Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 6 (dhyāna-yoga)

Post By: Published on: December 17, 2016 Reading time: 36 minutes


School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (pal.pijuskanti@gmail.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (yoga of meditation).


  • Our journey into Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā begin in chapter 1 with delusion and confusion. In chapter 2, the source, sustenance and motility of existence, Brahman is explained. Thereafter, in chapters 3, 4 and 5, Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains action, knowledge of action and renunciation of action respectively. 
  • In this chapter, dhyāna-yoga, Śrī Kṛṣṇa closes a critical gap, a tool that cleans the student’s Self internally (ātmaśuddhye).
  • Let us review components of any action?
    • There are two types of action – we act without stimulus/ input or respond to incoming stimulus!
    • When we act without stimulus, we are driven by an internal desire for an outcome. Our action is a manifestation of our sense of self-worth (asmitā).
    • Whether we respond or react to stimulus, in addition to manifestation of self-worth, we also seek to protect our sense of identity (puruṣa).
    • Both, action and reaction are driven by fear (tamas) or desire (rajas) of loss of self-worth (asmitā) and identity (puruṣa).
    • Importantly, any activity (karma), by itself is inanimate. It gets texture by two factors – desire for outcome, which drives motivation to perform (sakalpa), expectation of result or fruits of action (karmaphala) which results in fear of outcome and duality (like-dislike, good-bad-right-wrong etc.) and the feeling of being the doer (ahakāra).
  • The action process…
    • There has to be someone who initiates action, owns it and performs it.
    • This is the doer or (kart).
    • Next, the doer needs a reason (kāraa). Also, this is called causation, or reason for performing the action.
    • The reason needs to transform into motivation or application of will (sakalpa) so that action (karma) may be initiated and completed.
    • Finally, from effort comes result (karmaphala).
  • Everything in action is about whether we control it or not. Ability to control action comes from free-will, but to what extent is free-will actually free? How can we increase the span of free will?

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (verse 1-3).

Acting without stimulus, yajña and sakalpa.

  • Firstly, all action (karma) arises from motivation (sakalpa). 
  • Next, once a cause is established, then effort (karma) has to be applied to achieve the result.
  • Almost always, sanctioned actions also involve personal sacrifice or yajña. For example, a parent looking after his or her child has to sacrifice time, energy and resources. A student, to get good marks, must sacrifice time and effort to learn.
  • However, it is important to remember that motivation or desire (icchā) will result in expectation of outcome (karmaphala). Parents begin to have expectations of a child, students who have studied hard expect good marks.
  • As a result, self-worth (asmitā) becomes attached to the outcome because once expectations get set, self-worth is dependent on success and good feedback. For instance, students get anxious before competitive exams and also before results are announced because of what it means to them.
  • Importantly, quality of will (sakalpa) includes capability, resources and other factors which determine quality of action and outcome. For example, a person wanting to pass a competitive exam will need to have the ability or will for sustained effort, resources to buy or borrow study material and build an ability to write the exam etc.
  • Additionally, self-worth (asmitā) determines the quantum of agitation when action is performed. For example, when we are confident of what we are doing, there is minimal agitation. However, when we are afraid or unsure of our actions, or afraid of an adverse outcome, there is enormous stress, fear and agitation.

Thus, one can see that while free-will may motivate the beginning of any activity, as factors such as expectations (karmaphala), desire (kāma), frustration with obstacles, personality issues and other factors kick-in, free-will becomes difficult to sustain and one often gets hijacked by the situation. 

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga.

Reacting to stimulus.

Reaction to stimulus has two parts; Primary response and secondary response.

  • Primary response – When we receive stimulus, first, we assess the risk. This is done by the amygdala, a small organ which is part of the limbic system in the brain. Here, the amygdala, which is a storehouse of experiences uses prior conditioning (dharma) to trigger a fight or flight response. This reaction is mostly instinctive and has no free-will component in it because of the way the amygdala is designed and programmed. There is awareness (prajñā) but the rational brain is mostly hijacked in any instinctive response.
  • Secondary response – depending on the strength of the primary response, the cognitive and intellectual systems of our rational brain get activated. Here again, conditioning (dharma) determines the strength of free-will, but the elemental sense of self-worth (asmitā) is able to assert itself and control the response. 

Dharma is conditioning.

Before examining our reaction to stimulus, let us review our system capability for response. Like computers, we have hardware and software. The hardware is our DNA, health and age. These determine our ability to handle information, memory, speed of processing information and quality of our sensory apparatus. Culture, background, education and experience which form our operating system become the software. The combination of hardware and software forms our conditioning or natural state, the envelope of existence in which we are most comfortable. This is dharma.

So, where does free-will come in? How can we control our actions and reactions? The fact is that like computers, our ability to act or react is mostly set by our dharma and the network we are connected to. This means that we are also impacted by the dharma of those we interact with and the environment we are in at the time. So, dharma also includes dharma of the environment where decisions are made.

Dharma, to a large extent is governed by our prārabdha-karma (debt that has come up for repayment). Prārabdha-karma is that debt which has come up for repayment or it can also be one where we are the creditors, where others owe us. Either way, this reduces the scope for free-will. Additionally, when we exert our will to control outcomes, we create karma, thus building debit and credit into our accounts which brings us back into the cycle of repayment.

For example, we are born to specific sets to parents. We go to specific schools in our environment even though there may be other options. We like and bond with specific class mates, some more that others. We like certain subjects and excel in specific sports. Our aptitude in computers, singing or painting come to us at birth. We take up certain professions, marry specific people and have children that are unique to us. This is on account of debt or prārabdha-karma.

The need to control outcomes and create karma can come from fear of impact on self-worth as well as conditioning (dharma), embedded desire arising from prārabdha-karma, also known as vāsanā, low self-worth (asmitā), fear of failure, expectation loss, opinion of others, all of which can be clubbed under the feeling of being the doer (ahakāra), and loss of awareness (prajñā).

Karma and dharma impact all of us, that’s why it is universal (sanātana).

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (verse 4-10).

Application of will (sakalpa).

