Chapter 6 - Abhyasa Yoga
Chapter 6, Verse 1
Lord Krishna gives the definition of a yogi here. Who can be called a “yogi”? he says the person who is performing all the activities without any desire and trying to unite his individual consciousness with universal consciousness is called a yogi and not people who have just left of all activities of the world.
This sloka gives the affirmation that we need not go to jungles to practice renunciation. We can practice them right here, right now. Though the temptations are difficult in this world, f we can practice work as per the concepts of yoga in the present state that gives more happiness to the individual.
Chapter 6, Verse 2
In this sloka, Lord Krishna gives the meanings of Yoga and renunciation. He says renunciation is not leaving the work, renunciation is leaving the desire for the results of work. If the person leaves the desire for the results of work, then he is called a renunciate or sanyasi. This is stage one.For a sanyasi to become a yogi, there is stage 2. He should try to unite his individual consciousness with ultimate consciousness/ultimate truth through the practice of yoga.
Thus we have seen that in earlier sloka Lord Krishna established the supremacy of karma sanyasa in chapter 3,4,5 and now he is asking us to move forward to next stage: Yoga and become a karma yogi.
Chapter 6, Verse 3
Here in this sloka, the qualifications for a person aspiring to be a yogi and who has become a yogi are given. Lord Krishna says that when a person is trying to reach the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness, then actions are the means by which he has to try. By actions, he will be going through all the desires and resist them and overcome them. He will conquer anger, greed, lie, inauthenticity etc by being in action by being in this world it is possible to live such a life. Once a person has lived such a life then he is ready to leave the actions and reflect upon higher things which will enable him to be in the union.
Thus it is made clear that we have to conquer ourselves by being very much where we are and not go to the Himalayas to conquer ourselves.
Chapter 6, Verse 4
This is another powerful sloka. Here Lord Krishna says how can we identify the person who is ready for renunciation and perform meditation. In simple words when can we say a person is self-realized? The person is self-realized who does not look for pleasure from the sense objects. Even if the highest temptation is put before them, they do not budge because they have tasted the higher fruit of universal consciousness. We observe this in people with high willpower on earth. Detached life in the present world is the signal with which we can identify the person who is on the path to become a yogi.
Chapter 6, Verse 5 & 6
In this sloka, Lord Krishna gives out who is the friend and foe of a person. He says “the mind” is the friend and enemy of a person. If a person can keep the mind’s desires under control, the mind becomes his friend. If the person cannot keep the mind’s desires under check the mind, in fact, acts like an enemy to the person. It basically destroys a person slowly and slowly. The person will not even know he is being destroyed but the desires of the person will destroy him slowly and slowly. One desire at the subtle level will lead to another desire at the higher level. The desires are indeed in the form of a chain, one higher form of desire feeding and building on a lower form of desire.
The desires of mind form the crucial link for a mind to be a friend of a person or enemy. A proper disciplined, cultivated mind is like a friend of a person. It elevates him from his desires and also keeps a check on desires. the cultivated mind keeps the basic, elemental desires at check so that they do not become big and engulf the person.
Lord Krishna asks people to elevate themselves their mind and does not degrade it. How does a person elevate the mind? elevating the mind is by making it “fast” from what it needs. Basically, a mind needs comforts and it makes a human being so many things to be in the comfort zone. Feed the mind virtues of life and values which make a great life. Feed the mind with a constant inquiry of what’s truth and what’s untruth. Using reason as a tool of the intellect, feed the mind constantly with what’s the truth. It makes progress gradually from what it is, a comfort-seeking brain to higher levels of truth-seeking.
