Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 6 (Part-1) Dhyaana Yogah:Yoga of Meditation

Preamble

The Gita has been described as an elaborate commentary on the mahavakya of the Chhandogya Upanishad, ‘tat tvam asi – that thou art’. The first six chapters elucidate the word ‘thou’ which stands for the individual self. It is called the Twam-pada. The second set of six chapters deals with the word ‘that’ which denotes brahman. This is called the Tat-pada. The last set of six chapters establishes the identity of the individual self and brahman. It is called the Asi-pada, which establishes the identity of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul.

Another way of looking at these three sets of six chapters each is to consider the first six chapters as emphasizing karmayoga, the second six bhaktiyoga and the last six jnanayoga. The term ‘yoga’ here stands for ‘path’. Thus we have the three paths of karma, bhakti and jnana. These three paths are, however, not independent of one another, but they together form a synthetic whole. None of these paths can be practiced without the help of the other two; only the emphasis varies according to the temperament and level of spiritual development of the aspirant.

Chapter 2 described the sage of perfection, his mental equipoise and the methods of self-evolution to guide us in pure meditation and detached thinking. Chapter 3 gave a scientific treatment of the Karma Yoga – the path of action. The principle of `Renunciation of action in knowledge’ had been propounded in Chapter 4. As there was confusion in Arjuna between the ideas of `action’ and `renunciation of action’, Chapter 5 explained the `way of renunciation of action’ under two methods Viz. 1. Renunciation of the sense of doership and 2. Abandoning attachment and anxiety about the fruits of actions. A person who has followed the teachings of The Lord thus far would have got rid off his doubts. He would be fit for the higher purposes of meditation and Self-contemplation. How this is done is the theme of the present Chapter 6. This chapter concludes one of the sections in the thought-flow of the Gita as explained in the beginning.

This Chapter explains how one can give up one’s weaknesses and positively grow into a healthier, stronger and integrated personality. This technique is called “Dhyana Yoga” or `Path of meditation’. It discusses this path as auxiliary to the practice of both Karma Yoga and Sankhya Yoga.

Control over the body, senses, mind and intellect is extremely necessary in Dhyana Yoga. These instruments are collectively called as “Atma” and hence this Chapter is also called ‘The Yoga of Self-Control’. Many classical commentators, particularly Madhusudan Saraswati, have therefore associated this Chapter with the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

The first nine verses of this Chapter reiterate the three stages of spiritual development as described in the previous chapter. A yogi with worldly vasanas, needs karma yoga, the path of action, to evolve spiritually. Through action he sheds his vasanas and becomes a Sanyasi. A Sanyasi, in a state of renunciation, needs meditation and quietitude to reach the ultimate state of Jnani.  Both Karma Yogi and Sanyasi aim at the same goal of Self realization but their sadhanas (spiritual practices) differ. Whatever be the sadhana, every seeker has to put in his own effort to raise himself.

Though the Yogi and Sanyasi are both on the spiritual path, the Sanyasi alone, having developed a dispassion for the world, is capable for meditation and realization. Details of the environmental, physical, mental and intellectual preparations necessary to take the seat of meditation are elaborated here.  When a seeker follows all these preparations he will become freed from desire, possessiveness, and the consequent sorrow. He will then become established in Yoga and be fully prepared to enter into meditation.

The Text

RENUNCIATION AND ACTION ARE ONE

sri bhagavaan uvaacha

anaashritah karmaphalam kaaryam karma karoti yah

sa sannyaasi cha yogee cha na niragnirna chaakriyah  // 6.1 //

Sri Bhagavan said

He who performs his bounden duty without depending on the fruits of his actions – he is a sannyasin and a yogin, not he who has merely renounced the sacred fire; even so he is no yogi, who has merely given up all action.

So far, two currents of thought were discussed viz. 1. `Renunciation of the sense of agency’ (Sanyas) and 2. `Renunciation of attachment to the fruits of actions’ (Yoga).

