In the Sixth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna is explaining how to practice yoga by meditation. Although the Lord is recommending the eightfold yoga system here, we will also see that in the end it is rejected in favor of karma-yoga because it is impractical to perform in this age. In the age of Kali, the present yuga, it is said that there is no other practical way than the practice of Krsna consciousness. So in the very first verse, the Lord points out that a true mystic is one who is unattached to the fruits of action, not one who performs this feat, or doesn’t perform that ritual, or is in this stage of life or that order of society. No, it is the qualification that one needs, and that qualification is to have no other desire than to carry out the orders of the Lord. That is the way that Arjuna finally understood Krsna, and that is what Lord Caitanya, the highest perfectional paradigm of love of God, or devotional service, proclaims: “O Almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor to enjoy beautiful women. Nor do I want any number of followers. What I want only is the causeless mercy of Your devotional service in my life, birth after birth.”
In the second verse Krsna emphasizes that what links all different yoga systems and makes them one is the fact that all end in the Supreme and that all go by the way of controlling the senses. Unless one attains to Krsna, there is no perfection, and unless one controls the senses, it is not possible to attain Krsna. Now in dealing specifically with the eightfold astanga-yoga system, Krsna is pointing out that it is a gradual process for controlling the senses. As pointed out in the fifth, sixth, and seventh verses, the central point of control is the mind. Krsna says: “For he who has conquered his mind, it is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be the greatest enemy.” The central concept here is control. The mind is something like a blank check; the check itself is of no value—it is only paper—but the account it is written on is worth millions. If it is written on a good account, it is of inestimable value. If not, it is worthless. Similarly, when the mind is engaged in matters of sense gratification, it becomes the greatest cause of bondage, but if the mind is engaged for Krsna, then it is the cause for liberation.
Actually the mind is part of the sensory system, and it is sometimes called the sixth sense. As such, it is the controlling sense. If the controlling force is uncontrolled, where can control come from? Therefore, the whole purpose of the astanga-yoga system is to control the mind by sitting in certain positions, by breath control, etc. Everything is meant to bring the mind under control, for without that there is no possibility of controlling the senses. But for a person in Krsna consciousness, because he is always thinking of Krsna, and always chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare and because his mind is thinking, “How can I serve Krsna?” and because he is actually engaged in activities in which the mind can be fully engaged, there is no question of the mind’s being drawn away to sensory gratification. Therefore the mind and the senses are automatically controlled by Krsna consciousness.
As soon as the mind is controlled, one can perceive Paramatma within, which is the actual goal of meditation, to perceive Krsna within, to come under the dictation of Krsna within. If I am not controlled by Krsna from within, I will certainly be controlled by illusory energy from without. No one can escape the control of Krsna, but we may choose the form of control—either His internal superior energy or His external inferior energy. But everyone must serve Krsna. That is a fact.
Absorption In The Supreme
As soon as the mind is fixed on Krsna, one becomes perfectly situated under His personal control and follows His dictations. The effect of controlling the mind by meditation is that it brings one under the control of Paramatma, or Supersoul, but because this position is at once reached by one in Krsna consciousness, a devotee of the Lord is unaffected by the dualities of the material world, namely distress and happiness, heat and cold, etc. This state is practical samadhi or absorption in the Supreme.
Still, if one is determined to follow the more difficult astanga-yoga system, starting with the ninth verse and continuing through the eighteenth, the means by which this yoga is practiced are given. First one must consider the well-wisher, friend and enemy, the envious, pious and the sinner all on the same level, with indifference and impartiality. Then he must concentrate his mind on the Supreme Self. He must go to a secluded place and be free from all desires and feelings of possessiveness. These are some of the preliminary prescriptions for controlling the mind. Unless the mind is controlled, there is no possibility of meditation. Unless one can do away with possessiveness, for instance, there will be desire, and the mind cannot attain equilibrium, without which it is impossible to see the Supersoul within. Krsna may be realized in different ways—as impersonal Brahman, as localized Paramatrna, or as Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A person who is fully in Krsna consciousness is always engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and as such he knows the Lord as the Supreme Person who possesses all opulences, including the Paramatma and impersonal features, or His localized expansion and bodily effulgence respectively. So his knowledge is called perfect because it is complete. But the meditator who knows Krsna as Paramatma, and the impersonalist who knows Krsna as the Supreme Brahman or brahmajyoti are also indirectly Krsna conscious. But to be directly Krsna conscious is more perfect, just as one who possesses a million dollars is wealthier than the man who possesses one dollar. A dollar is a dollar, that is so; so qualitatively the man with one dollar is as good as the man with a million dollars, but quantitatively they are not the same. Only a fool would say they are. Similarly, we may have knowledge of the infinite particles of Krsna’s energy, but until we have perfect knowledge of the Supreme Source of all, Krsna, our knowledge is not perfect. So the personalist has full knowledge of Krsna and all His multi-energies, but the impersonalist or the meditating yogi know Krsna in part only. Nevertheless, in the Sixth Chapter here one is encouraged to pursue this path in order to come to the ultimate goal, Krsna. But it is specifically stated that the mind must be focused on the Supreme, Krsna. Unless one thinks of Krsna, meditation is not possible.