  • Topping everything is the realisation that we are our best friend or worst enemy. So, the only way to improve our abilities is by using our awareness (prajñā) to improve our self-worth (asmitā). 
  • While the awareness of individuality is will, the ability to exercise that will does not happen easily.
  • Importantly, upon determining course of action, the degree of calmness and awareness that we retain (self-control) when acting determines the quality of activity and outcome.
  • Additionally, if expectation or desire of outcome is removed, then will (sakalpa) reduces in value because the action is performed for itself and not personal gain. This means that the feeling of being the doer (ahakāra) is removed.
  • Also, when one removes expectation of outcome, fear is removed and self-worth (asmitā) remains unaffected/ undamaged.
  • Importantly, when a person acts with reduced passion, this ensures that personalities are separated from the action. Consequently, everyone the self-worth of everyone in the transaction is likely to be protected from turbulence and the effort becomes peaceful and beneficial to everyone. 
  • Also, when ahaṅkāra (the feeling of being the doer) is removed from the action itself, there is more focus on perfection of effort and stability of outcome rather that personal gain in the effort.
  • Consequently, one who aspires to sannyāsa and to be a yogī should renounce all will (sakalpa) and perform action as duty, without seeking any fruits from his actions.
  • However, the yogī must not sacrifice logic or method. This is because, without proper process or system adherence, outcome is bound to be sub-optimal. For example, when preparing for an exam, the right approach is to try and dissociate ourselves from the outcome. However, if the preparation is without proper effort or systematic and sustained study, then there can be no hope of success even if we were to try and dissociate ourselves from the outcome.
  • Obviously, to increase the strength of will and reduce the impact of illusion (māyā) is not easy and requires sustained effort. The good news is that once a person reaches this stage of perfection (siddhapurua), then the person remains unaffected by any or all turbulence that he encounters and remains calm in any situation.
  • As children, we go to school. To compete is natural. Our capabilities get tested and our abilities emerge when we compete. However, competing can be stressful. So, when competing in a game, if we are asked to enjoy the game rather than on victory, then our ability to be in harmony with ourselves, use our capabilities to the fullest and enjoy the game becomes very high.
  • As professionals, competition can become very toxic as the rat race can often mean employment or loss of it. So, stakes increase dramatically along with stress level. In such circumstances, keeping a cool, level head can be difficult. Actually, what most people don’t realise is that backing off from competition reduces stress and allows us to work in a sustained and sensible manner without increasing perception of threat with our co-workers. Consequently, our output improves and as results show, reward follow.
  • As managers or supervisors, the problem of using will and detaching self-worth from outcome becomes even more difficult. Often, team outcomes determine existence and health of the team as well as managers. Also, like any team, members come with different skill sets, motivations, personalities and maturity levels. Thus, keeping all team-members aligned to a goal without personalities becoming involved is crucial to success. Conversely, the danger of removing personalities could result in passion being destroyed. Hence, leadership skills of any manager require him to diffuse the impact of success or failure without affecting morale of the team. Often, this means stepping back from the action, reducing his or her own drive, setting goals and monitoring performance and wisely distributing rewards and punishment so that the team focuses and functions effectively. As a result, anxieties of reaching or failing to achieve overall targets do not affect present performance and the team functions effectively.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (verse 11-17).

Increasing strength of one’s will. 

  • Firstly, in order to rise in the practice of yoga, one should reduce material contact or reduce their impact on cognition (manas). The fact is, all stimuli come in through the senses. So, when the number of stimuli sources increase, our ability to pay sufficient attention to each point of stimulus reduces commensurately. For example, if we are studying for an exam in front of the TV while the rest of the family are eating chocolate cake or chips, the ability to pay attention to studies will reduce dramatically.
  • Secondly, to reduce attachment towards stimuli, view all entities as having a soul (ātman) which is equal to our own (sama-dṛṣṭi). When we do this, our ability to relate to the object without getting overwhelmed by its significance to us improves. For example, when studying for an exam or preparing a project report, if we were to view the exam or project as a soul which is equal to our own, we stop giving it more weightage or less weightage that we ordinarily would have. While this does not reduce the importance of the exam, it brings equanimity to our transactions and allows balanced reactions.
  • Thirdly, a key aspect of managing matters of the Soul (ātman) is to recognise that we are “Our best friend or worst enemy”. Additionally, control of the Soul (ātman) is about controlling what happens to the Soul when we are exposed to stimulus, good or bad. Consequently, when we decode the stimulus with full awareness (prajñā), process the information without passion, personalities or assigned value (ahaṅkāra), focus on the outcome and remove fear, we begin to control the process as well as the outcome.
  • As a result, the Soul begins to harmonise towards a natural state of peace. Of course, this requires practice, but when we do it consciously (control the citta or consciousness), then free-will and self-reliance increase and there is a deeper anchor in the state of peace.
  • Lastly, how do we know that we are on the right track? When we are at peace or to use a colloquial term “feel cool or positive about everything”, then we know that we are in control. 

Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā (chapter 1, verse 10 – 16) on dhyāna (meditation).

Haṭha-yoga protects the yogī from pain like a house and supports his efforts like a tortoise. In fact, the yoga practitioner should keep the knowledge secret.

He should practice in a small room, situated in an isolated place, free from stones, fire and water or disturbances of any kind and governed in a dhārmic manner (meaning all citizens conformed to the rule of law and live in peace).

Also, the room should have a small door, level, be free from holes and hollows, be neither too high or low, be well plastered with cow dung and be free from dirt, filth and insects. Outside, there should be a shaded area with raised seat with a well, enclosed in a compound.

Finally, the yogī should rid himself of anxiety and then begin the practice of Hatha Yoga as instructed by his guru.

(verse 15) 6 virtues impede development in Haṭha-yoga – they are over-eating, excessive exertion, excessive talking, excessive adherence to rules, company of humans and unsteadiness.

(verse 16) 6 habits bring success – zeal, boldness of drive and willingness to start, patience, perseverance, ability to discriminate, clarity of purpose and aloofness.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (verse 11-17).

How should one meditate? 