The Sanyasi is himself the Yogi and the seekers must therefore engage themselves in noble works renouncing both their sense of doership and attachment to the fruits of their actions. Sanyasa or renunciation has little to do with outward works. It is an inward attitude. It is mental purity and intellectual equipoise.

Arjuna thought Sanyasa as mere abandonment of all activities, symbolized here by the word `fire’. To become a Sanyasi, it is not necessary to give up the daily sacrificial fire and other rituals. To abstain from these without the spirit of renunciation is futile.

yam sannyaasamiti praahuryogam tam viddhi paandava

na hyasannyastasankalpo yogee bhavati kashchana  // 6.2 //

O Pandava, please know what they call renunciation to be disciplined activity, for none becomes a Yogi who has not renounced his selfish desire.

The word `Sankalpa’ means the mental faculty that makes plans for the future expecting the results of the plans so made. No one can become a Karma Yogi who plans future actions and expects the fruits of such actions. Only a devotee who renounced the thoughts of fruits of his actions can become a Yogi of steady mind because the thoughts of fruits of actions always cause mental disturbances.

Sanyasa i.e. renunciation consists in the accomplishment of the necessary action without an inward striving for reward. This is true yoga, firm control over oneself, complete self-possession. This verse says that disciplined activity (Yoga) is just as good as renunciation or Sanyasa.

Karma Yoga practiced without regard to the fruit of actions forms a stepping stone and an external aid to Dhyana Yoga or meditation.  How Karma Yoga is a means to a better and greater meditation is explained in the following verses.

PATH AND THE GOAL

aarurukshormuner yogam karma kaaranamuchyate

yogaaroodhasya tasyaiva shamah kaaranamuchyate  // 6.3 //

For a sage who wishes to attain to yoga, action is said to be the means; for the same sage who has attained to yoga serenity is said to be the means.

For a man who cannot practice meditation for a prolonged period and who is not able to keep his mind steady in meditation, action or work is a means of establishing himself in concentration and self-improvement. By working in the world with no egocentric concept of agency and desire for the fruits of actions, the mind gets purified and makes it fit for the practice of steady meditation.

When the required amount of concentration is achieved and his mind conquered, his agitations get well under control. In that state of mental growth his mind thoroughly gets fixed in the Self. These two means are not contradictory. Selfless work is necessary for a beginner; but a developed seeker needs more calmness and self-withdrawal for deep meditation to realize the Self. All his actions are then performed with perfect equanimity,

yadaa hi nendriyaartheshu na karmaswanushajjate

sarvasankalpasannyaasee yogaaroodhas tadochyate  // 6.4 //

When a man is not attached to sense objects or to actions, having renounced all thoughts, he is said to have attained Yoga.

Sri Krishna explains the physical and mental condition of the Yogarudha – the one who is established in Yoga. The Lord says that when one is without mental attachment to sense-objects or actions in the outer world, he is said to have obtained mastery over the mind.

When the mind is without even traces of attachment either to the sense-objects or to the fields of activity, even then it is possible that it will get distracted by its own power of longing and desiring. Such disturbances caused by the inner forces of the mind (Sankalpa) are more devastating than the ones caused by the external world of objects.

Sri Krishna indicates that the one who is said to have gained a complete mastery over his mind is he who has not only withdrawn himself from all sense-contacts and activities in the outer world but has also conquered all the Sankalpa-disturbances arising in his own mind. Such an individual, at the moment of meditation, in that inward state, is termed Yogarudha.

uddharedaatmanaatmaanam naatmaanamavasaadayet

atmaiva hyaatmano bandhuraatmaiva ripuraatmanah  // 6.5 //

Let a man lift himself by himself; let him not degrade himself; for, he himself is his friend and he himself is his enemy.

Sri Krishna declares that `man should lift himself by himself’.  Man, if he wants to raise himself from an animal existence to a noble life with all cultural and spiritual possibilities which lie dormant in him, has to convert the lower instincts in him to a higher level of perfection which is his essential nature.