Chapter 6, Verse 7
A recipe for peace is given here. Lord Krishna says that that person is peaceful who has won over the senses and is absorbed in the supreme consciousness. Such a person is free from dualities. He treats heat, cold, happiness and sadness as the same. Also praise by people and also insults from people are the same for him. The key word in this sloka is being free from dualities. It means being in the same state (internally) to whatever happens externally. Irrespective of happenings in the outside world to a person, the person feels and responds in the same manner. This is the highest state of existence of a person. Usually, we get swayed by praise from our peers and we look forward to activities which draw a lot of praise from people. We also get demotivated by insults/lack of praise from people. If our actions are based on what we want from people in society then we are giving power to the external factor in a situation.
If the power is within us then we react same to whatever happens in our external surroundings. The internal state of the person should not change. Krishna uses the example of heat and cold as two opposite physical forms and how we react to them. He uses the feelings of happiness and sadness to explain the point. Can we feel the same emotion in all situations? This is highly difficult not an impossible situation. This is possible for a person who won over his senses and is absorbed in supreme consciousness.
Chapter 6, Verse 8
Lord Krishna gives the explanation of the meaning of Yogi. The words of gnana for Knowledge and vignana- wisdom are used in the first line. This indicates that a person having the correct knowledge regarding the ultimate truth and who uses this knowledge on himself and gains wisdom (Vignana) ,and who is fully satisfied with whatever he is having and whatever he is doing , and one who is undisturbed to whatever is happening externally (being equanimous) and who had conquered his senses and is absorbed with the supreme consciousness is said to be an yogi. A yogi with all the above-mentioned qualities will look at dirt, stone or gold as the same.
Chapter 6, Verse 9
In this sloka, equanimity is explained with respect to human relations. A person who is equanimous will treat every person in society as the same. He may be his friend, well-wisher, mediator, enemy or the person who has committed sins. This is one of the most difficult things for a person to do. We are usually good to our friends try to help them but we do not help our enemies. We get carried away by praise of well-wishers and do not like people who do not praise us. The ultimate test of equanimity is in human relations, as for how we treat people. If we treat everyone equally then we will be taking objective decisions and there will not be any subjectivity.
This is a very powerful sloka for me. If we imbibe this sloka we will treat everyone equally in this world.
Chapter 6, Verse 10
Here what actions a person should do while practicing yoga is given here. A person who is performing yoga trying to unite his consciousness with the higher consciousness should perform seclusion. Seclusion is different from loneliness. Here Lord Krishna uses the word ekaki, means try to be on your own, not dependent on others. Create a situation of not being much dependent on others so as to avoid unnecessary communication and then practice meditation. Too much of conversation with human beings will take a person away from his ultimate goal.
Also, another word used in this sloka is “satatam” means consistently practice the path of yoga. Even if we think we may relax a day, we will not practice today, then we fall of consistency path. Consistency is the key to yoga. Many people are usually not consistent especially when they are alone.
Chapter 6, Verse 11 & 12
In these two slokas, the procedure to be adopted before meditation is given here. On a seat not too high and too low, and in a place which is clean the person should sit in for meditation. The other qualifications that are given are the mind should be one-pointed. It should not vacillate between whether meditation is good or bad, why he should sit for meditation when there are better things to do. The mind may pose these questions initially at the start of the practice to instill a sense of doubt. Krishna says such doubts should be overcome and the person should sit in meditation. Also controlling the senses is another qualification that is given. This is quite important that one should control the senses meaning we should not yield to desires of mind but we should yield to the higher purpose as to why we are doing meditation.
Chapter 6, Verse 13 & 14
Here the procedure for meditation is given quite elaborately. The pre-requisites for practice are given which need to be practiced 100% for accurate results. If things are given relaxation the results are also bound to be less than 100 %. The prerequisites are the head, back and neck should be in a straight line. If we can sit in padmasana or sukhasana we can attain this posture. People who cannot do it may do it with slow practice. Once seated in a firm posture then the sight should be either on the tip of the nose or in-between the eyebrows. Once the sight is fixed the mind should be absorbed in the universal consciousness. It may be Krishna or any other God whom the practitioner likes. Patanjali Yoga sutra 1.35-1.50 talk about what can be the objects of meditation. Another prerequisite given is Brahmacharya. There are wide connotations available for brahmacharya with relaxations given by different schools of thought. (More reading has to be done about this). As on date, it is sufficient to say that if implemented 100% this brahmacharya, it will give positive results.