  • Firstly, the practitioner should rely only on himself for all improvements, for each person is his own best friend or worst enemy.
  • Secondly, the yogī should be steady and without agitation within. This happens when one views all creation equally, without assigning differential personal value (I want this, I hate this, I don’t like that person). Also, this includes animate and inanimate objects, friends and foes, relatives and saints.
  • Additionally, this means that one should be calm and peaceful when experiencing opposites such as cold / heat, pleasure / pain or honour / dishonour.
  • Undoubtedly, the most important requirement for a serious practitioner is finding a country or region (deśa) which is well administered. This ensures that there are no disturbances and turbulences in the surroundings, there is law and order and as a result practice of meditation is undisturbed.
  • An important self-control requirement is celebacy (brahmacaryam). What is celebacy in yoga? Celebacy in yoga can be termed as control over seminal fluid discharge. Why? Seminal fluids have an ingredient called ojas which acts like a sheath over the nāḍi (channels through which prāṇa flows). Depletion of ojas leads to musculo-skeletal weakness and stressed nerves which impedes concentration in meditation. Also, practice of celebacy (brahmacaryam) is an exercise in self-control. Ideally, complete stoppage of sexual activity is advised, but if that it not possible, then it must be kept under control.
  • Next, the yogī should sit in a clean place which is neither high nor low, over a bed of cloth and kuśa. So, why is the seat important? Why should it be neither too high nor too low?
    • When we sit too high or low, we never get the right perspective of our environment which results in a perceptual feeling of discomfort.
    • When we sit in a place where we are unable to view our surroundings, we become insecure and uncomfortable,
For example.

When travelling, most of us prefer facing the direction of travel, because we get to see where we are going and what’s coming. Similarly, when we are sitting in the rear seat of a car, we prefer a place from where we can see the road and where we are going. Lastly, at home, we each have a preferred seat, mostly one which gives us maximum view of our surroundings, those that give us security, where we can see threat and can control outcomes. 

  • Then, the practitioner should control the sensory organs (indriyas) and cognitive apparatus (manas) by turning the consciousness (citta) After this, the yogī should try and hold his (manas) steady to a single point (ekāgra) to purify the awareness of the Self (prajñā).
  • Lastly, the yogī should hold his body, head and neck in a balanced (sama) position and gazing at the tip of the nose (nāsikāgra).
  • Additionally, he should avoid getting distracted by avoiding outside contact during the practice.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (verse 18-20).

Progress in meditation. 

  • Slowly, the practitioner is able to slow down the speed with which the consciousness (citta) reaches out to objects for affirmation of existence, increasing free-will.
  • When this happens, the consciousness becomes steady like a lamp in a windless room. In fact, one may compare the breeze in a room to external disturbances and the lamp to the reaction of the consciousness to those disturbances.
  • When the consciousness (citta) is quietened, it stops seeking outside and looks at its own Self or Soul (ātman) for sustenance. Then, the consciousness slowly merges (yoga) with its own Self (ātman). When this happens and the consciousness is no longer agitating or looking for sustenance, it ceases to operate the sensory organs (indriyas) and cognitive apparatus (manas).
  • Finally, this results in what is called nirvikalpa-samādhi or changeless merger, the final state of yoga.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga (verse 21-25).

Grief in yoga.

  • When the yogī begins to slow down the movement of the consciousness, it turns inwards towards the Soul (ātman) for sustenance. When this happens, a lot of the suppressed and repressed emotions, desires and memories are released.
  • Consequently, there is a great experience of loss, pain and grief because the memory remembers negative stimuli more starkly than positive one as they have been the source of lessons in self-preservation and sustenance.
  • How does this happen? Importantly, let’s look at how māyā (illusion or farce) works!
    • We are born with a particular configuration or DNA.
    • Next, our parents load our operating systems. Later, we get various other programmes loaded onto us by school, our teachers and friends.
    • Finally, we get hooked onto a system called society.
    • This process of conformance management gives us a conditioning called dharma.
    • Dharma is that natural state where we are at peace with ourselves and our surrounding. Also, dharma is the basis on which we decide like-dislike, good-bad, right-wrong etc.
    • Consequently, we apply dharma to all our transactions and relationships.
    • As a result, often there are conflict between our dharma and the dharma of others, and this results in conflicts that often result in damaged or ruptured relationships.
    • This causes grief and pain which needs to be reconciled and healed.
    • Unfortunately, when we are actively engaged with our environment, the consciousness (citta) is outward looking and busy, so the impact of this damage is not pronounced.
    • But, when the citta (consciousness) slows down and looks at the Self (ātman), all the suppressed experiences find a space for self-expression and resolution.
    • So, the asmitā generates grief and pain based on blurred images, repressed desires and unfulfilled expectations.
    • Also, depending on the importance of the object, there is an additional weightage of sentiment (bhāva) which either amplifies or reduces the experience of grief and pain. With effort, there is reconciliation. For example, a misunderstanding with our parents or children, if it has severe consequences, is likely to generate more grief than a disagreement with a boss, friend or neighbour. So, the degree depends on proximity, bond, relationship and outcome.
    • However, overcoming this stage is critical because a turbulent or distracted consciousness (citta) will not become steady unless the source of stimuli is reconciled.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga.

Agitation in meditation.

  • Competence in meditation comes with psychosomatic balance. The starting point is ensuring good health because, agitation occurs when the homeostatic balance is disturbed. Homeostasis is that aspect of the body whereby the operating conditions of the body are within established parameters, such as temperature, blood pressure, haemoglobin etc. along with other chemical parameters such as potassium, iron, calcium etc. and also hormonal balance. When these parameters are in balance, the person feels comfortable and at peace.
  • Next, imbalance occurs when the person experiences the need to change. Since change requires readjustment, it creates disruption and insecurity and the person gets stressed. Thus, there is pressure on the person’s self-esteem (asmitā) as the psyche seeks to establish understanding and control over the situation.
  • Consequently, the consciousness continuously seeks confirmation of existence from an external entity, especially one that it trusts.
  • Additionally, during meditation, homeostasis balance is disturbed when the consciousness (citta), after turning inwards begins to experience old suppressed and repressed baggage that come out and seek expression in the form of loss, pain and grief. Obviously, this will disturb any meditation practice.
  • Lastly, there is the material nature of consciousness (citta) itself that hampers meditation.
  • By nature, consciousness (citta) seeks expression and establishes bonds. For a yogī, this becomes a major impediment because the cognitive apparatus keeps moving from one entity to another and does not allow steady focus (ekāgratā).
  • Hence, constant cleaning and calming of the soul (ātmaśuddhaye) is very important. Particularly, old baggage needs to be discarded, pain and grief reconciled, disturbances and stains on the soul (ātman) need to be continuously cleaned.
  • Finally, the yogī should try to live in solitude to subdue internal agitations until he begins to achieve steady and constant awareness of the Self (sthithaprajñā).

