Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Extracts from the Book (V)
What is a 'realised' man?

flower picture

The term used in the Gita for the realised man is sthitaprajna (sthitapraj~na), meaning one 'standing' (sthita) in 'wisdom' (prajna), a man of steadiness and calm, firm in judgement, contented. The characteristics described in the rest of chapter two of the Gita also contain within them implications as to what must be done in order to attain such a state: -

  • One who has given up all desires and is satisfied by the Self alone.

  • One who is not distressed in adversity, doesn't long for pleasures, is free from attachment, fear and anger.

  • One who is unattached, who is neither overjoyed when good things happen to him nor hating it when evil occurs.

  • One who does not merely abstain from indulging in sense objects but in whom there is no longing at all.

  • Attachment to objects leads to desire, then to anger, delusion, confusion, loss of reason and… death! Therefore, the 'man of steady wisdom' keeps his senses always under control, being neither attracted nor repelled by sense objects.

  • One who is ever tranquil, never miserable.

The Gita emphasises the need to keep the senses under control and abandon all desires several times in this chapter. The metaphor of a ship being blown off course by the wind is used to illustrate how discrimination and reason are lost when sense objects distract the mind. A key verse in the entire scripture states: "What is night to all beings, therein the self-controlled one is awake. Where all beings are awake, that is the night of the Sage who sees." Here, what is being said is that ordinary people live amongst the illusory world of the senses, believing it all to be real - that is their 'day'. To them, reality is 'night' and their vision is totally useless here. One who has turned away from the senses and 'shaken off the sleep of avidya', as Shankara puts it, is completely awake and the night time of reality is like day to him. Conversely, the world of transience and mere appearance is now like night time to him since it is a state of ignorance.

The chapter ends with the announcement that "attaining this state, none is deluded. Becoming established in it, even at the end of one's life, a man becomes one with Brahman."

Extracts from the Book
Summary and Endorsements
List of Contents
1. We are not the ego
2. Thinking
3. How can we be happy?
4. Do objects exist while we are asleep?
5. What is a realised man?
6. Direct Path teachings
Page last updated: 09-Jul-2012