Perfect concentration of the mind on the Supreme is called samadhi or trance, but this condition is never possible when there is possessiveness. Srila Rupa Gosvami puts it this way: “When one is not attached to anytlling, but at the same time accepts everytning in relation to Krsna, one is rightly situated above possessiveness. On the other hand, one who rejects everything without knowledge of its relationship to Krsna is not as complete in his renunciation.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu) A person who simply rejects certain things may be making some progress in the sense that he is preventing further entanglement in material existence, but his renunciation is incomplete. But a Krsna conscious person from the very beginning engages everything in the service of Krsna. Therefore he has completed his course in perfect knowledge. A Krsna conscious person well knows that everything belongs to Krsna, and thus he is always free from feelings of personal possessiveness. As such, he has no hankering for anything on his own personal account; therefore a person in Krsna consciousness is the perfect yogi.
Qualifications For Yoga
The eleventh and twelfth verses lay further qualifications on the aspiring yogi. There it is stated that he must not only go to a secluded place, but also to a sacred place; and after following so many restrictions, completely abstaining from sex, he must sit very firmly, just in order to purify the heart. Without purification of the heart, spiritual advancement is not possible. But in this age of Kali, where can one find a secluded, sacred place? Our cities may be full of so many so-called yoga societies, and they may be very successful in reducing people who are overweight or in providing some kind of recreation, or even in making one healthy, but as far as self-realization is concerned, they are useless. It is specifically said here that one must sit in a secluded sacred place, and there he must completely control the mind. Therefore in the Brhan-Naradiya Purana it is said that in the Kali-yuga (the present age) when people in general are short-lived, slow in spiritual realization and always disturbed by various anxieties, the best means of spiritual realization is the chanting of the holynames of the Lord. And Lord Caitanya was even more emphatic when He said, repeatedly: harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam/ kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha. “In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy [Kali] the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way! There is no other way! There is no other way!”
The thirteenth and fourteenth verses prescribe further instructions for the yogi. He must sit in a certain way to restrain all movement, his eyes must be fixed on the tip of the nose. “Thus, with an unagitated, subdued mind, devoid of fear, completely free from sex life, one should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life.” Therefore it is perfectly clear that without seeing Krsna, one is not successful in meditation. Unless one makes Krsna the ultimate goal of life, one is not following the yoga system. Nor is it possible to follow this yoga system with an agitated or roving mind; nor is it possible while engaging in sex life. One has to practice controlling the mind and avoiding all kinds of sense gratification, of which sex is the chief. In the Yajnavalkya rules of celibacy, it is said: “The vow of brahmacari is meant to help one completely abstain from sex indulgence in work, words, and mind—at all times, under all circumstances, and in all places.” No one can perform correct yoga practice while participating in sex life, not even in married life. Therefore in the varnasrama institution when a boy is five years old he goes to live with the spiritual master, and there he is taught the material and the spiritual sciences, and he is taught to be a brahmacari, to be strictly controlled. Without such practice one cannot make advancement in any yoga, whether it be dhyana-yoga, jnana-yoga, karma-yoga, or bhakti-yoga. However, as prescribed by the authorities, in the school of bhakti-yoga one can become a householder, or live in married life according to regulation, and that will also allow one to advance. But in jnana-yoga or dhyana-yoga not even that is possible—householder life is never allowed. Complete abstinence without compromise is required. This is because a person who is actually practicing bhakti, while engaged in regulated sex life, dedicates his sex life to Krsna. His household life means that he is raising a family for Krsna, and thus it is superior to the mundane duality of celibate and married. A devotee of the Lord automatically refrains from sense gratificatory life because of superior taste. This means that he is actually drinking at Krsna’s reservoir of pleasure.
