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September 27, 2006

Bhagavad-gita - Chapter 6


Advancing In yoga through detached work (6.1-4)
While speaking about karma-yoga in Chapter Five Krsna mentioned ashtanga- yoga to set the scene for Chapter Six. In this chapter, Krsna clears the doubt that ashtanga- yoga may be a superior path of self-realization. By discussing ashtanga- yoga Krsna establishes it as an impractical path that one should reject in favor of bhakti yoga

Main theme:
True renunciation manifests in detachment from possessiveness and enjoying propensities, not necessarily in cessation of activities.

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Sub points:
A. Krsna consciousness is the ultimate plane of selflessness, because the devotee only desires
the pleasure of Krsna. In contrast, the impersonalist definitely has selfish desire. He or she wants
self-gratification by finding peace by merging with the brahmajyoti (6.1).
B. Sannyasa and yoga both entail the giving up fruitive desire; therefore they are nondifferent.
However, Krsna consciousness is the most direct path to attaining this goal (6.2,4).
1. Whether active or inactive, fruitive desires to renounce or acquire enjoyment
continue to plague one who is not Krsna conscious, for one who is not Krsna
conscious does not know who the true Enjoyer is.
C. The two stages of yoga (6.3-4).
1. Yogaruruksu - The beginning stage, in which prescribed duties are essential to
gradually purify one of fruitive desires.
2. Yogarudha - After achieving freedom from desires that impel fruitive work, one
retires from active duties for contemplation and meditation.
D. In Krsna consciousness one can be on the platform of meditation from the very beginning,
since a devotee can perform activities in which he meditates on serving and pleasing Krsna.

The yogarudha - giving up work (6.5-9)
Krsna instructs about the importance of mind control for yoga practice. He then describes the stage wherein one is eligible to give up work: the yogarudha. By describing the high requisite qualifications for this stage, Krsna effectively discourages Arjuna from the impractical path of astanga- yoga

Main theme:
Success in yoga practice comes when one achieves Paramatma connection as a direct result of controlling the mind.

Sub points:
A. Control of the mind is of paramount important in yoga practice. An uncontrolled mind will
meditate on sense gratification and stimulate material consciousness (6.5-7).
B. The mind as the friend or enemy.
1. The mind that takes dictation from the senses leads one into miserable fruitive
action and is therefore the living being's worst enemy.
2. The mind that takes dictation from Paramatma leads one to self-realization and is
therefore the living being's best friend.
C. Realized knowledge of the Supersoul makes one completely detached from sensual
conditions (6.8-9).
1. As this realization begins, one becomes equally disposed towards all objects – he or she
sees pebbles stones and gold as the same.
2. As the realization of Supersoul deepens, one becomes neutral to all persons - they
see friends and enemies, good and bad with an equal mind.

Stages In the practice of yoga (6.10-32)
After describing the perfected state of yoga practice, Krsna explains the procedure to achieve this goal.

Main theme:
Yoga practice, like any science, entails that one follow a process that bears results if applied correctly.

Sub points:
A. One should make spiritual realization their primary goal, and accept things that are favorable
while rejecting things unfavorable. By seeing all things in relationship with Krsna, one
naturally possesses an attitude above material mentality (6.10).
B. Preliminarily, the ashtarnga- yogi must go to a sacred place and practice celibacy, along with
many other restrictions (6.11-14).
1. Such restrictions expose the perspective of modern-day "yoga societies" selling yoga
without regulative principles. This kind of yoga will never bear transcendental results. The strict
restrictions of ashtanga yoga make clear the necessity for performing nama sankirtana in this age.
2. Celibacy is essential for the transcendentalist. Intense material pleasure
complicates their identification with the body, which is the very obstacle the yogi
must overcome. Interestingly, the bhakti school is special because it alone can
admit householders as candidates for transcendence. This is because of the unique power of bhakti to destroy material desire.
C. The goal of yoga is the Kingdom of God, not bodily exercise or the "void." (6.14-15).
D. Regulation of the body is essential in spiritual life. It provides peaceful senses and a fit
body conducive for spiritual life (6.16-17).
1. For eating, taking prasadam is the only way to be free from sinful reactions that
disturb yoga.
2. Through Krsna consciousness, one can easily regulate all bodily necessities.
E. The perfected stage of yoga comes when the mind is fully controlled. This is fixed samadhi,
transcendental happiness (6.18-32)
1. The stage of perfect mental-control results from gradual cultivation of mental
detachment, continually pulling the mind back from where it may wander. This is a
difficult task. For the devotee however, it is easier (6.18-19, 24-26).
a) Because he can engage all of his senses (including the mind) in the service
of Krsna (ex. of Maharaja Ambarisa).
b) Such personal meditation is not dry, like the forced detachment of the
c) Most importantly, in his attempt to control the mind, the aspiring devotee
is given strength by the Lord Himself.
2. The stage of samadhi entails the communion of the soul and Supersoul through
transcendental mind and intelligence. One then experiences the Lord's cit Sakti
(knowledge potency), which reveals the true nature of the living entity. At this
stage, one can easily maintain detachment from sense objects because of the transcendental happiness that he feels within (5.20-23).
3. The fact that samadhi is transcendental bliss subtly confirms variegatedness in the
Absolute, as relish of bliss requires a knower of transcendental bliss and an object
of bliss. Subtly, impersonalism is defeated (5.20-23).
4. The culmination of yoga practice is Bhagavan realization - in which the Supersoul-
realized yogi understands that Paramatma and Sri Krsna are one, and becomes a
devotee of Krsna (6.27-32).
a) Bhagavan realization automatically entails all other levels of realization.
b) One in Krsna consciousness can know all things by their connection with
Krsna, as they are His energy. He thus achieves equal vision and liberation.
from material contamination. Such a devotee desires to help others
achieve Krsna consciousness, knowing it to be the highest level of

