A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 2

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1932 | 241,887 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of gita and yoga: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the second part in the series called the “the philosophy of the bhagavad-gita”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Whoever may have written the Gītā, it seems very probable that he was not acquainted with the technical sense of yoga as the cessation of mental states (citta-vṛtti-nirodha), as used by Patañjali in his Yoga-sūtra, i. i. I have elsewhere shown that there are three roots, yujir yoge and yuj samādhau, i.e. the root yujir, to join, and the root yuj in the sense of cessation of mental states or one-pointedness, and yuj saṃyamane, i.e. yuj in the sense of controlling. In the Gītā the word yoga appears to have been used in many senses, which may seem to be unconnected with one another; yet it may not be quite impossible to discover relations among them. The primary sense of the word yoga in the Gītā is derived from the root yujir yoge or yuj, to join, with which is connected in a negative way the root yuj in the sense of controlling or restricting anything to that to which it is joined. Joining, as it means contact with something, also implies disjunction from some other thing. When a particular type of mental outlook or scheme of action is recommended, we find the word buddhi-yoga used, which simply means that one has intimately to associate oneself with a particular type of wisdom or mental outlook.

Similarly, when the word karma-yoga is used, it simply means that one has to associate oneself with the obligatoriness of the performance of duties. Again, the word yoga is used in the sense of fixing one’s mind either on the self (ātman) or on God. It is clear that in all these varying senses the dominant sense is that of “joining.” But such a joining implies also a disjunction, and the fundamental and indispensable disjunction implied is dissociation from all desires for pleasures and fruits of action (phala-tyāga). For this reason cases are not rare where yoga is used to mean cessation of desires for the fruits of action.

Thus, in the Gītā, vi. 2, it is said,

“What is called cessation (of desires for the fruits of action) is what you should know, O Pāṇḍava, as Yoga: without renouncing one’s desires (na hy asaṃnyasta-saṅkalpa) one cannot be a yogin[1].”

The reason why this negative concept of cessation of desires should be regarded as yoga is that without such a renunciation of desires no higher kind of union is possible. But even such a dissociation from the fruits of desires (which in a way also means saṃyamana, or selfcontrol) is to be supplemented by the performance of duties at the preliminary stages; and it is only in the higher stages, when one is fixed in yoga (yogārūḍha), that meditative peace (śama) can be recommended. Unless and until one succeeds in conquering all attachments to sense-objects and actions and in giving up all desires for fruits of actions, one cannot be fixed in yoga. It is by our attempts at the performance of our duties, trying all the time to keep the mind clear from motives of pleasure and enjoyment, that we gradually succeed in elevating it to a plane at which it would be natural to it to desist from all motives of self-interest, pleasure and enjoyment. It is at this stage that a man can be called fixed in yoga or yogārūḍha.

This naturally involves a conflict between the higher self and the lower, or rather between the real self and the false; for, while the lower self always inclines to pathological and prudential motives, to motives of self-interest and pleasure, it has yet within it the higher ideal, which is to raise it up. Man is both a friend and a foe to himself; if he follows the path of his natural inclinations and the temptations of sense-enjoyment, he takes the downward path of evil, and is an enemy to his own higher interests; whereas it is his clear duty to raise himself up, to strive that he may not sink down but may elevate himself to a plane of detachment from all sense-pleasures.

The duality involved in this conception of a friend and a foe, of conqueror and conquered, of an uplifting power and a gravitating spirit, naturally involves a distinction between a higher self (paramātman) and a lower self (ātman). It is only when this higher self conquers the lower that a self is a friend to itself. In a man who has failed to conquer his own passions and self-attachments the self is its own enemy. The implication, however, is that the lower self, though it gravitates towards evil, has yet inherent in it the power of self-elevation.

This power of self-elevation is not something extraneous, but abides in the self, and the Gītā is emphatic in its command,

“Thou shouldst raise thyself and not allow thyself to sink down; for the self is its own friend and its foe as well1.”

