Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is 701 verses of the 200,000 verse (roughly ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined) epic poem, the Mahabharata, estimated to be from the period of the 8th to 9th centuries BCE. The major focus of the Bhagavad Gita is on the principles and practices of traditional yoga. The word "yoga" is specifically mentioned in 16 of the 18 chapters, a total of 68 verses, with the remainder substantially expanding on yoga practices. In the Himalayan meditation tradition as transmitted through Swami Rama, Krishna is viewed not as a deity to be worshipped, but as a metaphor for Brahman, the absolute nondual Reality. When words such as "Me", "My", or "Mine" are used in the text, these are taken to be symbols for one speaking from the direct experience of this nondual Reality, not the individual person of Krishna. Hence, the yoga of the Bhagavad Gita has to do with the union ("yoga") of the individual Self ("Atman") with the universal Self ("Brahman").
This paper lists the 68 verses of the Bhagavad Gita which specifically contain the word "yoga". The reason for this compilation of verses is that yoga has been significantly blended with gymnastics in the hundred or so years, leaving many, if not most people viewing yoga as a physical fitness technique. Even a cursory review of these Bhagavad Gita verses on yoga will reveal that the many modern brand names of yoga bear virtually no resemblance to the yoga of this earlier period. It is common to say that yoga is some 5,000 years old, and this yoga of the Bhagavad Gita much more likely represents the 5,000 year old yoga than the more recent inventions.
Read through these 68 verses yourself, explore these in your favorite Bhagavad Gita commentaries, and decide for yourself. If you see this as accurate, please have the courage of conviction to stand up for your views. If you are a modern teacher of yoga in studios or other such places, please teach your students these higher views on the truer meaning of "yoga". You will find yourself to be part of a small, butI believegrowing community of students and teachers seeking the real goal of yogaSelf-realization, the direct experience with the absolute Reality, the One without a second, Atman which is Brahman.
~ Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
2.39 This wisdom I have told you according to the philosophy of Sankhya; now hear it according to Yoga, the wisdom joined with which, O Son of Pritha, you will abandon the bondage of karma.
2.48 Perform actions dwelling in yoga, abandoning attachment, O Conquerer of Wealth, being alike to success and failure. Equanimity is called yoga.
2.49 Action is by far lower than the yoga of wisdom, O Arjuna. Seek to take refuge in wisdom. Those whose actions are causes of fruits are petty minded.
2.50 One endowed with wisdom relinquishes here both the good deeds as well as the bad ones. Therefore be directed toward yoga; yoga is skillfulness in actions.
2.53 When your intellect, previously confused by the variety of teachings, remains firm and inmoving in samashi, then you will attain yoga.
2.61 Therefore, controlling them all, joined in yoga, one should remain intent upon Me. He whose senses are under control, his wisdom is established.
2.66 There is no discriminating wisdom in one who is not joined in yoga, nor is there any cultivating of contemplativeness for one who is not joined in yoga. One who has not cultivated contemplation has no peace; how can there be happiness for one who is not at peace?
3.3 O Sinless One, in this world I have taught two kinds of discipline: the yoga of knowledge for those whose path is of discriminating wosdom and the yoga of action for the yogis.
3.7 He, however, who, controlling the senses with the mind, O Arjuna, initiates the yoga of action with the senses of action. he, unattached, is distinguished.
3.26 One should not divert the minds of the ignorant who are attached to action; a wise man who conducts himself joined in yoga should let them learn how to perform actions lovingly.
4.1 I taught this immutable yoga to Vivasvat; Vivasvat taught it to Manu; Manu taught it to Ikshvaku.
4.2 Royal sages knew this yoga as it was handed down in the lineage of the tradition. Then over a long period of time this yoga disappeared, O Scorcher of Enemies.
4.3 That very ancient yoga I have taught you today, as you are My devotee as well as My friend. This is the highest secret.
4.18 He who sees inaction in action and who sees action in inaction, he is the one endowed with wisdom among human beings. He is joined in yoga, a performer of complete action.
4.28 Some sacrifice objects; the sacrifices of some are ascetic practices; the sacrifice of some is yoga. Some ascetics of well-honed vows perform the sacrifices of self-study and knowledge.
4.38 There is no purifier in this world equal to knowledge. One who is fully accomplished in yoga finds that knowledge in the Self in due time.
4.41 He who has renounced actions through yoga, he whose doubts have been sundered by knowledge, he who has cultivated the self, him the actions do not bind, O Conquerer of Wealth.
4.42 Therefore with the sword of the knowledge of Self, cut this doubt that is born of ignorance and that is dwelling in your heart. Resort to yoga. Rise, O Descendent of Bharata.
5.2 Both the yoga of renunciation and of action lead to supreme beatitude. Between those two, however, the yoga of action excels the renunciation of action.
5.4 Only the childish argue about Samkhya and Yoga as being separate--not so the pandits. Resorting to either one properly one attains the fruit of both.
