Gita Series 68: Bhagavad Gita Chapter VI. Verses 1 – 4

Krishna explained in detail about karma yoga and samkhya yoga in the previous chapters. In Bhagavad Gita chapter VI, He deals with yoga of meditation or dhyāna yoga. This chapter is named as ‘atma samyama (samya means to become one. Here it means to become one with Atman) yoga’. This chapter has 47 verses and mainly deals with yoga, one’s duty, subduing body, mind and senses, meditative practice, diet regulations, recreation, sleep, etc. Krishna gradually builds up momentum in this chapter that ultimately leads to purity of mind. Krishna also clarifies during the end of this chapter about the destiny of a person who falls from the height of yoga.

“The one, who performs his duties without attachment to the fruits of actions, is both a sannyasi and a yogi. The one who merely does away with fire ritual is not a sannyasi and the one who simply gives up activities does not become a yogi. Arjuna, know that what is called sannyasa is yoga. None becomes a yogi without doing away with the sankalpa. The one who wants to advance in the path of spirituality by following the path of yoga, unprovoked action is said to be the stepping stone. After attaining mastery over yoga he becomes blessed after the termination of sankalpas. When he is not afflicted by sensory objects or actions, he becomes the renouncer of all sankalpas and known as ‘yogarūda’.”

Sankalapa means resolution or determination. It is a sort of thought process of the mind. Mind makes certain decisions to achieve a goal. Such a determination is called sankalapa. Sankalapa can also be explained as celebration of the mind beyond time and space. Focusing the mind beyond all tatvas or principles is sankalpa. It is often misunderstood that sankalpa means only the time. Sankalpa is equal to bargaining with God, a barter deal with Him. Resolution is for those who have wagering mind. For a focused mind, sankalpa is not necessary. The focused mind does not resolve. It has already crossed the stages of resolutions and determinations. The mind now is singularly focused. The mind at this stage does not have too many thoughts. When the mind is not crowded with thoughts, it remains serene. Purity is the elementary essence of spirituality. When the mind continues to make sankalapas, it is an indication that the mind continues to be affected by crowded thoughts, making the mind impure.

There is a difference between a sanyasi and a yogi. Sanyasi means a person who has renounced all desires and wants. It is the stage of total renunciation to remain eternally connected with the Brahman. A true sanyasi has to bear everything. Even the basic requirements of water, food and shelter are not to be sought after. He will take what comes to him on its own. He will never ask for anything. In today’s scenario the real meaning of sanyasi is totally lost in obliviousness. The word sanyasa is made up two root words sam + nyasa. Sam means total and nyasa means renunciation. A sanyasi exercises total control over his mind discarding all earthly affairs in thought, word and deed. A sanyasi is the symbol of the highest purity and sanctity. Therefore, sanyasi does not mean a person who wears only coloured robes.

On the contrary a yogi means a person who explores his inner resources by following the principles of yoga discipline. Katha Upanishad (II.iii.11) says “tām sthirām indriya-dhāraṇām yogam iti manyante”. This means ‘the state in which all the organs are at complete rest is yoga.’ Major Upanishads describe yoga in a unified voice. A yogi is one who has controlled himself; he does not react as he does not read into actions either good or bad. He takes them as they are. He is not prejudiced as he thinks more clearly. Swami Vivekananda gives definition for a yogi, “When the yogi has attained perfection, his action, and the karma produced by those actions do not bind him, because he did not desire them. He just works on he works to do good, but does not care for the result.”

Krishna says that a person who performs actions without caring for the fruits of his actions is a not only a karma yogi, but also a sanyasi. A sanyasi need not perform any rituals including fire rituals. More than this regulation, the fact is that he is not interested in performing rituals, as he considers that the time taken to perform rituals takes his consciousness away from the Brahman, with whom he always stays attuned. A true karma yogi is one who has renounced all sankalpas and attained enough knowledge of both karma yoga and samkhya yoga. By pursuing the paths of karma yoga and samkhya yoga, he attains pure knowledge, which is the sole essential factor in knowing the Brahman. A true sanyasi is considered as the highest of all the realised souls, as his wants are nothing. As long as one is associated with sanklapa, his mind does not get purified. As long as the mind is not purified, it remains crowded with thoughts. Crowded thoughts do not provide a reasonable ground to focus on the Brahman. When internal focusing is not done, Brahman cannot be realized. Attachments, desires and ego are the negative factors in making the mind crowded. Krishna not only preaches, but also he gives ways to follow His teachings. In order to perfect His teachings, He introduces meditation. This chapter deals more on meditation.

The point reemphasised in these verses is doing away with attachments, desires and ego. These are the causes for sankalpa. Sankalpa says Krishna is the stumbling block in Self-realization. When the mind has already resolved to stay perpetually connected with the Brahman, where is the necessity for another sankalpa? When one is devoid of any attachments to any of his actions and when one performs actions without ego (not claiming doership for his actions), he does not respond to any actions of others. He treats everyone on equal footing. He does not care whether one does good to him or otherwise. He remains unperturbed for good and bad. Even if he is provoked, he remains calm and unresponsive. Krishna says, such an attitude forms the stepping stone towards a good meditation, bliss and ultimate realization. Over a period of time, he becomes totally refined and becomes both a karma yogi and jnana yogi. This progress in his mental attitude makes him a mentally strong person. His strong mental attitude makes him disinterested in sensory objects and actions. Since he has gained knowledge he knows the effect of maya. He continues to do actions, but he renounces the fruits of actions. He acts but does not react. At one stage, he realizes the true value of renunciation. Once he fully understands the value of renunciation, he attains bliss and ultimate Self-realization. He does not make sankalpas. He now knows that he is not different from the Brahman. He becomes a true sanyasi. He is known as a yogaruda.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita. Chapter V. 26-29

Bhagavad Gita. Chapter VI. 5 - 9

Bhagavad Gita. Chapter VI. 10 - 14