It is only when the self thus conquers its lower tendencies and rises to a higher plane that it comes into touch with the higher self (paramātman). The higher self always remains as an ideal of elevation. The yoga activity of the self thus consists, on the one hand, in the efforts by which the yogin dissociates himself from the sense-attachments towards which he was naturally gravitating, and on the other hand, in the efforts by which he tries to elevate himself and to come into touch with the higher self. At the first stage a man performs his duties in accordance with the injunctions of the śāstras ; then he performs his duties and tries to dissociate himself from all motives of self-interest and enjoyment, and at the next stage he succeeds in conquering these lower motives and is in touch with the higher self. Even at this stage he may still continue to perform his duties, merely for the sake of duty, or he may devote himself to meditative concentration and union with the higher self or with God.

Thus the Gītā says that the person who has conquered himself and is at peace with himself is in touch with paramātman. Such a person is a true philosopher; for he not only knows the truths, but is happy in the inner realization and direct intuitive apperception of such truths; he is unshakable in himself; having conquered his senses, he attaches the same value to gold and to stones; he is the same to friends and to enemies, to the virtuous as to the sinful; he is in union (with paramātman) and is called a yogin[2]. The fact that the word yogin is derived here from the root yuj, to join, is evident from a number of passages where the verb yuj is used in this connection[3].

The Gītā advises a yogin who thus wants to unite himself with paramātman, or God, in a meditative union, to lead a lonely life, controlling his mind and body, desiring nothing and accepting nothing[4]. The yogin should seat himself on level ground, in a clean place, and, being firm on his threefold seat composed of kuśa grass, a leopard skin and soft linen, he should control his thoughts, senses and movements, make his mind one-pointed in God (tatra), gather himself up in union, and thus purify himself[5]. The yogin should eat neither too much nor too little, should neither sleep too much, nor dispense with sleep. He should thus lead the middle course of life and avoid extremes. This avoidance of extremes is very unlike the process of yoga advised by Patañjali. Patañ jali’s course of yoga formulates a method by which the yogin can gradually habituate himself to a condition of life in which he can ultimately dispense with food and drink altogether and desist from all movements of body and mind. The object of a yogin in making his mind one-pointed is ultimately to destroy the mind. According to Patañjali the advancement of a yogin has but one object before it, viz. the cessation of all movements of mind (citta-vṛtti-nirodha). Since this absolute cessation cannot be effected without stopping all movements of the body, desires and passions are to be uprooted, not only because they would make the mind fly to different objects, but also because they would necessitate movements of the body, which would again disturb the mind.

The yogin therefore has to practise a twofold control of movements of body and mind. He has to habituate himself to dispensing with the necessity of food and drink, to make himself used to all kinds of privations and climatic inconveniences of heat and cold and ultimately to prepare himself for the stoppage of all kinds of bodily movements. But, since this cannot be successfully done so long as one inhales and exhales, he has to practise prāṇāyāma for absolute breath-control, and not for hours or days, but for months and years. Moral elevation is regarded as indispensable in yoga only because without absolute and perfect cessation of all desires and passions the movements of the body and mind could not be absolutely stopped.

The yogin, however, has not only to cut off all new' causes of disturbance leading to movements of body and mind, but also to practise one-pointedness of mind on subtler and subtler objects, so that as a result thereof the sub-conscious forces of the mind can also be destroyed. Thus, on the one hand, the mind should be made to starve by taking care that no new sense-data and no new percepts, concepts, thoughts, ideas or emotions be presented to it, and, on the other hand, steps are to be taken to make the mind one-pointed, by which all that it had apprehended before, which formed the great storehouse of the sub-conscious, is destroyed. The mind, thus pumped out on both sides, becomes absolutely empty and is destroyed. The ideal of Patañjali’s Yoga is absolute extremism, consisting in absolute stoppage of all functions of body and mind.

