Continuing his teaching of the Gita, Swami Paramarthananda said, Sri Krishna is now dealing with antaranga sadhanani including preparations before meditation. We see him mention the role of the place (desha), time (kala), asanam, posture of body (sharira sthiti), indriyanigraha (withdrawal of sense organs from external world, especially the eyes should be partially or fully closed) and Prana samyam (dealing with prana and apana discussed in fifth chapter). We have thus seen these six stages and now we are coming to Manonigraha.
Shloka # 14:
प्रशान्तात्मा विगतभीर्ब्रह्मचारिव्रते स्थितः।
मनः संयम्य मच्चित्तो युक्त आसीत मत्परः।।6.14।।
With the inner sense tranquillized, fear gone, established in vow of chastity, controlling the mind, thoughts anchored in Me, the integrated Yogin should sit, intent on Me.
What should be the condition of the mind during meditation? Mind is disturbed by two sources.
First of all past experiences can come up during meditation. The subconscious mind throws up past experiences such as regrets of the past. Sri Krishna says one should not allow the past to control you. One has to control the past. Surrender all experiences such as insults, pain etc., at Lord’s feet. Say, “ O God, you have given me all these experiences only for my inner growth. I do not have anger or hatred towards anyone. I surrender everything at your divine feet.” Past is good, if we can learn from it, however, it can be a burden if it causes inferiority complex, hatred etc. Then, the past is a bad experience. Remember, in hatred it is the hater who is suffering and not the hated. Hatred is an obstacle to the hating person; hatred is never an obstacle to the hated person. The hated may not even be aware of the hate. So, forgive everyone.
Call up all people you don’t like in your mind and forgive them.
Every pain we go through is for polishing us. Then, I enjoy a prashanta atma, an atma relieved of a ton of regrets.
The second disturbance of the mind is worry about the future. Surrender future to God. “Whatever the future is, it is due to my own karmas. I cannot escape the future. Rather, I welcome my future.” The future here includes family and friends. After all, I cannot determine the future of my children. I also pray to god that, “ God, give me the strength to face and learn from experiences”. It requires a peculiar mind to learn from adversity. Like the Hamsa bird that separates milk from water. Like, when we eat the sugar cane, we take in the juice and leave the fiber behind. Similarly, from every experience I should take the essence; that is learning and forget the experience itself. With such an attitude, welcome the future. This will result in a relaxed mind. Thinking of future brings anxiety to the mind.
The word Vigata, means both past and future are given up. In this state the present is fully available to me for my use in meditation. Normally the present is not available to me because it is affected by past and future. Now, when I have taken care of the past and future, the present time is available for meditation.
Brahmacharya means student of scriptures. Brahma means scriptures and Chari means leading a way of life. Scriptures prescribe several disciplines to a Brahmachari to get maximum benefit from his studies and it is called Brahmacharyam. One of the disciplines imposed by the scriptures says a brahmachari should have only three relationships. They are with:
2) Guru; and
He should not have any other relationships.
That is the reason that during initiation into Sanyasa they remove the tuft signifying all these three relationships are also broken. When the Sanyasi discovers advaitam there is no more relationships. All relations require at least two people or Dvaitam. In a Brahmachari there is no worldly relationship. It is the same in a Sanyasi as well.
At least at the time of meditation, I should cut all the relationship. Tell yourselves, I am not a father now; I am not a mother; I am not a husband; I am not a wife; I am not a son; I am not a daughter; I am not a son-in-law, and a daughter. Whatever the relationship especially the disturbing relationship, cut them all off and temporarily at least become a mental sanyasi.
And that is why Sri Krishna said at the end of the 5th chapter, temporarily renouncing all the worldly relationships become a mental sanyasi.
Kailvalya Upanishad says “ Even a Grihastha should not have any relationship during meditation.” This is known as Brahmacharya Vrattam. It is a temporary mental state of Sanyasa during meditation.
Invoke relationship with God and fix the mind on God. This is the only relationship that continues in every life one takes. In our temporary relationships we lose sight of this one permanent relationship with God. It is like the river that is related to the ocean. So, also it is with God and me. So, with an integrated mind may you sit in meditation.
And what is the goal of the meditation; matparaha; keep Me not only as an object of meditation; but also as the destination of the life; therefore mumukṣu (seeker) may you practice meditation.
Shloka # 15:
युञ्जन्नेवं सदाऽऽत्मानं योगी नियतमानसः।
शान्तिं निर्वाणपरमां मत्संस्थामधिगच्छति।।6.15।।
Thus applying himself unintermittently, with a disciplined mind, the Yogin wins peace, which is abidance in Me, and whose climax is emancipation.
