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The original Sanskrit verses and
(word for word translated) of the
Mahābhārata, Bhīshma Parva ch. 23-40.

with comments taken from the writings of





'Na Tapaamsi Na Teerthaanaam
Na Saastra Na Japaanahi
Samsaara Saagaroddhaare
Sajjanam Sevanam Vina'

Not by penance or pilgrimage,
nor by study of scriptures or repetition of God's name;
But the ocean of birth and death can be crossed only by
serving the pious and the needy.

1 2a 2b 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18a 18b


Chapter 6
The Yoga of Meditation
'About the nature of yoga and reincarnation'
'ātmā Samyamana Yoga'




     " Listen to this chapter sung!  "
chapter 6a (verses 1 & 2, 5 to 8),
chapter 6b (verses 28 to 36)]

" Listen to this spoken chapter in Audio "


     The sixth chapter of the Gītā is titled 'ātmā Samyama Yoga' or the "yoga of controlling the ātmā". This is a misnomer, inasmuch as it is neither necessary nor possible to control the immaculate, eternal embodiment of the truth - the ātmā. The word ātmā in this chapter of the Gītā has been used to denote the mind. In the ātmā Samyama Yoga, the art of mind control is dealt with in elaborate detail. Dhyana (meditation) is mentioned here as the principal means to achieve control over the mind.

In the ātmā samyama, Krishna emphasizes the need for maintaining absolute cleanliness at the place where meditation is practiced. It is not your house or the forest that is to be kept clean, but the immediate surroundings of the place where you perform meditation should be kept clean. The jīva dwells in the body, while the Lord resides in the heart. Therefore, since meditation is not so much performed in external environs as it is within the heart - it being an internal process - it is more vital to rid the heart of all impurities and render it a fit abode for God. In our daily lives, when we have to sit somewhere, we choose a clean place and cover the ground with a handkerchief or a newspaper. Such being the care we take in cleaning a place to sit for ourselves, the need for keeping the heart clean, to seat the Lord therein, and to achieve the purpose of meditation is all the more important. The necessity for man to cleanse the heart arises because of the taints of tamas (mode of ignorance, darkness and slowness) and rajas (mode of passion) that have been associated with him over several births. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 80



Verse 1.

śrī bhagavān uvāca
anāśrītah karma-phalam
kāryam karma karoti yah
sa sannyāsī ca yogī ca
na niragnir na cākriyah

     "Know the Brahman; take up all tasks but renounce the consequences; giving up the fruit of activity is far superior to the giving up of activity itself. Karma-yoga is far superior to karma-sannyāsah."

"Well. Superior to both these is dhyana-yoga. I shall tell you why. Dhyana needs the support of karma-yoga, so karma-yoga was first taught to you. Those who renounce the fruits while actively engaged in karma are very dear to Me; they are the true sannyāsīs, the real renouncers. I have no affection for those who give up the ritual fire and desist from all activity except eating, sleeping and craving for sensory pleasures and behave like Kumbhakarnas [A brother of Rāvana, who faught against Rāma and attained liberation (RRV2-2 - RRV2-6b - RRV2-8b)] kinsmen, idling and wasting their time. I am unapproachably far from idlers." - Gītā Vahini, pp. 88-9

Verse 2.

yam sannyāsam iti prāhur
yogam tam viddhi pāndava
na hy asannyāsta-sankalpo
yogī bhavati kaścana

     He who has not renounced the pursuit of wishes can never become a yogī, however busy he may be in sādhana. Only he who is careful not to get entangled in the senses and who is unattached to the consequences of his deeds can become a sarva-sanga-parithyāgi (renouncer of all attachments). - Gītā Vahini, p. 89

Verse 3.

ārurukshor muner yogam
karma kāranam ucyate
yogārūdhasya tasyaiva
śamah kāranam ucyate

Verse 4.

yadā hi nendriyārtheshu
na karmasv anushajjate
yogārūdhas tadocyate

     Give up the idea that you are the doer and the beneficiary. You can do this by dedicating both deed and fruit to the Lord. Then no sin can affect you, for you are not the doer, and the deed must perforce be holy. Like oil on the tongue, collyrium on the eye, and a lotus leaf on water, the deed is with you but not of you.

