Text of the Bhagavagd Gita (Mother's Institute of Research) - Session 21 Chapter 6—Verses 5-21 (1 May 1999)

We had finished the 5th chapter last time; and in the 6th chapter we had already started earlier and we had finished the first four verses of the 6th chapter.

Now the 5th verse is one of the most important verses in the Bhagavad Gita. You might say it is the key to the entire yogic effort, which is described in the Bhagavad Gita, it says:

uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ nātmānam avasādayet |
ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ ||6.5||

In simple translation, it means: “One should raise the self by the self, one should not allow the degradation of the self; the self itself is the friend of the self; the self itself is the enemy of the self.”

Now, this statement may seem to be somewhat unintelligible: how is the self the friend of the self? How is the self the enemy of the self? And what do you mean by saying that one should raise oneself by the self and one should not lower the self by the self? This means that there is a concept of double self; the self which doubles: there is the higher self, and there is the lower self in us. Now, this statement again needs to be studied in the context of two other statements, which have come earlier.

If you open the chapter 3, and see the verse 28, there is one phrase: guṇā guṇeṣu vartanta. This one sentence, one phrase is a very important phrase in the context of this particular verse: guṇā guṇeṣu vartanta. Now, the word guṇā is usually used in the term of Prakriti; because the theory is that Prakriti consists of three Gunas: triguṇātmāka prakṛti: the Prakriti is triguṇātmāka, it has got Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas. So, it simply says that Prakriti is active everywhere, and in this Prakriti, the qualities work among the qualities; the Gunas work among the Gunas; the whole world is nothing but activities of the three Gunas: Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas. There is nothing more than this in all this Prakriti: this would be one of the meanings of this statement.

Now, this seems to be further reaffirmed in the same chapter, when you come to verse 33. There, there is a full sentence:

prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni nigrahaḥ kiṁ kariṣyati ||3.33||

All the creatures are ruled by Prakriti; nigrahaḥ kiṁ kariṣyati, suppression: of what avail the suppression be? nigrahaḥ kiṁ kariṣyati, everything is moved by Prakriti, this whole movement of suppression, how will it be of any use? Elsewhere it is also said that even the Jnani gets impelled by the speed of the Gunas, of the Prakriti.

Now if you read the Bhagavad Gita only in the light of these two or three statements, then, this statement coming in chapter 6 may seem to be a contradiction. If Prakriti alone is active, and any movement of control is of no avail, then the question is: how is one to raise oneself by oneself? Because raising oneself implies control, implies doing something other than what Prakriti wants us to do, and going beyond it. If you want to raise yourself, then, whatever is happening by the force of Prakriti, you have to raise it. So, it may seem that if the Bhagavad Gita says:prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni nigrahaḥ kiṁ kariṣyati, and if this is the ultimate statement of the Bhagavad Gita, then this may be unacceptable; and there may be a contradiction between the two. And that is why some people who don’t read the Bhagavad Gita as a whole, they say that Bhagavad Gita has some inner contradictions: once you state this and then now you state this! But the Bhagavad Gita has to be studied as a whole; and this is what we have to repeat again and again. The Bhagavad Gita is an exposition of a teaching, which is very large, and it is an exposition which is done step by step.

What is true at a certain stage of exposition gets qualified by what comes later on. It is even when we explain to other students, very often we make a whole statement, and then afterwards we qualify it. Even in economics we say that “all prices are determined by forces of demand and supply”; then you can qualify that even the forces of demand and supply can be manipulated: so, it is not only true that only demand and supply determine the price level. On what will depend the demand? On what will depend the supply? Even that you can change. If the state government wants to increase the demand for something, the state government can come into the picture and begin to buy certain things. The state government, the central government sometimes enters into the market, and begins to buy up bills of exchange, and creates a demand and then the prices go up. So, although it is true that demand and supply are determinant factors, the demand itself may be changed; supply itself can be changed. If you stop the supply of a given good, like recently onions prices went up, that is because there was a holding: it is not purely a movement of demand and supply because there is demand there will be supply or vice versa. There is a human will which enters into it and the law, although it is true in a larger way, it is not entirely binding. So, in an exposition, in the beginning you make a statement, which is not false, which is not untrue, but which needs to be qualified at a later stage.

Now, it is true that in general, as human beings are, we must understand that human beings at present are under a great sway of Prakriti. In other words, the whole evolutionary movement is so designed that it begins with a heavy hand of Prakriti. Why it is so? It is because originally, there is an intention to create a building of matter in which the spirit has to be installed later on. So, unless you build the building first, how will you install the spirit in it? Therefore in the beginning, Prakriti has been given a greater hand in the evolutionary movement. So, if you look at the evolutionary movement up to a certain stage of development, you can easily say that in that field, Prakriti is supreme: prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni. You can say very clearly that everything that happens in human beings is done by Prakriti; and even if you want to control, you cannot control it; it will be of no avail.

Now, that is true at a certain stage, up to a certain stage of development. When you deal with a child, you very often say that the same action on the adult, you will judge differently, but as a child you say: “he is only a child, what can it be done, it is natural for the child to do what he has done; the child cannot control; the child, if you offer something, the child will pick it up; it depends upon you what you are giving before the child”. As long as the psychology of children is described, this statement will be fully relevant, and fully true; when you describe the psychology of the adult, it may not be true.