Chapter 6, Verse 15
It is mentioned here in this sloka as to what happens to the person who is following the procedure 100%. Before the results, there are two conditions mentioned here. Sada-Consistency and engaging the mind in meditation. These two are the preconditions. How can we constantly engage the mind in meditation in the modern world? Meditation can be in the work we are doing. If we are engaged mindfully in the work we are doing that is also a meditation. If a person wants to some work perfectly then he should be engaged with it 100%. If a person wants to know the ultimate truth then engaging with universal consciousness 100% is the only way. To get better results in work, family lie, studies people have to be involved in it 100%. So it is given here that if we are engaged consistently then the results of getting delivered from the human existence is achieved here.
Chapter 6, Verse 16
In this sloka, the middle path is advocated. Aristotle also advocated the concept of the middle path. The concept of golden mean for virtues to be practiced by an individual in life. This concept is the same here and applies here. It is advised that a person on the path of yoga, who wants to unite individual consciousness with universal consciousness should not eat much or should not eat less. He should not sleep much nor should sleep less. The ideal quantities the person should eat, sleep etc are given for every aspect of life and are available on the internet. We can study, observe our body and see what suits our body and practice accordingly.
Chapter 6, Verse 17
The concept is middle path is elaborated further. It is said that there should be complete moderation in the amount of food we eat, there should be moderation in the type of recreation we choose. There should be complete moderation and control of the things that are needed to maintain our body. We basically need three things to maintain our body, food, sleep, and sex. There should be moderation in these three aspects. Overeating, oversleeping and over sex/sexual thoughts will lead us to nowhere except on the path of destruction. There should be discipline in these aspects. If we can regulate these aspects then we can control the desires the society offers to us. Discipline should start with these basic desires then its easier to control other desires like money, comforts in life etc. Lord Krishna clearly says if we can have discipline on basic desires then we can be free of misery.
All animals in the world though with the basic brain have control over these aspects, they eat fixed amount, they sleep fixed amount of time and procreate only at certain times of the year. Human beings are the only animals which do not have these constraints. We can eat, sleep and have sex as much as we want and we usually do not have discipline in these aspects.
Chapter 6, Verse 18
The discipline of mind in basic desires is the starting point of the practice of yoga. If the mind can be taught how to handle basic desires and if we can act accordingly without yielding to basic desires then we are ready for the practice of yoga. It doesn’t happen in a day, it may take months for the practice to understand our basic desires and how we act on them. Once we understand ourselves and start applying the middle path to all our activities then we can scale the mountains of desires and hatred.
Chapter 6, Verse 19
In this sloka the example of what happens to a mind which is involved in union with God is given. The flame of a candle which is unprotected will be moving along the direction of wind and there is danger that it may get extinguished also. If the flame of the candle is protected by a glass or kept in a room where movement of air is not there, the flame stands straight without any movement. The flame of candle is linked to meditative practice, as how we do the work. Air is linked to the external surroundings, the protection of glass or room is linked to un doubting will power. If we can protect the way we work from external influences like rewards, awards, boss mood, colleague’s mood etc. with the support of undoubted willpower then we can achieve union with the whatever work we do, whether it is yoga or meditation with God.
Chapter 6, Verse 20
In this sloka what happens to the un-flickering mind is given. The results of such a practice where the mind becomes still like un- flickering candle is given here. Once the mind reaches such a state then it is easy for the mind to grasp the soul and get connected with the universal consciousness. This shows that the first step in all the process is to make the mind still with the will power.
