indulging in mundane activities, the enlightened one is in a state of unaware meditation (2–69).
The desires enter the mind of a Yogi in a controlled stream that does not disturb the tranquility, like a river that enters the ocean without causing turbulence. Conversely, one wrapped in desires cannot attain tranquility, ever (2–70).
When one is able to eschew all the desires and wants, and become free from the longing and feeling of I, the essence of ego, peace is attained (2–71).
Having revealed to Arjuna the fundamentals of Samkhya-Yoga, which in its quintessence is enlightened self-awareness, the basis of self-realization, Sri Krishna summarizes his teaching in one line: This is the state of understanding the Supreme. People call it Brahmee-Sthiti. Arjuna, with the attainment of this state of mind, there is no delusion. Even after striving for years, if one is able to attain this, even at the end of one’s life, that person has landed at the gate of liberation (2–72).
One can truly reflect that the concept of Samkhya-Yoga, the supreme science of enlightenment, and its attainment, embodies the essence of the Gita. In this teaching, doing one’s duty without consideration of the fruits, controlling one’s mind so as not to be swayed by attachment to sense objects, and attaining the ability to focus on one’s awareness toward self-realization will lead to the threshold of the supreme state of bliss, and His grace.
NEXT: Karma Yoga: Engagement without Entanglement
 The complete reference of original text used in this article is placed below.
एषा तेऽभिहिता साङ्ख्ये बुद्धिर्योगे त्विमां शृणु |
बुद्ध्या युक्तो यया पार्थ कर्मबन्धं प्रहास्यसि ||२- ३९||
ēṣā tē:’bhihitā sāṅkhyē
buddhiryōgē tvimāṁ śr̥ṇu |
buddhyā yuktō yayā pārtha
karmabandhaṁ prahāsyasi ||2- 39||
नेहाभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते |
स्वल्पमप्यस्य धर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात् ||२- ४०||
pratyavāyō na vidyatē |
trāyatē mahatō bhayāt ||2- 40||
व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिरेकेह कुरुनन्दन |
बहुशाखा ह्यनन्ताश्च बुद्धयोऽव्यवसायिनाम् ||२- ४१||
vyavasāyātmikā buddhirēkēha kurunandana |
bahuśākhā hyanantāśca buddhayō:’vyavasāyinām ||2- 41||
यामिमां पुष्पितां वाचं प्रवदन्त्यविपश्चितः |
वेदवादरताः पार्थ नान्यदस्तीति वादिनः ||२- ४२||:
yāmimāṁ puṣpitāṁ vācaṁ pravadantyavipaścitaḥ
vēdavādaratāḥ pārtha nānyadastīti vādinaḥ ||2- 42||
कामात्मानः स्वर्गपरा जन्मकर्मफलप्रदाम् |
क्रियाविशेषबहुलां भोगैश्वर्यगतिं प्रति ||२- ४३||
kāmātmānaḥ svargaparā janmakarmaphalapradām |
kriyāviśēṣabahulāṁ bhōgaiśvaryagatiṁ prati ||2- 43||
भोगैश्वर्यप्रसक्तानां तयापहृतचेतसाम् |
व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धिः समाधौ न विधीयते ||२- ४४||
bhōgaiśvaryaprasaktānāṁ tayāpahr̥tacētasām |
vyavasāyātmikā buddhiḥ samādhau na vidhīyatē ||2- 44||
त्रैगुण्यविषया वेदा निस्त्रैगुण्यो भवार्जुन |
निर्द्वन्द्वो नित्यसत्त्वस्थो निर्योगक्षेम आत्मवान् ||२- ४५||
traiguṇyaviṣayā vēdā nistraiguṇyō bhavārjuna |
