Article February 13, 2018

Perfection of Yoga [1972 (first) edition]

It is certainly remarkable that the perfection of yoga was taught in the middle of a battlefield. It was taught to Arjuna, the warrior, just before Arjuna was to engage in a fratricidal battle. Out of sentiment, Arjuna was thinking, "Why should I fight against my own kinsmen?" That reluctance to fight was due to Arjuna's illusion, and just to eradicate that illusion, Sri Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-gita to him.
One can just imagine how little time must have elapsed while Bhagavad-gita was being spoken. All the warriors on both sides were poised to fight, so there was very little time indeed--at the utmost, one hour. Within this one hour, the whole Bhagavad-gita was discussed, and Sri Krishna set forth the perfection of all yoga systems to His friend Arjuna. At the end of this great discourse, Arjuna set aside his misgivings and fought.
However, within the discourse, when Arjuna heard the explanation of the meditational system of yoga--how to sit down, how to keep the body straight, how to keep the eyes half-closed and how to gaze at the tip of the nose without diverting one's attention, all this being conducted in a secluded place, alone--he replied,
"O Madhusudana, the system of yoga which You have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady." (Bg. 6.33)
This is important. We must always remember that we are in a material circumstance wherein at every moment our mind is subject to agitation. Actually we are not in a very comfortable situation. We are always thinking that by changing our situation we will overcome our mental agitation, and we are always thinking that when we reach a certain point, all mental agitations will disappear. But it is the nature of the material world that we cannot be free from anxiety. Our dilemma is that we are always trying to make a solution to our problems, but this universe is so designed that these solutions never come.
Not being a cheater, being very frank and open, Arjuna tells Krishna that the system of yoga which He has described is not possible for him to execute. Arjuna considers his mind to be like a great demon, such as the demon Madhu. If it were possible for Krishna to kill the demon called the mind, then Arjuna would be able to attain the perfection of yoga. "My mind is much stronger than this demon Madhu," Arjuna is saying. "Please, if You could kill him, then it would be possible for me to execute this yoga system." Even the mind of a great man like Arjuna is always agitated. As Arjuna himself says,

निराशीर्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः ।
शारीरं केवलं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम्‌ ॥

भावार्थ : जिसका अंतःकरण और इन्द्रियों सहित शरीर जीता हुआ है और जिसने समस्त भोगों की सामग्री का परित्याग कर दिया है, ऐसा आशारहित पुरुष केवल शरीर-संबंधी कर्म करता हुआ भी पापों को नहीं प्राप्त होता॥21॥

Such a man of understanding acts with mind and intelligence perfectly controlled, gives up all sense of proprietorship over his possessions and acts only for the bare necessities of life. Thus working, he is not affected by sinful reactions.


A Krsna conscious person does not expect good or bad results in his activities. His mind and intelligence are fully controlled. He knows that he is part and parcel of the Supreme, and therefore the part played by him, as a part and parcel of the whole, is not his by choice but is chosen for him by the Supreme and is done only through His agency. When the hand moves, it does not move out of its own accord, but by the endeavor of the whole body. A Krsna conscious person is always dovetailed with the supreme desire, for he has no desire for personal sense gratification. He moves exactly like a part of a machine. As a machine part requires oiling and cleaning for maintenance, similarly, a Krsna conscious man maintains himself by his work just to remain fit for action in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. He is therefore immune to all the reactions of his endeavors. Like an animal, he has no proprietorship even over his own body. A cruel proprietor of an animal sometimes kills the animal in his possession, yet the animal does not protest. Nor does it have any real independence. A Krsna conscious person, fully engaged in self-realization, has very little time to falsely possess any material object. For maintaining body and soul, he does not require unfair means of accumulating money. He does not, therefore, become contaminated by such material sins. He is free from all reactions to his actions.