Now, from the point of view of the universal evolution, most of us are children: we have not gone beyond the infancy in our evolution. Even the so-called very developed people are merely children still. In evolution, we are at a lower level, and therefore, it is largely true to even Jnanis: even so-called Jnanis are quite subject to Prakriti. And therefore, it is quite true to say that prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni: all the things are subject to the movement of Prakriti. But if that statement is alone true and nothing else, then Yoga has no place: the entire teaching of the Bhagavad Gita can be left aside and we can say: what can Arjuna do? He was overpowered by this moha, or that delusion, or this bewilderment, or this problem; he can do nothing else. So, you can do nothing about him, you allow him to do what he likes, is that the conclusion? It is true that Prakriti is acting, and he acted as the Prakriti did.

But then Sri Krishna is now giving or introducing in him certain elements, which make all the difference, and ultimately Arjuna changes his point of view; he rises above. Now, this rising above is the essence of Yoga. If anybody asks the question: why should you teach anybody to do something other than what he is naturally inclined to do? In fact this is the whole question of education; the entire question of Yoga; the whole question of ethics; the whole question of spirituality. If it is said that all things in the world are determined, then the argument could be: if you tell somebody, ‘you ought to do this’, is irrelevant. All things are being done according to the circumstances of the world, according to the past tendencies, according to the past actions, according to the preplanning. So, where is the place there for introducing something saying ‘no, he ought to do this’? The ‘ought’ means: introducing an element, which is not the result of the calculation of all that is there in the present situation; ‘ought’ is the introduction of a new element, and you say: ‘he ought to do this’, that which is not normal, that which is not natural, that which is not a resultant of all the past energies.

That can be also a kind of further argument: even in this form of determinism, such as the famous argument, which was put before Napoleon. Napoleon was a believer in destiny, and he said everything happens according to destiny: destiny is working out. So, Napoleon was asked: if everything is worked out according to destiny, why do you, you, yourself go on planning this, cancelling this planning, taking another plan, and introducing other elements? So, his answer was that “even ‘that’ is determined, that I will do like this is also determined”. Even then the question still remains: when you say that “even ‘that’ is determined”, what does it mean? That means that there are two levels of determination: one determination, which is happening as it is happening; another, in which you decide, although you are determined to decide to do that; but still, it is another level, another layer. And how does that layer come into the picture?

If you try to understand the Gita’s position in this regard, which is a very important proposition of the Gita, you will find that the moment you accept that the Nature consists of 3 Gunas, you have already decided that there are 3 levels of action. Prakriti is not only Tamasic; Prakriti is also Rajasic; Prakriti is also Sattwic. Now, this very statement itself is very complex. When you say: prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni, all things are determined by Prakriti, even there, you have to say that Prakriti itself has three layers. Therefore, one layer is not determining, the 2nd layer also is working, the third layer is also working; and there is a difference in the working of the three layers.

If you are only Tamasic, then you hardly have any choice before you, even the idea of choice does not present itself. If somebody is entirely sick, cannot even wake up, cannot even wake up, Prakriti is entirely Tamasic, now you say you are free to wake up and take your medicine with your own hands, even that possibility does not exist. The very fact of his impossibility of doing anything leaves him only one choice: that he has to be served; he can do nothing by himself; there is no choice before him. The moment you say that there is another element, Rajasic element in him, the question is: how this new element comes about? If there is only one Prakriti, how does this Prakriti get another fold on it? So, there must be something, which creates another possibility; and you can see that as soon as the Rajasic nature begins to develop, you will find the Rajasic development presentation of multiple choices. In Tamas there is only one choice, hardly any choice at all. But in the Rajasic, the moment you begin to have the force of kinetism, which arises from Rajas, you have several choices, and then you say: I will do this, or I can do this, or I can do that.

Now, it is argued that the moment there is a choice, there is a tendency to choose. Now, this choosing is done by whom? There is something other than the Prakriti, which is making a choice; or even that is questioned, and said that no, even ‘he’ who thinks that he is making a choice is also part of Prakriti, ahaṁbhāva is also part of Prakriti. So, you might say that the Prakriti itself, having created so many possibilities, is itself choosing out of so many possibilities, and is acting accordingly. Even if you say this, the fact remains that there is a phenomenon of choice; there is a larger flexibility in the movement of Prakriti; and then a choice is made whether there is somebody else than Prakriti or not, but at least, there is an appearance that there is something else than the Prakriti, which makes the choice, at least an appearance. Whether this appearance has any reality or not can be seen only afterwards, but at least you can say that there is an appearance that there is something other than the Prakriti which is making a choice.

Now, it is often argued that even though that there may be this appearance, really speaking there is no freedom, when you say, “Look I have a choice of making a factory here, or going abroad, or there is a third possibility that I give in charity everything that I have, or a fourth that I engaged myself doing what I am doing now and making no plans at all; all these possibilities exists before me”, and then you say: I freely now decide “this”, now, even though you feel that you are doing freely, the calculus argument would be that if you examine all the four possibilities, if you examine the past way in which you have been developed, the forces which are working on you at that time, the pressure of the circumstances, the pressure of your family, the pressure of your perception of the future, all that you put into it, all is part of Prakriti. You put all that into picture, then, you can calculate before hand that you will not choose anything else than what you ultimately choose, because you are determined, there is no other alternative. You may think that there was a freedom to you, but actually speaking you count everything, you calculate all the forces in the picture, and you will find that you are forced to take a decision in this direction. So, again you may say: prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni, the Prakriti itself determine you to do “this”.