5.5 The place that is attained by the followers of Samkhya is also attained by those of Yoga. He who sees Samkhya and Yoga as one, truly sees.
5.6 Renunciation, however, O Mighty-armed One, is difficult to attain without yoga. The meditator joined in yoga, however, attains Brahman without delay.
5.7 Joined in yoga, of purified self, having conquered the self, having conquered the senses, he whose self has become the Self of all beings, is not defiled even when performing actions.
5.8 `I do nothing al all.' Thus should the knower of Reality, joined in yoga, contemplate, even while seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eatig, walking, sleeping, breathing.
5.12 Joined in yoga, abandoning the fruits of action, one attains the peace of those who have conviction. One not joined in yoga, acting out of desire and attached to fruits becomes bound.
5.21 The happiness that he finds in the Self, whose self is unattached to external contacts, he with his self joined in the yoga of Brahman attains imperishable comfort.
5.23 He who before leaving this body, right, here, can learn to withstand the impetus rising from desire and action, he is joined in yoga. That man is happy.
6.3 For a meditator (muni) desirous of ascending in yoga, action is said to be a superior means. And when the same one has already risen in yoga, tranquility becomes his support.
6.4 When he is no longer drawn to the objects of senses nor to actions, having renounced all volitions of desire, he is then called `one who as ascended to yoga'.
6.8 His self satiated by knowledge and realization, absolute, having conquered the senses, joined in yoga, he is called a yogi, beholding a lump of clay, stone, or nugget of gold alike.
6.10 The yogi should incessantly place himself in yoga, dwelling in solitude, alone, his mind and self controlled, having no expectations, receiving no input into the senses.
6.12 There making the mind one-pointed, with the mind, self, and movement under control, sitting on the seat one should practice yoga for self-purification.
6.14 With a pacified self, with all fear banished, remaining in the vow of a celibate, controlling the mind, with the mind absorbed in Me, one should dwell joined in yoga and intent upon Me.
6.15 Thus uniting himself in yoga, the yogi with a well-directed mind reaches that peace the ultimate of which is absorption (nirvana) and the foundation of which is Me.
6.16 There is no yoga for one who eats much or who eats nothing at all or for one who is inclined to excessive sleep or one who awakes altogether, O Arjuna.
6.17 He whose food and enjoyment are balanced, whose movements in actions are balanced, whose sleeping and waking are balanced, his yoga becomes the eliminator of sorrows.
6.18 When a very well cotrolled mind remains stable in the Self alone, detached from all desires, then one is called joined in yoga.
6.19 As a lamp in a place without breeze does not tremblethis is the simile of a yogi whose mind is controlled practicing the yoga of the Self.
6.20 Where the mind ceases, withdrawn through the observance of yoga, where one sees the self in the Self, one is satiated in the Self.
6.23 Now, that elimination of union with sorrows is to be known as yoga. That yoga should be practiced resolutely by one who has made his mind dispassionate.
6.28 Thus uniting the self in yoga, the yogi, free of all stains, easily enjoys the ultimate happiness, which is contact with Brahman.
6.29 One whose self is joined in yoga, looking evenly at everything, sees the Self dwelling in all beings and all beings in the Self.
6.33 [Arjuna said] I do not see the stability of this yoga through equanimity that you have taught, O Krishna, to be lasting because of the mind's fickleness.
6.36 [Krishna said] Yoga is difficult to be found by someone whose self is not in controlthis is My view. But by someone who endeavors with a controlled self, it can be attained by appropriate methods.
6.37 [Arjuna said] One who does not make full effort but maintains faith, his mind slipping away from yoga, thereby not attaining full accomplishment in yoga, what state does he come to, O Krishna?
6.41 [Krishna said] Attaining the worlds of performers of meritorious deeds, dwelling there for long periods, one who has fallen from yoga is born in the homes of pure and glorious people.
6.44 Because of that pervious habit of practicing, he is carried even without his will. Desirous of knowing yoga, he transcends the verbal knowledge of God.
6.47 Among all the yogis, he who faithfully devotes himself to Me, with his inner self entered into Me, I consider him the one most united in yoga.
7.1 With your mind attached to Me, O Son of Pritha, uniting yourself in yoga, depending entirely on Me, listen to the way through which you will know Me in My entirety without doubt.
7.17 Of these [four kinds of people], the one endowed with knowledge, ever united in yoga with single-pointed devotion is distinguished. I am most beloved of the one endowed with wisdom, and he is also My beloved.
7.18 All of these others are excellent, but one endowed with knowledge is My own selfthis is my view. Such a one whose self is joined in yoga is established in Me, consequently in a state higher than which there is none.
7.25 I am not vivid to all, veiled by the yoga-maya. This deluded world does not know Me, who am unborn and immutable.
7.30 They who know Me with reference to the beings, with reference to the deities, as well as with reference to sacrificial observances, even at the time of their departure their minds are united in yoga and they know Me.
8.8 With a mind joined in yoga of practice, and wandering nowhere else, contemplating the supreme, divine Person, one goes to Him, O Son of Pritha.