Whatever you do or hear or see, you remain unaffected, devoid of deeds, innocent of listening or seeing. The joy derived from the external world opens the gateways of grief; it is fleeting; but you are eternal, the very source of bliss, above and beyond all this, the ātmā swarūpa itself. You are unrelated to these activities that are called deeds and these consequences that you now mistake as real. You are not the doer; you are just the witness, the see-er! - Gītā Vahini, p. 88

Verse 5.

uddhared ātmanātmānam
nātmānam avasādayet
ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur
ātmaiva ripur ātmanah

Verse 6.

bandhur ātmātmanas tasya
yenātmaivātmanā jitah
anātmanas tu śatrutve
vartetātmaiva śatruvat

     If the mind is not under control and amenable to one's orders, it can become one's greatest foe. So live in solitude so that you can master the senses. A horse without reins, a bull unused to the yoke, and a sadhaka whose senses are not mastered are like a river without water. Such sādhana is a waste. - Gītā Vahini, p. 89

Verse 7.

jitātmanah praśāntasya
paramātmā samāhitah
tathā mānāpamānayoh

     The tree of prakriti (nature) and the branches of desires wither away only when the mind, the root, is destroyed. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 74

Verse 8.

kūthastho vijitendriyah
yukta ity ucyate yogī

Verse 9.

sādhushv api ca pāpeshu
sama-buddhir visiśhyate

Verse 10.

yogī yu˝jīta satatam
ātmānam rahasi sthitah
ekākī yata-cittātmā
nirāśīr aparigrahah

     It is a pity that even extremely learned pundits at the present time are unaware of the thrill of putting into practice a single word of the Gītā. What then are we to say of the unlearned, the ignorant? In short, even some very reputed exponents of the Gītā are playing false to its teaching, acting contrary to the message. To the Song of the Lord, each one adds a fancy note of his own to demonstrate his special twist in scholarship, or his favorite predilection. Let us consider one example of this type: The 10th verse of the 6th chapter of the Gītā declares that parigraha is a great sin [the opposite word aparigrahah means 'free from desires and feelings of possessivenesś].

Now those who accept the Gītā as authority should act accordingly, avoiding parigraha, is it not so? Parigraha means 'accepting' even for the upkeep of the body and the maintenance of dharma! These pracharaks, however, do accept, 99 percent of them! The condemnation of parigraha applies to all forms; there are no modifying circumstances or exceptions. Yet, collections and contributions are asked for Gītā-yaj˝as, as 'offering' during harathi, as expenses for the Gītā pracharaka sanghas, as nazar (gift in Urdu-language) or kanuka for the guru; lectures are 'sold' for tickets, as entertainment (like the drama and cinema) is sold. People who do this have no faith in the words of Krishna; for had they the faith, they would not have behaved in such contrary ways. If they were convinced that it is wrong, they would not be tempted to act so. They explain the sloka and feel that their duty is done; they do not feel the need to follow the advice. That is the spirit of the times, for this is the age of hypocrisy. People who watch this type of Gītā prachar lose faith first in the pracharak and, later, in the Gītā itself. The publicity dissolves into mere pomp and vanity. - Gītā Vahini, pp. 161-2
*parigraha: according to M.W.-sanskrit dictionary: getting, attaining, possession, property, being possessed of; taking, accepting, receiving or anything received.

Verse 11-12.

śucau deśe pratishthhāpya
sthiram āsanam ātmanah
nāty-ucchritam nātinīcam

tatraikāgram manah kritvā
upaviśyāsane yu˝jyād
yogam ātma-viśuddhaye


      One should adopt a comfortable posture for dhyana. The common practice is to sit, with the hands in chin-mudra and the legs crossed, on a wooden plank covered with a soft skin or cloth. These are all, however, part of dharana (concentration, fixed attention). Dhyana begins with the process of gradual identification with the Lord and leads to samādhi. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 88

Verse 13-14.

samam kāya-śiro-grivam
dhārayann acalam sthirah
samprekshya nāsikāgram svam
diśaś cānavalokayan

praśāntātmā vigata-bhīr
brahmacāri-vrate sthitah
manah samyamya mac-citto
yukta āsīta mat-parah

