Chapter II, Verse 57
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
He who is nowhere overbound by attachment (or personality concepts) and who is not exultant receiving good nor dejected, receiving evil, is the one who is established in wisdom (and understanding).
The state of nonattachment to the fruit of action – no “hope for” nor “disappointment in” any outcome – is a quality of the wise.
The vast majority of humans like drama in their lives. Extreme emotions make the ignorant feel “alive”. Verses like this one, terrify the ignorant. Krishna says a wise man is not excited by joy nor disturbed by evil! Who wants a life that is not enjoyed! Each average human believes that “more of a good thing” is better than less of the same.
Fear not. The wise experience a bliss that cannot be described by the spoken and written languages of the ignorant. Attachment prevents pure enjoyment and creates both desirable and undesirable situations.
Imagine a prisoner who has completed his debt of incarceration. Instead of being dropped unceremoniously on the side of the street, the now free prisoner is allowed to live in his cell but may come and go as he pleases. In time, the prisoner finds a better place to live and moves out of his former cell completely. This is similar to the experiences of one who is becoming enlightened. He begins to leave his cell regularly, eventually finds a better home in an expanded state of awareness and looks back on his imprisonment as just another experience. Once established in the outside world (or in the greater state of consciousness), the former prisoner can return to his cell if needed without worry about being locked up.
Arjuna has asked Krishna to give a list of qualities that one who is enlightened may possess. Just because a wise person is not easily excitable, does not indicate a lack of awareness. The enlightened person receives a much greater amount of input from the senses and from experiences than an ignorant person. The “even keel” steadiness a wise person displays is often necessary to manage the inundating flood of information.
The experience of ever-new joy in the desire-less state of consciousness is one of many apparent paradoxes of expanded awareness when considered from the limitations of ignorance.
The wise person, Krishna states, is even-minded.
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
Prajna – The surface translation is “wisdom” or “discrimination”. However, when using the Bhagavad Gita as a Sanskrit primer this should be translated as “the energy associated with the feminine or pingala nadi.”
Compare Sanskrit sounds for qualities of nonattachment.
Download a PDF copy of this post.