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga.

Final aspects of meditation, solutions.

  • Firstly, the yoga of equanimity is difficult because the cognitive apparatus (manas) keeps shifting (cancala), it is like the wind – turbulent (pramāthi), strong (balavat) and unyielding to control (dṛḍha). Additionally, it is restless (cancalatvat) and this acts as an impediment to achieving the state of steadiness (sthiti-sthira) (verse 26-40).
  • Doubtlessly, the cognitive apparatus is difficult to control on account of the nature of consciousness and the fact that it continuously seeks external and internal verification of its own existence. However, with practice and dispassion (vairāgya) this control can be exerted.

Arjuna asks – what happens to one who is dedicated but whose cognitive apparatus wanders? Does he face destruction, the yogī who has not achieved perfection? (verse 37-39)

Śrī Kṛṣṇa says – Firstly, no destruction can come to him that acts in good faith. In fact, what happens is that such a person is reborn into a pure and prosperous surrounding or into a family of enlightened yogīs where he can continue where he can continue where he left off. Thereafter, when intent and effort are employed in a dedicated manner, the practitioner will reach liberation over time (verse 41 onwards).

In fact, the yogī is superior to ascetics, philosophers, intellectuals and, men of action. So, one must aspire to be a yogī, one that is completely anchored in the source (Brahman).

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga.

Some practical tips on meditation.

  • First, sit in a secluded place. Ensure that the place is one where you can go to regularly and has a pleasant atmosphere. Also, the temperature in the room should be conducive for long practice (sādhanā)
  • Next, sit on a chair or on the floor. Floor postures hold the body more firmly, this is preferred.
  • Lastly, sit in a comfortable pose. padmāsanasukhāsana or vajrāsana are preferred, but it is possible that there is discomfort initially. If this happens, start with one of the above āsanas and re-seat to a comfortable posture for the remainder of the meditation period. Over time, one pose will become the preferred pose and the body will fall naturally into it. But the important point to remember is that the spinal curvature must be naturally erect and the coccyx, which is the seat of the mūlādhāra-cakra must be stable.
  • Next, relax the body using auto-suggestion (suggestive commands given by the person to himself or herself). Start from the top of the head and slowly relax each part. Also, try to break the command into specific locations. For example; instead of saying “relax the brain”, say “relax the front of the brain, relax the left side, relax the right side, relax the back… etc…” Consequently, this will lead to quicker and more effective relaxation.
  • Relax completely. Remember that relaxation becomes deeper with practice.
  • In fact, when the body has relaxed completely, it will be noticed that breathing becomes shallow and even. Observe the breathing. Importantly, watch the interval between pūraka (inhalation) and recaka (exhalation) and vice-versa. This is kumbhaka. Here, there is a minuscule period of stillness where the breath crosses over from inhalation to exhalation and vice-versa. Focus on this emptiness. Try to extend the stillness even when breathing restarts. Also, try to keep the breathing even and without ripples or agitation.
  • Stay in this position for around 10-20 minutes. Also, do not practice more than once or twice a day or for longer periods unless you are interested in deeper spiritual investigation.

Some tips on reducing distraction.

  • First, to avoid distraction, reduce interaction with people. Additionally, this includes social media. So, if you are active in groups, slowly reduce your activity. As a result, you will have less disturbances, because you will think less about how you wish to interact.
  • Second, reduce watching TV. If you are addicted to serial binging, slowly reduce the frequency and finally stop. Rightfully, the TV is called an “idiot box”, it makes an idiot out of the viewer. 
  • Next, reduce your exposure to news. Most of the news is sensationalised and you have no control over the outcome anyway.
  • Lastly, reduce speaking. In fact, speak only when you know that you can add value or make a difference. Try to increase the silence in speech to silence within and peace all-around.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga.

Lessons learned.

In chapter 6, Śrī Kṛṣṇa teaches a person how to increase free-will, a state where action (karma) does not result in creation of debt (ṛṇa).

  • Ability to control free-will is limited because our response (karma) is controlled by conditioning (dharma).
  • Increase of free-will is only possible when control over movement of consciousness (citta) Then, both primary and secondary responses are controlled and hijack by the amygdala of responses is reduced.
  • However, all efforts to control consciousness will be opposed by the sense of Self/ identity (purua or śiva) because of fear of loss of Identity. This results in increased internal conflict, pain and a sense of dissociation from society as one tried to increase the strength of free-will over instinct.
  • However, effort to increase free-will also increases awareness of the Self (jñāna), discrimination between permanent and impermanent (viveka) and dispassion (vairāgya).
  • As awareness (prajñā) increases, understanding understand one’s own natural state or conditioning (dharma) allows one to cognise the difference between sanctioned actions or actions without losing equilibrium.
  • So, one is able to avoid those prohibited actions that are performed due to selfish interests or result in chaos or loss of peace (adharma).
  • But, when performing sanctioned action, one must understand correct process, use correct tools and resources and also communicate to all concerned in the right manner if the sanctioned action is to deliver the desired result.
  • Lastly, one should learn to control expectations, accept the outcome with equanimity and avoid duality, so that internal state of peace is retained.
  • In order to increase free will and increase awareness (prajñā), one must practice “union by meditation” (dhyāna-yoga). This will bring greater response control as fear, anxiety, desire or expectation can be calibrated or controlled more easily.
  • Meditation is an exercise of increasing free-will by control of the consciousness (citta). In fact, Sage Patanjali defines yoga as citta-vṛtti-nirodha in Patanjali Yoga Sutra, which roughly translates to “stopping the consciousness from functioning”. Though the above state is clearly samādhi or final merger state, there are multiple intermediate states that the consciousness has to transcend. These are;
  • Dhyāna-yoga is easier said than done. It requires steady effort, sacrificing of desire, and ability to endure pain, grief and failure. The stages that a yogī moves in are, 
    • Kipta – scattered, where the consciousness is multi-tasking and distracted. There is poor control of the individual over free-will.
    • Mūha – idiotic, where the consciousness engages activity inappropriate to the situation and moment. Here too, there is poor control over free will.
    • Vikipta – inattention, where the consciousness does not adhere to any object. Here too, there is poor control over free will.
    • Ekāgra – single point focus, the consciousness is focussed at particular point. There is considerable free-will depending on the level of sustained focus.
    • Niruddha – stopped, the consciousness does not respond. Free-will is one of complete awareness (prajñā). The final state of this state is sthita-prajñā or steady awareness.

