The Mahabharata Home
(Bhagavad Gita Chapter VI)
"The Holy One said,--'Regardless of fruit of action, he that performs the actions which should be performed, is a renouncer and devotee, and not one who discards the (sacrificial) fire, nor one that abstains from action. 1 That which has been called renunciation, know that, O son of Pandu, to be devotion, since nobody can be a devotee who has not renounced (all) resolves. 2 To the sage desirous of rising to devotion, action is said to be the means; and when he has risen to devotion, cessation of action is said to be the means. When one is no longer attached to the objects of the senses, nor to actions, and when one renounces all resolves, then is. One said to have risen to devotion. One should raise (his ) self by self; one should not degrade (his) self; for one's own self is one's friend, and one's own self is one's enemy. 3 To him (only) who has subjugated his self by his self is self a friend. But to him who has not subjugated his self, his self behaves inimically like an enemy. The soul of one who has subjugated his self and who is in the enjoyment of tranquillity, is steadily fixed (on itself) amid cold and heat, pleasure and pain, and also honour and dishonour. That ascetic is said to be devoted whose mind is satisfied with knowledge and experience, who hath no affection, who hath subjugated his senses, and to whom a sod, a stone and gold are alike. He, who views equally well-wishers, friends, foes, strangers that are indifferent to him, those who take part with both sides, those who are objects of aversion, those who are related (to him), those who are good, and those who are wicked, is distinguished (above all others). A devotee should always fix his mind on contemplation, remaining in a secluded place alone, restraining both mind and body, without expectations (of any kind), and without concern (with anything). 4 Erecting his seat immovably on a clean spot, not too high nor too low, and spreading over it a piece of cloth, a deer-skin, or blades of Kusa grass, and there seated on that seat, with mind fixed on one object, and restraining the functions of the heart and the senses, one should practise contemplation for the purification of self. Holding body, head, and neck
even, unmoved and steady, and casting his glance on the tip of his nose, and without looking about in any of the different directions, with mind in tranquillity, freed from fear, observant of the practices of Brahmacharins, restraining the mind, with heart fixed on me, the devotee should sit down, regarding me as the object of his attainment. Thus applying his soul constantly, the devotee whose heart is restrained, attains to that tranquillity which culminates in final absorption and assimilation with me. Devotion is not one's, O Arjuna, who eateth much, nor one's who doth not eat at all; nor one's who is addicted to too much sleep, nor one's who is always awake, devotion that is destructive of misery is his who is temperate in food and amusements, who duly exerts himself temperately in all his works, and who is temperate in sleep and vigils. When one's heart, properly restrained, is fixed on one's own self, then, indifferent to all objects of desire, he is one called a devotee. 1 As a lamp in a windless spot doth not flicker, even that is the resemblance declared of a devotee whose heart hath been restrained and who applieth his self to abstraction. That (condition) in which the mind, restrained by practice of abstraction, taketh rest, in which beholding self by self, one is gratified within self; in which one experienceth that highest felicity which is beyond the (sphere of the) senses and which the understanding (only) can grasp, and fixed on which one never swerveth from the truth; acquiring which one regards no other acquisition greater than it, and abiding in which one is never moved by even the heaviest sorrow; that (Condition) should be known to be what is called devotion in which there is a severance of connection with pain. That devotion should be practised with perseverance and with an undesponding heart. 2 Renouncing all desires without exception that are born of resolves, restraining the group of the senses on all sides by mind alone, one should, by slow degrees, become quiescent (aided) by (his) understanding controlled by patience, and then directing his mind to self should think of nothing. 3 Wheresoever the mind, which is (by nature) restless and unsteady, may run, restraining it from those, one should direct it to self alone. Indeed, unto such a devotee whose mind is in tranquillity, whose passions have been suppressed, who hath become one with Brahma and who is free from sin, the highest felicity cometh (of his own accord). Thus applying his soul constantly (to abstraction), the devotee, freed from sin, easily obtaineth that highest happiness, viz., with Brahma. He who hath devoted his self to abstraction casting an equal eye everywhere, beholdeth his self in all creatures and all creatures in his self. Unto him who beholdeth me in everything and
beholdeth everything in me. I am never lost and he also is never lost to me. 1 He who worshippeth me as abiding in all creatures, holding yet that all is one, is a devotee, and whatever mode of life he may lead, he liveth in me. That devotee, O Arjuna, who casteth an equal eye everywhere, regarding all things as his own self and the happiness and misery of others as his own, is deemed to be the best.'
