"He who, unattached to the fruit of his actions, performeth such actions as should be done is both a renouncer (1) of action and a devotee (2) of right action; not he who liveth without kindling the sacrificial fire and without ceremonies. (3) Know, O son of Pandu, that what they call Sannyasa or a forsaking of action is the same as Yoga or the practice of devotion. No one without having previously renounced all intentions can be devoted. Action is said to be the means by which the wise man who is desirous of mounting to meditation may reach thereto; so cessation from action is said to be the means for him who hath reached to meditation. When he hath renounced all intentions and is devoid of attachment to action in regard to objects of sense, then he is called one who hath ascended to meditation. He should raise the self by the Self; let him not suffer the Self to be lowered; for Self is the friend of self, and, in like manner, self is its own enemy. (4) Self is the friend of the man who is self-conquered; so self like a foe hath enmity to him who is not self-conquered. The Self of the man who is self-subdued and free from desire and anger is intent on the Supreme Self in heat and cold, in pain and pleasure, in honor and ignominy. The man who hath spiritual knowledge and discernment, who standeth upon the pinnacle, and hath subdued the senses, to whom gold and stone are the same, is said to be devoted. And he is esteemed among all who, whether amongst his friends and companions, in the midst of enemies or those who stand aloof or remain neutral, with those who love and those who hate, and in the company of sinners or the righteous, is of equal mind.
"He who has attained to meditation should constantly strive to stay at rest in the Supreme, remaining in solitude and seclusion, having his body and his thoughts under control, without possessions and free from hope. He should in an undefiled spot place his seat, firm, neither too high nor too low, and made of kusa grass which is covered with a skin and a cloth. (5) There, for the self's purification he should practice meditation with his mind fixed on one point, the modifications of the thinking principle controlled and the action of the senses and organs restrained. Keeping his body, head, and neck firm and erect, with mind determined, and gaze directed to the tip of his nose without looking in any direction, with heart at peace and free from fear, the Yogi should remain, settled in the vow of a Brahmachari, his thoughts controlled, and heart fixed on me. The devotee of controlled mind who thus always bringeth his heart to rest in the Supreme reacheth that tranquillity, the supreme assimilation with me.
"This divine discipline, Arjuna, is not to be attained by the man who eateth more than enough or too little, nor by him who hath a habit of sleeping much, nor by him who is given to over watching. The meditation which destroyeth pain is produced in him who is moderate in eating and in recreation, of moderate exertion in his actions, and regulated in sleeping and waking. When the man, so living, centers his heart in the true Self and is exempt from attachment to all desires, he is said to have attained to yoga. Of the sage of self-centered heart, at rest and free from attachment to desires, the simile is recorded, 'as a lamp which is sheltered from the wind flickereth not.' When regulated by the practice of yoga and at rest, seeing the self by the self, he is contented; when he becometh acquainted with that boundless bliss which is not connected with objects of the senses, and being where he is not moved from the reality (6); having gained which he considereth no other superior to it, and in which, being fixed, he is not moved even by the greatest grief; know that this disconnection from union with pain is distinguished as yoga, spiritual union or devotion, which is to be striven after by a man with faith and steadfastly.
"When he hath abandoned every desire that ariseth from the imagination and subdued with the mind the senses and organs which impel to action in every direction, being possessed of patience, he by degrees finds rest; and, having fixed his mind at rest in the true Self, he should think of nothing else. To whatsoever object the inconstant mind goeth out he should subdue it, bring it back, and place it upon the Spirit. Supreme bliss surely cometh to the sage whose mind is thus at peace; whose passions and desires are thus subdued; who is thus in the true Self and free from sin. He who is thus devoted and free from sin obtaineth without hindrance the highest bliss — union with the Supreme Spirit. The man who is endued with this devotion and who seeth the unity of all things perceiveth the Supreme Soul in all things and all things in the Supreme Soul. He who seeth me in all things and all things in me looseneth not his hold on me and I forsake him not. And whosoever, believing in spiritual unity, worshipeth me who am in all things, dwelleth with me in whatsoever condition he may be. He, O Arjuna, who by the similitude found in himself seeth but one essence in all things, whether they be evil or good, is considered to be the most excellent devotee."