But when you come to Sattwa, there is a farther alternative, another kind of alternative; the very quality of alternative differs. And then, this idea whether there was an apparent freedom, or real freedom becomes much more serious; because here, in Sattwa there is another element, which says: you ought to do this, you ought not to do it. A new element in Sattwic consciousness comes about. In the Rajas it is still only a “desire”, no “ought”, only “desire”, so, “I want to do it, I have to do it”, and all that, but when you come to Sattwa, the ethical element, the spiritual element begins to manifest more, when you say, “I ought to do it”. Now, if you analyse “ought”, you will find that in the very working of things, there is something else than Prakriti: Prakriti is not all. Even beyond Sattwa, there is something, which brings in a new element, and introduces in Sattwa also and even in the Sattwic personality you are obliged to do this or that or that, there is a perception, which goes beyond the possibilities of Prakriti.

That is why Sri Krishna’s teaching is not merely of Prakriti; at the same time there is a great perception of the working of Prakriti; it is a very complex study; it is neither this nor that; it is not saying that everybody is free in every way; or everybody is bound absolutely in a complete way. This kind of an answer is not in the Bhagavad Gita.

There is later on a statement where Sri Krishna will say that for any action, you require the following elements: pratiṣṭhāna, there must be a basis; there must be kartā, the doer; there must be karaṇa, there must be the instrument; there must be ceṣṭāḥ, the effort, and there must be daivam, there must be some kind of an unseen power, either constituted by past action or destiny or whatever you may call, but daivam. You put all this together and only you can really decide what action basically is.

Action is not only daivam, this is the idea of determinism: daivam means that there is only destiny, and according to destiny you work, and Sri Krishna says that is not true: daivam is only one of the factors. What you have done in the past certainly determines; it is not as if you are free to do whatever you like; but it is only as one element. Apart from the element of daivam there is also ceṣṭā, there is also the element of effort; there is also kartā, there is also the self, who does the action; there is also the instrument, the capacity of the instrument; there is also pratiṣṭhāna, there is the very basis of action. What about all these elements? So, if you take the total situation into account, then the past is only one of the factors. Even the destiny, which is not only a past, but a planning of the future, is also only one factor.

Man is greater than destiny; man is the maker of destiny. Now, this is a statement, which can be so misunderstood as to say that man is completely free and he can do whatever he likes even if that is not true. You can say an individual has to be judged at where he is now. If he is only tamasic, you cannot say man is a maker of his destiny; if man is tamasic he will be only doing…there is hardly any possibilities at all! But you can tell him that little by little you grow into the higher stage, just a little, which will be very difficult for a tamasic man. Even we who are quite developed if you are told that you do a heavy exercise every day…tamas is so great in us that to do exercise is difficult; so, we are told little by little you do, don’t immediately jump into a restless exercise program, you go little by little. So, tamas has to be broken but very little; then afterwards when you rise into higher levels, then this capacity increases. In other words what you call freedom is a progressive element. When you say, “man is a maker of his destiny”, you should not make it in such a bold way that it would be not applicable really because man is not entirely the maker of his destiny until a certain stage is reached. But essentially, ultimately, he is.

And the whole proposition stands on this ground that Prakriti is not all. If Prakriti is all, then the whole Yoga can be forgotten because everybody will say that at the time of Prakriti as it develops, it will go on developing, and we have hardly any role to play. Whatever is happening is happening because of Prakriti whatever is now done, what can I do, everybody can say I am helpless: prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni you can claim, and therefore I am not to be blamed at all, only Prakriti is like this, what can I do? And the whole idea of ethics, the whole idea of spirituality is smashed.

And the Bhagavad Gita after all will tell us, and that is reserved in the next block of teaching of Sri Krishna. Even here it is there, but it is much more expounded that Prakriti itself is supervened by a higher Prakriti. Above the Prakriti of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas, there is a higher Prakriti: this Prakriti as we see is not all. Sri Krishna will tell us in the 7th chapter that there are two Prakritis: the Apara (aparā) Prakriti and the Para (para) Prakriti. So Prakriti alone is not there to determine our actions. There is something else than that. Then, that is not all; above this Prakriti as we see it, Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas, there is Jiva (jiva) in us, which is of the nature of Para Prakriti: parā prakṛtir jīvabhūtā (7.5), this is the famous statement of the Bhagavad Gita. Apart from the Apara Prakriti, and even as a portion of the Para Prakriti is the Jiva; and Jiva himself is not only made of the stuff of the Para Prakriti, but it is also mamaiva aṁśaḥ, the Jiva is also “My own portion”: ‘My’ means the ‘Supreme Lord’, and then Sri Krishna will describe “who am I”, who is Sri Krishna Himself, who is the supreme Lord. The supreme Lord Himself is Kshara and Akshara: so, there is immobile, there is the mobile. So, all this Prakriti is not all. It is on the ground of that proposition: ‘the Prakriti is not all’.