The necessity of controlling the mind in yoga practice (6.33-36)
A main point in the previous section was the importance of mental control to reach perfection in yoga. Arjuna, representing the common person, confesses his feelings of inability to achieve perfection in this way. In response, Krsna gives advice on how to practice mental control.

Main theme:
The impetuous mind can be curbed only by strict regulation of yoga practice.

Sub points:
A. The process of inactive ashtanga yoga is not possible to follow today (6.33).
• Arjuna's rejection of this path is significant. Arjuna was a thoroughly qualifed
person. If even he could not follow this rigorous path, what
to speak of the people of Kali-yuga, who are less qualified in so many ways?
Therefore, in this age, the yogic path is not a suitable means to transcendental
B. In Kali-yuga, the "suitable practice" to control the mind is devotional service starting with
chanting the holy name. Detachment from matter comes easily when one is attached to spirit: devotional service to Krsna (6.34-37).

The destination of the unsuccessful yogi (6.37-45)
Arjuna confesses his true fear: he may not be able to attain success in the rigors of spiritual life. Thus he
will be a failure both spiritually and materially. As Krsna is the ultimate authority on the
nature of reality, Arjuna relies on Krsna to destroy his doubt.

Main theme:
There is no loss for one who takes to the path of transcendence.

Sub points:
A. This section expands on the idea first presented text 2.40, where Krsna explained that
there is no loss or diminution on the path of spiritual life.
B. What happens to an "unsuccessful" yogi? According to his level of spiritual advancement
at death, he or she attains a certain destination in which he may easily rekindle their previous
spiritual advancement (6.41-45).
1. One who practices yoga for a short time first goes to the higher planets to fulfill their
remaining material desires. They then take birth in an aristocratic and/or pious
family wherein they may revive their yoga practice without impediment (6.41).
2. One who has made great advancement in yoga, but is still not completely perfect
takes their next birth in a family of spiritualists, becomes automatically attracted to
advanced yogic principles, and thus successfully completes their self-realization (6.44-45).
C. The ultimate stage of yoga practice is pure devotion to Krsna (6.46-47).
1. All yogic paths culminate in bhakti. Bhakti yoga is the perfection of yoga. It is not
simply a process of purification; it is also the goal of purification, the eternal
position of the living entity.
2. The conclusion of Chapter Six clearly reveals its import:
a) Yoga, which entails inactivity, is impractical for this age. Karma-yoga is
more suitable.
b) Bhakti-yoga to Krsna is the supreme yoga, and the goal of mysticism.

September 05, 2006

Bhagavad-gita Chapter 5 Philosophical Points


Niskama-karma Is equal to, but easier than renouncing work (5.1-6)
At the conclusion of the Second Chapter, Arjuna was perplexed because Krishna stressed both the cultivation
of knowledge and fighting in the war. Arjuna was unsure if he should fight, or give up fighting and pursue
knowledge. A similar confusion arises at the beginning of this chapter. Krishna spent the entire 4th Chapter
glorifying transcendental knowledge, yet finished the chapter with an imperative to "stand and fight." In
Chapter Five, Krishna resolves this dilemma by explaining that activity and renunciation are not mutually

Main theme:
There is no real difference between performing detached activities in karma-yoga and renouncing activities altogether. The only difference is that karma-yoga is easier and provokes less chance of fall down. It is therefore the safer, better path.

