The Yogi remains equanimous in all situations, knowing that everything is bound to the One.
Sreejit Datta teaches English and Cultural Studies at the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University in Mysore. Variously trained in comparative literature, Hindustani music and statistics; Sreejit happens to be an acclaimed vocalist who has been regularly performing across multiple Indian and non-Indian genres. He can be reached at:
God said: That man who performs his duties well,
Without depending on their impending results,
Is no doubt a renunciate, a veritable yogi;
But not he who forsakes fire and rituals.
That which is called renunciation, O Pandav,
Know the same thing to be yoga, forsooth;
For one who hasn’t renounced his desires
Can never be described as a yogi in truth.
Action is ordained as that man’s bid
Who aspires to scale yoga’s summit;
Inaction is likewise reserved for those
Who have already achieved that feat.
For when he has given up his attachment
To objects of sense and to actions as well –
With all his desires renounced – it is then
That a man is said to have mastered yoga well.
One must rescue oneself from oneself,
Without ever letting oneself down;
For one is indeed one’s own friend,
As also the enemy of one’s own.
One’s self becomes his one true friend
Once he has conquered that self;
But the same would make an enemy of him
Who lacks control over himself.
The Supreme Self ever shines through him
Who has conquered himself and is the same
In cold and in heat, and who is always at peace
In pleasure or pain, in honour or shame.
The one whose self has become content
By knowledge and by its realisation,
The one who is steadfast and temperate,
Is known as the yogi; and his is the vision
Who sees pebbles and gold with the same eye;
For the yogi is ever yoked to the source.
Thus the yogi, unwavering and firm,
Dwells in the Atman, basking in its force.
He’s the supernal yogi who regards equally
The benefactor, the friend, the enemy,
The neutral side, the arbiter, the hater,
The kinsfolk, the saint and the sinner.
The yogi, forever yoked to the Atman
Dwells all alone in secret, in full possession
Of his mind and body, becoming free from
All expectation as well as acquisition.
Let him find a clean space for a steady seat,
That is neither too high nor too low;
One which is made by placing successively
Cloth, deerskin, and some kusha-grass down below.
Placing himself on that seat, with all his thoughts
Focused on a single object; thereby bringing
All actions of his mind and senses under control,
He may engage in yoga to purify his being.
Holding his body, head and neck in a single line,
Sitting erect and still, focusing his vision
On the tip of his nose, and forbidding his eyes
From running to and fro, free of distraction,
With a tranquil mind, purged of fear,
Duly observing the vows of a celibate,
His mind restrained and fixed on Me,
He may sit yoked to Me, fully intent.
Keeping himself thus focused for ever,
The yogi with a restrained mind
Attains to that Peace Absolute which
Brings nirvana, which in Me men find.
And yet, O Arjun! You must understand
That yoga is not for the glutton,
Nor is it meant for him who only fasts;
These lack moderation for certain.
He who sleeps too long as a habit,
And he who keeps awake forever
Do not qualify to become yogis:
In this Path, the extremes aren’t favoured.
But the one who sleeps and wakes in discipline,
Who moderately eats and moves about,
He who strives at work with measured steps –
In him indeed yoga puts all sufferings to rout.
Freed from the lust of all desired things,
He’s then said to be yoked in discipline,
When with a restrained mind such a one
Dwells only in the Atman within.
Like a candle in a windless chamber –
So goes the analogy for the yogin –
For his mind likewise flickers not,
It is ever steady in pointed discipline.
When his mind, thus steadied for yoga,
Withdraws itself from the outer sphere;
And when the yogi, through such efforts,
Revels in Atman, seeing It in Its own mirror;
When he tastes the Bliss Absolute, rarest of all,
Found through discernment, beyond the senses –
And being in which state never drifts from the Truth,
And gaining which he needs no more recompenses;
Such a station, where great tragedies touch him not,
Such a station, where all agonies melt away,
Is known as yoga. Indeed, ‘tis practiced by those
Whose minds nothing can ever dismay.
Exhausting all desires for the results of actions,
Reining in thy senses by the mind from all sides,
Fixing all thoughts on Atman thro’ steadied reason,
Shedding doubts, withdraw the mind in gradual strides!
Withdraw it from each of those objects to which
The capricious and feverish mind runs;
This is how you must subdue it, this is how
It must be kept from taking wild turns.
The Bliss Absolute descends on that yogi, who
Possesses a tranquil mind, who has vanquished
The impulses of activity, who’s merged with Brahman,
And in whom all sins have been extinguished.
Thus yoked to the Source within, for ever,
The yogi, wiped of all sins, with ease
Basks in the ecstasy of dwelling with Brahman –
And this gives him the Highest Bliss.
The soul who is yoked to the discipline of yoga,
Attains the divine sameness of vision;
Thro’ which he sees his Atman in all beings,
And in his Atman the whole of creation.
He who finds Me in all and finds all in Me,
Neither am I lost to him, nor is he lost to Me.
Finding this unity, he who worships the omnipresent Me,
Such a yogi, whatever be his station, ever abides in Me.
O Arjun! He who treats everyone as he would himself –
In joy or in sorrow – such a yogi is deemed the best.
Then Arjun spoke thus: O Slayer of Madhu! You speak
Of yoga achieved in the equanimous mind, at rest;
But I cannot see how one can possibly stay in it for ever,
Because, O Krishna! The mind is never at rest –
The mind is capricious, turbulent, feverish, tenacious!
Subduing it is harder than taming the wind’s unrest.
God replied: O Great Armed Warrior! Doubtless, it is true
That the mind is restless and hard to subdue;
But, O Son of Kunti! You must know that it is possible;
By practice and detachment, one can win through.
Granted, the discipline of yoga is hard to attain
For those who lack proper self-control,
But those who can restrain themselves and persist
In the right course, may achieve that goal.
To this Arjun enquired: O Krishna! What happens
When one strays from the path of yoga;
Though he may have shraddha, but lacking in self-control
If he falls from the ideal, to what end does he go?
Is he not lost forever, losing both this world and the other,
Bewildered in the pursuit of Brahman, helpless;
O Mighty Armed Lord! Does he not get deviated,
Deflected like the scattered clouds, directionless?
O Krishna! You must cut this doubt asunder
And leave no trace of it in my mind;
For I see no one more suited than yourself
Who may dispel this suspicion of mine!
Thus entreated, the Beauteous Lord replied:
Son of Pritha! Neither does he get lost here,
Nor hereafter; for, my dear, none striving for welfare
Meets a wretched end on their path, ever!
One who falls from the path of discipline,
Attains such worlds where saints dwell;
And having dwelt there for endless years he’s born
In the house of such pious folks who’re doing well.
Or else he is born in the families of yogis themselves –
Those who’ve gained enlightenment; for in this world
There are very few things that are harder to come by
Than such a birth into which the fallen yogi is hurled.
There he picks up the same mental discipline
As was developed in his previous lives,
And then, O Joy of Kurus! With redoubled efforts
For attainment of perfection, he strives!
Indeed, like a powerless device he is driven
By the sheer force of his past practice;
A mere enquiry into the discipline of yoga
Makes him transcend the Veda: he has no need for this.
The yogi who strives with diligence,
Rids himself of sins whatsoever;
And having passed through his numerous lives
Attains perfection – and thereby the Highest Sphere.
Greater than the ascetic is regarded the yogi,
Greater than the man of knowledge too,
Greater than the man of action is he; O Arjun!
Therefore to be a yogi is best for you.
And moreover, among all the yogis,
I regard that man to be the best,
Who with his innermost being fixed on Me,
Adores Me with shraddha: he is blessed.