The Gita’s thought reconciles Sankhya, Vedanta and Yoga. In the time when this exposition was made by Sri Krishna to Arjuna, all the three schools of thought were prominent, and all of them were in quarrel with each other. Sri Krishna brings a kind of a harmonising alchemy, and puts them all together, and that is why Bhagavad Gita is called an ‘integral knowledge’: it puts everything in its proper place, and heals the quarrel between the three positions.
It is on that harmony, that synthesis, that in the method of approaching Reality, there is a harmony of knowledge, action, and devotion: Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana. All the three are reconciled, because the Reality that has to be realised is integral, therefore the method also has to be integral. That is why the teaching of the Gita is an integral teaching, both ways: the object to be known, to be realised, to be possessed is integral; the method by which you approach is also integral.
But before we come to that, let us concentrate upon the word ‘Yoga’. The word Yoga appears first in the 2nd chapter, which we have read through, when Sri Krishna says: “So far, I have explained to you Buddhiyoga, and I have given you the knowledge that can be obtained by Buddhiyoga”. Then, He says: “I shall tell you how Buddhiyoga can be applied in Yoga, and how by applying that Buddhiyoga in Yoga, you can be free even while acting. By the application of Buddhiyoga, as far as the knowledge is concerned, Sankhya is concerned, you can be liberated from all actions, once you discriminate between Purusha and Prakriti, and you can come out of the clutches of Prakriti”. That is what Sri Krishna has already explained in the first part of the 2nd chapter.
In the 2° part of the 2nd chapter, Sri Krishna explains how in Yoga, even while doing actions, you can be free. The Sankhya can give you liberation when you come out of action: you withdraw from action and you can be liberated. But Sri Krishna says that even while doing actions, you can still be free: “That secret”, He said, “I shall now explain to you”.
What does Sri Krishna means by using the word “Yoga”. What He means by this word is explicitly stated by Sri Krishna in the 3rd chapter. In the 3rd chapter He says: “There are two ways of liberation: there is one way, which is the Sankhya way, there is the second way, which is the way of Yoga”. Then He says: “the Sankhya way is the way of Knowledge”. He makes it Himself clear, “the Sankhya way is called the way of Knowledge. The Yoga is the way of Works”. Yoga is used by Sri Krishna in the sense: “Works”.
This definition that “Yoga” refers to “Works”, may sound to those who are familiar with the word ‘Yoga’ today, rather strange, because today the word yoga is specifically referred to a system, which is called: “The system of Patanjali”. It is a system, which is called ‘Raja Yoga’. We must distinguish between Raja Yoga, which is today famous as “Yoga”, and the word “Yoga”, which is used in the Bhagavad Gita. If you don’t make this distinction, and if you read the Bhagavad Gita with our familiarity with the Raja Yoga of Patanjali, we will be misled, and we will not understand properly.
Let us understand what is meant by “Yoga” today, so that we can make very clear distinction between “Yoga”, the word used by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, and the word “Yoga” as understood today in an ordinary manner, in ordinary situations today in our country.