"Arjuna said, 'This devotion by means of equanimity which thou hast declared, O slayer of Madhu,--on account of restlessness of the mind I do not see its stable presence. 2 O Krishna, the mind is restless, boisterous, perverse, and obstinate. Its restraint I regard to be as difficult of accomplishment as the restraint of the wind.'
"The Holy One said, 'Without doubt, O thou of mighty arms the mind is difficult of subjugation and is restless. With practice, however, O son of Kunti, and with the abandonment of desire, it can be controlled. It is my belief that by him whose mind is not restrained, devotion is difficult of acquisition. But by one whose mind is restrained and who is assiduous, it is capable of acquisition with the aid of means.'
"Arjuna said, 'Without assiduity, though endued with faith, and with mind shaken off from devotion, what is the end of him, O Krishna, who hath not earned success in devotion? Fallen off from both, 3 is he lost like a separated cloud or not, being as he is without refuge, O thou of mighty arms, and deluded on the path leading to Brahma? This my doubt, O Krishna, it behoveth thee to remove without leaving anything. Besides thee, no dispeller of this doubt is to be had. 4
"The Holy One said, 'O son of Pritha, neither here, nor hereafter, doth ruin exist for him, since none, O sire, who performs good (acts) comes by an evil end. Attaining to the regions reserved for those that perform meritorious acts and living there for many many years, he that hath fallen off from devotion taketh birth in the abode of those that art pious and endued with prosperity, or, he is born even in the family of devotees endued with intelligence. Indeed, a birth such as this is more difficult of acquisition in this world. There in those births he obtaineth contact with that Brahmic knowledge which was his in his former life; and from that point he striveth again, O descendant of Kuru, towards perfection. And although unwilling, he still worketh on in consequence of that same former practice of his. Even one that enquireth of devotion riseth above (the fruits of) the Divine Word.- 5 Striving with great efforts, the devotee, cleaned of all his sins, attaineth to perfection after many births,
and then reacheth the supreme goal. The devotee is superior to ascetics engaged in austerities; he is esteemed to be superior to even the man of knowledge. The devotee is superior to those that are engaged in action. Therefore, become a devotee, O Arjuna. Even amongst all the devotees, he who, full of faith and with inner self resting on me, worshippeth me, is regarded by me to be the most devout."
67:1 Renouncer and devotee Sannyasin and Yogin.
67:2 Which spring from desire.
67:3 Self in this sloka is explained by the commentators as mind. The mind, unless controlled, cannot lead to devotion.
67:4 Chitta and atma are explained by the commentators as "mind and body."
68:1 Fixed on one's own self, i.e., withdrawn from all objects of sense. Thus Sankara.
68:2 Nischayena is explained by Sankara as equivalent to "with preservence" or steadily. Sreedhara explains it as equal to "with the certitude of knowledge acquired by instruction."
68:3 Mriti-grahitaya Buddhya is, as explained by Sankara and others "with understanding controlled by patience," K. T. Telang renders it "with firm resolve coupled with courage."
69:1 i.e. I am always visible to him, and he too is always within my sight and I am always kind to him.
69:2 i.e. how its stable existence may be secured, the mind being by nature ever restless.
69:3 Fallen off from both, i.e., from heaven (through work) and absorption into Brahma (through devotion).
69:4 Without leaving anything, i.e., entirely.
69:5 The Divine-Word i.e., the Vedas. So great is the efficacy of devotion that one merely enquiring of it transcends him who conforms to the rites of the Vedas.
Next: Section XXXI (Bhagavad Gita Chapter VII)