nirdvandvō nityasattvasthō niryōgakṣēma ātmavān ||2- 45||
यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वतः सम्प्लुतोदके |
तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानतः ||२- ४६||
yāvānartha udapānē sarvataḥ samplutōdakē |
tāvānsarvēṣu vēdēṣu brāhmaṇasya vijānataḥ ||2- 46||
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ||२- ४७||
karmaṇyēvādhikārastē mā phalēṣu kadācana |
mā karmaphalahēturbhūrmā tē saṅgō:’stvakarmaṇi ||2- 47||
योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय |
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्योः समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ||२- ४८||
yōgasthaḥ kuru karmāṇi
saṅgaṁ tyaktvā dhanañjaya |
siddhyasiddhyōḥ samō bhūtvā
samatvaṁ yōga ucyatē ||2- 48||
दूरेण ह्यवरं कर्म बुद्धियोगाद्धनञ्जय |
बुद्धौ शरणमन्विच्छ कृपणाः फलहेतवः ||२- ४९||
dūrēṇa hyavaraṁ karma buddhiyōgāddhanañjaya |
buddhau śaraṇamanviccha kr̥paṇāḥ phalahētavaḥ ||2- 49||
बुद्धियुक्तो जहातीह उभे सुकृतदुष्कृते |
तस्माद्योगाय युज्यस्व योगः कर्मसु कौशलम् ||२- ५०||
buddhiyuktō jahātīha ubhē sukr̥taduṣkr̥tē |
tasmādyōgāya yujyasva yōgaḥ karmasu kauśalam ||2- 50||
कर्मजं बुद्धियुक्ता हि फलं त्यक्त्वा मनीषिणः |
जन्मबन्धविनिर्मुक्ताः पदं गच्छन्त्यनामयम् ||२- ५१||
karmajaṁ buddhiyuktā hi
phalaṁ tyaktvā manīṣiṇaḥ |
padaṁ gacchantyanāmayam ||2- 51||
यदा ते मोहकलिलं बुद्धिर्व्यतितरिष्यति |
तदा गन्तासि निर्वेदं श्रोतव्यस्य श्रुतस्य च ||२- ५२||
yadā tē mōhakalilaṁ buddhirvyatitariṣyati |
tadā gantāsi nirvēdaṁ śrōtavyasya śrutasya ca ||2- 52||
श्रुतिविप्रतिपन्ना ते यदा स्थास्यति निश्चला |
समाधावचला बुद्धिस्तदा योगमवाप्स्यसि ||२- ५३||
śrutivipratipannā tē yadā sthāsyati niścalā |
samādhāvacalā buddhistadā yōgamavāpsyasi ||2- 53||
स्थितप्रज्ञस्य का भाषा समाधिस्थस्य केशव |
स्थितधीः किं प्रभाषेत किमासीत व्रजेत किम् ||२- ५४|||
sthitaprajñasya kā bhāṣā samādhisthasya kēśava |
sthitadhīḥ kiṁ prabhāṣēta kimāsīta vrajēta kim ||2- 54||
प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् |
आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्टः स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते ||२- ५५||
prajahāti yadā kāmānsarvānpārtha manōgatān |
ātmanyēvātmanā tuṣṭaḥ sthitaprajñastadōcyatē ||2- 55||
दुःखेष्वनुद्विग्नमनाः सुखेषु विगतस्पृहः |
वीतरागभयक्रोधः स्थितधीर्मुनिरुच्यते ||२- ५६||
duḥkhēṣvanudvignamanāḥ sukhēṣu vigataspr̥haḥ |
vītarāgabhayakrōdhaḥ sthitadhīrmunirucyatē ||2- 56||
यः सर्वत्रानभिस्नेहस्तत्तत्प्राप्य शुभाशुभम् |
नाभिनन्दति न द्वेष्टि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ||२- ५७||
yaḥ sarvatrānabhisnēhastattatprāpya śubhāśubham |
nābhinandati na dvēṣṭi tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā ||2- 57||
यदा संहरते चायं कूर्मोऽङ्गानीव सर्वशः |
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ||२- ५८||
yadā saṁharatē cāyaṁ kūrmō:’ṅgānīva sarvaśaḥ |
indriyāṇīndriyārthēbhyastasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā ||2- 58||
विषया विनिवर्तन्ते निराहारस्य देहिनः |
रसवर्जं रसोऽप्यस्य परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते ||२- ५९||