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Sub points:
A. Although renunciation of work and work in devotion both lead to liberation, work in
devotion is recommended (5.2-3, 6).

1. Inactivity does not directly purify the heart; it simply blocks one from material
activity. It is therefore not sufficient to bring liberation.
2. Inaction cannot be maintained indefinitely, because the soul is active by nature.
Without taking shelter of purified activity, one will fall down again into fruitive
3. Only by acting on the platform of the soul, in Krisha consciousness, can one attain
knowledge of their eternal, liberated, spiritual position.
B. Renunciation of action may be caused by incomplete vision characteristic of Mayavada
1. In the material world, one experiences that all actions lead ultimately to bondage
in the network of karma. One may therefore conclude that one must desist from all
activity if they are to become free from karma.
2. This assumes, however, that all activities are material.
3. One with full spiritual vision knows actions that directly serve the will of the
Supreme are not like material actions. They bring liberation, not karmic bondage.
4. The perfect conception of renunciation is to use all things in the service of the
ultimate owner, Krishna. So doing, one attains freedom from material bondage and
reinstatement in their original, blissful, spiritual position. This is because they
renounce not only the objects of the senses, but also the concept of ownership (5.2-3
C. Philosophical discrimination and devotional service are not different paths of spiritual
advancement. They are interdependent methods on the same path.
1. Arjuna is confused whether to fight or to renounce. Krishna explains that there is
no real dichotomy. The ultimate aim of both sankhya-yoga and karma yoga is the
same: self-realization.
2. The aim of philosophical discrimination (sankhya) is to discover the root of
existence. The aim of devotional service (karma- yoga) is to act in terms of that discovery. When one discovers he/she is a spiritual spark, and that the root of his existence is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he/she engages in service to the will of the Supreme.
3. Thus the two paths are complimentary. Sankhya detaches one from
material illusion, and devotional service attaches one to spiritual reality. Because spiritual attachment and material detachment are the same, one in knowledge does not differentiate between the two.

Performing niskama karma - work with detachment (5.7-12)
By describing the consciousness of one who works in transcendental knowledge, Krishna illustrates how karma- yoga and sankhya- yoga are complimentary, but karma- yoga is preferred.

Main theme:
One in knowledge understands his/her incompatibility with material nature and thus acts only for purification, unattached to material results.

Sub points:
A. By practice of Krsna consciousness, one automatically becomes peaceful and dear to all (5.7-12).
1. The mentality of one in Krsna consciousness is centered on pleasing Krishna. Seeing all things in relationship to Krishna, he/she treats all beings with respect. He/she is thus dear to all. Because he/she sees no existence outside of Krishna, he/she is peaceful and fearless. In this consciousness he/she performs activities without karma.
B. While acting in the world, one in Krishna consciousness is fully detached from
bodily identification. He/she works simply to advance in spiritual realization (5.8-
2. What is the impetus to act for one who realizes that he is the observer of their body? He/she acts only serve the Supreme and advance in realization of Krishna. This type of activity is always free from the contamination of the material senses.
C. Texts 7-12 may depict any of the three levels of God realization. Since
Bhagavan is highest realization, and is clearly the goal of Gita, Prabhupada explains
the verses from that angle.

The platform of knowledge - knowing the three doers (5.13-16)
Chapter Five addresses the topic of action. When discussing action, one must of course refer to the performer of action. Here, Krsna explains the three performers of action. By understanding their relationship and participation in activity, one becomes enlightened.

Main theme:
Knowledge of the material world consists of understanding the relationship between the living entity, material nature, and the Supersoul.

Sub points :
A. The three doers.
1. The individual soul.
2. The three modes.
3. The Supersoul.

B. The living entity thinks themselves the doer of their own actions, but in fact they are not.
According to Bhagavad-gita, he/she is simply a witness of their activities. His/her body and its actions are choreographed by the modes of material nature. Yet even material nature is not the ultimate doer. Above the material nature is the Supersoul, the director of choreography, who causes activity to be done through the agency of material nature (5.14).
C. One holds the performer of an activity to be responsible for its consequences. Seeing the
Supersoul as the ultimate performer of one's actions, one may wrongly blame Him for the
entanglement and misery arising as their karmic result (5.15).
1. Although the Supersoul is the controller of activity, He is not the initiator.
2. Material activities are initiated by the material desires of the living entity. The
Supersoul fulfills those desires by causing the three modes to move in various
3. Thus the living entity is the cause of his actions and is thus responsible for their
consequences. The Supersoul is the ultimate controller of activity, and the modes
of material nature are the agency of action.
D. Understanding the position of the Supersoul leads one to surrender to Him. This is the
state of perfect knowledge. Acting in this knowledge brings one happiness and peace, even
within the body (5.13, 16).

