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This article is from the book Forest Academy Lectures on Yoga.
THE BHAGAVAD GITA AND YOGA SADHANA
SRI SWAMI CHIDANANDA
Gita is a veritable Divine Kalpataru or the bestower of everything to everyone according to his particular need. The historian would set in it a memorable document marking the moment when decadence set in the ranks of the Hindu society with the lapse of Dharma from the land and the advent of the age of un-righteousness. The imagination of the philosopher sees in it the symbolic representation of the play of inner forces in the individual monad and the presentation of a sublime method of its perfect resolution. To the very orthodox traditionalists in the field of philosophy it is one of the great Triad i.e. the Prasthanatraya. To all votaries of Hindu culture Gita remains the quintessence of all the highest flights of the Vedantic Upanishadic investigations and conclusions. This wonderful scripture is all this and something vastly more precious and significant to the countless seekers after Divine Perfection all over the world. For Gita, by its own admission is the supreme scripture on Yoga Sadhana (practice of Yoga) or the practical process of ascent into divine illumination. It is the YOGA SHASTRA (text) par excellence!
Every chapter of the Bhagavad Gita (Song of God) is replete with invaluable pointers to the practice of Yoga Sadhana. They throw much light upon the path of Yoga. It embodies a glorious exposition of the Yogic Way of Life. And its presentation is integral and all-comprehensive. No aspect of Yoga is left untouched. Attainment of Yoga or union with the Divine is the main theme of the Gita as expressed by the stirring admonition of the Lord, "Anityam Asukham Lokam Imam Praapya Bhajasva Maam" i.e. having obtained (birth) in this (mortal) world that is fleeting and full of sorrow, do thou (O Man) be intent on worshipping Me. (IX:33). And again in His categorical imperative, "Tasmaat Yogee Bhava Arjuna" i.e. therefore be thou a Yogi, O Arjuna. (VI:46). These inspiring injunctions are followed up by lucid exposition of all the different aspects and stages of Yoga in its various phases. The basic preparations, the preliminary hurdles to overcome, the first stages, the progress and later ascent are all touched upon in different places in the body of this eighteen-chaptered scripture.
O thou seeker after Yoga, saith the Lord, first of all thou must shake off all faintheartedness and fear and make a firm resolve to fight this arduous battle with the flesh, the subtle senses and the elusive and deceptive mind. You must make Vairagya (dispassion) and Abhyasa (spiritual practice) your two mainstays in this process. At the very outset give up ruthlessly the three greatest enemies on the path, namely, "Trividham Narakasya Idam Dvaram Naashanam Atmanah, Kaamah, Krodah Tatha Lobha Tasmaat Etat Trayam Tyajet i.e. Triple is the gate of this hell, destructive of the self-lust, anger, and greed,-therefore, one should abandon these three. (XVI:21). From verse 55 to 71 of chapter II we are given the model of the ideal Yoga siddhi to be kept before us constantly for emulation. The Fourteenth and the Sixteenth chapters serve to give us an invaluable pattern of the Life Sattvic which is the sine-qua-non for fruition of the Yoga. The Gunatraya Vibhaga (the Yoga of the Division of the three Gunas) and the Daivasura Sampat Vibhaga (the Yoga of the Division between the Divine and the Demoniacal) give us this light on Yoga. The Jnana Marga (path of Knowledge) is dwelt upon in the fourth and the seventh chapters, the Gospel of Selfless Action is inspiringly expounded in the third chapter. Hatha Yoga and Dhyana Yoga (Yoga of meditation) are explained in the sixth chapter, while the twelfth chapter contains one of the most glorious presentations of the Cult of Pure Devotion or Love or the Prema-Marga. The concluding portion of this sublime chapter, the last eight verses, form an immortal piece by themselves giving a shining picture of the Yogic Way of Life and the Yogic Ideal. This is the Amritashtakam (eight verses of nectar).
In addition to these expositions of the broad paths of Yoga Sadhana a number of other unique Yogic techniques are beautifully brought to light. Chapter VI warns us against extremes and counsels moderation; here we have an enunciation of the Golden Medium, as the inner secret of success in the practice of Yoga (Verses 16 and 17). The ninth chapter reveals the secret of the path of perfect surrender or Sharanaagati Yoga. Verse 27 in the same chapter gives in a nutshell the technique of "Arpana-Yoga" or the constant offering up of all your life processes and activities unto the Lord. Chapters ten and eleven, by revealing the Form Universal initiate the jiva (individual soul) into the sublime mysteries of Virat Bhavana and the Namaskara-Yoga which is later expounded once again by the blessed Lord to Uddhava in the eleventh Skandha of the Srimad Bhagavata Purana.
Thus throughout this wonderful song celestial a flood of light is thrown upon the path of Yoga. In this aspect the Gita is practical, powerful and peerless guide of Yoga Siddhi. Let us remember, at the conclusion, the Yogic dictum of the Gita: Manmanaa Bhava Machchitto Matparo Maamanusmara Madyajee Maam Namaskuru! i.e. " Fix thy mind on Me, be devoted to Me, sacrifice to Me, bow down to Me." (XVIII:65)
May the Gita Light illumine our path to ultimate union with the Supreme!
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya!
Last Updated: Sunday, 17-Oct-2004 08:51:46 EDT
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