Man is basically a plural personality – he thinks he ought to be a morally strong, ethically perfect, physically loving and socially disciplined ideal personality but in actual practice he is always a victim of his own attachments and aversions, likes and dislikes, love and hatred etc. So long as he does not realize his own duality, there cannot be any religion for him.  But if he wants to make the lower in him as bright as the higher, he has to adopt the technique called Religion. The processes by which the lower is brought under control and discipline of the higher are called spiritual practices.

This process of self-rehabilitation cannot be executed with any outside help but has to be done all by himself unto himself, all alone, all the way. Teachers, scriptures and temples etc. are all guides only and the actual achievement depends on the seeker’s ability to come out of his misunderstandings.

The step suggested so far goes only half way and the other half as suggested by The Lord, is to see that the self thereafter does not fall down to its old level of mundane existence. When the lower allows itself to be corrected by the higher, the higher is called his friend.   But when the lower does not allow itself to be controlled by the higher, the latter is considered to be his enemy.

“The Supreme is within us. It is the consciousness underlying the individualized consciousness of every day life but not proportionate to it. The two are different in kind, though the Supreme is realizable by one who is prepared to lose his life in order to save it. For the most part we are unaware of the Self in us because our attention is engaged by objects which we like or dislike. We must get away from them, to become aware of the Divine in us. If we do not realize the pointlessness, the irrelevance and the squalor of our ordinary life, the true Self becomes the enemy of our ordinary life.

The Universal Self and the personal self are not antagonistic to each other. The Universal Self can be the friend or the foe of the personal self. If we subdue our pretty cravings and desires, if we do not exert our selfish will, we become the channel of the Universal Self. If our impulses are under control and if our personal self offers itself to the Universal Self, the latter becomes our guide and teacher. Every one of us has the freedom to rise or fall and our future is in our own hands”. Dr.S.Radhakrishnan.

IDEA OF FRIENDSHIP AND ENMITY CLARIFIED

bandhuraatmaatmanastasya yenaatmaivaatmanaa jitah

anaatmanastu shatrutwe vartetaatmaiva shatruvat  // 6.6 //

To him who has conquered himself by himself, his own self is a friend, but to him who has not conquered himself, his own self is hostile like an external enemy.

To the extent that the lower in us withdraws itself from its identifications with the body and sense-organs, feelings and emotions to that extent it (the ego) is said to have come under the influence of the nobler in us.

To such an ego the Self is the friend.  But where the ego rebels against the higher, to that unconquered self or uncontrolled ego the Diviner Self is as inimical as an external foe.

The higher Self becomes a friend to the lower if the latter allows itself to be influenced by the former.  The Diviner becomes inimical to the lower limited ego when the latter resists nobler aspirations. We are therefore called upon to master the lower self by the higher. The point is that the lower self is not to be destroyed. It can be used as a helper, if it is held in check.

jitaatmanah prashaantasya paramaatmaa samaahitah

sheetoshna sukha duhkheshu tathaa maanaapamaanayoh  // 6.7 //

When one has conquered one’s (lower)self and has attained in the realm of self-mastery, his Supreme Self abides ever focused; he is at peace in cold and heat, in pleasure and pain, in honor and dishonor.

This verse explains what exactly is achieved in the state of mental equipoise called `Yogarudha’.  When the stage of Yogarudha or the state of mental equipoise is reached, the mind is held steadfast in the contemplation of the Supreme and the seeker is capable of maintaining consistency of meditation in all circumstances, favorable and unfavorable.

Sri Krishna enumerates all possible threats that an individual may come across against his maintaining mental tranquility.  These impediments fall into three categories viz.

  • relating to body – heat and cold,

  • relating to mind – pleasure and pain

  • relating to intellect – honor and dishonor.

The Lord says that in spite of all these obstacles in man’s life the Supreme Self is to be the focal point for constant realization. The man of serenity remains unruffled in all circumstances, in all environments and in all companies.