     The method of dhyanam: The place should be a little elevated from the ground; that is an inch or two high. Place a mat of darbha grass on it, spread a deer-skin on the mat, and have a thin white cloth laid on the skin. Upon this seat one should sit, adopting the padmasana pose (lotus-like posture). The right foot must be above the left and the left foot above the right. The fingers of the hand must be in close touch with one another and the hands should be placed in front. The eyes must be either half-opened or fully closed. Then by means of mental massage, the neck, the shoulders, the hands, the chest, the teeth, the stomach, the fingers, the back, the thighs, the knees, the calves and the feet should be relaxed. After this, one has to meditate on one's own favorite name and form with OM added. When this is being done, there should be no mental wanderings; one must be stable and quiet. No thought of past events, no trace of anger or hatred and no memory of sorrow should be allowed to interfere. Even if they intrude, they should not be considered at all; to counteract them, one must entertain thoughts that feed one's enthusiasm for dhyanam. Of course, this may appear difficult at first. The best time for dhyanam is the quiet hours before dawn, between 3 and 5 a.m. - Dhyana Vahini, p. 7

Verse 15.

yu˝jann evam sadātmānam
yogī niyata-mānasah
śāntim nirvāna-paramām
mat-samsthām adhigacchati

     The mind derives its Sanskrit name manas because it is constantly engaged in the process of manana or thinking. Impulses are generated in the mind. Very often, however, the mind is led astray by conflicting impulses that are generated in it. The fickle nature of the mind acts as an impediment to man's spiritual progress and, therefore, it is imperative that every spiritual aspirant gains control over his mind if he were to drench himself in the delight of the soul. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 79

     "So arise, Arjuna! Practice dhyana-yoga. Resolve to master the senses through this yoga and follow it steadily, systematically, regularly, at a stated time and in a stated place, without changing them as the whim takes you. A regular system is essential for this Yoga. Observe it strictly. Do not alter as fancy dictates; that will bring about dire consequences." - Gītā Vahini, pp. 91-2

Verse 16.

nātyaśnatas tu yogo 'sti
na caikāntam anaśnatah
na cāti svapna-śīlasya
jāgrato naiva cārjuna

     "For those who eat too much and get exhausted with the task of assimilating it, for those who eat less and suffer from exhaustion, for those who sleep too much or too little, for those who indulge in dhyana according to 'convenience' (that is to say, those who do it for long hours one day, because they have no other work, and do just token dhyana the next day, because they have lots of work), and for those who give free rein to the six inner enemies (kāma, krodha, and the rest), for those who do not confer joy on parents, and specially the mother - more than these, for those who entertain doubt and have little faith in the Lord, or in the guru, whom they have chosen and installed in their hearts - dhyana will yield no fruit at all." - Gītā Vahini, p. 90

Verse 17.

yukta-ceshthasya karmasu
yogo bhavati duhkha-hā

     The Gītā speaks of yuktāhāra-vihārasya, habits of feeding and recreation that are controlled and regulated. The gross part of food is discarded as feces, the subtle part is transformed into muscle, blood, etc., and the more subtle of the subtle aspects are transmuted into the mind and its activities. That is why the sages have prescribed certain limits and levels of food, in order to promote the spiritual urges and prevent contrary tendencies. - Sathya Sai Speaks IX, pp. 127-8

     There should be discipline and regulation in life in accordance with self-imposed constraints. These self-imposed constraints constitute the tapas of an individual. An unrestrained life is an immoral life. The wind and the sea and also the other phenomena obey the universal laws of nature. The earth rotates round its own axis and revolves around the sun periodically. These uniformities in the universe are the laws ordained by God. They are obeyed by the macrocosm as well as the microcosm. The laws of nature ordained by God are necessary for creating and sustaining the universe, and for maintaining its dynamic equilibrium.

