After hearing Shree Krishna’s explanation of karm yog and the state of perfect yog or union with God, Arjun enquires about the characteristics of a God realized (Sthitapragya) soul. Arjun wishes to know how God-realized personalities talk, sit, and behave in the world (chapter 2, verse 54). ‘Sthitapragya‘ means one whose mind is always established in pure knowledge, and never forgets Shree Krishna even for a moment.
Characteristics of an Enlightened Soul
Here it is important to note that in response to Arjun’s question, Shree Krishna describes the internal characteristics of a sthitapragya individual, not any external attributes. He says that one who is sthitapragya is free from desire, attachment, fear and anger, has controlled his senses and mind, and is self-contented (chapter 2, verses 55 & 56).
God-realized soul is free from desire-
Upon attaining God, Who is the very form of happiness, the God realized soul experiences perfect, unlimited happiness at all times, and there is nothing left for him/her to desire.
God-realized soul is devoid of all attachments-
The fundamental reason behind attachments is repeated contemplation upon an object of desire. Since a God-realized personality is situated in perfect bliss at all times, he does not have any further desires and thus, does not form any attachments.
God-realized soul neither fears the death of his physical body, nor the loss of material possessions or relations –
We all experience constant fear – fear of losing people and objects we are attached to. Fear is born out of ignorance. When we believe ourselves to be the body, then we fear death; when we believe the things of the world belong to us and are the source of happiness, then we fear to lose them. The sthitapragya individual is free from such delusions – he understands that he is not the body but the soul within, that material possessions are only temporary, and that God is the source of true happiness. Thus, he neither fears the death of his physical body, nor the loss of material possessions or relations.
Sthitapragya individual is free from desire and, therefore, anger –
However, souls under maya get angry. The reason is simple. When we form a desire, there can be only two scenarios. The desire may either get fulfilled or remain unfulfilled. If the desire gets fulfilled, we experience greed or the hankering for further desires. In the second case, when our material desires go unfulfilled, we naturally experience anger or frustration. Since the sthitapragya individual is free from desire, there is no question of anger ever arising.
God-realized soul has complete control over his senses and mind-
It is only the desire for material enjoyment that attracts the senses and diverts the mind. This makes it difficult for an ordinary person to control his senses and mind. Since the sthitapragya person is free from desire, he has complete control over his senses and mind.
God-realized soul is soul self-contented-
The God realized person enjoys a permanent experience of Divine bliss that is independent of any external stimulus. Upon becoming God-realized, the connection with God is internal, and cannot be disturbed by any outside influence. Such a soul is contented in himself and doesn’t require any input or experience from the outer world to make him happy. Shree Krishna describes one more characteristic of the sthitapragya individual when He says that such a person is neither delighted upon receiving what is favorable, nor upset upon receiving what is not favorable (chapter 2, verse 57). This is possible because the individual is self-contented.
All these are internal attributes of a God-realized soul. But, why did Shree Krishna not describe any external characteristics of a God-realized person? We will discuss this in the next post – External attributes of an enlightened soul are unreliable.