8.10 At the hour of departure, with an unmoving mind, endowed with devotion and with the power of yoga, making the prana enter between the eyebrows properly, he reaches the supreme, divine Person.
8.12-8.13 Closing all the doors of the body and retaining the mind in the heart, placing the prana in the crown of the head, established in the concentration of yoga OM, this is Brahman consisting of a single, indestructible syllable. He who, enunciating it and contemplating it, goes forth abandoning his body, he reaches the supreme state.
8.14 He who, without turning his mind to any other, remembers Me incessantlyto that yogi, who is ever united in yoga, I am easily available, O Son of Pritha.
8.27 Knowing these two paths, no yogi is ever confused. Therefore, O Arjuna, be united in yoga in all times.
9.5 Nor are the beings dwelling within Me. See My yoga of sovereignty. My Self is the bearer of beings, nurturing the beings, yet not dwelling in the beings.
9.14 Always glorifying Me and endeavoring with firmness of observances and vows, always bowing with devotion, ever joined in yoga, they worship Me.
9.22 Those people, however, who having no other, worship contemplating Me, I bear their prosperity in this world and the next as they are ever joined to Me in yoga.
9.28 Thus you will be freed from the bondages of actions whose fruits are beautiful or ugly; your self, united in the yoga of renunciation, liberated, will reach Me.
9.34 Let your mind be fixed on Me. My devotee, sacrifice unto Me, bow unto Me. Intent on Me, thus joining yourself in yoga, you will come only to Me.
10.7 He who knows this magnificence (vibhuti) and yoga in its reality here becomes united with unshakable yoga.
10.9 To them who are ever joined in yoga and who devote themselves with pleasure and love, I confer that yoga of wisdom whereby they come close to Me.
10.18 Tell me more in detail Your yoga and magnificence, O Krishna. Hearing this nectar-like speech, I am not satiated.
11.8 However, you cannot see Me merely with this eye of your own. I give you a divine eye. See My lordly yoga.
11.9 Having stated thus, O King, Krishna the Sovereign of great yoga showed to the son of Pritha, his supreme, Lordly form
11.47 Pleased with you, O Arjuna, I have shown you through the yoga of Self, this transcendent form of Mineconsisting of light, being universal, being endless, being the first onewhich was never seen ay anyone other than you before.
12.1 Those devotees ever joined in yoga who worship You thus and those who worship the unmanifest indestructible syllableamong them which are the highest masters of yoga?
12.2 Those who, ever joined in yoga, entering their mind into Me, worship Me, endowed with highest faith, I believe them to be the most united in yoga.
12.6 However, they who renounce all actions unto Me, are intent upon Me, they worship Me, meditating with yoga directed to no other.
12.9 Now, if you cannot harmonize a stilled mind in Me, then desire to find Me through the yoga of practice, O Arjuna.
12.11 Now, if you are unable to do even this, then resorting to My yoga, do renounce the fruits of all actions, with your mind and self under control.
13.11-13.12 Undeviating devotion toward Me with single-minded yoga, fondness for silitary places, not delighting in gatherings of people; Always dwelling in spiritual knowledge, insight into the meaning of true naturethis is said to be knowledge. Other than this is ignorance.
13.25 Some see the Self by the Self within the Self through meditation; others by Samkhya or by yoga and yet others by the yoga of action.
14.26 And he who serves Me with an undeviated yoga of devotion fully transcending the gunas, he is fit to become Brahman.
16.1-16.3 Fearlessness, purity of mind, stability in the yoga of knowledge, charity, control, sacrificial observance, self-study, asceticism, and simplicityNon-violence, truth, non-anger, selflessness, peace, and non-gossiping, kindness toward all beings, non-greediness, mildness, modesty, non-ficklenessBrilliance of confidence, forgiveness, sustenance, purity, non-animosity, not seeking of honorthese appear in one who is highborn in divine wealth, O Descendent of Bharata.
17.17 Those three kinds of asceticism undertaken by humans with supreme faith when they are not desiring the fruit and are joined in yoga are said to be the sattvic ones.
18.28 Not joined in yoga, unrefined, unbending, a rogue, harming others, lazy, always depressed, a procrastinator, such an actor is said to be tamasic.
18.33 That undeviating steadfastness (dhriti) which sustains activities of mind, prana, and senses through yoga, is, O Pritha, a sattvic one.
18.52 Enjoying solirary places, eating lightly, with speech, body, and mind controlled, unceasingly intent on the yoga of meditation, having perfect recourse to dispassion;
18.57 Renouncing all acts to Me with the mind intent upon Me, resorting to the yoga of wisdom, always hold your mind in Me.
18.75 By the grace of Vyasa I heard this secretmost, supreme yoga from Krishna, the Lord of yoga, personally teaching it Himself.
18.78 Where there is Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, and where there is the bowbearer, Son of Pritha, there glory, victory, success, and polity are definite. This I believe.