The transliteration and translation of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 6, dhyāna-yoga follows.

The Saṃskṛtaṃ words are in red italics.

श्रीभगवानुवाच ।

अनाश्रितः कर्मफलं कार्यं कर्म करोति यः ।

स सन्न्यासी च योगी च न निरग्निर्न चाक्रियः ॥ ६-१॥

यं सन्न्यासमिति प्राहुर्योगं तं विद्धि पाण्डव ।

न ह्यसंन्यस्तसङ्कल्पो योगी भवति कश्चन ॥ ६-२॥

आरुरुक्षोर्मुनेर्योगं कर्म कारणमुच्यते ।

योगारूढस्य तस्यैव शमः कारणमुच्यते ॥ ६-३॥

(1-3) Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: Anyone that performs sanctioned action (karma) and is disengaged from the fruits of action (anāśritaḥ karmaphalaṃ kāryaṃ karma karoti yaḥ ।), he is a sannyāsin (ascetic) and yogī, not he that neither acts, not performs without a sacrificial fire (sa sannyāsī ca yogī ca na niragnirna cākriyaḥ ॥ 6-1॥). However, verily know that renunciation that they call yoga cannot be achieved by anyone without renunciation of saṅkalpa (yaṃ sannyāsamiti prāhuryogaṃ taṃ viddhi pāṇḍava । na hyasaṃnyastasaṅkalpo yogī bhavati kaścana ॥ 6-2॥). It is said that saints desirous of advancing must harmonise action with motivation (ārurukṣormuneryogaṃ karma kāraṇamucyate ।). In fact, it is said that even those who have achieved complete harmony are those who have brought calmness to their reason for action (yogārūḍhasya tasyaiva śamaḥ kāraṇamucyate ॥ 6-3॥).

यदा हि नेन्द्रियार्थेषु न कर्मस्वनुषज्जते ।

सर्वसङ्कल्पसंन्यासी योगारूढस्तदोच्यते ॥ ६-४॥

उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् ।

आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः ॥ ६-५॥

बन्धुरात्मात्मनस्तस्य येनात्मैवात्मना जितः ।

अनात्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे वर्तेतात्मैव शत्रुवत् ॥ ६-६॥

(4-6) Also, it is said that when one has risen in yoga, then there is no clinging to sense-objects or actions and there is detachment from all drive of the will (yadā hi nendriyārtheṣu na karmasvanuṣajjate । sarvasaṅkalpasaṃnyāsī yogārūḍhastadocyate ॥ 6-4॥). So, elevate the Soul by the Soul itself do not allow the Soul to drop in performance (uddharedātmanātmānaṃ nātmānamavasādayet ।), for the Soul, in truth its only associate and the only adversary of the Soul is itself (ātmaiva hyātmano bandhurātmaiva ripurātmanaḥ ॥ 6-5॥). The Soul becomes a relative when Soul is conquered by the Soul (bandhurātmātmanastasya yenātmaivātmanā jitaḥ ।), however, the Soul of the unconquered Soul will be like an enemy until it is conquered by the Soul (anātmanastu śatrutve vartetātmaiva śatruvat ॥ 6-6॥). 

जितात्मनः प्रशान्तस्य परमात्मा समाहितः ।

शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु तथा मानापमानयोः ॥ ६-७॥

ज्ञानविज्ञानतृप्तात्मा कूटस्थो विजितेन्द्रियः ।

युक्त इत्युच्यते योगी समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः ॥ ६-८॥

(7-8) The self-controlled, tranquil, Supreme Soul is equipoised in cold/ heat, happiness or sadness as well as honour and dishonour (jitātmanaḥ praśāntasya paramātmā samāhitaḥ । śītoṣṇasukhaduḥkheṣu tathā mānāpamānayoḥ ॥ 6-7॥). It is said that the soul which is secure in the knowledge of the Self and surrounding, has attained unshakable victory over the senses, and harmonised itself, that yogī views everything as gold (jñānavijñānatṛptātmā kūṭastho vijitendriyaḥ । yukta ityucyate yogī samaloṣṭāśmakāñcanaḥ ॥ 6-8॥).

सुहृन्मित्रार्युदासीनमध्यस्थद्वेष्यबन्धुषु ।

साधुष्वपि च पापेषु समबुद्धिर्विशिष्यते ॥ ६-९॥

योगी युञ्जीत सततमात्मानं रहसि स्थितः ।

एकाकी यतचित्तात्मा निराशीरपरिग्रहः ॥ ६-१०॥

(9-10) One who is always in a state of undisturbed intellect with friends, allies, enemies, those that are sad, lawyers, the odious, relatives, mendicants or sinners always excels (suhṛnmitrāryudāsīnamadhyasthadveṣyabandhuṣu । sādhuṣvapi ca pāpeṣu samabuddhirviśiṣyate ॥ 6-9॥). Let the yogī, in solitude, maintain constant and steady Soul (yogī yuñjīta satatamātmānaṃ rahasi sthitaḥ ।) alone, with a Soul whose consciousness has no hope and free from greed (ekākī yatacittātmā nirāśīraparigrahaḥ ॥ 6-10॥).