“This is the state of blessedness of the person who has established himself in unity with the Universal Self. He is a jitatman whose calm and serenity are not disturbed by the pairs of the opposites. The self in the body is generally absorbed by the world of dualities, heat and cold, pain and pleasure but when it controls the senses and masters the world, the self becomes free.The Supreme Self is not different from the self in the body. When the self is bound by the modes of prakriti or nature, it is called kshetrajna; when it is freed from them, the same self is called the Supreme Self”. – Dr.S.Radhakrishnan

jnaana vijnaana triptaatmaa kootastho vijitendriyah

yuktah ityuchyate yogee samaloshtaashmakaanchanah  // 6.8 //

He is said to be a steadfast Yogi who is satisfied with knowledge and wisdom, who remains unshaken, who has conquered the senses, and  to whom a lump of earth, a stone and gold are the same.

Sri Krishna says that an individual, self-controlled and serene, who contemplates constantly on the nature of the Self in all circumstances in life, soon gets full divine satisfaction and becomes an unshakeable Yogi.

Knowledge gained by study of Sastras is Gnana and one’s own experience of the teachings of Sastras is Vignana. Kootastha is the anvil. Red hot iron pieces are hammered on the anvil for giving proper shape to them but the anvil itself remains unchanged in spite of receiving repeated hammerings. So too, the seeker is called changeless-Kootastha- whose heart remains unchanged in spite of it being surrounded by the worldly objects. He is unperturbed by things and happenings of the world and is therefore said to be equal-minded to the events of this changing world. Such a saint remains tranquil with equal mental vision in all conditions of life.  To him a clod of mud, a stone and gold are all the same. Thus equanimity of mind is the touchstone for spiritual evolution.

suhrinmitraaryudaaseena madhyastha dweshya bandhushu

saadhushwapi cha paapeshu samabuddhirvishishyate  // 6.9 //

He who has equal regard for well-wishers, friends, enemies, the indifferent, the neutral, the hateful, relatives, the righteous and the unrighteous, excels.

In the previous verse it was stated that the man of perfection develops equal vision to all the things of the outside world. Here the nature of relationship of a man of perfect equipoise with the other living beings of the world is discussed.

The Lord says that such a man of excellence regards all relationships with equal love and consideration irrespective of whether they are friends or foes or the indifferent or the neutral or the hateful or the nearest relations. He does not make any distinction between the righteous and unrighteous, the good and the bad.

In realizing the Self in him, he sees unity in all diversities and observes a rhythm in the world outside.  To him, who has realized himself to be the Self which is all pervading, the entire universe becomes his own Self and therefore his relationship with other parts of the universe is equal and the same.

The method by which one can attain this highest goal with an assured result is called Meditation which is explained exhaustively in the following verses.

DIRECTIONS FOR THE PRACTICE OF YOGA

yogee yunjeeta satatamaatmaanam rahasi sthitah

ekaakee yatachittatmaa niraasheeraparigrahah  // 6.10 //

A Yogi should always try constantly to concentrate his mind (on the Supreme Self), remaining in solitude, living alone with the mind and body controlled, free from desires and possessions.

In the previous verses Arjuna wanted to know the ways and means of achieving the constant experience of inward equilibrium. Sri Krishna explains the methods of self-development and the technique of self-perfection which can be attained by all. The method taught by The Lord requires the seekers to exert themselves by constantly practicing concentration which is called meditation.

The pre-requisites for practicing meditation are:

  • Rahasi Sthitah – Remaining in solitude: Sitting in solitude one should practice meditation. This does not mean that meditation can be practiced only in jungles or in lonely caves. It means that even in one’s own home one should try to withdraw himself mentally and physically from the normal preoccupations and retire to a secluded spot for practicing meditation. Solitude can be gained only when there is mental withdrawal from the world outside. One who is full of desires and constantly thinking about sense-objects cannot gain solitude even in a remote forest. Solitude lifts our hearts and exalts our minds. In a world which is daily growing noisier, the duty of the civilized man is to have moments of thoughtful stillness.  Retiring to a quiet place, we should keep off all external distractions.