Chapter 6, Verse 21
The yogi experiences happiness which is beyond his senses. Even the intellect will fail to grasp the happiness a yogi experiences in the highest form of samadhi. It is like if you taste a higher form of sweet you don’t feel the taste for lower form of sweet later, in the same way once the yogi experiences yoga (union with universal consciousness) then he will not feel the need for happiness of the senses. The yogi will always remain in the eternal truth.
Chapter 6, Verse 22
The words “even in the midst of the calamity” are very important here in this sloka. The yogi who has tasted the higher form of truth and who has seen union with God will now feel safe and behave like a yogi even in the midst of a calamity.
Chapter 6, Verse 23
A person who wants to proceed in the field of yoga of uniting individual consciousness with the universal consciousness has to renounce from all the desires that arise out of sense organs group. He has to take a Sankalp to restrain from all the desires that arise out of the sense organs which cause the sense pleasures. Withdrawal from outside world is a preparatory step.
Chapter 6, Verse 24
Here a hope is given that in yoga the results can be seen if practiced with full dedication restraining the focus on sense objects. The results are obtained slowly and slowly but we should continue our practice without fail. Many people give up practice in-between without trying hard or giving up at the last minute when the result was near. So we should continue to practice slowly and slowly without fail.
Chapter 6, Verse 25
The role of Buddhi, the decision maker in the mind is given here. Its role is to be focused on the self, the internal goal time and again. Whenever the mind deviates or thinks of some thoughts immediately the intellect part of the brain should come into action and decide whether the thought is good or not, whether any power is to be given to those thoughts or not is to be decided. If the thoughts are as per the decided goal then intellect should allocate resources and time for the thought if the thought is not as per the decided goal then intellect should decide to shift attention to the goal and remind the mind of the goal and divert the awareness/attention to the desired goal /universal self. If this is practiced constantly, each and every time gradually the mind gets trained.
Chapter 6, Verse 26
Whenever the mind gets deviated then we should remember the final goal the goal we kept for ourselves. We use the intellect to take the decision as described in the earlier stanza. It is usually found that mind deviates and wanders here and thereafter following our goal for some time, during that time we should focus on our goal once again immediately using the intellect.
Chapter 6, Verse 27
What happens when the soul realizes the supreme consciousness is given here. Once the soul realizes its existence, it goes into the state of supreme bliss and in a very peaceful state of mind. Before reaching this stage, a person has to find peace from his passions. Once the passions have died down a state of peace comes to him and in that state of peace if a person meditates then he finds supreme bliss that is the best in the world a person can experience.
Chapter 6, Verse 28
What happens after the person attains the communion with the supreme self? After experiencing peace with the self and finding supreme bliss the person will start applying the same technique to his life consistently so that he can be in communion with the supreme consciousness. It’s not a one-time affair because once the person experienced supreme bliss the worldly pleasures seem to stifle and small, and he keeps himself immersed in supreme bliss like Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi did.
Chapter 6, Verse 29
The person who is situated in yoga sees himself everywhere. This is the highest state of Yoga where the person is unified with universal self. He sees himself everywhere in the universe, in every living being and non-living being. He does not differentiate between his relatives, friends, and others. He does not differentiate between a saint and sinner. He does not differentiate criticism and flattery. He is equanimous to everything in-universe. He is equanimous because he deals everything in-universe as his own item. The perfect yogi does not have anything on his own because everything in the world belongs to him. He does not feel lack of anything as everything in the world belongs to the person. A perfect yogi does not try anything for himself, he works for society, for the welfare of people.
Chapter 6, Verse 30
This is an advanced stage than the one mentioned in the earlier verse. If a person can see God in everything including himself, then God is not far from him. This is quite subjective for many people and is left to interpretation.
Chapter 6, Verse 31
In this sloka, Lord Krishna says that the yogi who sees the universal consciousness in every being is situated in the God himself. Modern science says that all beings are made up of common material like carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen. Thus we can say that the building blocks of all beings are the same. The only difference is the cultural learnings we acquire as we grow up.