In the sixteenth verse there is the further prescription that one cannot eat too much or eat too little, or sleep too much or not enough. Without controlling the diet and sleep, meditation will not produce the desired result. Eating more than required means eating more than is needed to keep body and soul together, and sleeping more than six hours in twenty-four means sleeping too much. Nor is there need to eat animal flesh, because there is an ample supply of palatable vegetables, grains, fruit and milk. And such simple foods are considered to be in the mode of goodness, according to Krsna. But a person in Krsna consciousness is automatically controlled in all these things because he does not eat anything which is not first offered to Krsna. And what can be offered to Krsna is stated in the Gita itself, in the Ninth Chapter, where Krsna says that He accepts the gift of one who offers a leaf, a flower, a fruit or a little water, with love and affection. Actually, the real qualification is love and affection, but one who has love and affection naturally only offers the things that Krsna likes. Because the devotee’s food is first offered to Krsna, he is without sinful reactions, as explained in the Third Chapter.
A person always engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord considers sleep to be his greatest enemy, for it is a waste of time. In this regard his standard is Srila Rupa Gosvami, who could not sleep more than two hours a day, and often not even that, or he desires to follow the example of Haridas Thakur, who would not even accept food or sleep until he had completed his daily routine of chanting more than three hundred thousand holy names of the Lord. So where one has superior taste there is no question of sense gratification. When one is regulated in all his work, sleep, speech, and all other bodily activities, there is no material contamination or misery. The perfectly regulated life is exemplified by King Ambarisa, who first of all engaged his mind on the lotus feet of Lord Krsna; then, one after another, he engaged his words in describing the transcendental qualities of the Lord, his hands in mopping the temple of the Lord, his ears in hearing of the activities of the Lord, his eyes in seeing the transcendental forms of the Lord, his body in touching the body of the devotee, his sense of smell in smelling the scents of the lotus flowers offered to the Lord, his tongue in tasting the tulasi leaf offered at the lotus feet of the Lord, his legs in going to places of pilgrimage where the temple of the Lord is situated, his head in offering obeisances unto the Lord, and his desires in executing the mission of the Lord. All these transcendental activities are quite befitting a pure devotee, and where they are present, there is no question of sense gratification.
Such a truly Krsna conscious person, always absorbed in Transcendence, in constant undisturbed meditation on his worshipable Lord, is likened in the nineteenth verse to a lamp in a windless place. He does not waver. Indeed, one who is always engaged in the loving service of the Lord becomes steady, and his whole life is passed in samadhi. As explained in the 20-23 verses, in that stage he can see the Self by the pure mind, and thus relish and enjoy the Self. “In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness and enjoys himself through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain.” By practice of yoga one can become gradually detached from material existence, and in that detached state, one can be situated in trance or samadhi which means that one has realized the Supersoul or Krsna within through transcendental mind and intelligence without any of the misgivings of identifying the self with the Superself. This yoga system is more or less based on the principles of the Patanjali yoga system. Some try to identify the individual soul with the Supersoul. The monist calls this liberation, but he does not understand the real purpose of the Patanjali system of yoga. Patanjali accepts the concept of transcendental pleasure, but the monists do not accept this transcendental pleasure, out of fear of jeopardizing their theory of oneness. The duality of knowledge and knower are not accepted by the nondualists, but in this verse transcendental pleasure—realized through transcendental senses—is a clearly stated fact. This is corroborated by Patanjali Muni, the famous exponent of the yoga system. In his Yoga-sutras, Patanjali states that this oneness of the Supreme that the monists talk about is an internal potency of the Lord by which the living entity becomes aware of his constitutional position. Lord Caitanya further explains that real liberation means to clear the mirror of the mind of its impurities. The theory of nirvana, when seen as a preliminary condition, corresponds with this principle. Nirvana means to clear away the material dust, but after nirvana or material cessation, there is a full manifestation of spiritual activities or devotional service to the Lord known as Krsna consciousness. In the words of the Bhagavatam, this is the “real life of the living entity.” Maya, or illusion, is the condition of spiritual life contaminated by material affection. Liberation from this material infection does not mean destruction of the original eternal position of the living entity, but its full manifestation. So transcendental pleasure does not mean void, but real life. This is confirmed in the Vedanta-sutras and will be more vividly described in the Bhagavad-gita beginning with the Seventh Chapter.
