Preamble

We  have seen Sri Bhagvan describing the process of meditation. He continues the  discussion in the following verses pointing out that the controlled mind  remains peaceful and explaining the process by which the seeker can gain the experience  of the Essential Self through such disciplined mind. By training the mind, one  must give up its preoccupation with the world and direct it to the Self within  and make it introvert. As soon as the mind tastes the bliss of the Self it will  realize that there is no greater enjoyment. Being established therein, even the  greatest of the sorrows in the world cannot disturb its equanimity and peace. One  practices that Yoga (union with the Self) through complete control of the  senses and the thought flow which are the source-point of all desires. This  sets the stage for practicing meditation and the realization of the Self.

The mind in the state of meditation thinks of the  Self. The intellect holds the mind single pointedly upon the Self without  allowing it to slip into any other thought. Whenever the mind wanders away the  intellect brings it back through supervision and control. By maintaining single  pointed thought of the Self, the mind becomes absolutely tranquil and quiet. The  Jnani then experiences the infinite bliss of Brahman. Thereafter, he sees the Self  in all beings and all beings in the Self. He sees the Supreme Being everywhere.

When  he heard the exposition on how to discipline and control the mind, Arjuna  raises a doubt as to whether the mind is such a thing which can be controlled  at all. He wonders how the mind, a restless, turbulent, strong and obstinate  entity, can be brought under control. And even if forcefully brought under  control, how can the mind continue to remain steady and calm? Krishna  assures Arjuna that the intellect can control the mind through sustained  practice and dispassion.

Arjuna  wonders as to what will happen to a seeker and his efforts if he fails to  attain Self-realization in his lifetime. Will he not be denied the benefits of  both the material and spiritual worlds? Krishna allays Arjuna’s logical and natural concern and  assures him that no seeker falling short of Realization in his life time will  ever suffer either here or hereafter.  Such a person will gain a heavenly bliss and  reincarnate in a pure and pious home or in a family of wise yogis, which will  provide him with an ideal environment for pursuing spiritual goal of Realization  in his new life. Therefore, Krishna advises  Arjuna to practice yoga with devotion and determination until he merges with  the Supreme Brahman.

The  Text

 WHO  IS A YOGI

yadaa viniyatam  chittamaatmanyevavatishthate
    nihsprihah sarvakaamebhyo yukta ityuchyate  tadaa // 6.18 //

When  the well-controlled mind rests in the Self alone, free from longing for objects  of desires, then one is said to have attained yoga.

When  the mind is completely under control it rests peacefully in the Self alone.  Uncontrolled mind is the one which wanders in search of satisfaction among the  sense objects. To make the mind withdraw from its nomadic nature for  contemplating continuously on the Self, which is the substratum that illumines  all perceptions and experiences, one has to make it free from desires. While  desires by themselves are not unhealthy, Gita advises us to renounce our cravings  for all objects of desires seen or unseen, belonging to this world or the next.

When  the mind is withdrawn from sense objects, it becomes capable of contemplating  on the Self as it is free from agitations.   The finite and limited sense objects disturb the mind, while the  unlimited and infinite Self brings peace and joy to it. This condition of  replacing sense oriented thoughts with contemplation on the Self is called  steadfastness.  The steadfast mind of a  Yogi is described in the next verse.

yathaa deepo nivaatastho nengate sopamaa  smritaa
    yogino yatachittasya yunjato  yogamaatmanah  // 6.19 //

“Like  a lamp kept in a windless place which does not flicker” - that is the figure (used  by the wise) for the disciplined mind of a yogi practicing concentration on the  Self.