शुचौ देशे प्रतिष्ठाप्य स्थिरमासनमात्मनः ।

नात्युच्छ्रितं नातिनीचं चैलाजिनकुशोत्तरम् ॥ ६-११॥

तत्रैकाग्रं मनः कृत्वा यतचित्तेन्द्रियक्रियः ।

उपविश्यासने युञ्ज्याद्योगमात्मविशुद्धये ॥ ६-१२॥

समं कायशिरोग्रीवं धारयन्नचलं स्थिरः ।

सम्प्रेक्ष्य नासिकाग्रं स्वं दिशश्चानवलोकयन् ॥ ६-१३॥

(11-13) In a pure country, establish a firm seat that is neither very high nor very low, for the Self, of cloth, antelope skin, kusha grass, one over the other (śucau deśe pratiṣṭhāpya sthiramāsanamātmanaḥ । nātyucchritaṃ nātinīcaṃ cailājinakuśottaram ॥ 6-11॥). There, with a single pointed cognition, bring consciousness and senses under control, being seated in āsana, let him practitice yoga cognition for purification of the Soul (tatraikāgraṃ manaḥ kṛtvā yatacittendriyakriyaḥ । upaviśyāsane yuñjyādyogamātmaviśuddhaye ॥ 6-12॥). Then, holding body, head and neck exactly still, gaze at the tip of own nose and don’t look around (samaṃ kāyaśirogrīvaṃ dhārayannacalaṃ sthiraḥ । samprekṣya nāsikāgraṃ svaṃ diśaścānavalokayan ॥ 6-13॥).

प्रशान्तात्मा विगतभीर्ब्रह्मचारिव्रते स्थितः ।

मनः संयम्य मच्चित्तो युक्त आसीत मत्परः ॥ ६-१४॥

युञ्जन्नेवं सदात्मानं योगी नियतमानसः ।

शान्तिं निर्वाणपरमां मत्संस्थामधिगच्छति ॥ ६-१५॥

(14-15) The fearless serene Soul that has taken the vows of celibacy, has stable cognition, with a consciousness that is united with me, as the final goal (praśāntātmā vigatabhīrbrahmacārivrate sthitaḥ । manaḥ saṃyamya maccitto yukta āsīta matparaḥ ॥ 6-14॥). Thus, the ever-balanced peaceful Soul of the yogī, with controlled cognition attains primordial absolute liberation at my abode (yuñjannevaṃ sadātmānaṃ yogī niyatamānasaḥ । śāntiṃ nirvāṇaparamāṃ matsaṃsthāmadhigacchati ॥ 6-15॥), 

नात्यश्नतस्तु योगोऽस्ति न चैकान्तमनश्नतः ।

न चातिस्वप्नशीलस्य जाग्रतो नैव चार्जुन ॥ ६-१६॥

युक्ताहारविहारस्य  युक्तचेष्टस्य कर्मसु ।

युक्तस्वप्नावबोधस्य योगो भवति दुःखहा ॥ ६-१७॥

(16-17) The yogī is one that does not overeat, not, not eat at all he should not dream too much, nor should he be excessively engaged in activity (nātyaśnatastu yogo’sti na caikāntamanaśnataḥ । na cātisvapnaśīlasya jāgrato naiva cārjuna ॥ 6-16॥). He must keep sensible diet and entertainment, keep his consciousness in action, keep sensible balance between sleep and wakefulness, the yogī overcomes pain (yuktāhāravihārasya  yuktaceṣṭasya karmasu । yuktasvapnāvabodhasya yogo bhavati duḥkhahā ॥ 6-17॥).

यदा विनियतं चित्तमात्मन्येवावतिष्ठते ।

निःस्पृहः सर्वकामेभ्यो युक्त इत्युच्यते तदा ॥ ६-१८॥

यथा दीपो निवातस्थो नेङ्गते सोपमा स्मृता ।

योगिनो यतचित्तस्य युञ्जतो योगमात्मनः ॥ ६-१९॥

यत्रोपरमते चित्तं निरुद्धं योगसेवया ।

यत्र चैवात्मनात्मानं पश्यन्नात्मनि तुष्यति ॥ ६-२०॥

(18-20) When he is able to restrain the consciousness solely on the Soul, then freedom from all passion is established, it is said (yadā viniyataṃ cittamātmanyevāvatiṣṭhate । niḥspṛhaḥ sarvakāmebhyo yukta ityucyate tadā ॥ 6-18॥). Just like a lamp placed in an airless place does not flicker that consciousness of yogī harmonises the soul (yathā dīpo nivātastho neṅgate sopamā smṛtā । yogino yatacittasya yuñjato yogamātmanaḥ ॥ 6-19॥). Where consciousness has been quietened, restrained by dedication to yoga and where the soul is satiated by the soul (yatroparamate cittaṃ niruddhaṃ yogasevayā । yatra caivātmanātmānaṃ paśyannātmani tuṣyati ॥ 6-20॥). 

सुखमात्यन्तिकं यत्तद् बुद्धिग्राह्यमतीन्द्रियम् ।

वेत्ति यत्र न चैवायं स्थितश्चलति तत्त्वतः ॥ ६-२१॥

यं लब्ध्वा चापरं लाभं मन्यते नाधिकं ततः ।

यस्मिन्स्थितो न दुःखेन गुरुणापि विचाल्यते ॥ ६-२२॥

तं विद्याद् दुःखसंयोगवियोगं योगसंज्ञितम् ।

स निश्चयेन योक्तव्यो योगोऽनिर्विण्णचेतसा ॥ ६-२३॥

(21-23) An infinite peace that cannot be grasped by reason and beyond the senses this changeless knowledge becomes established in all its subtlety (sukhamātyantikaṃ yattad buddhigrāhyamatīndriyam । vetti yatra na caivāyaṃ sthitaścalati tattvataḥ ॥ 6-21॥). Once the cognition has obtained that, no other gain is adequate thereafter it is unmoved even by heavy sorrow (yaṃ labdhvā cāparaṃ lābhaṃ manyate nādhikaṃ tataḥ । yasminsthito na duḥkhena guruṇāpi vicālyate ॥ 6-22॥). The knowledge of pain merger and separation is the knowledge of yoga that union must be practiced with determination with a consciousness that is not downcast (taṃ vidyād duḥkhasaṃyogaviyogaṃ yogasaṃjñitam । sa niścayena yoktavyo yogo’nirviṇṇacetasā ॥ 6-23॥).  