There are two selves in us: one which is subject to Prakriti and one which is above Prakriti. That which is constituted by Para Prakriti, that which is a portion of the Supreme and that there is a Self, which is absolutely immobile. And there is a supreme, which is at once mobile and immobile. Now, all these elements are present. It is these elements, which are above the Apara Prakriti, which constitute in their own ways what is called “the Self”, (higher self). So, Sri Krishna says that, “uddhared”, one should raise up: ātmanātmānam, one should raise up the self (that is the self, which is subject to Prakriti), by the Self, which is above the Prakriti, which is a portion of Para Prakriti, which is itself a portion of the supreme Lord, which is also reflective, which is capable of being Akshara, identifying himself with Akshara. It can become immobile, completely. So that even the necessity to be completely and confined to activity, even that is not imperative. You can be completely free from all activity; so that is even a possibility of the higher self. It is that Self, which Sri Krishna here refers when He says:

uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ nātmānam avasādayet ||6.5||

One should not degrade oneself; one should raise the self by the Self.

ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur, the Self itself is the friend of the self.

ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ, the self itself is the enemy of the Self.

If you don’t conquer the lower self then that lower self will act as your enemy; if you conquer that lower self then that lower self will collaborate with you and will help you to rise up. That is why this statement gives the justification of the entire process of Yoga. All that has been told so far, in these previous chapters and up till now, finds its justification by this proposition that there is in you a higher self; there is in you a lower self: lower self is that which tied up with Apara Prakriti; higher self is above this Prakriti, it is by the help of that Self that you can raise yourself.

Therefore if Arjuna says: “What can I do, I am now overpowered”, Sri Krishna says: “There is in you a Self and the nature of this Self is ‘freedom’; this Self is really free. It simply has to take a decision, but it is free to take a decision. Because the argument may be that “Even if I am free, if I am bound, how can I be free?” The answer is that “The moment you begin to perceive it, you will perceive that it is free; and it can take a decision at any time, it can break all the laws; even the destiny it can break; even if the whole past has been designed, and you are moving in one direction, if there is a Self which is awaken in you, then it can break all the destiny.” And the question whether ‘I can be awakened’: ‘Am I free to be awakened?’ The question may be raised; or that is also dependent upon determinism of the past. The answer is: “The moment you begin to think whether I am free or not, you are already awakened.” Therefore, the law as to whether I am free or not, the moment you begin to ask this question, it means that you are already awake; otherwise you would not even ask this question.

The Ttamasic man does not even raise this question whether I am free or not; the moment you begin to ask whether I am free or not, the answer is “yes you are free and therefore, now it is up to you”. And the whole of the Bhagavad Gita, all Yogic Shastra is nothing but an answer to this question: it is addressed to anybody who has come to a stage where he has become aware, and he begins to ask whether ‘this bondage in which I am, is it inevitable?’ ‘Am I bound to be what I am?’ ‘Is it an absolute imperativeness?’ The answer is ‘no’; you are really free, and you can therefore be told. Therefore the justification of giving these Shastra is that once you become aware of it, you have to be told you are free. And then the question is how that freedom is to be utilised, what is the Shastra of that freedom? You might say the entire Yogic Shastra is nothing but Shastra of freedom: how to awaken that freedom? How to exercise that freedom? What are the steps that you have to take in the exercise of the freedom? Even when you decide that you want to be free, even then you are not entirely free, that also has to be seen: prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni are very great truths, even when you decide to be free, you are still clutched by the lower Prakriti but think that even that is not imperative, there is still a possibility for you to rise up. It is a Yogic Shastra, a shastra of gradual development in which you rise from bondage to freedom, and a greater freedom, and supreme freedom.

The next verse is nothing but the same statement described in other words:

bandhur ātmātmanas tasya yenātmaivātmanā jitaḥ |
anātmanas tu śatrutve vartetātmaiva śatruvat ||6.6||

“For one who has conquered his very self by his own Self, his very self becomes his friend, but for one who has not conquered his self, his very self will act inimically, as would an actual enemy.”

Now, once you begin to rise above…now the consequent and subsequent statement in the Bhagavad Gita speak to you once again of the state of equality. As you rise in freedom more and more, your capacity to be equal minded becomes greater. You will see throughout the Gita, there is constant emphasis on equality, a subject that we discussed last time with all its paraphernalia, with all its delusions, with all its different stages, but ultimately when this freedom is being exercised more and more, then you will be free even in adverse circumstances; you will not be exited even in unfavourable circumstances; and you will take your own stand in which no desire can touch you:

jitātmanaḥ praśāntasya paramātmā samāhitaḥ |
śītoṣṇasukhaduḥkheṣu tathā mānāpamānayoḥ ||6.7||

“One who has conquered his self and has attained tranquillity, who remains balanced in cold-heat, pleasure-pain, and honour-dishonour, his mind is centred on the Supreme Self.”

