Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gita: Chapter 6- Meditation


With this chapter we are coming to the close of a definite section in the scheme of thought in the Gita. This is the opinion of some of the well-known critics and students of the Lord's Song. According to them, the eighteen chapters of the Gita fall into three definite sections, each of six chapters, and they group themselves to expound the implications and significances of the sacred Vedic mantra "Tat Twam Asi" --- THAT THOU ART. The first six chapters together constitute an explanation of the philosophical significance indicated by the word "Thou" (Twam). In the general scheme of thought developed in that section, the contents of the sixth chapter constitute a fitting conclusion.

In Chapter II, in a language almost foreign to Arjuna, in quick strokes, Lord Krishna painted the philosophical perfection which is the theme of all the Upanishads. He concluded that chapter with a vivid and expressive picture of a Saint of perfection and mental equipoise. Naturally, the interest of a seeker is excited and he seeks to find means and methods by which he too can grow within himself and reach those diviner heights of self-control and equipoise.

The Gita is personally and specifically addressed to Arjuna, a confused average man, at a moment when he felt completely confounded by the problem that was facing him. Naturally, the highest methods of subtle meditation, the mental drill by which one can renounce all one's preoccupations, etc., are not easy methods that can be practised with confidence. At the same time, it will not be true to say that Vedantic methods are meant only for a few; if they are immediately useful only to a few, there must be, in Vedanta, preliminary techniques by which everyone can steadily grow to become fit to enter the Hall of Perfection.

That there are graded lessons for one's spiritual unfoldment is not really understood by the modern lip-Vedantins. It is this general ignorance that has brought about the misconception in Hinduism that the study of the Vedas is the guarded preserve of some rare ones. But, Vedanta would have been an incomplete science if it did not contain Upasana methods for purifying the students' inner equipments.

Krishna, as a true teacher, understood Arjuna's mental debilities and intellectual incompetency at that particular moment to start right away upon the arduous lines of pure meditation and clear detached thinking. In order to bring him to the level of perfection, various lower methods of self-integration had to be prescribed. Thus in Chapter III we found an exhaustively scientific treatment of the "Karma Yoga" --- the Path of Action.

Activities in the outer world, however noble they may be in their motive, cannot but leave deep ulcerations and painful restlessness in the bosom of the worker. To mitigate the "reactions" of action (Karma-Phala) and as a balm to soothe the bleeding mental wounds, new methods of maintaining the mind in quietude and ease have been expounded in Chapter IV under the title "RENUNCIATION OF ACTION IN KNOWLEDGE." It is the theory of Krishna that, constantly maintaining in the mind the awareness of the Greater Principle that presides over all human endeavours, the worker can, even in the thick of activities, maintain a healthy and well-ventilated inner life.

Naturally, the limited intellect of Arjuna got extremely confused, since the teacher argued in the beginning for "action," and in the conclusion, for "the renunciation of action." In Chapter V, therefore, the "Way of Renunciation" is explained and the technique of guaranteeing to our mind immunity from reactions, even while it is engaged in activity, is explained. The "Yajna spirit" --- the spirit of dedicated activity for the benefit of the larger majority and not for any self-arrogating profit --- is the antiseptic that Krishna prescribes for a mind and intellect that are to work in the world. In Chapter IV is prescribed an unavoidable treatment for curing the mind of its own pox of painful "impressions of the past" (vasanas).

In Chapter V, the "WAY OF RENUNCIATION" is explained under two different categories, which show the two methods of achieving the same goal: renunciation of (a) our sense of agency in activities; and (b) our unintelligent anxieties arising out of our thoughtless preoccupations with the fruits-of-our-action. The chapter exhausts these two techniques and explains how, by the renunciation of agency or by the renunciation of our attachment to the fruits-of-actions, we can come to gain a release from the vasana bondages which generally shackle our personality during our activities.

One who could faithfully follow the technique so far unravelled by the Lord, should have thereby come to a condition wherein the insentient and inert mind has been stirred into a field of intense activity. A mind developed through this training, is taught to come under the intelligent will of its determined trainer, the seeker himself. The mind thus gathered and trained, is certainly a better-equipped instrument for the higher purposes of Self-contemplation and Self-unfoldment.

How this is done through the famous technique of meditation is, in a nutshell, the theme of the sixth chapter. During our discussions, we shall not stand in sheer surprise and wonderment and swallow down the ideas in the verses without dissecting, discovering, analysing and understanding every facet of each of those ideas. This chapter promises to give us all the means by which we can give up our known weaknesses and grow positively into a healthier and more potent life of virtue and strength. This technique is called meditation, which in one form or another, is the common method advocated and advised in all religions, by all prophets, at all times, in the history of man.

Here is the meaning of the shlokas of Chapter 6
The Blessed Lord said: 1. He who performs his bounden duty without depending on the fruits-of-actions --- he is a SAMNYASIN and a YOGIN ; not he who (has renounced) is without fire and without action.

2. O Pandava, please know YOGA to be that which they call renunciation; no one verily becomes a YOGI who has not renounced thoughts.

3. For a MUNI or sage who "wishes to attain to YOGA, " action is said to be the means; for the same sage who has "attained to YOGA, " inaction (quiescence) is said to be the means.

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

5. Let a man lift himself by his own Self alone, and let him not lower himself; for, this Self alone is the friend of oneself, and this Self is the enemy of oneself.

6. The Self is the friend of the self for him who has conquered himself by the Self, but to the unconquered self, the Self stands in the position of an enemy like the (external) foe.

7. The Supreme Self of him who is self-controlled and peaceful, is balanced in cold and heat, pleasure and pain, as also in honour and dishonour.