"O slayer of Madhu (7), on account of the restlessness of the mind, I do not perceive any possibility of steady continuance in this yoga of equanimity which thou hast declared. For indeed, O Krishna, the mind is full of agitation, turbulent, strong, and obstinate. I believe the restraint of it to be as difficult as that of the wind."
"Without doubt, O thou of mighty arms, the mind is restless and hard to restrain; but it may be restrained, O son of Kunti, by practice and absence of desire. Yet in my opinion this divine discipline called yoga is very difficult for one who hath not his soul in his own control; yet it may be acquired through proper means and by one who is assiduous and controlleth his heart."
"What end, O Krishna, doth that man attain who, although having faith, hath not attained to perfection in his devotion because his unsubdued mind wandered from the discipline? Doth he, fallen from both (8), like a broken cloud without any support (9), become destroyed, O strong-armed one, being deluded in the path of the Supreme Spirit? Thou, Krishna, shouldst completely dispel this doubt for me, for there is none other to be found able to remove it."
"Such a man, O son of Pritha, doth not perish here or hereafter. For never to an evil place goeth one who doeth good. The man whose devotion has been broken off by death goeth to the regions of the righteous (10), where he dwells for an immensity of years and is then born again on earth in a pure and fortunate family (11); or even in a family of those who are spiritually illuminated. But such a rebirth into this life as this last is more difficult to obtain. Being thus born again he comes in contact with the knowledge which belonged to him in his former body, and from that time he struggles more diligently towards perfection, O son of Kuru. For even unwittingly, by reason of that past practice, he is led and works on. Even if only a mere enquirer, he reaches beyond the word of the Vedas. But the devotee who, striving with all his might, obtaineth perfection because of efforts continued through many births, goeth to the supreme goal. The man of meditation as thus described is superior to the man of penance and to the man of learning and also to the man of action; wherefore, O Arjuna, resolve thou to become a man of meditation. But of all devotees he is considered by me as the most devoted who, with heart fixed on me, full of faith, worships me."
Thus in the Upanishads, called the holy Bhagavad-Gita, in the science of the Supreme Spirit, in the book of devotion, in the colloquy between the Holy Krishna and Arjuna, stands the Sixth Chapter, by name —
DEVOTION BY MEANS OF SELF-RESTRAINT.
1. A Sannyasi. (return to text)
2. A Yogi. (return to text)
3. Those ceremonies prescribed by the Brahmanical law. (return to text)
4. In this play upon "self" the Higher and the lower self are meant, in that the lower is the enemy of the Higher through its resistance to true development; and the lower self is at the same time the enemy of its own best interests through its downward tendency. (return to text)
5. These directions are for those hermits who have retired from the world. Many of the translators have variously construed the text; one reads that the devotee has "only skin and sheet to cover him and grass to lie upon"; another that "his goods are a cloth and deer-skin and kusa grass." "Those who know" say that this is a description of a magnetically arranged seat and that kusa grass is laid on the ground, the skin on the grass, and the cloth on the skin. Philological discussion will never decide the point. (return to text)
6. "Reality," Nirvana, and also complete realization of the True and the disappearance of the illusion as to objects and separateness. (return to text)
7. Madhu: a daitya or demon slain by Krishna, and representing the quality of passion in nature. (return to text)
8. "From both" here means the good Karma resulting from good deeds and spiritual knowledge acquired through yoga, or heaven and emancipation. (return to text)
9. "Without any support" refers to the support or sanction contained in the Brahmanical law in its promises to him who keeps it, for he who practices yoga is not abiding by the promises of the law, which are for those who obey that law and refrain from yoga. (return to text)
10. That is, Devachan. (return to text)
11. Madhusudana says this means in the family of a king or emperor. (return to text)