Bhagavad Gita with Commentaries of Shankara | Discourse 6 verse 27-47

The effect of Dhyāna-Yoga.

27. Supreme Bliss verily comes to this Yogin, whose mind is quite tranquil, whose passion is quieted, who has become Brahman, who is blemishless.

Shankara's commentary:

Whose passion, etc.: in whom all passion, including attach­ment and other causes of pain, has disappeared;

who has become a Jīvan-mukta (a man whose soul is liberated while still alive), convinced that all is Brahman; who has no blemish whatsoever, who is not affected by dharma and a-dharma.

28. Thus always keeping the self steadfast, the Yogin, freed from sins, attains with ease to the infinite bliss of contact with the (Supreme) Brahman.

Shankara's commentary:

Always: unimpeded by any of the obstacles to Yoga.

Now will be described the effect of Yoga, the perception of oneness with Brahman, which leads to the cessation of all saṁsāra:

29. The Self abiding in all beings, and all be­ings (abiding) in the Self, sees he whose self has been made steadfast by Yoga, who everywhere sees the same.

Shankara's commentary:

He sees all beings—from Brahma, the Creator, down to a clump of grass—as one with the Self;

and in all the differ­ent beings—from Brahma, the Creator, down to inanimate objects—he sees the same; i. e., he sees that the Self and Brahman (the Absolute) are one.

Now will be described the effect of this perception of the unity of the Self:

30. He who sees Me everywhere and sees every­thing in Me, to him I vanish not, nor to Me does he vanish.

Shankara's commentary:

He who sees Me, Vāsudeva, the Self of all, in all beings, and who sees Brahma, the Creator, and all other beings, in Me, the Self of all;

—when he has thus seen the unity of the Self, I—who am the Īśvara—never leave his presence, nor does that wise man leave My presence; for his Self and Mine are one, and one’s own Self cannot but be manifest to oneself.

Now, referring to the knowledge imparted in the preceding verse—namely that ‘I Myself, the Self of all, am the seer of the unity of Self’,—the Lord will speak of moksha as the effect of that knowledge:

31. Whoso, intent on unity, worships Me who abide in all beings, that Yogin dwells in Me, what­ever his mode of life.

Shankara's commentary:

This man of right knowledge dwells in Me, in the supreme state, in the state of Vishṇu; he is ever liberated; nothing obstructs his path to moksha.

Moreover,

32. Whoso, by comparison with himself, sees the same everywhere, O Arjuna, be it pleasure or pain, he is deemed the highest Yogin.

Shankara's commentary:

He sees that whatever is pleasant to himself is pleasant to all creatures, and that whatever is painful to himself is painful to all beings.

Thus seeing that what is pleasure or pain to himself is alike pleasure or pain to all beings, he causes pain to no being; he is harmless. Doing no harm, and devoted to right knowledge, he is regarded as the highest among all Yogins.

Practice and Indifference are the surest means to Yoga.

Seeing that the Yoga above described, the Yoga of right knowledge, is very difficult of attainment, Arjuna wished to know the surest means of attaining it, and said:

Arjuna said:

33. This Yoga in equanimity, taught by Thee, O Destroyer of Madhu,—I see not its steady con­tinuance, because of the restlessness (of the mind).

This is a well-known fact:

34. The mind verily, is, O Krishna, restless, turbulent, strong and obstinate. Thereof the restraint I deem quite as difficult as that of the wind.

Shankara's commentary:

‘Krishna’ is derived from ‘krish’ to scrape. Krishna is so called because He scrapes or draws away all sins and other causes of evil from His devotees.

—Not only is the mind restless, but also turbulent: it agitates the body and the senses and makes them subject to foreign influences.

It is not possible to restrain it by any means, as it is quite irrepressible. It is as impossible to cut it as to cut the tantunāga, the Varuṇa-pāśa, a kind of shark. To restrain the mind of such a nature is even more difficult than to restrain the wind.

The Lord says:

—So it is, as you say:

The Blessed Lord said:

35. Doubtless, O mighty-armed, the mind is hard to restrain and restless; but by practice, O son of Kuntī, and by indifference it may be restrained.

Shankara's commentary:

Practice’ consists in constantly repeating the same idea or thought regarding someone object of thought. ‘Indiffer­ence’ means freedom from desire for any pleasures seen or unseen, attained through a constant perception of evil in them.

It is by practice and indifference that vikṣepa, the passage of thought in the direction of external objects, can be restrained.

—It is thus that the mind is restrained.

But as regards him who is not self-controlled:

36. Yoga, methinks, is hard to attain for a man of uncontrolled self; but by him who (often) strives, self-controlled, it can be acquired by (proper) means.

Shankara's commentary:

Uncontrolled self: the antaḥ-kāraṇa not controlled by means of constant practice and by indifference to worldly gain. Self-controlled: who has subdued the mind.

Failures in Yoga and the after-career.

