sri bhagavan uvaca –
anashritah karma-phalam karyan karma karoti yah
sa sannyasi ca yogi ca na niragnir na cakriyah
Bhagavan Sri Krishna said: One who performs his prescribed duties and renounces the results of those actions is a yogi and a sannyasi. One does not become a sannyasi simply by rejecting the performance of sacrifice and performing no activities.
yam sannyasam iti prahur yogam tam viddhi pandava
na hy-asannyasta-sankalpo yogi bhavati kashcana
O son of Pandu, that which is known as sannyasa is the same as yoga. One can never become a yogi without renouncing the desire to satisfy the senses.
arurukshor muner yogam karma karanam ucyate
yogarudhasya tasyaiva shamah karanam ucyate
For one who is a beginner on the path of yoga, action is the means. For one who is already practiced in yoga, the renunciation of action is the means.
yada hi nendriyartheshu na karmasv-anushajjate
sarva-sankalpa-sannyasi yogarudhas tadocyate
When one is neither attached to the sense-objects nor to the activities that lead to their enjoyment, at that time one is said to have attained yoga.
uddhared atmanatmanam natmanam avasadayet
atmaiva hy-atmano bandhur atmaiva ripur atmanah
Living beings must elevate themselves by the mind – they must not humiliate themselves. Certainly, the mind is the friend of the living being as well as their worst enemy.
bandhur atmatmanas tasya yenatmaivatmana jitah
anatmanastu shatrutve vartetatmaiva shatruvat
For one who has subdued the mind, the mind is a friend. However, for one who has not controlled the mind, the mind is the greatest enemy.
jitatmanah prashantasya paramatma samahitah
shitoshna-sukha-duhkheshu tatha manapamanayoh
Those who have subdued the mind and are calm, attain realization of the Paramatma (Super Consciousness). For such persons heat and cold, happiness and distress and honor and dishonor are all the same.
jnana-vijnana-triptatma kutastho vijitendriyah
yukta ityucyate yogi sama-loshtashma-kancanah
The yogi who is self-satisfied due to his knowledge and realization, fixed in his spiritual nature and in control of his senses, sees dirt, stones and gold equally.
sadhush-vapi ca papeshu sama-buddhir vishishyate
Such a yogi of impartial intelligence sees an honest well-wisher, an affectionate benefactor, an enemy, neutral persons, a mediator, the envious, a relative, the pious and the impious with equal vision.
yogi yunjjita satatam atmanam rahasi sthitah
ekaki yata-cittatma nirashir aparigrahah
A yogi should live in a solitary place with his mind and body fully controlled. He should be without desire, without a sense of possessiveness and must constantly fix his mind on the atma, the self within.
shucau deshe pratishthapya sthiram asanam atmanah
naty-ucchritam natinican cailajina-kushottaram
tatraikagram manah kritva yata-cittendriya-kriyah
upavishyasane yunjyad yogam atma-vishuddhaye
Establishing a seat in a clean environment that is not too high or too low, a yogi should cover his sitting place with kusha grass, a deerskin and a cloth. Sitting on that seat, fixing his mind on one point and controlling all the activities of the mind and senses, he should practice yoga to purify himself.
samam kaya-shiro-grivam dharayann acalam sthirah
samprekshya nasikagram svam dishash canavalokayan
prashantatma vigata-bhir brahmacari-vrate sthitah
manah samyamya mac-citto yukta asita mat-parah
Holding the body, head and neck straight, he should remain still and steady, gazing at the tip of the nose without casting his glance in other directions. Undisturbed, fearless and observing a vow of celibacy, he should sit and control his mind by thinking of Me as his highest goal.
yunjann evam sadatmanam yogi niyata-manasah
shantim nirvana-paramam matsamstham adhigacchati
In this way, the yogi controls his mind, withdrawing it from material desires. He then achieves supreme peace and liberation from material existence and attains My abode.
natyashnata stu yogo’sti na catikantam anashnatah
na cati svapna-shilasya jagrato naiva carjuna
One cannot practice yoga by eating too much or eating to little, nor sleeping too much or sleeping too little, O Arjuna.
yuktahara-viharasya yukta-ceshtasya karmasu
yukta-svapnavabodhasya yogo bhavati duhkha-ha
Yoga destroys the suffering of one who is moderate in eating and relaxation, who performs all activities in a regulated manner and is well balanced in sleeping and waking.
Many commentators on Bhagavad-gita have mentioned that the style of meditation spoken of in the Sixth Chapter is derived from the system of yoga known as ashtanga-yoga, or the eightfold process of meditation. The famous compiler of the Yoga-sutras, Patanjali has explained the sequential order of the ashtanga-yoga process as follows:
First, one should practice yama that consists of observances such as rising from bed before sunrise, taking bath, study of the Vedas and performing puja (rituals).
Niyama consists of controlling the senses by following the regulative principles of no intoxication, no illicit sex, no gambling and no eating of meat, fish or eggs.
Next one begins the practice of asana by physically conditioning the body through systematic bodily exercises and postures aimed at toning and bringing into balance one’s entire physical organism.
