Like the King
May 16, 2009
Demystifying the Sufis
December 31, 2009

Stitaprajna: Standing Consciousness

Feelings and emotions are explicit testimonies to the fact that we are men. But when we fail to tame them and flow with them, our life is on a sure path to disaster.

There is a word in Sanskrit, which is largely unparalleled in any other language, called Stitaprajna. Simply translated the word can mean “Standing (Stita) Consciousness (Prajna)” in English. But its meaning is way too convoluted.

Imagine, for a moment, that you have slapped a kid. What will it do? Cry. Right? Definitely! What is its response when you cuddle it? It smiles – naturally. And when you stare with terrible look? It tries to ignore in panic. The same is true in case of adults too! The only difference is that grownups’ reciprocation pattern is largely varied and this is owing to their complex mental structure.

There are people who get carried away by their feelings and ones who know how to control them. But that they reciprocate, appropriately or inappropriately, is for sure. But once they react their mental equilibrium is imbalanced. Given this we can effectively conclude that feelings are paths unto miseries.

Yes, there can also be one more argument – not certainly for the heck of it. “What about the positive feelings?” one may ask. True, feelings like love compassion can be called “positive.” But what we should realize is that even such feelings lead to some sort of crisis. To demonstrate it: You love a dog and when the dog dies you are [sad]. So it is imperative to concluded, that every feeling leads to loss of mental peace.

So what is the way out?

The only way out is embracing the aforesaid concept of “Stitaprajna”.
“Stitaprajna” is a state of mind where your feelings have been effectively controlled by your own intellect. The person attains a state of equilibrium which isn’t easy to be disturbed. He doesn’t get wooed by praises nor is he saddened, or infuriated, with insults hurled at him. He’s always steady. True, it isn’t easy to be “Stitaprajna”. And because it isn’t great men are in scarce numbers.

There is one poem authored by an Imperialist poet Rudyard Kipling which attempts to simplify the concept of Stitaprajna – but not completely. Entitled as “IF” the poem reads as below:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

Author, U. Mahesh Prabhu, is Editor-in-chief of Folks Magazine (http://www.folks.co.in) and Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, London (UK).

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