Bhagawat Geeta, Class 82, Chapter 6, Verses 2 to 5


Shloka # 2:

यं संन्यासमिति प्राहुर्योगं तं विद्धि पाण्डव
ह्यसंन्यस्तसङ्कल्पो योगी भवति कश्चन।।6.2।।

That which they call renunciation, know to be yoga, O Pandava Prince! None indeed who has not discarded mental constructions can become a yogin.

Continuing his teaching of Gita Swami Paramarthananda said, I had pointed out in the last class that in the 6th chapter of the Gita, Sri Krishna deals with five important topics with regard to the dhyanam or meditation and those five topics are:

  1. Bahiranga sadhanani or general disciplines to be observed throughout one’s transactions, so that one can practice meditation successfully.
  2. Antaranga sadhanani or specific disciplines to be observed just before the starting of the meditation;
  3. Dhyana svarupam, the actual process of meditation;
  4. Dhyana phalam, the benefit of meditation;
  5. Dhyana pratibhanda pariharau; obstacles to meditation, and their remedy.

Bahiranga sadhanani: are preparations before taking up dhyanam. If we don’t have discipline during a transaction mind can be disturbed. Such disturbances, also known as Samskara’s, can scar the mind.  This Samskara will bubble up later when the mind is quiet. They are a like piece of wood held down under water that pops up the moment you release it. Our subconscious mind has many such Samskaras that can come up at any time the conscious mind is resting. During meditation the conscious mind withdraws then the subconscious impressions come up. Violent disturbances during the day can come up as well.

How to stop such disturbances from occurring in the mind?

Training the mind for Samatvam can stop this. Citing an example, a philosopher and businessman was told, “you have lost everything.” He said in agitation, “What”? Calming down, later, he said, “So what?” This change from “what” to “so what” requires great training of the mind to maintain Samatvam. In Samatvam, the mind does not get too high or too low. Practice of Karma Yoga helps with Samatvam. Sri Krishna thus glorifies a Karma Yogi or a Grihasta. Chapter six begins with glorification of householder, and through this glorification God is glorifying Karma Yoga as well and thus Samatvam too.

We can say: Grihasthashrama=Karma Yoga=Samatvam.

How does Sri Krishna glorify? He says the householder is the real Sanyasi. He says regular Sanyasis are not the real Sanyasi’s. Then, again, Sri Krishna points out that a conventional meditator is not a real meditator. Who is a conventional meditator? It is one who has withdrawn from all the activities; taken to a quiet place, taken the proper posture; closing his eyes and keeping the body straight; such a person is a conventional meditator. Krishna says that conventional meditator is not true a meditator. Then who is a true meditator? Sri Krishna says, it is the karma yogi, the grihastha, who is a true meditator.

Shankaracharya, a champion of Sanyasis is disturbed by this criticism of Sri Krishna. He says, Sri Krishna does not want to criticize a Sanyasi rather he wants to glorify the Grihasta. He is using “Nahi Ninda Nyayaha”, a process where you criticize something to glorify something else. So, the focus is on glorification. Sri Krishna is glorifying Karma Yoga.

In the second shloka he justifies why he calls a Grihasta a real Sanyasi. The Grihasta has after all not renounced anything. He has all kinds of possessions (house, money, land..), family etc. How can such a person be a Sanyasi? What makes him a Sanyasi?

Sri Krishna clarifies that Sanyasa means renunciation.  The word renunciation does not always mean renouncing wife and children; or one’s home and job.  Sri Krishna says a Karma Yogi Grihastha is a renouncer because he has renounced concerns for the future. Biggest concern of people is what happens in the future. One who drops such worry is a Sankalpa Sanyasi.

 Worrying versus planning. Planning is acceptable. It is a deliberate action at a stipulated time. Worry is not deliberate. It is a reaction or obsession that happens at any time. It makes us inefficient. Karma Yogi may plan but he does not worry, hence he is a Sankalpa Sanyasi.

Shloka # 2: In the second shloka Sri Krishna says, “O Arjuna, by the word sanyasa or renunciation, I do not mean the conventional renunciation”. Swamiji says Gita is a Grihasta book. Sri Krishna was a Grihasta as was Arjuna. Vyasa too was a Grihatha. So, he says, if you are a good Karma Yogi you will get benefit of both Grihasta and Sanyasa. So, if one has to become a Karma Yogi one has to renounce Sankalpa or our obsession with future. So, renounce worry.

Shloka # 3:

आरुरुक्षोर्मुनेर्योगं कर्म कारणमुच्यते
योगारूढस्य तस्यैव शमः कारणमुच्यते।।6.3।।

Work is said to be the cause in the case of the silent sage who seeks to scale the peak of Yoga; as regards this very sage who has scaled it, quiescence is said to be the cause.

How long should one follow karma Yoga? Is it an end or is it an intermediate step? Karma Yoga is not an ultimate sadhana. It only makes you Gyana Yogyata Prapthihi. It purifies the mind. Limitation of Karma Yoga is it cannot give liberation.

Some people claim Karma Yoga alone will give liberation. The other extreme is Karma Yoga is useless and should not be taken up. Citing an example one person says I will never enter the college; his argument is after all finally I have to come out, so why even enter?

