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Gita And Yoga

The conclusion of every chapter of Bhagavata Gita describes itself as a Yoga sastra (scripture of yoga) and ends with, “Sri Krishna Arjuna samvade, yoga sastre, atah….” Therefore, the Gita is a genuine source of principles of yoga for sincere seekers. Moreover, Sri Krishna aptly describes yoga in the second chapter as he advises a bewildered and hesitant Arjuna, “Perform your duty equipoised, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga” (Bhagavad-Gita 2.48).

The Lord essentially describes yoga as the process of creating a balance between failure and success; a harmonization between opposites – because duality is a basis of the world. Duality can be found in every action and aspect of life. For instance, success may be tainted with pride and arrogance, while failure may be enhanced by humility and growth. Understanding and reconciling such contradictions is true yoga according to Sri Krishna. To emphasize, Krishna further elaborates, “A man engaged in work with intelligence flavored with yoga (Buddhi yoga), rids himself of both good and bad reactions even in this life. Therefore, strive for yoga, which is the art of all work” (2.50). Herein, Krishna clearly discourages the notions of being excessively absorbed in matter resulting in bhoga (enjoyment), or over-exaggerated fear leading to tyaga (inactivity). There are those that fear everything and so do nothing to avoid being bounded by the shackles of material existence and then we have those that are so deep into their mundane illusion that the idea of “bondage” is non-existent – these people can be likened to drunkards who are totally unaware of their surroundings while lying in an open gutter somewhere. Hence, the Lord explains yoga as the art of balancing.

Similarly, certain asanas in yoga such as the Shrishasana (head standing pose), require delicate equilibrium. With time and perseverance, one develops the central gravitational force needed to stabilize and stand on their head. Likewise, physical balancing and equanimity in life are interconnected; through understanding Gita’s philosophical yoga combined with yoga asanas, one can experience the real yoga of life and calibrate all aspects of survival. Sri Krishna creates a thread between asanas and life to establish a wholesome balance. It is only when one is able to successfully sync habits and meditation, that they can benefit from the real fruit of yoga. Sri Krishna further explicates, “When the yogi, by practice of yoga, disciplines his mental activities and becomes situated in transcendence – devoid of all desires, he is said to be well established in yoga” (6.18). The perfect stage of yoga is when one’s life, habits, asanas, mental stability and intelligence, assimilate into a complete circle that can travel at great speeds with perfect stability. Furthermore, in the 6th chapter, entitled “Dhyana Yoga”, Sri Krishna actually explains some specific aspects of correct yoga postures and a stable life as He states, “To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kuśa grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should be neither too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogī should then sit on it very firmly and practice yoga to purify the heart by controlling his mind, senses and activities and fixing the mind on one point. While meditating, one should hold one’s body, neck and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose” (6.11-13). Sri Krishna clearly defines a yoga process similar to the Dhyana practice described by Patanjali muni. He repeatedly speaks of equilibrium, i.e., “one should not sit too high or too low…one should neither bend forwards or backwards, or side to side but be…straight”. Additionally, in the same chapter Krishna continues, “There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough. He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work, can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system” (6.16-17). Hence, Krishna speaks about a stable lifestyle because asanas without a fitting regime are nothing but acrobatic postures fit for a circus - only good for some financial gain.

Consequently, Sri Krishna concludes the sixth chapter with urging Arjuna to be a yogi in all circumstances, “A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist and greater than the worker with expectations. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi” (6.46). Thus, as per the Gita, life is yoga, and yoga is actually real life; without a yogic life, existence is undoubtedly ejected by the power of time. Additionally, those who follow the path of yoga, experience a level of reality where leaving or living are irrelevant, because in all conditions, they remain yogis.