How long does one practice meditation? Sri Krishna says it should be practiced consistently, regularly and for a long time. In the shloka Atma means the mind, Yunjan means meditator and Evam means dwelling upon God. When we say fixing the mind on God, what type of God is meant here? Now Scriptures present God in three different ways depending upon the level of the Student as mandah, madhyama, and uttama; Mandah: (Mild) at the mandah level, first stage, God is a personal God, with a particular form like Rama rupam, Krishna rupam, Devi rupam and it is called eka rupam dhyanam. This also signifies Dvaita. Madhyam: (Medium): when a person is advanced, then the very same Lord becomes vishva rupah; aneka rupa, which means I see the lord as the very creation itself. So for a madhyama adhikari it is aneka rupa dhyanam. This also signifies dvaita. Uttama: (Ideal): A person who is still more advanced and one who has studied the Upanishads or Vedanta for him is prescribed arupa dhyanam; transcending both one form and many forms, we come to the formless Ishvara; and when one comes to formless God; the meditator meditated division disappears; the dvaitam gets converted to advaitam. Bheda upasanam or dhyanam gets transformed into abheda dhyanam. In eka rupa dhyanam bhedam is there; in aneka rupa dhyanam also there is bhedam. However, in arupa dhyanam this division is not there anymore. So, according to our level, the way we perceive God also differs. This arupa dhyanam signifies Advaita. So meditation can vary depending upon approach taken. Sri Krishna is clearly talking about Arupa dhyanam. So meditate on Me. Perform the meditation without distractions. The more you meditate the greater is your inner peace. This peace comes from God. Peace from set up can be up set. Peace dependent on relationships such as job, family etc., can change. The peace from God cannot change.
Katho Upanishad says, only they get permanent peace, others don’t. Real peace comes from within Me alone. This peace results in Jivan Mukti and then finally culiminates in Videha mukti or freedom from Punar janma or freedom from rebirth.
Shloka # 16:
नात्यश्नतस्तु योगोऽस्ति न चैकान्तमनश्नतः।
न चातिस्वप्नशीलस्य जाग्रतो नैव चार्जुन।।6.16।।
He has no Yoga who eats too much or who eats not at all; who habitually sleeps too much or who keeps always awake, O Arjuna!
With the previous shloka Sri Krishna has completed antaranga sadhanani, for now. Budhi nischaya is also discussed later.
In shlokas # 16 and 17 respectively, Bahiranga sadhanani was discussed. Here, again, Sri Krishna brings up Bahiranga sadhanani. The ideas for Bahiranga sadhanani are not presented in an organized manner in this chapter.
Bahiranga sadhanani are general disciplines to be followed before meditation. Here the concept of moderation is emphasized. Sri Krishna says do not get addicted to anything. It is important for a seeker to follow the golden mean. Moderation with respect to eating, activity, sleep etc., is now discussed.
One who overeats cannot succeed in meditation. Overeating is considered a papam. The Aghamarshana suktam is supposed to be chanted at time of bathing to wash away all impurities. Agha means papam and Marshana means washing.
People tend to snack in between meals. It is bad. Don’t over eat. What is over eating? Stomach should only be half full after eating. A quarter should be for water and or liquids such as buttermilk. The last quarter should be empty to provide room for air. How to know if you are half full? When you feel you can eat some more, stop it. After eating you should not feel any discomfort.
Don’t fast too much either. Such a person also cannot meditate. Our system cannot handle it. Once in a while fasting is acceptable. Even with fasting one is supposed to eat palaharam (tamil), which means Phalaharam or eating fruits.
Sleeping too much is also bad for meditation. One who does not sleep is also not good for meditation. These requirements will vary with age and constitution.
Shloka # 17:
युक्ताहारविहारस्य युक्तचेष्टस्य कर्मसु।
युक्तस्वप्नावबोधस्य योगो भवति दुःखहा।।6.17।।
One who in proper measure eats and plays, applies himself to works, sleeps and keeps awake, achieves Yoga that destroys all pains.
Moderation in eating, resting, and entertainment is recommended for a meditator. It should be like having pickle with curd rice. We should know when to stop. Moderation should also be practiced in activity. A workaholic is also not a good meditator. He needs to spend time with family as well.
In an age where everybody is trying for corporate success Shastras are not always followed. Sri Krishna is reminding us of our life goals. So, meditation comes to one who practices moderation in life. So, moderation is very important.
To succeed in meditation:
- Get over your past regrets. In your mind, invoke all people you don’t like and forgive them.
- Don’t dwell on your or families’ future as it can bring anxieties. They are not conducive for meditation. Place the future in God’s hands.
- At least at the time of meditation, I should cut all the relationship. At least during meditation become a mental sanyasi.
- Practice moderation in eating, sleeping and work.
With Best Wishes