सङ्कल्पप्रभवान्कामांस्त्यक्त्वा सर्वानशेषतः ।

मनसैवेन्द्रियग्रामं विनियम्य समन्ततः ॥ ६-२४॥

शनैः शनैरुपरमेद् बुद्ध्या धृतिगृहीतया ।

आत्मसंस्थं मनः कृत्वा न किञ्चिदपि चिन्तयेत् ॥ ६-२५॥

(24-25) Having abandoned all vows born out of desires, completely restrict cognition and also all of the senses in totality (saṅkalpaprabhavānkāmāṃstyaktvā sarvānaśeṣataḥ । manasaivendriyagrāmaṃ viniyamya samantataḥ ॥ 6-24॥). Slowly, slowly stop the intellect, hold it firmly in the Self, make the cognition nothing and reflect (śanaiḥ śanairuparamed buddhyā dhṛtigṛhītayā । ātmasaṃsthaṃ manaḥ kṛtvā na kiñcidapi cintayet ॥ 6-25॥). 

यतो यतो निश्चरति मनश्चञ्चलमस्थिरम् ।

ततस्ततो नियम्यैतदात्मन्येव वशं नयेत् ॥ ६-२६॥

प्रशान्तमनसं ह्येनं योगिनं सुखमुत्तमम् ।

उपैति शान्तरजसं ब्रह्मभूतमकल्मषम् ॥ ६-२७॥

युञ्जन्नेवं सदात्मानं योगी विगतकल्मषः ।

सुखेन ब्रह्मसंस्पर्शमत्यन्तं सुखमश्नुते ॥ ६-२८॥

(26-28) Whenever there is appearance of disturbance and unsteadiness in the cognition then onward, using self-control, bring the Soul under control (yato yato niścarati manaścañcalamasthiram । tatastato niyamyaitadātmanyeva vaśaṃ nayet ॥ 6-26॥). Truly, the serene soul yields supreme peace, developing peace creates Brahman in one that is unstained (praśāntamanasaṃ hyenaṃ yoginaṃ sukhamuttamam । upaiti śāntarajasaṃ brahmabhūtamakalmaṣam ॥ 6-27॥). Thus, the Soul of the practicing yogī is always unstained the peaceful merger with Brahman gives infinite happiness (yuñjannevaṃ sadātmānaṃ yogī vigatakalmaṣaḥ । sukhena brahmasaṃsparśamatyantaṃ sukhamaśnute ॥ 6-28॥).

सर्वभूतस्थमात्मानं सर्वभूतानि चात्मनि ।

ईक्षते योगयुक्तात्मा सर्वत्र समदर्शनः ॥ ६-२९॥

यो मां पश्यति सर्वत्र सर्वं च मयि पश्यति ।

तस्याहं न प्रणश्यामि स च मे न प्रणश्यति ॥ ६-३०॥

सर्वभूतस्थितं यो मां भजत्येकत्वमास्थितः ।

सर्वथा वर्तमानोऽपि स योगी मयि वर्तते ॥ ६-३१॥

आत्मौपम्येन सर्वत्र समं पश्यति योऽर्जुन ।

सुखं वा यदि वा दुःखं स योगी परमो मतः ॥ ६-३२॥

(29-32) Souls exist in all creation, all creation has a Soul, so the yogī sees all Souls to be one and views all with an equal gaze (sarvabhūtasthamātmānaṃ sarvabhūtāni cātmani । īkṣate yogayuktātmā sarvatra samadarśanaḥ ॥ 6-29॥). He sees me everywhere and in me sees he is not lost to me and I am not lost to him (yo māṃ paśyati sarvatra sarvaṃ ca mayi paśyati । tasyāhaṃ na praṇaśyāmi sa ca me na praṇaśyati ॥ 6-30॥). Whoever worships me in the same manner across all creation in every way the yogī remains in me wherever he proceeds (sarvabhūtasthitaṃ yo māṃ bhajatyekatvamāsthitaḥ । sarvathā vartamāno’pi sa yogī mayi vartate ॥ 6-31॥).  He that views all souls as the same everywhere, he who is the same in happiness and grief, he is regarded as the highest yogī (ātmaupamyena sarvatra samaṃ paśyati yo’rjuna । sukhaṃ vā yadi vā duḥkhaṃ sa yogī paramo mataḥ ॥ 6-32॥).

अर्जुन उवाच ।

योऽयं योगस्त्वया प्रोक्तः साम्येन मधुसूदन ।

एतस्याहं न पश्यामि चञ्चलत्वात्स्थितिं स्थिराम् ॥ ६-३३॥

चञ्चलं हि मनः कृष्ण प्रमाथि बलवद् दृढम् ।

तस्याहं निग्रहं मन्ये वायोरिव सुदुष्करम् ॥ ६-३४॥

Arjuna asked (33-34) – This yoga of equality that you are propounding, I am unable to relate due to unsteadiness and abiding steadiness (yo’yaṃ yogastvayā proktaḥ sāmyena madhusūdana । etasyāhaṃ na paśyāmi cañcalatvātsthitiṃ sthirām ॥ 6-33॥). The cognition is fickle, agitation is strong and unyielding I find controlling the cognition which is like the wind difficult to do (cañcalaṃ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa pramāthi balavad dṛḍham । tasyāhaṃ nigrahaṃ manye vāyoriva suduṣkaram ॥ 6-34॥). 

श्रीभगवानुवाच ।

असंशयं महाबाहो मनो दुर्निग्रहं चलम् ।

अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण च गृह्यते ॥ ६-३५॥

असंयतात्मना योगो दुष्प्राप इति मे मतिः ।

वश्यात्मना तु यतता शक्योऽवाप्तुमुपायतः ॥ ६-३६॥

śrī Kṛṣṇa replied – (35-36) Without doubt, cognition is difficult to control and restless by practice and dispassion it is controlled (asaṃśayaṃ mahābāho mano durnigrahaṃ calam । abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇa ca gṛhyate ॥ 6-35॥). A Soul without controlled cognition finds it hard to attain harmony, in my opinion but it is possible to acquire an obedient Soul by implementing proper methodology (asaṃyatātmanā yogo duṣprāpa iti me matiḥ । vaśyātmanā tu yatatā śakyo’vāptumupāyataḥ ॥ 6-36॥). 