The Gītā, on the other hand, prescribes the golden middle course of moderate food, drink, sleep, movements of the body and activity in general. The object of the yogin in the Gītā is not the absolute destruction of mind, but to bring the mind or the ordinary self into communion with the higher self or God. To the yogin who practises meditation the Gītā advises steadiness of posture; thus it says that the yogin should hold his body, head and shoulders straight, and, being unmoved and fixed in his posture, should avoid looking to either side and fix his eyes on the tip of his nose. The Gītā is, of course, aware of the proces~ of breath-control and prāṇāyāma ; but, curiously enough, it does not speak of it in its sixth chapter on dhyāna-yoga, where almost the whole chapter is devoted to yoga practice and the conduct of yogins. In the fifth chapter, v. 27, it is said that all sense-movements and control of life-movements (prāṇa-karmāṇi) are like oblations to the fire of self-control.

In the two obscure verses of the same chapter, v. 29 and 30, it is said that there are some who offer an oblation of prāṇa to apāna and of apāna to prāṇa and thus, stopping the movement of inhalation and exhalation (prāṇāpāna-gatī ruddhvā), perform the prāṇāyāma, while there are others who, taking a low diet, offer an oblation of prāṇa to prāṇa. Such actions on the part of these people are described as being different kinds of sacrifices, or yajña, and the people who perform them are called yajña-vidaḥ (those who know the science of sacrifice), and not yogin. It is difficult to understand the exact meaning of offering an oblation of prāṇa to prāṇa or of prāṇa to apāna and of calling this sacrifice. The interpretations of Śaṅkara, Śrīdhara and others give us but little help in this matter. They do not tell us why it should be called a yajña or how an oblation of prāṇa to prāṇa can be made, and they do not even try to give a synonym for juhvati (offer oblation) used in this connection. It seems to me, however, that there is probably a reference to the mystical substitution-medita-tions (pratīkopāsanā) which were used as substitutes for sacrifices and are referred to in the Upaniṣads.

Thus in the Maitrī Upaniṣad, vi 9, we find that Brahman is to be meditated upon as the ego, and in this connection, oblations of the five vāyus to fire with such mantras as prāṇāya svāhā, apānāya svāhā, etc. are recommended. It is easy to imagine that, in a later process of development, for the actual offering of oblations to fire was substituted a certain process of breath-control, which still retained the old phraseology of the offering of oblations in a sacrifice. If this interpretation is accepted, it will indicate how processes of breath-control became in many cases associated with substitution-meditations of the Vedic type[6]. The development of processes of breath-control in connection with substitution-meditations does not seem to be unnatural at all, and, as a matter of fact, the practice of prāṇāyāma in connection with such substitution-meditations is definitely indicated in the Maitrī Upaniṣad, vi. 18.

The movement of inhalation and exhalation was known to be the cause of all body-heat, including the heat of digestive processes, and Kṛṣṇa is supposed to say in the Gītā, xv. 14,

“As fire I remain in the body of living beings and in association with prāṇa and apāna I digest four kinds of food and drink.”

The author of the Gītā, however, seems to have been well aware that the prāṇa and apāna breaths passing through the nose could be properly balanced (samau), or that the prāṇa vāyu could be concentrated between the two eyebrows or in the head (mūrdhni)[7]. It is difficult to say what is exactly meant by taking the prāṇa in the head or between the eyebrows. There seems to have been a belief in the Atharva-śiras Upaniṣad and also in the Atharva-śikhā Upaniṣad that the prāṇa could be driven upwards, or that such prāṇa, being in the head, could protect it[8]. Manu also speaks of the prāṇas of young men rushing upwards when old men approached them. But, whatever may be meant, it is certain that neither the balancing of prāṇa and apāna nor the concentrating of prāṇa in the head or between the eyebrows is a phrase of Patañjali, the Yoga writer.