The 8th, 9th, 10th they are again re-statements of this very position of equality. So, we shall rapidly study them. In the 8th verse it is said:

jñānavijñānatṛptātmā kūṭastho vijitendriyaḥ |
yukta ity ucyate yogī samaloṣṭāśmakāñcanaḥ ||6.8||

“The Yogin whose self is content in knowledge and in realisation, who is immutable, master of his senses and for whom an earth-clod, a stone, a piece of gold are the same, is said to be controlled in Yoga.”

suhṛnmitrāryudāsīnamadhyasthadveṣyabandhuṣu |
sādhuṣv api ca pāpeṣu samabuddhir viśiṣyate ||6.9||

“He who has a balanced mind towards well wishers, friends, enemies, the indifferent, the impartial, the hateful, relatives, saints as well as sinners, he excels.”

yogī yuñjīta satatam ātmānaṁ rahasi sthitaḥ |
ekākī yatacittātmā nirāśīr aparigrahaḥ ||6.10||

“When you begin to rise into this freedom, into the state of equality, you begin to feel greater and greater attraction towards ekākī, you begin to become more and more solitary…yogī yuñjīta satatam ātmānaṁ rahasi sthitaḥ |
ekākī yatacittātmā nirāśīr aparigrahaḥ ||6.10||
you have no personal hopes; you have no desire to collect and store things; your whole mind is concentrated, your citta is concentrated upon the Self; you remain isolated, you remain solitary; and then you remain in a state of equality.”

“A Yogin should constantly concentrate his mind on the Supreme Self remaining in solitude, all alone, with controlled mind and body, free from desires, and craving for possessions.”

Now comes in the next few verses a very important subject. We are now shifting entirely from uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ, you should raise yourself from the self. From that subject we are now coming to a new subject, although connected with it. It is said that your citta should be concentrated upon the Self, (upon the higher self), but already earlier Arjuna had raised the question that this citta, this manas, this cancalam, it is too vivacious, so unstable. Even if you want to raise yourself, can you raise yourself? Or is it prakṛtiṁ yānti bhūtāni? So, Sri Krishna now enters into that subject, and gives an exposition of what is called ‘Dhyana Yoga’. Now, this Dhyana Yoga is actually speaking, in our classical system of tradition, called ‘Raja yoga’.

If you remember earlier we had spoken of Raja yoga many, many weeks ago, at almost the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita because we had said that there is the word Yoga used today, in our normal parlance, and whenever the word Yoga is used, we normally means what was meant by the word Raja yoga in our tradition. Therefore, when we speak of Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita it may give an impression that the book of Bhagavad Gita is nothing but the same Yoga, which is Raja yoga and of which we have spoken today in general parlance, and we had said that the Yoga, the word Yoga is not used in that sense in the Bhagavad Gita. The word Yoga used in the Gita has a larger connotation, has a larger meaning, a larger sweep.

Chapter VI—Verses 11-21

…Although this was a larger sweep, it is more comprehensive, more integral. Therefore, it also includes this Dhyana yoga (or Raja yoga). In what way, to what extent that Raja yoga is accepted in this totality of Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita is now explained. First of all, it is primarily addressed to the instability of the mind when it wants to make an effort. If you find that the mind is really unstable, (and most of us have got minds which are unstable),therefore what is said here is very relevant. Even when you try your best, you feel that you must control it really, systematically, in a very regulated manner, then this proposition, which is made here, is directly relevant. In fact the whole chapter has been entitled Dhyana yoga, although like every other chapter’s title, the real extent of every chapter goes beyond his very title, that is because the teaching is very synthetic, and the name of the chapter is given only because of the preponderance of a certain element, but not at the cost of eliminating other elements. Even so, this chapter you might say is centred upon the problem as to how to lift yourself from the lower level to the higher level when particularly mind is normally so unstable. Therefore the whole chapter is basically devoted to this. If you want to see the entire argument of the Bhagavad Gita, you might say that the Bhagavad Gita’s teaching, as far as the synthesis of Karma yoga and Jnana yoga is involved, is already achieved at the end of the 4th chapter.

The 5th chapter is a kind of a summation, is a kind of a final conclusion, (concluding statement), where the distinction between Karma yoga and Jnana yoga, the division between the two is bombarded, and we are told that actually speaking, both are one. And the rest of the 5th chapter is given to the description of the nature of the divine worker and the state of equality, and the state of his delight.

In the 6th chapter, a further detail is given; and the detail is that this long road and uplifting road, is it really possible for a human being to climb? It is as if, after having accepted all this statement, a lingering doubt may still remain in the mind of the seeker, and you might say that: well, what you are saying is wonderful, but is the human being capable of this climbing? That is why this 6th chapter begins with the statement that “you must raise yourself by the Self”. And even if you find that your mind is very unstable, there is a method by which you can control it.

What is that method? What is the special method? That special method is the special method of Raja yoga. It is that Raja yoga, which is very briefly stated here; we do not expect a complete exposition of Raja yoga here, but his basic element. And the basic elements of Raja yoga, the special distinguishing feature of Raja yoga is that you should first of all, regularly, attain to the mastery of asana. The minimum condition in which you can control your mind is not to be fidgety, remaining at one place, dangling your feet all the time, and looking here and there, hither and thither. These are the minimum things that should be completely avoided, eliminated:‘capacity to be really stable’. Before you can stabilise your mind, at least stabilise your body, at least make your seat absolutely firm. You should be able to sit erect; you should be able to be very quiet.