Such self-imposed discipline is conducive to real santhi - peace of mind, poise, equanimity, and stable equilibrium of the mind. Peace of mind is the most desirable thing in this world. It gives us physical and psychical euphoria. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 91

Verse 18.

yadā viniyatam cittam
ātmany evāvatishthhate
nisprihah sarva-kāmebhyo
yukta ity ucyate tadā

Verse 19.

yathā dīpo nivātastho
nengate sopamā smritā
yogīno yata-cittasya
yu˝jato yogam ātmanah

     "The mind of the yoga adept should be like the steady upright unshaken flame of a lamp, kept in a windless windowsill. Whenever the slightest sign of unsteadiness occurs, you should endeavor to curb the mind and not allow it to wander. Develop the consciousness that you are in all and the feeling of oneness that all is in you. Then, you will take up and succeed in all the yogas. Then you are free from all distinctions like 'I' and 'otherś, or as 'ātmā and paramātmā'. The joy and grief of others will become equally yours. You can then never harm others; then all can be loved and adored in the awareness that they are sarveswara ["the Lord of all"]."Lord Krishna declared that those who have attained this vision are really the supremest yogīs. - Gītā Vahini, p. 90

Verse 20-23.

yatroparamate cittam
niruddham yoga-sevayā
yatra caivātmanātmānam
paśyann ātmani tushyati

sukham ātyantikam yat tad
buddhi-grāhyam atīndriyam
vetti yatra na caivāyam
sthitaś calati tattvatah

yam labdhvā cāparam lābham
manyate nādhikam tatah
yasmin sthito na duhkhena
gurunāpi vicālyate

tam vidyād duhkha-samyoga-
viyogam yoga-samj˝itam

     Man may be compared to a machine with the intelligence, the mind, the senses, and the body as its different components. Just as the various parts of the body work in coordination with one another to keep the physical mechanism of the body in order, the various faculties in man should work in harmony with one another to ensure that the atmic radiance is reflecting in their functioning and that man's life is full of divine light and joy. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 74

Verse 24.

sa niścayena yoktavyo
yogo 'nirvinna-cetasā
sankalpa-prabhavān kāmāms
tyaktvā sarvān aśeshatah
viniyamya samantatah

Verse 25.

śanaih śanair uparamed
buddhyā dhriti-grihītayā
ātma-samstham manah kritvā
na ki˝cid api cintayet

     Buddhi is directly influenced by the ātmā. Therefore, if the mind follows the buddhi it will be able to lead the senses along the right path. So Krishna advised Arjuna not to follow the mind, which, left to itself, is prone to succumbing to the pulls of sensory pleasures, but instead, to subjugate it to the intelligence. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 75

Verse 26.

yato yato niścalati
manaś ca˝calam asthiram
tatas tato niyamyaitad
ātmany eva vaśam nayet

Verse 27.

praśānta-manasam hy enam
yogīnam sukham uttamam
upaiti śānta-rajasam
brahma-bhūtam akalmasham

     One does not have to search for Brahman in some distant place. One should find Brahman in one's daily life in all things from the smallest thing that one comes across to the biggest thing that one sees. If, with some reason and with some depth, we make an enquiry, there is a chance of finding Brahman in our own heart and within ourselves. Provided we get into a state of meditation, we can enjoy the bliss of recognizing Brahman everywhere. If the mind is made steady and unwavering, we can enjoy the permanent bliss and see the aspect of Brahman. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1974, p. 55

Verse 28.

yu˝jann evam sadātmānam
yogī vigata-kalmashah
sukhena brahma-samsparśam
atyantam sukham aśnute

Verse 29.

sarva-bhūta-stham ātmānam
sarva-bhūtāni cātmani
īkshate yoga-yukta-ātmā
sarvatra sama-darśanah

Verse 30.

yo mām paśyati sarvatra
sarvam ca mayi paśyati
tasyāham na pranaśyāmi
sa ca me na pranaśyati

Verse 31.

sarva-bhūta-sthitam yo mām
bhajaty ekatvam āsthitah
sarvathā vartamāno 'pi
sa yogī mayi vartate

     "Arjuna! The one who sees Me in all and all in Me is dear to Me, whatever be his way of life", declared Krishna. "That person who worships Me through all creatures merges in Me"! The Gītācārya continued and said, "There is a limit for dhyana, but not for the benefits conferred by it, the siddhi. Dhyana endows man with j˝āna or supreme wisdom."