  • Ekaki – Alone: For the purposes of meditation one has to be physically alone.  His success depends upon the amount of self-control he is adopting in his daily life.

  • Yatachittatmana – Self-controlled. He must not be excited, strained or anxious. There should be no restlessness or turbulence. The heart must become clean if it is to reflect God who is to be seen and known only by the pure in heart.

  • Niraasheer – Free from desires: Worry about daily needs, about earning and spending, disturbs meditation and takes us away from the life of the spirit. So we must be free from desire and anxiety born of it, from greed and fear. We should expect nothing, insist on nothing.

  • Aparigrahah – Free from longing for possessions:  This is a spiritual state and not a material condition. We must control the appetite for possessions; free ourselves from the tyranny of belongings. One cannot hear God’s voice, if one is restless and self-centered, if one is dominated by feelings of pride, jealousy or possessiveness.

“The Gita points out our happiness is inward. It invites our attention to the manner of our life, the state of human consciousness, which does not depend upon the outward machinery of life. The body may die and the world pass away but the life in spirit endures. Our treasures are not the things of the world that perish but the knowledge and love of God that endure. We must get out of the slavery to things to gain the glad freedom of spirit.

Here the Lord develops the technique of mental discipline on the lines of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. When one starts meditating upon the Truth within these parameters, he is considered to be the true seeker trying to achieve the highest in life. The main purpose of this exercise is to raise our consciousness from its ordinary waking condition to higher levels until it attains Union with the Supreme. The human mind is ordinarily turned outwards. Absorption in the mechanical and material sides of life leads to misbalanced condition of consciousness.

Yoga attempts to explore the inner world of consciousness and helps to integrate the conscious and the sub-conscious. We must divest our minds of all sensual desires, abstract our attention from all external objects and absorb it in the object of meditation. By summoning all the energies of the mind and fixing them on one point, we raise the level of reference from the empirical to the real, from observation to vision and let the spirit take possession of our whole being. The practice must be constant. It is no use to taking to meditation by fits and starts. A continuous creative effort is necessary for developing the higher, the intenser form of consciousness”. – Dr. S.Radhakrishnan.

OTHER AIDS TO MEDITATION

The Lord now explains the other aids to meditation like modes of sitting, eating, recreation etc. in the following verses.

shuchau deshe pratishthaapya sthiramaasanamaatmanah

naatyucchritam naatineecham chailaajinakushottaram  // 6.11 //

Having established in a clean spot his firm seat, neither too high nor too low, made of a cloth, a skin and Kusa grass, one over the other.

tatraikaagram manah kritwaa yatachittendriyakriyah

upavishyaasane yunjyaadyogamaatmavishuddhaye  // 6.12 //

There, having made the mind one-pointed, with actions of the mind and sense controlled, let him, seated on the seat, practice yoga for the purification of the self.

Sri Krishna now gives a complete and exhaustive explanation of the technique of meditation.  The seat for practice of meditation should be in a clean place. The external conditions have a direct bearing on the human mind. The chances for the seeker to maintain a pure mental condition are more in a clean place. A tidy atmosphere causes the least mental disturbances.

The meditator should sit steady (sthiram) in his seat without moving his body in any direction since physical movements destroy the mental concentration and inner equipoise. In order to get established in a firm posture, it would be advisable to sit in any comfortable seat with the vertebral column erect, fingers interlocked and hands thrown in front.

The seat of meditation should not be too high or too low. Too high a seat causes a sense of insecurity and a seat too low may cause bodily pains. During meditation the heart becomes slightly slow causing even a slight fall in blood pressure and to that extent one gets withdrawn in himself. At such a time of low resistance, the position of the seat plays a vital part.

The mattress of Kusa Grass on the ground covered by a deer skin and a piece of cloth on top of it protects one from dampness, cold and heat.

Sitting properly by itself is not Yoga. While proper physical condition is necessary for inducing right mental attitude for spiritual practices, by itself it cannot assure any spiritual self development. Hence Sri Krishna tells here what a seeker should do in the seat of meditation having brought his body in a steady condition and how his mind and intellect should be kept engaged.