So, asana is the first thing, and that is why here Sri Krishna will tell us:

śucau deśe pratiṣṭhāpya sthiram āsanam ātmanaḥ |
nātyucchritaṁ nātinīcaṁ cailājinakuśottaram ||6.11||

He gives the description of asana, how you should sit firmly, stably.

“He should establish a firm seat in a pure place which is neither too high nor too low, and upon which is spread either kusha grass or a deer skin or a cloth.”

tatraikāgraṁ manaḥ kṛtvā yatacittendriyakriyaḥ |
upaviśyāsane yuñjyād yogam ātmaviśuddhaye ||6.12||

Now, comes the mental aspect of it. That was the physical aspect, now, the mental aspect: “Having seated on it, let him practice yoga for the purification of the mind, after making the mind to a state of one-pointed-ness (ekāgraṁ cittam), and controlling his mind, senses and activities.”

This is what is called in the Raja Yoga more elaborately: first of all you should have ‘Asana’; then you should have Pranayama, which also Sri Krishna will come to very quickly. In the actual process of ‘Yoga’, if you read the Raja yoga, it is called aṣṭāṅga Yoga, there are eight steps. The first step is called the state by which your moral purification is first achieved: ‘Yama’ and ‘Niyama’; then comes ‘Asana’; then ‘Pranayama’; then ‘Pratyahara’; then ‘Dharana’; then ‘Dhyana’; and then ‘Samadhi’. These are the eight steps of Raja Yoga.

Now, all these eight steps are not described here exactly in the form in which we get in Raja yoga, because here there is a summary statement, and it is understood normally, because it is well known. Therefore you don’t need to expand the whole thing in detail in the same way in which Rajayogis do, but the essence of it is all given here. So, it says: “Having seated on it, let him practice Yoga for the purification of the mind.” This is a kind of a process of what is called pratyāhāra. Pratyahara is a state in which you withdraw from other objects. Even before you concentrate upon one object, you withdraw from other objects: this is called Pratyahara.

Then, concentrate upon one subject is called dhāraṇā. Then dhyāna is a real pointed-ness, you really dwell upon it, and having delved upon it sufficiently, you get merged into it: that is samādhi. These are the different stages, but basically it is one-pointed-ness. So, in summary it is said: let him purify his mind by one-pointed-ness, ekāgraṁ manaḥ kṛtvā, in one phrase it is given, manaḥ ekāgraṁ kṛtvā: you should completely be one-pointed in your mind.

Then, comes the description of prāṇāyāma. Although in the Raja yoga, pranayama should precede this process of mind; but as I told you here there is not a regular statement, but all the elements which are in the Raja yoga are given in a summary form.

samaṁ kāyaśirogrīvaṁ dhārayann acalaṁ sthiraḥ |
samprekṣya nāsikāgraṁ svaṁ diśaś cānavalokayan ||6.13||

“There, having steadied himself and holding the body, head and neck erect in a straight line, looking steadily at the tip of the nose and not looking in the different directions.” This is the beginning of the pranayama.

praśāntātmā vigatabhīr brahmacārivrate sthitaḥ |

manaḥ saṁyamya maccitto yukta āsīta matparaḥ ||6.14||

What is given normally as Yama and Niyama is summarised here and He says: “Peaceful and fearless, established in the vow of celibacy with his mind restrained, and turned towards Me, with whole-hearted devotion to Me – the Highest Goal, one should practise yogic discipline.”

Now, this element of maccitto and matparaḥ, you should concentrate upon Me, and you become My-minded, matparaḥ, is a speciality of the Bhagavad Gita in the exposition of Raja yoga.

In the orthodox statement of Raja yoga, concentration upon the Divine is optional, it is not compulsory, it is not imperative: you may concentrate upon the Divine or you may concentrate upon any object. The aim of Raja yoga is to control the mind, and for controlling the mind, you can pick up any object. It is even said that if you are in love with somebody and concentrate upon the object of love, even that would give you the stability of the mind. So, it gives many options. So, even concentration upon the Divine is also one of the options. But here, in the exposition of Raja yoga in the terms of the Gita, Sri Krishna says that you should become My-minded, concentrate upon Me, upon the Supreme.

yuñjann evaṁ sadātmānaṁ yogī niyatamānasaḥ |
śāntiṁ nirvāṇaparamāṁ matsaṁsthām adhigacchati ||6.15||

“Having restrained his mind, the yogin constantly applies his mind to the self, attains peace, the Supreme Nirvana, which abides in Me.”

