Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. When I mentioned last week that I shall debate about if a leader has to be a Stithaprajna, I underestimated the enormity of that statement.
To simplify Sthitha translates to Stable and Prajna translates to mind, intellect and wisdom.
Arjuna, in chapter 2, verse 54 asks the great Lord Krishna, who is a ‘SthithaPrajna’ and what follows from the great Lord is a treatise of 18 verses (Verse 55 – Verse 72) which paints a vast canvas of the person of perfection.
I understand from my limited research that the great Mahatma Gandhi used to recite this 18 verses daily before starting his day.
With that express background, I listened to a couple of commentaries and read the interpretations of various Gurus of those 18 verses.
I have to admit that I did not become enlightened after that.
My life has become more miserable as I have found the eastern philosophy never goes onto a prescriptive mode. It places lucid arguments and leaves you to deal with it.
It never says “Do this.”
It always gives me a choice like “It’s up to you” and for those of you who are familiar with the choice theory, a choice can be a dangerous thing.
What follows is a novice interpretation and summary of the eighteen verses.
What are the ingredients of a person of perfection?
- Unshaken by adversity
- Does not go after joy or pleasure
- Master of basic emotions (Attachment, Fear, Anger)
- Control of Sense Organs (Self-Control)
- Consistent march towards a higher experience
While all of the above are self-explanatory, some of these verses do bring out that I am far away from a person of perfection.
Nine years back I left sweets and Ice-cream. Every time I go with my kids to get either ice-cream or sweets, I curse the manufacturers who introduced excellent flavors after me giving up on these. It still means I am attached to sweets and ice-creams and not actually detached to those delicious lip smacking stuff!
The other beautiful verse that I could relate to in day to day life is about how once you start moderating the sense organs, they give their attempt to trap you. I can relate to this with many real life examples in the day to day life. I have been in the midst of chain smokers. I have observed the following behavior
After you give up smoking, there is a well-intentioned attempt by the remaining smokers to make you have one last puff, but if you are steadfast in your resolve, the others give up in their attempt to persuade.
Any bad habit that you want to get rid of remain steadfast in your commitment to getting rid of that. The bad habit will go and find another home. Contemporary Science calls its neuroplasticity.
A metaphor of tortoise on how it draws its limbs inwards when sensing something amiss to its survival is given to managing the senses. The mind should be similarly alert and withdraw from the needless indulgence of the sense organs.
One thing that I am generally confused is, figuring out the higher seat of experience that is inside me. I do realize the seats of devils and angels are from me and while I battle that out daily, I do not think I have got a handle on that final state of liberation.
It could be because I am too much focused on the destination and not enjoying the journey.
Now, you could argue, what on earth this has got to do with any kind of leadership?
A recent HBR article talks about twelve elements of EI (Emotional Intelligence). One Major Pillar in that is self-awareness and emotional self-awareness.
Any leader today has to have that kind of emotional self-awareness and having the qualities of stithaprajna can be thought as the necessary foundation stone for achieving leadership excellence.
I evaluated myself on the qualities of a stithaprajna on a scale of one to five and here are my ratings.
|Unshaken by adversity
|4||Gets shaken, but recovers fast.|
|Does not go after joy or pleasure
|3||It is the food, stupid!|
|Master of basic emotions (Attachment, Fear, Anger)
|3||Anger – Misplaced
Fear – People and Possessions
Attachment – Reduced not nullified
|Control of Sense Organs (Self-Control)
|2||Aroma is the culprit.|
|Consistent march towards a higher experience
|2||Seeking, but nowhere out of the woods yet.|
I would have to admit that is a fragile portrayal of the magic behind those eighteen verses, but just as the term aroused curiosity in me, I hope it would arouse curiosity in you and help you find your own way to figure out the secrets behind eternal peace and poise.
If these eighteen verses are internalized, I think I can stop at the second chapter and end my seeking. But it does not look like that.
Shantideva, a Buddhist monk, quotes
” I am unable to restrain external phenomena, but I shall restrain my own mind. What need is there to restrain anything else.”
If it were so easy, I would be a monk by now
You can find the commentary about Stitaprajna from Swami Chinmayananda here. This is the audio rip off DVD five of the thirty-seven DVD published by the Chinmaya foundation.
Recently, I watched a movie, where a soldier who dies defending his base, says
” All the gods, all the heavens, all the hells, are within you.”
A stithaprajna strives to defeat the hells, does not succumb to the heavens and realizes the GOD within himself is how I would summarize my understanding.
Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)