Then one advances to the performance of pranayama, controlling the inward and outward breath by systematic breathing exercises performed in conjunction with various asanas. When asanas and pranayama are performed or taught just for the sake of health, this is sometimes called hatha-yoga.
After pranayama follows pratyahara, or withdrawing the senses from the sense objects and training the mind to become introspective and intuitively orientated. Then one is able to concentrate the mind on a single point without being disturbed. This is called dharana or attaining concentration.
Once having acquired the ability to concentrate the mind without distractions from external sources, one can begin actual meditation, or dhyana. There are many forms of meditation in the yoga system, however none of them recommend concentrating on nothingness. The three principle objects in yoga meditations are Brahman (transcendental light), Paramatma (localized Super Consciousness) and Bhagavan (Sri Krishna).
Samadhi is the final stage of ashtanga-yoga practice wherein the yogi, at the time of quitting the material body, attains the object of his desired perfection. The yogis who desire Brahman or Paramatma realization enter the brahma-jyoti after giving up their body and the yogi who desires Bhagavan realization enters into the Supreme Abode of Krishna known as Vaikuntha or Goloka Vrindavana to associate with and participate in transcendental pastimes with Krishna.
According to many masters of yoga, only Bhagavan realization is eternal. Even after attaining Brahman or Paramatma realizations and merging into the supreme Brahman, a yogi will once again have to come back to the material world and begin again the cycle of birth and death. This is said to be due to the intrinsic nature of all living beings to perform activities. Although in the brahma-jyoti there is a sense of bliss that is many thousands of times greater than material happiness, still the desire to act remains. But because the Brahman realized yogi and the Paramatma realized yogi are not qualified to perform devotional activities in the association of Krishna, they cannot enter the spiritual planets and must therefore come down to take birth again in the material world.
Sri Krishna again informs Arjuna in verse fifteen that the final goal of yoga is to attain His Supreme Abode (Vaikuntha or Goloka Vrindavana). This is indeed the ultimate goal of the yoga system.
One cannot be a yogi if one eats too much or not enough. Eating too much also means eating things like non-vegetarian foodstuff to maintain the body. This is not actually required. Nor can one be a yogi if one does not eat enough. This also means that one should not abstain from eating milk products by considering it as non-vegetarian. Milk is the most complete food possible. Milk products help to develop a strong bodily constitution and nourish our brain cells and thus our thinking capacity. Yoga is something that has been practiced in India for thousands of years and all the while the yogis have recommended taking milk and milk products like yogurt and cheese etc. Only in recent times have some people thought it bad to take milk products, but the masters of yoga have never recommended such.
Proper sitting posture, control of the senses and observing celibacy are also recommended in the above verses because without such practices no one can actually be a yogi. Gazing at the tip of the nose without casting one’s glance in other directions means being perfectly concentrated, as in dharana, and performing dhyana, or meditation on Krishna as the highest goal.
As far as possible a yogi should try to live in a holy place to practice yoga. In India yogis are fond of residing on the banks of the Ganges at Haridwar, Rishikesh, Benares, or Mayapura, or on the banks of another sacred river like the Yamuna, Kaveri or Godavari. Some yogis prefer the sanctuary of the Himalayas, others prefer residence in the char-dhama (Dvaraka, Badarinatha, Jagannatha Puri and Rameshvaram). But in any case, the yogi must choose the proper place to practice yoga.
If one is unable to live in a holy place or on the banks of a sacred river, then one should try to live in an ashrama or yoga community. If one is unable to live in a yoga community then one should sanctify one’s home by creating a place where Krishna can be worshipped and mantra meditation can be performed. The home should have an atmosphere conducive for contemplation, study and controlling the senses. Such a home should be peaceful and free from acts of violence, animal killing, intoxication etc.
In this modern age (Kali-yuga) animal killing, intoxication and so many other unfavorable activities for the cultivation of yoga are everywhere. Subsequently, it is very difficult to find the appropriate place for yoga practice, especially for the practice of ashtanga-yoga, raja-yoga, hatha-yoga and so on. Therefore, in Kali-yuga the recommended process of bhakti-yoga and meditation is through the chanting of the maha-mantra.
hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
The chanting of the maha-mantra is so powerful and purifying that, wherever it is chanted, it makes that place purified. Thus the bhakti-yoga process can be practiced everywhere and anywhere. Bhakti-yoga is actually the only recommended process of yoga in Kali-yuga.
The yogi must always strive for self-satisfaction, knowledge and realization. Such a yogi will always see everything in this world with equal vision and therefore will not become attached to anything of a temporary nature. Krishna has given the example of gold saying that the yogi sees gold and mere stones as the same. This is not to say that the yogi cannot distinguish the brilliance of gold from that of ordinary objects; rather this means that the yogi is not attracted to finding satisfaction in the accumulation of wealth.
It has been said that the desire for wealth is what makes the world go round. This may be true in the sense that the desire for wealth is what drives most people to act, but sadly we also see clearly where greed for wealth is taking the world today – political unrest culminating in war, death and destruction; economic instability and collapse as well as extreme instability in the environment, resulting in natural disasters and the extinction of many species of life.