Now, there are two important points here. We had said that by the higher self, you should control the lower self; and if you do all these practises, then you will be able to sustain your self in the higher self, and in that higher self consciousness, you will have two important realisations. One is nirvāṇaparamāṁ śāntiṁ: there is ‘Akshara’, experience of complete inactivity…but matsaṁsthām, but even that Akshara is seated in Me. That is: “I am still higher than that condition of inactivity”. Nirvana is not the ultimate goal; it is a part of the goal but not “the” ultimate goal because even…“That śāntiṁ, even that peace is not final; matsaṁsthām, you should see that even ‘that’ state is seated in Me, and I am more than activity, I am more than inactivity. I am Purushottama. ”

Now comes certain other principles of Yoga, of Yama and Niyama. As I told you again there is not that kind of a systematic exposition, but all the elements, which are in the Raja yoga are taken one by one, separately, according to the psychological development of the teaching.

nātyaśnatas tu yogo ’sti na caikāntam anaśnataḥ |
na cātisvapnaśīlasya jāgrato naiva cārjuna ||6.16||

yuktāhāravihārasya yuktaceṣṭasya karmasu |
yuktasvapnāvabodhasya yogo bhavati duḥkhahā ||6.17||

Here is the principle of what is called “balance, equilibrium”: you should neither eat too much, nor eat too little. You should neither remain awake all the time, nor you should go on sleeping all the time: you should have a balance. It is a kind of an equilibrium, and principle of modesty.

“O, Arjuna! Yoga cannot be perfected by one who eats in excess, or by one who does not eat at all. It is not for one who sleeps too much, nor for one who keeps awake.” (6.16)

“He who is regulated in diet and recreation, who is retrained in performing his actions, whose sleep and wakefulness is regulated, such a person perfects the Yoga which destroys all sorrows.” (6.17)

yadā viniyataṁ cittam ātmany evāvatiṣṭhate |
nispṛhaḥ sarvakāmebhyo yukta ity ucyate tadā ||6.18||

“When the citta is properly restrained and is established in the Self alone, then one becomes free from all desires, and is called a yukta--one who is established in Yoga.”

This term Chitta is used here, and that is a very important term in Raja yoga; one of the very first statements of Raja yoga is the definition of Yoga, and it says:

cittavṛttinirodhaḥ yogaḥ (yogasūtra 1.2)

“Yoga means, cittavṛttinirodhaḥ, retrained, cessation of the modifications of citta, of the stuff of consciousness.”

So, Sri Krishna uses here the same word: “When the Chitta is properly retrained, and is established in the Self alone, then one becomes free from all desires, and is called a yukta – one who is established in Yoga.”

yathā dīpo nivātastho neṅgate sopamā smṛtā |
yogino yatacittasya yuñjato yogam ātmanaḥ ||6.19||

“Just as a lamp does not flicker in a windless place—such is the simile declared for the yogin whose mind has been curbed and who practices union with the Supreme Self.”

When there is no wind at all, the light does not flicker, similarly the mind of the yogin does not flicker, it burns steadily without any kind of wavering.

yatroparamate cittam niruddhaṁ yogasevayā |
yatra caivātmanātmānaṁ paśyann ātmani tuṣyati ||6.20||

“When Chitta is restrained by the practice of Yoga and is withdrawn from the worldly material activities, then the yogin beholds the self within his own Self and he finds contentment.”

What is the nature of this contentment?

sukham ātyantikaṁ yat tad buddhigrāhyam atīndriyam |
vetti yatra na caivāyaṁ sthitaś calati tattvataḥ ||6.21||

“One experiences this Transcendental Bliss…” This contentment gradually becomes an experience of the Supreme Bliss, “…Bliss which is atīndriyam, which transcends any sensual experience.” In other words, whatever may be the climaxes of sense experiences, and the delight, this Bliss goes even beyond that. “…it can be ceased by the intellect, buddhigrāhyam; it can be conceived and then, it goes even beyond buddhi to experience it.” It can be conceived by buddhi, but actually it goes, in experience even beyond that.

Question: Is there a distinction between Buddhi Yoga and Jnana Yoga, or is there none?

There is a distinction. Buddhi Yoga, (we had already seen in the 2nd chapter, in which the practise is much simpler, not as elaborate as here in Raja Yoga), Buddhi yoga insists upon your intellect to arrive at a point where it can discriminate between the Real and the unreal. You remember the 2nd chapter starts with the statement of the Real and the unreal. Because Sri Krishna explains to Arjuna: “You are talking of killing and being killed, and your entire bewilderment arises out of this; but those who are wise, they make a distinction between that which is immortal, and that which is mortal. You are talking only of mortality. But real Reality is immortal.” So, Buddhi Yoga is a Yoga in which the intellect is able to perceive the distinction between mortality and immortality, that which is unreal and the Real. And Sri Krishna declares in the 2nd chapter:

nāsato vidyate bhāvo nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ ||2.16||

“That which is non-existing cannot come into existence; that which exists can never go out of existence.”

This distinction, you must fully grasp. Buddhi yoga is therefore a process in which the intellect arrives at a point where this distinction is realised. And once you realise this, you are shifted from the unreal, and you become fixed in the Real. In that fixation you become ṣṭhitā prajñā; you arrive at this condition in which you are stabilised in your intelligence. That is one part of Buddhi yoga.

Then Sri Krishna says: “I will also apply this Buddhi yoga to the field of Action, and how while doing action, you can come to realise the distinction between the Real and the unreal.” And then, after the 2nd, 3rd and 4th chapters are devoted to that process in which the entire detail is given, so that even while you do action, you still become free. In the pure Buddhi yoga, as applied only to the distinction between the Real and the unreal, action is not involved. You just distinguish between the Real and the unreal, and by this distinction you then become fixed in the Real.