Sri Krishna says, use Karma yoga then transcend and get liberation.

So, initially follow Karma yoga. In the shloka Yogam means Dhyana Yogam. No scripture prescribes meditation in the beginning. Sri Krishna recommends meditation only after five chapters. Patanjali recommends meditation only after sixth stage of Yoga. There are eight stages of his Yoga.

Without studying scriptures the only meditation recommended is Nama japam.

Yama and Niyama of Patanjali, the Do’s and Don’t of Yoga, are the same as Karma Yoga.  If one has to purify the mind he should perform Karma Yoga. Therefore, Vedas begin with Karma kandam. How long do you perform Karma Yoga? Once you have the necessary mental preparation then you grow out of it. It is like the life of a fetus in a womb, after nine months, nature will throw the baby out. So withdrawing from Karma Yoga can be done in two ways:

  1. Taking to Sanyasashrama or Sanyasavidhi, a formal process. Just as the sacred thread ceremony is used for initiation, this process is used for withdrawal from life. Sanyasavidhi’s goal is to get out of rituals and start the process of self-enquiry.
  1. There is another form of withdrawal in which a person reduces the amount of activity remaining in grihastha ashrama itself. So, if he was doing rituals for many hours he now reduces the duration. Even mundane activities, he reduces, handing them over to someone else. This requires detachment. Thus, this is also a kind of a vanaprastha ash

Therefore, either by becoming a sanyasi or by taking to vanaprastha one withdraws. Both of them involve reduction of extrovert activities. Now, I spend my time in sravanam, mananam and nidhidhyasanam.

Shloka # 4:

यदा हि नेन्द्रियार्थेषु कर्मस्वनुषज्जते
सर्वसङ्कल्पसंन्यासी योगारूढस्तदोच्यते।।6.4।।,

When the sage is no longer attached to sense objects and works;  he discards all mental constructions; then he is said to have scaled the peak of Yoga.

In previous shloka we learn that one should follow karma yoga also known as Pravrithi marga and then follow up with Gyana Yoga or Nivrithi marga. How do I know when to switch to Gyana Yoga? Swamiji said, for going to a college we have pass examinations that tell us our next step. Similarly nature also tells us the next step when it expels a baby from the womb after nine months. Unfortunately, the rate of inner spiritual maturity is not uniform for all. The rate of acquiring inner maturity is also not uniform for all. Some people become mature within short while other people even after 95 years of life experiences don’t mature. Citing an example, a child asked its grandfather, are you ready to marry? He answered, who will give me a girl?

Sri Krishna says a mature mind is free from obsession of sense pleasures. Here the emphasis is on obsession. Artha and Kama are allowed but obsession with them is wrong. Until mind is preoccupied with money and entertainment, you are not ready for Vedanta.  The key is obsession. If you don’t get what you want, you should not be upset. Preference is acceptable but not need. Craving after sense pleasures should not overwhelm me. Hating sense objects is also not good. This too can be an obsession.

Dayananda Swamiji said, when you are a child and play with marbles, one tends to be possessive of the marbles. Now, when you are much older, you don’t have a problem of playing without attachment.  Thus, playing and not playing both should be acceptable. This is known as Vairagyam. Artha kama (wealth and entertainment) are Sadhyam. Karma is Sadhanam. He is not attached to both. He is attracted to moksha purushartha’s. Therefore sign of maturity is “detachment”. Such a person is called Sarva Sankalpa Sanyasi. He is not obsessed with the coming and going of material things.

Security never depends on external conditions. It is an internal state of mind. Even possession of wealth can cause insecurity. So, better surrender to Lord. Such a person becomes a Sankalpa Sanyasi.  When a person enters Sanyasashrama his only security is God. This is also true for a Karma Yogi.

Shloka # 5:

उद्धरेदात्मनाऽऽत्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत्
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः।।6.5।।

Elevate the self by the self; do not weaken the self. Self is indeed the friend of the self. Self alone is self’s foe.

 With previous shloka Sri Krishna has completed Bahiranga sadhanani. Enjoy equanimity and maintain balance of mind. Avoid worry about the future. This is Samatvam.  In this shloka Sri Krishna introduces two more Bahiranga sadhanas. They are:

Self-Effort: or using one’s free will, appropriately. He says we have our own free will. Many think everything is predetermined or believe in fatalism. Scriptures, however, do not support this fatalism. While scriptures do talk about fate as that which affects the future the following should be considered.  Fate is poorva karma phalam. Fatalism means that fate is the only factor that determines future. Fate, in reality, is only one of the factors. The other factor is our own free will or self-effort.  Our free will can eliminate or reduce the intensity of fate. Thus:

Powerful fate: Cannot be stopped by free will

Medium fate: Can be controlled by free will.

Feeble fate: Can be stopped by free will.


Take Away:

  1. Sri Krishna says we have our own free will. Fate, in reality, is only one of the factors. The other factor is our own free will or self-effort.
  2. A mature mind is free from obsession of sense pleasures. Here the emphasis is on obsession. If you don’t get what you want, you should not be
  3. One who drops worry of the future is a Sankalpa Sanyasi. Worry is not deliberate. It is a reaction or obsession that happens at any time.

With Best Wishes

Ram Ramaswamy