अर्जुन उवाच ।

अयतिः श्रद्धयोपेतो योगाच्चलितमानसः ।

अप्राप्य योगसंसिद्धिं कां गतिं कृष्ण गच्छति ॥ ६-३७॥

कच्चिन्नोभयविभ्रष्टश्छिन्नाभ्रमिव नश्यति ।

अप्रतिष्ठो महाबाहो विमूढो ब्रह्मणः पथि ॥ ६-३८॥

एतन्मे संशयं कृष्ण छेत्तुमर्हस्यशेषतः ।

त्वदन्यः संशयस्यास्य छेत्ता न ह्युपपद्यते ॥ ६-३९॥

Arjuna asked – (37-39) what is the fate of one who does not possess dedication in yoga and has a disturbed cognition, what happens to him who is unable to reach perfection in yoga?  (ayatiḥ śraddhayopeto yogāccalitamānasaḥ । aprāpya yogasaṃsiddhiṃ kāṃ gatiṃ kṛṣṇa gacchati ॥ 6-37॥). Is it not that without steadfastness one is separated from both sides and destroyed without steadfast or confused effort on the path of the Brahman (kaccinnobhayavibhraṣṭaśchinnābhramiva naśyati । apratiṣṭho mahābāho vimūḍho brahmaṇaḥ pathi ॥ 6-38॥)?  This is my confusion Krishna, please remove it completely, other than you, none is capable of dispelling it completely (etanme saṃśayaṃ kṛṣṇa chettumarhasyaśeṣataḥ । tvadanyaḥ saṃśayasyāsya chettā na hyupapadyate ॥ 6-39॥). 

श्रीभगवानुवाच ।

पार्थ नैवेह नामुत्र विनाशस्तस्य विद्यते ।

न हि कल्याणकृत्कश्चिद् दुर्गतिं तात गच्छति ॥ ६-४०॥

प्राप्य पुण्यकृतां लोकानुषित्वा शाश्वतीः समाः ।

शुचीनां श्रीमतां गेहे योगभ्रष्टोऽभिजायते ॥ ६-४१॥

(40-41) Partha – truly, not here nor in the next world is there destruction of him, nor does reversal of fate come to performers of beneficial deeds, my son (pārtha naiveha nāmutra vināśastasya vidyate । na hi kalyāṇakṛtkaścid durgatiṃ tāta gacchati ॥ 6-40॥). Having acquired meritorious outcomes through everlasting equilibrium when on earth the one fallen from yoga is reborn at a home where there is purity and prosperity (prāpya puṇyakṛtāṃ lokānuṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ । śucīnāṃ śrīmatāṃ gehe yogabhraṣṭo’bhijāyate ॥ 6-41॥).

अथवा योगिनामेव कुले भवति धीमताम् ।

एतद्धि दुर्लभतरं लोके जन्म यदीदृशम् ॥ ६-४२॥

तत्र तं बुद्धिसंयोगं लभते पौर्वदेहिकम् ।

यतते च ततो भूयः संसिद्धौ कुरुनन्दन ॥ ६-४३॥

(42-43) Or, within yogī or even clans of the wise, for truly, getting a human birth like this is difficult (athavā yogināmeva kule bhavati dhīmatām । etaddhi durlabhataraṃ loke janma yadīdṛśam ॥ 6-42॥). There his wisdom is harmonised with that obtained during prior existence, then with more effort there can be complete perfection, son of Kurus (tatra taṃ buddhisaṃyogaṃ labhate paurvadehikam । yatate ca tato bhūyaḥ saṃsiddhau kurunandana ॥ 6-43॥). 

पूर्वाभ्यासेन तेनैव ह्रियते ह्यवशोऽपि सः ।

जिज्ञासुरपि योगस्य शब्दब्रह्मातिवर्तते ॥ ६-४४॥

प्रयत्नाद्यतमानस्तु योगी संशुद्धकिल्बिषः ।

अनेकजन्मसंसिद्धस्ततो याति परां गतिम् ॥ ६-४५॥

(44-45) Truly, from previous learnings is born a helplessness to carry forward in spite of himself, to go beyond the word of Brahman and obtain the wisdom of yoga (pūrvābhyāsena tenaiva hriyate hyavaśo’pi saḥ । jijñāsurapi yogasya śabdabrahmātivartate ॥ 6-44॥). With effort and self-control, the yogī gets purified from faults of many births and attains the goal of supreme perfection (prayatnādyatamānastu yogī saṃśuddhakilbiṣaḥ । anekajanmasaṃsiddhastato yāti parāṃ gatim ॥ 6-45॥).

तपस्विभ्योऽधिको योगी ज्ञानिभ्योऽपि मतोऽधिकः ।

कर्मिभ्यश्चाधिको योगी तस्माद्योगी भवार्जुन ॥ ६-४६॥

योगिनामपि सर्वेषां मद्गतेनान्तरात्मना ।

श्रद्धावान्भजते यो मां स मे युक्ततमो मतः ॥ ६-४७॥

(46-47) Superior to ascetics are yogīs, even superior to those who have achieved great wisdom (tapasvibhyo’dhiko yogī jñānibhyo’pi mato’dhikaḥ ।), even superior to people of action is the yogī, therefore become a yogī, Arjuna (karmibhyaścādhiko yogī tasmādyogī bhavārjuna ॥ 6-46॥). Of all the yogīs, those that place me in their inner Soul (yogināmapi sarveṣāṃ madgatenāntarātmanā ।), worships with dedication, that I consider most integrated Soul (śraddhāvānbhajate yo māṃ sa me yuktatamo mataḥ ॥ 6-47॥).

2 Replies to “Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 6 (dhyāna-yoga)”

  1. Sri Tulasi says:

    Excellent explanation.

    1. Editor at School Of Yoga says:


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