On engaging in the practice of Yoga, all works -which are the means of attaining success in this world and in the other world have been renounced,

while the right know­ledge, which is the result of perfection in Yoga and which is the means to moksha, has not yet been attained;

and the Yogin’s mind strays away from the path of Yoga at the time of death.

Arjuna thought that such a man would meet destruction and therefore asked:

Arjuna said:

37. He who strives not, but who is possessed of faith, whose mind wanders away from Yoga,— having failed to attain perfection in Yoga, what end, O Krishna, does he meet?

Shankara's commentary:

He has faith in the efficacy of Yoga but does not strive in the path of Yoga; and during the last moments of life his mind wanders away from Yoga, with memory lost.

Having failed to attain the fruition of Yoga—namely, right knowledge—what end does such a man meet?

38. Having failed in both, does he not perish like a riven cloud, supportless, O mighty-armed, and perplexed in the path to Brahman?

Shankara's commentary:

Both: the path of Karma and the path of Yoga. The path to Brahman: the path by which Brahman can be reached.

39. This doubt of mine, O Krishna, do Thou dispel completely; for none other than Thyself can possibly destroy this doubt.

Shankara's commentary:

None other: be he a Ṛishi or a Deva. Thou alone canst destroy this doubt.

The Blessed Lord said:

40. O Pārtha, neither in this world nor in the next is there destruction for him; none, verily, who does good, My son, ever comes to grief.

Shankara's commentary:

He who has failed in Yoga will not be subject to a lower birth than the present one either here or hereafter.

My son: (Sk. ‘tāta’ is translated into son’). ‘Tāta’ in Sanskrit means ‘father’ because the father propagates (Sk, root ‘tan’) himself in the form of his son. Since thus the father himself is the son, the son also is called tāta. Even a disciple, though not a son, is addressed as son because he is like a son.

What, then, will happen to him?

41. Having attained to the worlds of the right­eous, and having dwelt there for eternal years, he who failed in Yoga is reborn in a house of the pure and wealthy.

Shankara's commentary:

This is said, as the context shows, of a sannyāsin engaged in the path of (Dhyāna-) Yoga.

The righteous: those who worship by the Aśva-medhā or horse-sacrifice, etc. Having completely enjoyed the pleasure (he is entitled to) in such a world, he is reborn in a house of the pure and wealthy.

The pure: acting according to the prescribed rules.

42. Else, he is born in a family of wise Yogins only. This, verily, a birth like this, is very hard to obtain in this world.

Shankara's commentary:

Or else he is born in quite a different family, that of poor wise Yogins. A birth in a family of this sort, in a family of poor Yogins, is more difficult to obtain than the one mentioned above.

And for the following reason:

43. There he gains touch with the knowledge that was acquired in the former body and strives more than before for perfection, O son of the Kurus.

Shankara's commentary:

More than before: with greater vigour than that 'with which he strove in the former birth.

44. By that very former practice is he borne on, though unwilling. Even he who merely wishes to know of Yoga rises superior to the Word-Brahman.

Shankara's commentary:

The man who failed in Yoga is borne on towards perfec­tion by the force of the practice of the former birth.

If he had done no unrighteous deed (a-dharma) which could over­power the tendency caused by the practice of Yoga, then, certainly, the tendency of Yoga prevails.

If a-dharma be stronger, then, even the tendency born of Yoga is certainly overpowered by a-dharma.

But on the exhaustion of adharma the tendency caused by Yoga begins to produce its effects: that is to say, it is not liable to destruction though it may have long been in abeyance.

Thus he—i. e., as the context shows, a sannyāsin who has failed in Yoga—who works in the path of Yoga, only wishing to know its nature, even he will free himself from the Word-Brahman (Śabda- Brahman), from the effects of the observance of Vedic Kar­ma:

what need is there to say that he who knows Yoga and practises it in steady devotion will be free from its effects?

The best of the Yogins.

And why is the life of a Yogin preferable?

45. Verily, a Yogin who strives with assiduity, purified from sins and perfected in the course of many births, then reaches the Supreme Goal.

Shankara's commentary:

In the course of many births he acquires facility in Yoga little by little, and by the aggregate facility thus acquired in many births he is perfected. Then he obtains right knowledge and reaches the Supreme Goal.

Therefore,

46. A Yogin is deemed superior to men of austerity, and superior to even men of knowledge; he is also superior to men of action: therefore be thou a Yogin, O Arjuna.

Shankara's commentary:

Knowledge: of the teachings of the śāstra. Action: such as Agnihotra, worship of the sacred fire.

47. Of all Yogins, whoso, full of faith, worships Me with his inner self abiding in Me, he is deemed by Me as most devout.

Shankara's commentary:

Yogins: those who meditate upon Rudra, Āditya, etc. The inner self abiding in Me: The antaḥ-kāraṇa kept stead­fast in Me, Vāsudeva.