These instructions of The Lord are: One should make the mind single pointed by subduing the faculty of imagination and activities of the sense organs. Although single pointedness is the nature of the mind, by virtue of its capacity for imagination or wishful thinking and on account of the pulls and pressures of the external sense objects on the sense organs, it gets wild and scattered. The Lord says that if these two sources of dissipation are closed, the mind will get automatically single pointed. Keeping the mind contemplating on the Ultimate Self constantly is the inner Yoga suggested here.

The effect of such meditation is inner purification.  A purified mind is the one wherein there are no agitations and when the mind becomes thus steady and pure, it discovers its own Real Nature just like one understands himself by looking at his own image in a mirror. The purification of the heart, chittasuddhi, is a matter of discipline. It is a disciplined disinterestedness. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Wisdom is a condition in a being at rest.

samam kaayashirogreevam dhaarayannachalam sthirah

samprekshya naasikaagram swam dishashchaanavalokayan  // 6.13 //

Let him firmly hold his body, head and neck erect and still, gazing at the tip of his nose without looking around.

The Lord tells that the meditator should firmly hold his body in such a way that his vertebral column is completely erect – the head, neck and the spinal column should be vertical to the horizontal seat. Holding the body firmly means that it should not be moved in any direction although it has to be kept relaxed.

Patanjali points out that the posture should be steady and pleasing so as to aid concentration. A right posture gives serenity of body. The body must be kept clean if the living image of God is to be installed in it.

His gaze should be fixed at the tip of his nose.  If this is followed literally there is a possibility of the seeker getting headache, giddiness etc. Adi Sankara says that the term means that the meditator should have his attention as though turned towards the tip of his own nose. The meditator is advised not to look around so that his attention may not get distracted.

prashaantaatmaa vigatabheer brahmachaarivrate sthitah

manah samyamya macchitto yukta aaseeta matparah  // 6.14 //

Serene minded, fearless, firm in the vow of Brahmacharya, having controlled the mind, thinking on Me and balanced, let him sit in yoga, having Me as the Supreme goal.

The word Prashaanta means inward peace. This is the inner joy in which the meditator will find himself as a result of regular practice. Fear is the quality in a person who cannot believe that there is something beyond himself which is the Supreme.

The very process of turning towards the Supreme makes him afraid of nothingness. The seeker should therefore be fearless since it is the deadliest enemy for spiritual progress.

Even after the mind becomes peaceful and joyous and fearlessness achieved after a continuous practice of meditation and study of scriptures, no progress towards the goal can be possible unless the seeker gets established himself in perfect Brahmacharya. Brahmacharya implies the observance of celibacy as well as the practice of self control in all fields of sense-stimulations and sense-gratifications.

Without self control the mind will become chaotic due to the pressures of the world of objects. Unless the mind is provided with another target to concentrate upon it cannot retreat from its usual pre-occupations with the external world. This alternative is the inner field of the Self.

When the body, mind and intellect are controlled through the above process, the seeker gains mental energy and experiences an increasing capacity to withdraw within himself and fix all his thoughts on `Me’, the Self. After taming the mind and stopping it from its external wanderings, it should be kept focused upon the Divine seeking nothing but the Supreme. The mind becomes still but not vacant for it is fixed on the Supreme. Ishvara Pranidhana is a recognized way in yoga discipline. They act in the world but the passionless tranquility of the spirit remains undisturbed. They are like lotus in the lake which is unruffled by the tide.

yunjannevam sadaa’tmaanam yogee niyatamaanasah

shaantim nirvaanaparamaam matsamsthaam adhigacchati  // 6.15 //

Thus, always keeping the mind balanced, with his mind controlled, the Yogi attains to the peace abiding in Me – the peace that culminates in total liberation – Nirvana or Moksha.