Chapter 6, Verse 32
Sharing the sorrows and happiness of the fellow beings as a person’s own is one of the great qualities of a human being. If we see God in every human being we tend to be more empathetic to other human beings. We will be more considerate and understand the real issues behind those problems. We try to solve their problems to remove the suffering of people. This is one of the powerful slokas of Bhagavad-Gita according to me. A perfect yogi will not rest if he has a comfortable life, he will strive for the happiness of all beings because he sees God in all human beings.
Chapter 6, Verse 33
Like all people who listen to higher wisdom, doubts arise in the mind of Arjuna. Even when I read Bhagavadgita, I get the same doubts Arjuna had. Is it possible to have equanimity? Is it possible to see all people as equal? Is it possible to see God in each and every person? Is it possible to feel sufferings of other people as our own because they have the same consciousness in them? Is is possible to unite individual consciousness with universal consciousness? Is it practical to follow what Krishna has just said?
Arjuna puts forward the same question to Lord Krishna, is it possible to do whatever you said? The reason being the unstable mind and flickering nature of mind. The mind is so much fluctuating how is possible for the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness.
Chapter 6, Verse 34
Arjuna explains the difficulty further. He understands the nature of Mind well and says that even controlling the wind is easier than controlling the mind. Mind keeps moving here and there and its very difficult to control, how can anyone focus the mind on Atma/God/any work he has decided upon.
Chapter 6, Verse 35
In response to the doubts of Arjuna, Lord Krishna replies. Lord Krishna agrees that mind is quite fickle and changes quite often and also it is difficult for the mind to concentrate. Thus, we can see that Lord Krishna agrees to what Arjuna says, that its easy top control wind but not mind. Lord Krishna also instills hope in Arjuna. Though it is difficult to control the mind it can be done through practice/exercise and develop fe the ling of vairagya to sense objects. Thus Lord Krishna agrees with Arjuna the difficulties involved but also instills hope.
Chapter 6, Verse 36
Yoga is the union of Individual consciousness with universal consciousness. This can be achieved only by a trained and controlled mind. Yoga cannot be achieved by the untrained mind. Thus, it is necessary that we should have a controlled mind. One action follows another. Consistent practice along with a feeling of vairagya will lead to calm and controlled mind and this will in future lead to yoga. The journey may take one life or many lives but it is possible.
Chapter 6, Verse 37
Arjuna again falls in doubt and asks Lord Krishna, what happens to those people who start the practice of Yoga and cannot sustain it for a long time and abandon it due to flickering mind? We usually see that during new year many people take resolutions that they will be following “x”, ”y”, and ”z” activity. It is found that 90% of the people fall back to their old habits and unable to follow new year resolutions by February. In the same way some people pursue the path of yoga and leave it in between. The causative factor for this is also given here. It is the wavering mind. The causative factors are not external , like busy work , falling sick or something else, but the causative factors are purely internal according to Arjuna. The causative factor according to Arjuna is wavering mind. Mind causes so many doubts is there a universal consciousness, is there worth following the path, is there worth following the path of yoga, life in society is so beautiful why don’t we enjoy it? When these doubts crop up in mind we give up practice of yoga. Arjuna asks what happens to them?
Chapter 6, Verse 38
Arjuna Continues his doubt. He asks Krishna, that if a person loses the path of Yoga he will be neither here not there. He will not be in society because he has left contact with society and started yoga and now the path of yoga is not complete and also society is not there? This is a very important question because the path of yoga is perceived as quite difficult because rewards are only long term. There are no short-term results. People might leave it because there are no immediate results.
Chapter 6, Verse 39
Arjuna requests Sri Krishna to dispel his doubt and says that no one else can dispel the doubt other than Sri Krishna. This is an acknowledgment by Arjuna that no one else can remove the doubts in the mind of Sri Krishna.