J˝āna is not mere intellectual gymnastics. It is not a flight of imagination. Neither is it a mental concoction. It is a continual experience of the reality of the ātmā. "Only one in a million makes an attempt to realize the ātmā. Even among them only one in a thousand understands the process of realizing the ātmā. Among the thousands of such people only one reaches Me. Those who have achieved selfrealization and merged in Me are very few indeed", said Krishna to Arjuna. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 104

Verse 32.

ātmaupamyena sarvatra
samam paśyati yo 'rjuna
sukham vā yadi vā duhkham
sa yogī paramo matah

Verse 33.

arjuna uvāca
yo 'yam yogas tvayā proktah
sāmyena madhusūdana
etasyāham na paśyāmi
ca˝calatvāt sthitim sthirām

     Meanwhile, Arjuna is beset by doubt and asks for some elucidation and explanation so that he may get convinced. "Krishna! All you have been telling me is very pleasant to the ear, and I can well imagine that it must be a source of ānanda to those who attain success. But it is so difficult, beyond the reach of all. The yoga wherein everything has to be realized as equal (samathwam) is fraught with obstacles even for the fully equiped sadhaka; what then am I to say of people like me who are common aspirants? Is it possible for us?" - Gītā Vahini, pp. 90-1

Verse 34.

ca˝calam hi manah krishna
pramāthi balavad dridham
tasyāham nigraham manye
vāyor iva sudushkaram

     Waywardness is the natural characteristic of the mind. That is the way Arjuna described it to Krishna thus: That is to say, "O, Krishna, the mind is very wayward; it moves fast; it is very powerful; it is very difficult to bring under control." - Dhyana Vahini, p. 64

     Arjuna complained to Krishna against the wildness of the mind: he said, it was chanchala (always changing its objective), pramathi (full of dangerous possibilities since it makes man a slave to the senses) and dridham (difficult to destroy). - Sathya Sai Speaks IV, p. 215

     The Mind is ever unsteady; it is "steady in its unsteadiness" as Arjuna complained to Krishna. It is fraught with disaster; it is deeprooted and difficult to suppress, says Arjuna. - Sathya Sai Speaks VIII, p. 105

     "Krishna! Is the mind so easily controllable? Alas! Even an elephant cannot drag as the mind does; it is the nursery of waywardness; its mulishness and obstinancy are very powerful; it is a terrible shrew. It can never be caught; it will never halt in one place. It is like capturing the wind or bundling up water - the attempt to catch the mind and tame it. How can anyone enter upon yoga with such a mind? One seems as hard as the other: the twin tasks of controlling the mind and practicing the yoga. Krishna, you are advising an impossible task, beyond the capacity of anyone." - Gītā Vahini, p. 91

Verse 35.

śrī bhagavān uvāca
asamśayam mahā-bāho
mano durnigraham calam
abhyāsena tu kaunteya
vairāgyena ca grihyate

     The Lord broke into a smile on hearing these words. "Arjuna! You have described the mind and known its nature very well. But it is not an impossible task; the mind can be mastered, however difficult the task might be.

"By systematic practice (abhyāsa: steadiness, fortitude, endurance, resilience, discipline) and by relentless inquiry (vichara) and detachment (vairāgya), the mind can be mastered. There is no task that cannot be accomplished by steady practice. Place faith in the Lord and practice with the certainty that you have the power and the grace, and all tasks become easy." - Gītā Vahini, p. 91

     Then Krishna replied, "Arjuna, no doubt what you have said is correct. But by uninterrupted attention and discipline and by practice of renunciation, it is possible to control it. Hence, practice dhyanam (meditation), as a first step."

