The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 6
The Path of Self-Control
(This chapter is about the Yoga of Self-Control and the Yoga of Meditation.)
Shri Krishna said, “One who performs one’s responsibilities, renouncing their results, is a Sanyasi and a Yogi, and not the one who is inactive and has abandoned religious rituals.
Know that what is called “Sanyas” is nothing else but “Yoga.” One who has not renounced one’s worldly desires cannot be a Yogi.
To establish oneself in the Yoga of Meditation, practice of Karma Yoga is necessary; to remain established in the Yoga of Meditation, self-control and renunciation of worldly desires are required.
When one is not attached to sense-objects and actions and has renounced all thoughts and desires to acquire the pleasures of the body and mind, then one is said to be established in the Yoga of Meditation.
Help yourself to lift up yourself. Never let yourself go down. Our self is our friend as well as our enemy. One who has obtained control over one’s body and mind is one’s own friend and one who has not obtained such control is one’s own enemy.
The qualities of a Yogi established in Yoga are that (1) he/she has conquered one’s mind and senses, (2) he/she has attained serenity within, (3) his/her heart has been filled with the satisfaction of knowledge and realization, (4) he/she remains steadily absorbed in the Supreme Self, (5) he/she acts with a balanced mind in joy and sorrow, heat and cold, honor and insult, and other such opposite circumstances and (6) for such a person, gold is like dirt and stones (meaning his/her mind cannot be deviated because of money).
Also, such a Yogi, who has equal regard for friends and foes; for people related or unrelated; for those who love or hate; for people who are impartial or indifferent; and even for people who are righteous or sinners, is the best among the Yogis.
A Yogi who has attained control over his/her mind and senses, and who is free from all worldly desires and possessions, should go into solitude and constantly focus his/her mind on the Supreme Self.
In solitude, such a Yogi should find a clean place, and prepare a seat that is not too high or too low, and for comfort has layers of kusha grass, dear skin, and a cloth. Then, sitting on that seat, restraining the activities of one’s mind and senses, he/she should practice the Yoga of meditation to purify his/her mind.
Being established in celibacy, free from any fear, and keeping serenity within, the Yogi should sit in the meditation posture – sitting crossed-legged and keeping the spinal column, neck and head in a straight line – and without looking around, he/she should focus the mind on Me, considering Me as the supreme goal of life.
When a Yogi controls his/her mind and thus focuses it on Me (as Atman), then he/she attains the supreme peace within, which is abiding in the Atman. This peace culminates in Nirvana, freedom from all bondage.
One cannot be established in this Yoga of Meditation if he/she eats or sleeps too much or too little. One can be established in this yoga if one lives a moderate life by keeping moderation in one’s eating, sleeping, activities and entertainment. This Yoga of meditation removes all suffering in life.
Being free from all worldly desires and having obtained total control over one’s mind, when the Yogi’s mind steadily remains in the Atman, then the Yogi is said to be established in the Yoga of Meditation. The steadfastness of such a Yogi’s mind in the Atman has been compared to the steadiness of the flame of an oil lamp in a windless environment.
The Yoga of Meditation removes all the sorrows of life and through it,
(1) the Yogi’s mind rests in quietude after being restrained by the practice of concentration,
(2) the Yogi rejoices in his/her own Self (Atman), realizing the Atman within through the purified intellect, and becomes fully satisfied,
(3) one experiences Infinite Bliss, which can only be grasped by the pure intellect and not by the senses
(4) one remains established in the Ultimate Reality and never deviates from it,
(5) one attains a state of supreme gain and feels that there is nothing higher to achieve, and
(6) by being established in that state, not even the heaviest sorrow can throw off the Yogi’s focused state of mind.
This Yoga of Meditation has to be practiced with determination, enthusiasm, perseverance, and an unwavering mind.
Four steps to be established in the Yoga of Meditation:
(1) Renounce all worldly desires which arise from the mind.
