Gita Series 71: Chapter VI. Verses 15 – 19
“The yogi, by constantly fixing his controlled mind on me attains everlasting peace which is the combination of supreme bliss and nirvana that inhabits in me. Arjuna! This yoga is neither for the one who overeats and nor for the one who observes total fasting; neither for the one who oversleeps and nor for the one who is always awake. Yoga wipes out miseries of those who have regulated diet and recreation, regulated karmas and regulated sleep and alertness. When his mind is thoroughly subdued and fixed on the Atman alone, devoid of yearning for enjoyments is said to have achieved yoga.”
Krishna now proceeds to elucidate the nature of a true yogi. The first step is to control the mind and the next step is to fix this controlled mind on Him. Mind can be controlled only if it becomes devoid of sensory afflictions. In order to plug the sensory influences on the mind, one has to focus his senses inwardly. Mind gets affected only if the sensory organs are turned outwardly. Even if one turns his sensory organs outwardly, he has to realize the presence of Brahman in all the objects. This becomes almost impossible. Unless the mind is totally purified, individualisation of objects is bound to continue. Mind is always susceptible to sensory influences which over a period of time transforms into addiction. Mind is always fragile and prone to sensory perceptions. Once perceptions become ingrained into the mind, it is very difficult to eradicate them. Since, the mind is the controlling factor for all our actions Krishna attaches great importance to the mind while practicing yoga. Yoga is nothing but the union of atman and Atman. Realisation takes place only in this union. Controlling the mind is more important than controlling the prana. An uncontrolled mind is of no use even if one is able to practice the highest level of pranayama. A focused mind is capable of penetrating deep into our thoughts where spiritual aspirations are stored, which is otherwise missed out when the mind is made to function under sensory influences. When the mind is disturbed, it has to be fed with spiritual thoughts or positive energies. When someone wants to turn spiritual, the first step he has to do is to develop positive thoughts. When the mind becomes blank, bliss is attained. Patanjali says (I.17) “The concentration called right knowledge is that, which is followed by reasoning, discrimination, bliss and unqualified egoism.” This stage is known as ‘samprajñātah’, which means entering the stage of pure consciousness where Supreme is revealed in the form of Self illumination. Tattvabodha (an ancient treatise on advaita philosophy) says “The Self, which of such nature of Being-Consciousness-Bliss, should be known” (chapter 31). Bliss is nothing but the spiritual delight that is incomparable to the material happiness. Nirvana is also known as enlightenment. In the stage of nirvana, he is not different from the Brahman. His individual identity is extinguished. These are the stages of mental modifications that can be experienced only if the mind is totally controlled or subdued. Krishna calls this as yoga, the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness or the union of individuality with infinity.
The true yoga can be practiced only by those who lead a regulated and disciplined life. Krishna does not say that one should lead the life of a saint. What he says is that one should not overindulge in sensory gratifications. Both excessive sleep and sleeplessness are not good to the biological system as they cause sluggishness. A daily sleep of about six hours is recommended to energise and revitalise the biological system. During deep sleep stage, the mind and nervous system is completely rested thereby making the brain also rest during that period. An ideal physiological system is necessary for spiritual advancement, as spiritual progress generates considerable amount of energy and the body should be capable of enduring the energy generated. The same theory also applies to eating habits. High level of solid food is not advisable for a healthy mind. It is said that one should take food to fill only half of the stomach. The balance should be filled with water and air on equal proportion. This combination is said to be the ideal one for an efficient biological system. In the advanced stage of spirituality the proportion of 50:25:25 gets modified into 25:25:50. At that he lives more on prana than on food and water. He consumes food and water merely to retain his body. Krishna says that one should not fast as this leads to a condition where the digestive fire (jadaragni) is not fed with proper oblations to keep it alive. The right proportion of rest and diet keeps a man healthy. In the case of a yogi at the time of his death, the body is consumed to Prakriti and the soul merges with the Brahman. Excessiveness or deficits of anything, be it food or sleep, make the mind lethargic. When the mind is lethargic, it cannot explore within. It cannot penetrate thought processes to reach the reservoir of spirituality. The sluggish mind is of no use in spiritual advancement as it loses its capacity to concentrate on the Self. A sluggish mind is incapable of purification. When mind is not purified, realisation cannot take place. Krishna’s emphasis on mind is not without reasoning. Yoga is achieved only in a subdued mind, which constitutes the platform for Self-realisation.