Mind  is as unstable as a flickering flame of a lamp. But when the same mind is made  to concentrate in the Self by the meditator its vacillations and wanderings are  stopped. It becomes brilliant just as a flickering lamp when placed in a  windless spot.

yatroparamate chittam niruddham  yogasevayaa
    yatra chaivaatmanaatmaanam  pashyannaatmani tushyati // 6.20 //

When  the mind, restrained by the practice of yoga, attains quietitude and when  seeing the Self by the self, he is rejoiced in his own Self.

sukhamaatyantikam yattad buddhi  graahyamateendriyam
    vetti yatra na chaivaayam  sthitashchalati tattwatah  // 6.21 //

When  he (the Yogi) feels that Infinite bliss - which can be grasped by the (pure)  intellect and which transcends the senses, wherein established, he never moves  from the Reality.

yam labdhwaa chaaparam laabham manyate  naadhikam tatah
    yasminsthito na duhkhena gurunaapi vichaalyate  // 6.22 //

Which  having obtained, he thinks there is no other gain superior to it; wherein  established, he is not moved even by the heaviest of  sorrows -

tam vidyaad duhkhasamyogaviyogam  yogasamjnitam
    sa nishchayena yoktavyo yogo'nirvinna chetasaa  // 6.23 //
    Let  that be known as Yoga which is severance from the contact of pain. This yoga  should be practiced with perseverance and with an undaunted mind.

All  these four Verses (20 - 23) should be taken together which give a complete  picture of Yoga and explain the stages that a Yogi passes through whose mind  has become single pointed by meditation.   They end with a call given by The Lord to all mankind to practice this  Yoga of Meditation and self development.

The  goal of the meditator is attaining serene quietitude when his mind becomes  completely restrained and gains an experience of the Self, not as an entity  separate from himself but as his own true nature.  This self discovery of the mind is nothing  other than the process by which ego's identification with body, mind and  intellect is replaced by the principle of Divine Consciousness. The experience  of the self is an enduring state from which there is no return.

Sri  Krishna says that having gained this Infinite Bliss; no one can come to the  worldly sorrows and feel the urge to go after the worldly objects and pursuits.  The Yogi who attained the state of Supreme Truth will consider no other gain as  equal to it and worth comparable. Thus Sri Krishna defines Yoga as a state of “DISUNION  FROM EVERY UNION WITH PAIN”.

The  term yoga means contact. Man is always in contact with finite worldly objects  through the instruments of body, mind and intellect and gets finite joy only.  When this temporary joy ends on account of the cessation of the instrumentality  of the senses, sorrow begins. Therefore it is said that life through these  matter instruments is called the life of union-with-pain.

Detachment  from this union is the process in which we disassociate ourselves from the  fields of objects and their experiences. As mind cannot exist without any  attachment, once it is detached from the unreal and pain giving world of objects,  it has to get itself attached to the Real and Permanent Bliss, which is called  meditation. In deep meditation, the senses do not function; they are resolved  into their cause i.e. the mind. And when the mind becomes steady and cognition  alone functions, then the indescribable Self is realized.

Thus  Yoga is nothing but a man's renunciation of contacts with sorrows and turning  towards Bliss which is his real nature. Sri Krishna says that this Yoga is to  be practiced with an eager and decisive mind.   Success in meditation is possible only when it is carried out with firm  conviction, perseverance and an un-despairing heart as the Yoga or connection  with the Real can be gained only with Viyoga or disconnection from the Unreal.  There should be no relaxation of effort even though there is no quick result  and the practice appears difficult. If living among the finite objects with its  limited joys is sorrow, then to get away from it all is to enter the realm of  Bliss which is the Self.  This is  Yoga. 

Patanjali  Yoga Sutras declare that the root of sorrow in the form of repeated births and  deaths lies in the contact between the subject and the object or in the liaison  due to ignorance between the soul and the objective world. With the termination  of this contact, sorrows and sufferings also come to an end for all time.

Patanjali  says “The great sorrow in the form of future births and deaths is called  ‘Heya’- that which ought to be avoided (2.16). The cause of ‘Heya’ or suffering  is the contact between the subject and the object (2.17). Ignorance is the root  of that contact (2.24). The termination of that contact between the subject and  the object through the eradication of the ignorance is known as ‘Hana’ -  shutting out the ‘Heya’. This represents the aloofness of the subject -  Kaivalya (2.25)

This  state of God realization is termed ‘Yoga’ in the Gita. Further instructions on  yoga are continued in the following verses.