(2) Use the mind to control all senses from running towards their sense-objects.
(3) With firm determination, lift up the mind systematically and steadily from the world with the help of the intellect, and focus it on the Atman. Then, do not think of anything else.
(4) If the restless and unsteady mind runs towards the objects of the world, then bring it back from these objects and again focus it on to the Atman.
The Yogi attains the Supreme Bliss when his/her mind has become completely tranquil and pure, from whom all the passions have been quieted down, and whose mind has become one with Atman (Brahman).
Thus, the Yogi with pure and ever focused mind on the Atman, experiences the Supreme Bliss that comes from the direct experience of the Atman (Brahman).
The Vision of the Yogi of the World:
The Yogi who had direct experience of the Atman (Brahman) within sees the divine Atman in all beings and all beings in the One Divine Atman (Brahman). He/she has highest regards for all beings irrespective of their outer differences.
One who sees all beings in Me (Brahman) and Me (Brahman) in all beings abides in Me all the time. He/she never gets separated from Me and I never get separated from him/her.
The Yogi who is thus established in Oneness worships Me (Brahman) who resides in all beings. Through all his/her actions, he/she always lives in Me.
The Yogi, who sees his/her own divine Atman dwelling within as the same divine Atman of all beings in joy and sorrow, is considered to be the best Yogi. Such a Yogi sees the joy and sorrow of all beings as his/her own joy and sorrow”
Arjuna’s Comments and Questions:
Arjuna said, “O Krishna! The Yoga you have described is the Yoga of equanimity. But, the mind is very restless, So, I do not see how long this mind can endure the equanimity.
The mind is restless, turbulent, powerful and stubborn. To control this mind is as difficult as controlling a tornado.”
Shri Krishna Said, “O Mighty Armed Arjuna! There is no doubt that the mind is restless and extremely difficult to control. But, through ‘abhyasa’ (constant practice to control the mind) and ‘vairagya’ (detachment) it can be brought under control.
I firmly believe that a person lacking self-control cannot attain this Yoga, while a person with self-control can attain this Yoga by making proper efforts.”
Arjuna Asked, “O Krishna! Suppose a person has faith in this Yoga, but due to his/her lack of self-control deviates from this Yoga and dies without attaining the final state of the Yoga, what happens to that person? Does this deluded person, fallen from both sides and being un-established in the path to realize Brahman, get destroyed like a fragmented cloud?
O Krishna! Please destroy this doubt completely from my mind since it is hard to find a person like you who can completely destroy such a doubt.”
Shri Krishna said, “O Arjuna! One who does spiritual practices to realize Brahman does not perish in this life or in the next life. A person who does spiritual practices to be good will never come to grief.
After death, a person fallen from the Yoga goes to the world where righteous people go after their deaths. Enjoying the results of his/her good actions in this world for a while, either he/she takes a birth in a pure and prosperous family or in a family of Yogis who are filled with wisdom. It is very difficult to obtain such a birth.
Being born in such family all the past impressions of the spiritual practices done in the previous lives come to the surface of the mind of this fallen Yogi. Then, naturally he/she continues his/her spiritual practices to go further to realize Brahman.
A Yogi who strives diligently becomes free from impurities of the mind, and with the good impressions of the spiritual practices of the previous births, he/she attains the Supreme State of the Yoga (Realization of Brahman or Perfection or the Knowledge of the Ultimate Reality).
Such a Yogi is superior to the people who practice only austerities, or who only study scriptures, or who only perform religious rituals. That is why, O Arjuna, become such a Yogi.
Among these Yogis, I consider that Yogi to be the best who, with his/her inner self merged in Me, worships Me with faith.”
Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita— the essence of the Upanishads, the science of Brahman, the scripture of Yoga, and the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna— ends the Sixth Chapter, entitled “The Path of Self-Control.”
Om Tat Sat.
(Thanks to Sonali Tatapudy for editing this post.)