8. The YOGI who is satisfied with knowledge and wisdom, who remains unshaken, who has conquered the senses, to whom a lump of earth, a stone and gold are the same, is said to be harmonised (i. e. , is said to have attained NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI) .

9. He who is of the same mind to the good-hearted, friends, enemies, the indifferent, the neutral, the hateful, relatives, the righteous and the unrighteous, he excels.

10. Let the YOGI try constantly to keep the mind steady, remaining in solitude, alone, with the mind and body controlled, free from hope and greed.

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

12. There, having made the mind one-pointed, with the actions of the mind and the senses controlled, let him, seated on the seat, practise YOGA, for the purification of the self.

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

14. Serene-minded, fearless, firm in the vow of BRAHMACHARYA, having controlled the mind, thinking on Me and balanced, let him sit, having Me as the Supreme Goal.

15. Thus, always keeping the mind balanced, the YOGI, with his mind controlled, attains to the Peace abiding in Me, which culminates in total liberation (NIRVANA or MOKSHA) .

16. Verily, YOGA is not possible for him who eats too much, nor for him who does not eat at all; nor for him who sleeps too much, nor for him who is (always) awake, O Arjuna.

17. YOGA becomes the destroyer of pain for him who is moderate in eating and recreation, who is moderate in his exertion during his actions, who is moderate in sleep and wakefulness.

18. When the perfectly controlled mind rests in the Self only, free from longing for all (objects of) desire, then it is said: "he is united" (YUKTAH) .

19. " As a lamp placed in a windless place does not flicker" --- is a simile used to describe the YOGI of controlled-mind, practising YOGA of the Self (or absorbed in th e YOGA -of-the-Self) .

20. When the mind, restrained by the practice of YOGA, attains quietude and when seeing the Self by the self, he is satisfied in his own Self;

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;

22. Which, having obtained, he thinks there is no other gain superior to it; wherein established, he is not moved even by heavy sorrow.

23. Let it be known: the severance from the union-with-pain is YOGA. This YOGA should be practised with determination and with a mind steady and undespairing.

24. Abandoning without reserve all desires born of SANKALPA, and completely restraining the whole group of senses by the mind from all sides.

25. Little by little, let him attain quietude by his intellect, held firm; having made the mind established in the Self, let him not think of anything.

26. From whatever cause the restless and the unsteady mind wanders away, from that let him restrain it, and bring it back under the control of the Self alone.

27. Supreme Bliss verily comes to this YOGI, whose mind is quite peaceful, whose passion is quietened, who is free from sin, and who has become BRAHMAN.

28. The YOGI engaging the mind thus (in the practice of YOGA ) , freed from sins, easily enjoys the Infinite Bliss of 'BRAHMAN -contact. '

29. With the mind harmonised by YOGA he sees the Self abiding in all beings, and all beings in the Self; he sees the same everywhere.

30. He who sees Me everywhere, and sees everything in Me, he never gets separated from Me, nor do I get separated from him.

31. He who, being established in unity, worships Me, dwelling in all beings, that YOGI abides in Me, whatever be his mode of living.

32. He who, through the likeness (sameness) of the Self, O Arjuna, sees equality everywhere, be it pleasure or pain, he is regarded as the highest YOGI.

Arjuna said: 33. This YOGA of Equanimity, taught by Thee, O slayer of Madhu, I see not its enduring continuity, because of the restlessness (of the mind) .

34. The mind verily is, O Krishna, restless, turbulent, strong and unyielding; I deem it quite as difficult to control as the wind.

The Blessed Lord said: 35. Undoubtedly, O mighty-armed one, the mind is difficult to control and is restless; but, by practice, O Son of Kunti, and by dispassion, it is restrained.

36 . YOGA, I think is hard to be attained by one of uncontrolled self; but the self-controlled, striving, can obtain it by (proper) means.

Arjuna said: 37. He who, though possessed of faith, is unable to control himself, whose mind wanders away from YOGA, to what end does he, having failed to attain perfection in YOGA go, O Krishna?

38. Fallen from both, does he not, O mighty-armed, perish like a rent cloud, supportless and deluded in the path of BRAHMAN?

39. This doubt of mine, O Krishna, please dispel completely; because it is not possible for any one but You to dispel this doubt.

The Blessed Lord said: 40. O Partha, neither in this world, nor in the next world is there destruction for him; none, verily, who strives to be good, O My son, ever comes to grief.

41 Having attained to the worlds of the righteous, and having dwelt there for everlasting (long) years, he who had fallen from YOGA is born again in the house of the pure and the wealthy.

42. Or, he is even born in the family of the wise YOGIS; verily, a birth like this is very difficult to obtain in this world.

43. There he comes to be united with the knowledge acquired in his former body and strives more than before for Perfection, O son of the Kurus.

44. By that very former practice he is borne on inspite of himself. Even he who merely wishes to know YOGA goes beyond the SHABDA BRAHMAN.

45. But the YOGI, who strives with assiduity, purified from sins and perfected (gradually) through many births, then attains the highest Goal.

46. The YOGI is thought to be superior to the ascetics, and even superior to men-of-knowledge (mere scholars) ; he is also superior to men-of-action; therefore (you strive to) be a YOGI, O Arjuna.

47. And among all YOGIS, he who, full of faith, with his inner-self merged in Me, worships Me, is, according to Me, the most devout.


  1. I wanted to discuss about how to keep ur mind in control and u posted an article on ths..! i shd find a book soon..! great work as usual.. :-)

  2. Hi Vineeta,
    I am thankful to the universe for this synchronicity :)
    There are plenty of books on meditation, but Gita contains the entire Vedantic/Advaita philosophy which is like a guide for every individual.
    It's your choice, which book you wish to follow.. the destination is the same