This is an attempt to awaken curiosity to read the holy Gita. I am sharing a few nuggets verbatim from the chapters of the book, with the hope that this gets you started at your own pace. There are many commentaries on The Gita. This version is based on “The Scripture of Mankind” Translation by Swami Tapasyananda.
This is an overview of the 6th chapter titled “Dhyana Yoga” (Communion through Meditation)
This chapter focuses on 3 things
- Continuation on the topic – Detached work leads to Enlightenment
- Practise of Meditation
- Difficulty of Inward Concentration
Detached work leads to Enlightenment
Real Sanyasis and Karma Yogis are not very different. Both have the common perspective that the mind should have the capacity to abandon all hankering, desire, attachments, hopes and expectations.
In the initial stage as one sets on the path towards detachment work is essential. Without work one would lapse into idleness and hypocrisy. With this work he must practise Introspection & Meditation. That is needed to achieve the goal of detachment.
For a beginner Work or Karma becomes Karma Yoga only when it is supplemented with Meditation. However for one who has become established in detachment Sama or introspection becomes the path for further progress. Whereas action is a “must” for the former it is only a “may” for the latter. However the cultivation of a detached mind free from hopes and expectation is common and essential to both.
Practise of Meditation
The mind of one who has succeeded in meditation is comparable to a steady flame undisturbed by the wind. He becomes established in the experience that he is the Spirit & not the body. He is in a state of Bliss which is the nature of the Spirit. Once he is established in this state nothing else is felt as attractive or valuable. He is not distracted even by the greatest of worldly sorrows.
A person adept in Meditation also attains a new vision of the totality of the existence, the experience of the Divine residing in all entities.
The difficulty of inward concentration
Having listened patiently Arjuna now raises two valid questions.
- As the mind is unsteady the work of making it steady is as difficult as stilling the air. How could this be accomplished?
- What is the fate of one who attempts this but is not successful even by the end of his life? Is he a lost soul – his whole life efforts having ended in failure?
Lord Krishna responds in detail to these pertinent questions
Though the mind is difficult to control this can be done by
- Steady Practise
- Cultivation of dispassion for worldly enjoyments
- A Strong aspiration for a higher life
The last of these is the most important. If a strong aspiration and desire to evolve is not present, practise alone will not be of much use. Failure in Yoga is mainly due to lack of aspiration for a higher life.
But there is no absolute failure in Yoga. A person carries the legacy of whatever effort he has put in this life to the next one. He will be born under conditions favourable to spiritual development. With the power of his earlier practise as his background he will strive forward life after life till success is attained.
One practising the discipline of Concentration / Meditation is immensely greater than one engaging himself entirely in scripture ordained works or in intellectual study of the Vedanta. The practise of concentration should be accompanied with intense faith and devotion to the Lord. Then Yoga becomes the most potent spiritual discipline.
A few relevant quotes from this chapter
To him who has subdued the lower self by the higher self , the self acts as a friend. But to him who has lost his higher self by the dominance of the lower one , the self functions as the enemy – always hostile to him.
A Yogin whose spirit has attained contentment through knowledge and experience, who is unperturbed, who has subdued his senses, to whom a lump of earth and a bar of gold are alike – such a Yogi is said to have attained steadfastness in spiritual communion.
Let a Yogin constantly practise spiritual communion residing alone in a solitary spot, desireless, possessionless, and disciplined in body & mind.
Holding the body, head & neck erect, motionless and firm, gazing at the tip of the nose, fearless, serene , restrained in mind and established in the vow of continence, he should sit in spiritual communion with Me, looking upon Me as his highest and most precious end.
O Arjuna ! Success in Yoga is not for those who eat too much, nor for those who eat too little. It is not also for those given to too much sleeping, nor to those who keep vigil too long – MODERATION
For now who is temperate in food & recreation, who is detached and self restrained in work, who is regulated in sleep & vigil – Yoga brings about the cessation of the travail of Samsara.
He who sees Me in all beings and all beings in Me – To him I am never lost, nor he to Me
A Yogi (One practising Meditation) is superior to a man of Austerity, he is superior to a scholar, he is superior to a ritualist too. Therefore O Arjuna , be you a Yogi.
Points to ponder
Verses 5 – 6 seem to imply that there are two aspects to the Self of man – one higher and the other lower. The higher Self is the Buddhi turned towards the Atman – The Spiritual essence. The lower Self is the Mind dominated by the senses. It is said the sense dominated mind must not be allowed to overpower the buddhi – the higher Self. If this is to be avoided the buddhi must draw strength from the Atman by communion with it. Such a buddhi fortified by Atman consciousness can easily uplift the sense bound mind and integrate it with itself.
Verses 29 – 32 are of considerable metaphysical, ethical & psychological importance.
Metaphysically it asserts the unity of all existence in a Spiritual Self which is both personal and impersonal – thereby emphasising the intimate relation between the Spiritual Self and the individual self.
Ethically it teaches the most universal principal of ethics. To do towards and feel for others selves as for one owns self is the highest principal of ethics.
Psychologically it shows that the spiritual intuition which Yoga gives has a distinct content of a unique nature and is not a mere fantasy without life enhancing value.
Verse 47 – The verse immediately following the praise of Yoga tells us that devotion to God which makes one cling to the Lord in utter faith and self surrender makes Yoga all the more exalted. In the Gita the word Yoga is used in many senses. Here it mainly refers to the Ashtanga Yoga – the 8 limbed Yoga of Pathanjali. It is the science of concentration and stilling the modes of the mind.
The Sankhya which teaches the discrimination between Purusha & Prakriti – does not have much place for God & devotion in it. But the Gita everywhere stresses the supreme importance of the Ishwara and devotion to Him in making all spiritual discipline complete. So it is pointed here that the Yoga of discipline of concentration will be more perfect if the object of concentration is the Lord.
To be continued ……..
Reference for previous chapters