The Result Of Steadiness
In verses 24-27, the concept of determination and steadiness is stressed. There is an old adage that “one finds God quickest whose yearning is strongest,” and similarly Krsna here is urging that kind of determination. Unless one is determined, there is no possibility of advancement. Similarly, the words “full conviction” are used, and again: “From whatever and wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the Self.” So one must “certainly withdraw it.” And the result of such steadiness or perseverance is stated in the 29th and 30th verses: “A true yogi observes Me in all beings and also sees every being in Me. Indeed, the self-realized man sees Me everywhere. For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” As stated, the end of the yoga system is Krsna. Unless and until one sees Krsna everywhere, until one understands that Krsna is the Supreme Person and that everywhere He is expanded by His energy, there is no perfection. But that is not easy to accomplish, and it is only possible by the grace of the Lord and the self-realized devotee.
In the 33rd verse, Arjuna complains to Krsna that this system seems to him impractical and impossible to perform. Arjuna was a great soul, a great devotee and intimate friend of Lord Krsna, and even 5,000 years ago, when the state of Kali-yuga was not advanced, Arjuna said that he did not think that this system was practical. Arjuna had so many great qualifications, including royal birth and sufficient leisure. He was a great warrior and had a long duration of life. He was also extremely intelligent. Still he thought that it was not possible for himself to follow this system of yoga. And, as it is confirmed in all sastras or scriptures, this system is not possible for any ordinary man in this present age. Those who are imitating this system in so-called schools and yoga societies, although complacent, are certainly worthless as far as spiritual advancement is concerned. They are completely missing the desired goal—Krsna. This can be proved by the test which applies equally to all philosophies and all religions—simply, how is one developing love of God. Actually that love is within all of us, but it is covered by material contamination. It is the job of any philosophy or religion to revive it.
Always Thinking Of Krsna
Love of God practically expressed is service. Any philosophy or religion which does not lead one to this end is simply bluffing, and any system that leads one to this end is first class. Yoga means to link up, and religion comes from two Latin words, re-legio, which means to bind back. Krsna in the 31st verse says that the end is achieved by one who “remains always in Me in all circumstances.” That is the goal of all yoga or true religion, and that means that the consciousness is completely submerged in Krsna. That is love. How do I know when I am in love with some girl? Simple. I cannot get her out of my mind. Similarly, when we are in love with Krsna, we think of Him always. We cannot be without Him for a minute.
The gopis complained that the creator of the universe, Lord Brahma, was not very intelligent, for the eyes which he designed sometimes blinked, and for that instant Krsna was lost to their view. That is real love. Krsna says that for such a person “I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.”
In the 37th and 38th verses, Arjuna wants to know about the condition of one who starts on the transcendental path and is deviated for one reason or another before reaching the goal. Does he not become bereft of material enjoyment and spiritual advancement both? Does not he lose his chance for material happiness and at the same time fail to reach the goal of spiritual success? Arjuna is still not awake to the full import of Krsna’s teaching that one who thinks of Krsna is immediately on the transcendental platform. Thus Krsna reassures Arjuna that evil never comes to the man seeking transcendental advancement. Even if he is unsuccessful in one life, in the next he will certainly pick it up at the same point. Material education or learning must be left with the gross body. And it must be totally completed in one lifetime. Unless I complete my doctorate in this life, then in my next I have to start all over again—all those years of study are wasted. But spiritual knowledge is not like that because it is eternal, and therefore I can take it with me in my eternal condition as spirit soul, and when I take another body, that spiritual knowledge is again displayed from the same point. If I have become 25% Krsna conscious in this life, in my next I will begin at 26%. So nothing can ever be lost on the eternal plane. Krsna stated in the 40th verse of the Second Chapter that “even a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” It will be further explained in the 30th verse of the Ninth Chapter that a person who has determined to become Krsna conscious is under the protection of Krsna’s internal energy already, even before the perfectional stage is reached. Therefore even though it takes many births to complete the process, one who has once taken to this process of Krsna consciousness is guaranteed completion or perfection and the attainment of the Supreme Goal. Krsna says: “A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi. And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.” In case there is any doubt left in Arjuna’s mind, Krsna states in the concluding verse of the chapter that the perfection of yoga is devotional service, transcendental loving service. Yoga means to link up, and Krsna says that he is most intimately united with Me who worships in transcendental loving service. The culmination of all kinds of yoga practices is bhakti-yoga, or love of Krsna. Unless and until one comes to that point, he is not in complete knowledge, and his path is unfinished. Therefore Hare Krsna is the yoga for this age because, like the benediction moon, it is spreading transcendental love of Krsna, the end of all yoga systems.