After explaining 1. The physical pose 2. Mental stability and 3. The consequent intellectual self-application, The Lord gives out the last step in the technique of meditation. When all the above stages of meditation have been gone through the seeker becomes an unwavering person in his physical and subtler existence. Such a person who constantly keeps his mind free from agitations surely reaches the Supreme.  The word `constantly’ does not mean at the cost of his duty to his home and the society. It means a consistent inner silence during meditation. At the peak of meditation the mind becomes completely `still’ and comes to a `halt’.

The individual comes to experience an infinite peace when his mind is calmed. This is the peace that always resides in the seeker. Thus when there is no mental, intellectual and bodily disturbances and agitations, the seeker attains the peace unknown in the outside world that ultimately ends in the Supreme Liberation i.e. Nirvana-Paramam. In brief, the.meditator awakens to his own status of Selfhood which is the fulfillment of the meditation.

MODERATION IS ESSENTIAL

naatyashnatastu yogo’sti na chaikaantamanashnatah

na chaati swapnasheelasya jaagrato naiva chaarjuna  // 6.16 //

Verily, Yoga is not possible for him, who eats too much, or for him who does not eat at all; or for him who sleeps too much, or for him who is always awake, O Arjuna.

The Lord gives guidelines in this verse and the following ones on the possible pitfalls that have to be guarded against in pursuit of meditation.  The central theme of His guidance is that moderation in all activities at all levels is the precondition for achieving success in Meditation. Intemperateness in any field of behavior and activity brings about mental agitations which are not conducive to the development of an integrated personality. Therefore moderation in food, sleep and recreation is directed.

Yoga is not possible for him who eats too much nor for him who does not eat at all. Eating means not only the process of consuming food but includes enjoyments gained through all means of sense perceptions and inward experiences. Similarly, neither too much sleep which erodes the faculties nor lack of sleep which disturbs the body rhythm is advised for spiritual life. Everything in moderation is the rule.

yuktaahaaravihaarasya yuktacheshtasya karmasu

yuktaswapnaavabodhasya yogo bhavati duhkhahaa  // 6.17 //

Yoga puts an end to all sorrows for him who is moderate in food and recreation, who is moderate in his exertion at work, who is moderate in sleep and wakefulness.

Moderation but not complete self-denial in all activities of life like eating, recreation, sleep and exertion in working is the basic principle stated here. The important guideline in this verse is that the amount of effort put in for all work, including selfless divine work, should be moderate as otherwise such work instead of redeeming the seeker would enslave him. What is required is restraint but not abstinence. Yoga should be practiced because it is capable of destroying all miseries.

Concepts and Issues

In this Chapter, Sri Krishna clears the doubt of Arjuna as to whether a Yogi and a Sanyasi are one and the same. The Lord says that everyone who wishes to become a Yogi or Sanyasi must perform his bounden duty. By performing one’s duty without expectation of results one becomes a Yogi. By renouncing all worldly thoughts, by constantly remembering God, through study of scriptures, Japa, Kirtan and Meditation one becomes a Sanyasi.

He who controls his body, mind and senses can remain calm in pleasure and pain, heat and cold, honor and dishonor. For him there is no friend or enemy and he feels no difference between gold and stone. He is a perfected Yogi. He sees God in everything. Such a sage who is self-controlled and free from all desires constantly engages his mind in meditation.

Sri Krishna describes the pre-requisites for meditation and explains to Arjuna the method of its practice. After observing all the preliminaries, with serenity of mind, fearlessness and vow of continence, the meditator should think of The Lord’s presence between the two eye-brows which is the point of concentration. Such a person will attain supreme peace or liberation.

The Lord advises that an aspirant should adopt moderation in all his daily activities like food, sleep and waking hours, yogic breathing and exercises, satsangs and svadhyaya etc.

Live as the Gita Teaches You to Live

Raise yourself by yourself.

Know what meditation is and practice it regularly.

Be moderate in everything you do.

Points to Ponder

1. How one can keep his mind steady?

2. What are the pre-requisites for meditation?

3. How one’s own self is his own friend and enemy?

4. Write short notes on the greatest among all types of Yogis.

Next time we will proceed from the Verse 6.18

Harih Om

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