viṣayā vinivartantē nirāhārasya dēhinaḥ |
rasavarjaṁ rasō:’pyasya paraṁ dr̥ṣṭvā nivartatē ||2- 59||
यततो ह्यपि कौन्तेय पुरुषस्य विपश्चितः |
इन्द्रियाणि प्रमाथीनि हरन्ति प्रसभं मनः ||२- ६०||
yatatō hyapi kauntēya puruṣasya vipaścitaḥ |
indriyāṇi pramāthīni haranti prasabhaṁ manaḥ ||2- 60||
तानि सर्वाणि संयम्य युक्त आसीत मत्परः |
वशे हि यस्येन्द्रियाणि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ||२- ६१||
tāni sarvāṇi saṁyamya yukta āsīta matparaḥ |
vaśē hi yasyēndriyāṇi tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā ||2- 61||
ध्यायतो विषयान्पुंसः सङ्गस्तेषूपजायते |
सङ्गात्सञ्जायते कामः कामात्क्रोधोऽभिजायते ||२- ६२||
dhyāyatō viṣayānpuṁsaḥ saṅgastēṣūpajāyatē |
saṅgātsañjāyatē kāmaḥ kāmātkrōdhō:’bhijāyatē ||2- 62||
क्रोधाद्भवति सम्मोहः सम्मोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रमः |
स्मृतिभ्रंशाद् बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति ||२- ६३||
krōdhādbhavati sammōhaḥ sammōhātsmr̥tivibhramaḥ |
smr̥tibhraṁśād buddhināśō buddhināśātpraṇaśyati ||2- 63||
रागद्वेषविमुक्तैस्तु विषयानिन्द्रियैश्चरन् |
आत्मवश्यैर्विधेयात्मा प्रसादमधिगच्छति ||२- ६४||
rāgadvēṣavimuktaistu viṣayānindriyaiścaran |
ātmavaśyairvidhēyātmā prasādamadhigacchati ||2- 64||
प्रसादे सर्वदुःखानां हानिरस्योपजायते |
प्रसन्नचेतसो ह्याशु बुद्धिः पर्यवतिष्ठते ||२- ६५||
prasādē sarvaduḥkhānāṁ hānirasyōpajāyatē |
prasannacētasō hyāśu buddhiḥ paryavatiṣṭhatē ||2- 65||
नास्ति बुद्धिरयुक्तस्य न चायुक्तस्य भावना |
न चाभावयतः शान्तिरशान्तस्य कुतः सुखम् ||२- ६६||
nāsti buddhirayuktasya na cāyuktasya bhāvanā |
na cābhāvayataḥ śāntiraśāntasya kutaḥ sukham ||2- 66||
इन्द्रियाणां हि चरतां यन्मनोऽनुविधीयते |
तदस्य हरति प्रज्ञां वायुर्नावमिवाम्भसि ||२- ६७||
indriyāṇāṁ hi caratāṁ yanmanō:’nuvidhīyatē |
tadasya harati prajñāṁ vāyurnāvamivāmbhasi ||2- 67||
तस्माद्यस्य महाबाहो निगृहीतानि सर्वशः |
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेभ्यस्तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ||२- ६८||
tasmādyasya mahābāhō nigr̥hītāni sarvaśaḥ |
indriyāṇīndriyārthēbhyastasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā ||2- 68||
या निशा सर्वभूतानां तस्यां जागर्ति संयमी |
यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि सा निशा पश्यतो मुनेः ||२- ६९||
yā niśā sarvabhūtānāṁ tasyāṁ jāgarti saṁyamī |
yasyāṁ jāgrati bhūtāni sā niśā paśyatō munēḥ ||2- 69||
आपूर्यमाणमचलप्रतिष्ठं समुद्रमापः प्रविशन्ति यद्वत् |
तद्वत्कामा यं प्रविशन्ति सर्वे स शान्तिमाप्नोति न कामकामी ||२- ७०||
āpūryamāṇamacalapratiṣṭhaṁ samudramāpaḥ praviśanti yadvat |
tadvatkāmā yaṁ praviśanti sarvē sa śāntimāpnōti na kāmakāmī ||2- 70||
विहाय कामान्यः सर्वान्पुमांश्चरति निःस्पृहः |
निर्ममो निरहङ्कारः स शान्तिमधिगच्छति ||२- ७१||
vihāya kāmānyaḥ sarvānpumāṁścarati niḥspr̥haḥ |
nirmamō nirahaṅkāraḥ sa śāntimadhigacchati ||2- 71||
एषा ब्राह्मी स्थितिः पार्थ नैनां प्राप्य विमुह्यति |
स्थित्वास्यामन्तकालेऽपि ब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृच्छति ||२- ७२||
ēṣā brāhmī sthitiḥ pārtha naināṁ prāpya vimuhyati |
sthitvāsyāmantakālē:’pi brahmanirvāṇamr̥cchati ||2- 72||