Liberation by focusing on the Supersoul (5.17-26)
When one acts on the knowledge presented in 5.13-16, he/she reaps two substantial fruits: detachment and surrender. In this section, Krsna describes one who has attained these two fruits of knowledge.

Main theme:
One who takes shelter of the Supersoul in full knowledge becomes impartial in material transactions and finds a quick path to liberation.

Sub points:
A. The two fruits of understanding the Supersoul to be the ultimate controller of activity:
1. Detachment from material events:
a) One who understands that he/she is not the material body or senses is not
concerned with their satisfaction.
b) He/she appreciates that he/she has no direct control over material phenomena, so
attachment to them is useless.
c) He/she is too busy serving the Lord in blissful Krsna consciousness to take to
mundane sense gratification.
2. Surrender to the Supersoul: Supersoul realization is distinct from Brahman
realization as it has a personal bent. One appreciates that the Paramatma is in total
control and is also personal. Thus, one is lead to surrender to the Supersoul, who is
the jiva's categorical superior.
B. Being fixed in perfect knowledge is defined as knowing the supreme position of Sri Krsna,
and knowing His relation with all other things, further descriptions in this section start
from this essential understanding (5.17).
C. Seeing with Krishna consciousness automatically brings a vision of equality; the seer does not
differentiate between good and bad due to attraction and repulsion, nor does he/she make
distinctions simply based on the material body (5.18-19).
1. Krishna conscious equal vision is not blind to distinction.
a) One with equal vision does perceive that the living entities have different
bodies with different qualities, but he/she also perceives the transcendent soul and Supersoul within each apparently different entity. Thus he/she sees all beings equally.
2. In text 19, it is also important to note that one attains the Brahman
platform of vision as a side effect of knowing Krishna and His different energies(text 17). This confirms Bhagavan realization to be higher than Brahman realization, containing it as a by-product.
D. One realized in Krishna consciousness is not swayed by sense objects or material attractions;
instead he/she is fixed on spiritual happiness within (5.20-24).
1. The devotee fixed in understanding his constitutional nature is not
Distracted by anything that gives bodily pain or pleasure, nor is he/she carried away by the cravings of the body, because he/she experiences transcendental happiness beyond the material senses.
2. He/she understands that mundane sensual happiness is the greatest
source of misery because it reinforces one's identification with the
temporary material body and covers cognizance of his eternal, blissful
E. Only through Krsna consciousness can one truly benefit others, as true welfare is spiritual emancipation. Giving comforts to a temporary material body is incomplete welfare (5.25).
F. The Lord protects His devotee from material contamination. By the Lord's mercy, the bhakta is assured of eventual success on the path (5.26).

Liberation through astanga-yoga - a preview (5.27-28)
As stated before, people generally identify spirituality with inaction. They think sitting somewhere in a forest meditating is more spiritual than working in karma-yoga. Krishna makes the point that there is no difference between karma- yoga and astanga- yoga. These verses serve as an introduction to the next chapter, which discusses astanga- yoga.

Main theme:
In addition to karma- yoga, one may achieve Supersoul realization through astanga- yoga

Peace formula on the platform of liberation (5.29)
The knowledge explained in Chapter Five is quite subtle, but here Krsna is practical and relevant to Arjuna's situation. Arjuna's attachment to inaction arises mainly due to his fearing the consequences of fighting in the war. By following the path of action outlined in this chapter, Arjuna can perform his duty without fear of undesirable consequences. The essence of this peaceful, fearless path of action is that it is performed with Krsna in the center.

Main theme:
We can achieve true peace when we understand Krsna's supremacy, and act accordingly.

Sub points
A. Fear is an uncertainty about the future and how the future may threaten one's attachments.
But one who is in Krsna consciousness is free from fear.
1. He/she understands that Krishna is the Supreme controller and is benevolent. This
confidence brings fearlessness.
2. He/she is not attached to any material situation. His/her only concern is devotional
service which cannot be threatened by any material situation. Thus he/she is not fearful due to attachment.
B. Individual attempts at world peace are impossible without first recognizing the real center
of existence by which all people can recognize their brotherhood. That center is Sri Krishna.
1. Bhoktaram yajna-tapasam - People fight over things they want to enjoy, but a
wise person knows that Krishna is the only real enjoyer.
2 Sarva-Loka-mahesvaram - People fight to control land, but Krsna is the only true
owner of all properties, and the common ruler of all rulers.
3. Suhrdam sarva-bhutanam - A Krishna conscious person does not divide enemies
from friends, because he/she knows that Krishna is the friend of all living beings.