Chapter 6, Verse 40
Sri Krishna replies to Arjuna’s question. He says that whatever effort a person makes in the journey of Yoga will never go wasted. He says that effort never goes waste. This is like the law of conservation of energy. It says that if you spend energy it changes the form of energy but never gets dissipated. In the same way, if energy is spent on the process of yoga/meditation then it never goes wasted. We should know that at what stage the person has left the path of Yoga. If he has left very early then he can go back to the material world. If he has left in middle then we can say that he is well versed in the concepts of yoga and starts looking at life in a disposed manner. He can feel that even though he didn’t have many assets like his friends because of his investment in yoga, he can be happy with the feeling of vairagya.
Lord Krishna says not only in this life or future nothing befalls on the person who was on the path of yoga and left it in-between. Lord Krishna also gives assurance that a person who has tread the path of God realization will not tread the path of evil.
Chapter 6, Verse 41
Lord Krishna further replies that the person takes birth in the family of pious and virtuous people if he falls back in the path of yoga. It is mentioned that if a person attains the path of yoga then he is liberated and will not be born on this planet again. If he falls on the path of Yoga then he will come back to earth and is born in some good family so that he can complete the path of yoga.
Chapter 6, Verse 42
Lord Krishna reiterates that the person who left yoga in this birth due to various deviating factors will be born again in next birth in a family which practices yoga. This shows the effect of parenting on a person. If the entire family practices yoga and follow the principles of yoga then the children will also follow the path unless something wrong happens. Having the whole family practice the path of yoga will create the necessary environment to practice yoga otherwise the person needs to spend a lot of his willpower towards the practice of yoga.
Chapter 6, Verse 43
Here further affirmation is given that energy spent in the practice of spiritual practices never gets wasted. It always comes back. Since we have to reach this path of yoga again in next birth why don’t we do it in this birth and attain the highest consciousness? Why should we wait for next birth and favorable conditions? We should be highly motivated that we should do the task perfectly and complete it in this lifetime.
Chapter 6, Verse 44
Lord Krishna says people get attracted to this path naturally as per the merits of their past lives. We may not worry about in which case we are born we should worry about what thoughts we are carrying now. We should always carry the thoughts of doing the benefit for the entire mankind so that slowly and slowly we will be changing ourselves.
Chapter 6, Verse 45
The key word here in this sloka is “Prayatanad Yatamanstu” which means striving harder. It means that the yogi who has left the path in-between will start from the point where he left but he has to strive harder. There is a sense of hope here. Lord Krishna did not say that people will have to start from the start again. They have to start from where they have left. He also said that they have to work hard in this Janma. This is because as times pass by lot of things change and societies also change. Self-control is easy in the past rather than these times. Now society has become more and more materialistic and pursuit of consumerism is admired now. It was not so 100 years back. It was easy to follow the path of yoga 100 years back; now extra efforts are needed to pursue the path of yoga. Hence lord Krishna gives us a hint that whatever has to be done, has to be done in this birth itself. It is better to pursue the path of yoga now itself instead of waiting for next birth.
Chapter 6, Verse 46
Lord Krishna has given us many oaths till now to reach him. Now he says which is the best path to reach him? He says yoga is the best way to reach him. The practice of science of uniting the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness is the best one. The other paths being Tapasvi- person who leaves everything. (material world, Sensual pleasures and practices strict austerities), the other being a Gnana Yogi, a person who uses knowledge to transcend the self and karma yogi who performs rituals to transcend the self. Among all these the yoga method is prescribed as the best.
Chapter 6, Verse 47
Lord Krishna says among all yogis, whoever keeps him(Krishna/God) in mind while performing actions in the world is the best yogi. Whoever meditates on God/Universal Consciousness is the best of yogi. When we are working we can concentrate on either work or the rewards of work or rewards of work given to God. Lord Krishna says if we work keeping him in mind, without any attachment for results of work then such a yogi is the best.