But even “‘while’ doing actions, you see the Real and the unreal and then become fixed in the Real” is the distinguishing mark of Karma yoga. Buddhi yoga applied to Karma, by utilising the means of karma, you still attain the same kind of freedom and the same kind of liberation: that is Karma yoga. So, that is the task, which has been done in chapters 2, 3, and 4. In chapter 5 we are told that actually speaking what is required in Buddhi yoga and in Karma yoga, (or what is given in Sankhya yoga, or in the Karma yoga), whatever distinctions there are, ultimately both of them are one, because in both the cases, one element which is common is na kāṅkṣati na dveṣṭi (5.3); whether you call that process, or that process, in both the processes what is common is: ‘you don’t have any desire, you don’t envy anybody’. In that common element, you find that ‘Sankhya’ and ‘Yoga’ are one and the same. Those who distinguish between the two are bālāḥ pravadanti, it is only children who make a distinction, na paṇḍitāḥ (5.4), the wise men do not make a distinction between them.

Now, having explained all this, you are raising the question: what is this Jnana yoga? Is it different from Buddhi yoga? Is Raja yoga different from Buddhi yoga? The answer is this: in Buddhi yoga, the processes of Asana, Pranayama, and gradual processes of Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi, all that is not given in a regulated manner. By ‘mere process of thinking’, very clearly, you arrive at a distinction between the Real and the unreal, and then you get fixed in the Real. In that process, you are not required to seat down quietly, in an Asana, you are not required to do Pranayama, you are not required to go gradually from step to step, but it will show that Buddhi yoga is something relevant to those who are capable, intellectually, of making a distinction between the Real and the unreal. But all people may not be capable of that distinction. It is ready for those who are able to think so clearly, their minds are so clear that they can arrive at this distinction. But those who are not capable, for them a regular, slow process is necessary. Therefore, you might say that elements of Buddhi yoga are present in Raja yoga, but the details of Raja yoga are not present in Buddhi yoga. Ultimately the distinction that has to be made between the Real and the unreal, that distinction even here in Raja yoga ultimately you have to do, but in a gradual manner, because this Raja yoga is particularly addressed to those people whose minds are really unstable. It is a special kind of a process given to those whose minds naturally do not sit quietly; and in fact most of us are like that therefore it is very valid for all of us, mostly. But it may not be so for those who really have developed…by birth itself they have a great capacity to be very quiet, so for them, all the Ashtanga Yoga is not necessary: this is the distinction.

Question: Then the ultimate goal is the Dhyana yoga in both, or is it the integration of the Karma and the knowledge.

The ultimate goal is already told to us at the end of the 4th chapter, in which all actions must arrive at a culmination in Knowledge, and, as a result of that: “ātmani atho mayi, (4.35), you get settled in the Self and then in the Supreme Self”: this is the goal.

The mere distinction between the Real and the unreal, that special process, you may do or you may not do, because Sri Krishna says that “Buddhi yoga as applied to Sankhya, I have given to you; but I will give you another process of Buddhi yoga where while doing actions, you can attain to the same realisation.” So, in the other process, Karma is very much emphasised, because it is by doing actions you will attain to the same result. But when we say the same result means…the goal in the Bhagavad Gita, whether you do Sankhya or you do Karma, or whether you do Dhyana yoga, or any process, the goal is threefold: 1) you must get settled in the Knowledge of the niṣkriya, of inaction; 2) you should be capable of becoming wide, in which you capacity to act does not cease; 3) and beyond all that, mayi, you should be established in Me, the Supreme. These three goals are present in all the processes of Yoga, which have been prescribed by the Bhagavad Gita, although these processes in their exclusiveness, outside the Gita, they may not coincide with all the three goals, which have been prescribed in the Bhagavad Gita.

For example, in the pure Buddhi yoga, (practised by many other people as ‘Buddhi yoga’, not as a part of Bhagavad Gita’s Yoga), they aim at arriving at a complete state of immobility. By distinguishing between the Real and the unreal, and stabilising themselves in the Real, they stabilise themselves in that which is “immobile”, and nothing more than that. Those who are doing Raja yoga, (the Dhyana yoga), they attain to a state of Samadhi, in which whatever is the object, in that object there is a complete cessation of the movements of citta. Now, that object ‘may be’ the Supreme, but ‘may not be’ the Supreme.

As I said in the Raja yoga, surrender to the Divine is only an optional way: it is not a necessary part, not imperatively demanded. But in the Bhagavad Gita, concentration upon the Supreme is already included in this process. But those who practise Raja yoga alone, for them, concentration upon the Divine is not obligatory, and the goal of realisation of the Supreme Divine is not the ultimate goal of Raja yoga, even the realisation of the immobile Purusha is enough.

Is it clear?

So, in the Bhagavad Gita, all these Yogas are given as elements of the synthesis of Yoga: how they can be all get synthesised. Even giving away the details, all the details are not here, but their elements are all present; and in that case the goal is threefold. But this threefold goal may not be in the specialised processes, which yogis perform in their exclusive pursuit of their own yoga. Clear?

I think we will stop here today. I thought I would finish the 6th chapter today, but it seems our goal is still receding backwards, so, let us next time we shall finish the 6th chapter.