Impulses and desires have to be suppressed in order to get mastery over the mind. Desires excite the mind and make it rush towards the senses, as a dog runs after the master. The jīva, poor thing, falls into meshes of māyā produced by the illusion-creating senses and the pleasure-pursuing mind! To escape all this agony, one should have recourse to dhyanam; freed from the clutches of desires and slavery to the senses. Do japam (mantra-meditation; praying the vedic way) and dhyanam. Then you can cultivate and develop along proper lines your will; memory and imagination, too. Without dhyanam, it is not possible to control and master the mind. All other methods are as useless, as is the attempt to bind a wild elephant in rut by means of a thin and tiny thread! Dhyanam is essential to immerse the mind in the ātmā. - Dhyana Vahini, pp. 64-5

     But, the mind can be controlled and even eliminated by means of intense dhyana on the immanent God. When that stage is reached, anger, anxiety and envy will cease bothering you; the bonds of 'I' and 'mine' will break; and you will have santhi (undisturbed peace). Your efforts must be in proportion to the grandeur of the gain you envisage, isn't it? You crave for bliss, but cling to smaller pleasures and refuse to stake as much as is needed to win it. - Sathya Sai Speaks VI, p. 215

Verse 36.

asamyatātmanā yogo
dushprāpa iti me matih
vaśyātmanā tu yatatā
śakyo 'vāptum upāyatah

     "Therefore, whoever enters upon this sādhana with determination will gain the supreme goal, available only for souls transmuted through several births. Remember, the person who has achieved yoga is superior to the person who is the master of ritual karma; so strive, o Arjuna, to become a yogī, to attain that high and holy status. But this is not all you have to do. There is a status higher than even this. Whoever fixes his entire consciousness on Me, whoever earnestly meditates on Me, to the exclusion of everything else, he is superior to all, he is a mahā-yogī. - Gītā Vahini, pp. 91-2

Verse 37.

arjuna uvāca
ayatih śraddhayopeto
yogāc calita-mānasah
aprāpya yoga-samsiddhim
kām gatim krishna gacchati

Verse 38.

kaccin nobhaya-vibhrashthaś
chinnābhram iva naśyati
apratishthho mahā-bāho
vimūdho brahmanah pathi

Verse 39.

etan me samśayam krishna
chettum arhasy aśeshatah
tvad-anyah samśayasyāsya
chettā na hy upapadyate

Verse 40.

śrī bhagavān uvāca
pārtha naiveha nāmutra
vināśas tasya vidyate
na hi kalyāna-krit kaścid
durgatim tāta gacchati

Verse 41-42.

prāpya punya-kritām lokān
ushitvā śāśvatīh samāh
śucīnām śrīmatām gehe
yoga-bhrashtho 'bhijāyate

athavā yogīnām eva
kule bhavati dhīmatām
etaddhi durlabhataram
loke janma yad īdriśam

Verse 43.

tatra tam buddhi-samyogam
labhate paurva-dehikam
yatate ca tato bhūyah
samsiddhau kuru-nandana

Verse 44.

pūrvābhyāsena tenaiva
hriyate hy avaśo 'pi sah
jij˝āsur api yogasya

     Dhyana is the process of listening to the Song Celestial, the flute of Krishna, with the mental ears alert on the melody. Yoga is the merging of the mind in the bliss of self-forgetfulness, when the music fills the consciousness. Words like this do not completely denote that inexpressible ecstasy that one gets while "back home", after this long exile. - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, p. 291

Verse 45.

prayatnād yatamānas tu
yogī samśuddha-kilbishah
tato yāti parām gatim

Verse 46.

tapasvibhyo 'dhiko yogī
j˝ānibhyo 'pi mato 'dhikah
karmibhyaś cādhiko yogī
tasmād yogī bhavārjuna

Verse 47.

yogīnām api sarveshām
śraddhāvān bhajate yo mām
sa me yuktatamo matah

     The science of rnind-control called yoga has been developed here (India), since ancient times, and thousands in every age have practiced it with success, until they achieved its fruit, self-realization. One result of this self-realization has been the recognition of every one else as but the reflection of oneself - the true basis of unity of mankind. - Sathya Sai Speaks V, p. 110



Yama: austerities, first part of ashthānga-yoga, also called the great vow; the don'ts, what one abstains from. Other parts are: ahimsa: nonviolence, satya: truthfulness, asteya: non-stealing, brahmacārya, celibacy and aparigraha: non-appropriation. Nonviolent one becomes effective and without desire is one of the commitment that gives the right understanding for the meaning of life. According to Krishna: 'Nonviolence, truthfulness, not coveting or stealing the property of others, detachment, humility, non-possessiveness, belief in God, celibacy as also silence, steadiness, forgiveness and fearlessnesś (see SB 11.19: 33.35).








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