In describing the course of a yogin in the sixth chapter the Gītā advises that the yogin should lead the austere life of a Brahma-cārin, withdraw his mind from all mundane interests and think only of God, dedicate all his actions to Him and try to live in communion with Him (yukta āsīta). This gives to his soul peace, through which he loses his individuality in God and abides in Him in the bliss of self-effacement[9]. A yogin can be said to be in union (with God) when he concentrates his mind on his own higher self and is absolutely unattached to all desires. By his efforts towards such a union (yoga-sevayā) he restrains his mind from all other objects and, perceiving his self in himself, remains in peace and contentment. At this higher state the yogin enjoys absolute bliss (sukham ātyantikam), transcending all sense-pleasures by his pure reason, and, being thus fixed in God, he is never shaken away from Him.

Such a yogin forsakes all his desires and controls all his senses by his mind, and, whenever the mind itself seeks to fly away to different objects, he tries to control it and fix it on his own self. Patiently holding his mind fixed in his self, he tries to desist from all kinds of thought and gradually habituates himself to shaking off attachments to sense-attractions. At this stage of union the yogin feels that he has attained his highest, and thus even the greatest mundane sorrows cannot affect him in the least. Yoga is thus sometimes defined as the negation of the possibility of all association with sorrows[10]. One can attain such a state only by persistent and self-confident efforts and without being depressed by preliminary failures. When a yogin attains this union with himself or with God, he is like the motionless flame of a lamp in a still place, undisturbed by all attractions and unruffled by all passions[11].

The yogin who attains this highest state of union with himself or with God is said to be in touch with Brahman or to attain Brahmahood, and it is emphatically asserted that he is filled with ecstatic joy. Being in union with God, he perceives himself in all things, and all things in himself; for, being in union with God, he in one way identifies himself with God, and perceives God in all things and all things in God. Yet it is no mere abstract pantheism that is indicated here; for such a view is directly in opposition to the main tenets of the Gītā, so often repeated in diverse contexts. It is a mystical state, in which, on the one hand, the yogin finds himself identified with God and in communion with Him, and, on the other hand, does not cease to have relations with the beings of the world, to whom he gives the same consideration as to himself. He does not prefer his own happiness to the happiness of others, nor does he consider his own misery and suffering as greater or more important or more worthy of prevention than those of others.

Being in communion with God, he still regards Him as the master whom he adores, as the supreme Lord who pervades all things and holds them in Himself. By his communion with God the yogin transcends his lower and smaller self and discovers his greater self in God, not only as the supreme ideal of his highest efforts, but also as the highest of all realities. As soon as the yogin can detach himself from his lower self of passions and desires, he uplifts himself to a higher universe, where the distinction of meum and teum, mine and thine, ceases and the interest of the individual loses its personal limitations and becomes enlarged and universalized and identified with the interests of all living beings. Looked at from this point of view, yoga is sometimes defined in the Gītā as the outlook of equality (samatva)[12].

In the Gītā the word yoga has not attained any definite technical sense, as it did in Patañjali’s Yoga-sūtra, and, in consequence, there is not one definition of yoga, but many. Thus yoga is used in the sense of karma-yoga, or the duty of performance of actions, in v. 1, and it is distinguished from the sāṃkhya path, or the path of knowledge, in 11. 39. The word karma-yoga is mentioned in iii. 3 as the path of the yogins, and it is referred to in iii. 7, v. 2 and xm. 24. The word buddhi-yoga is also used at least three times, in 11. 49, x. 10 and xvm. 57, and the bhakti-yoga also is used at least once, in xiv. 26. The one meaning of yoga that suits all these different contexts seems to be “association.” It has already been said that this primary meaning of the word is the central idea of yoga in the Gītā. One of the main teachings of the Gītā is that duties should be performed, and it is this obligatoriness of the performance of duties that in the Gītā is understood by karma-yoga. But, if such duties are performed from motives of self-interest or gain or pleasure, the performance could not lead to any higher end. It is advised, therefore, that they should be performed without any motive of gain or pleasure.

So the proper way in which a man should perform his duties, and at the same time keep himself clean and untarnished by the good and bad results, the pleasures and sorrows, the praise and blame proceeding out of his own deeds, is to make himself detached from all desires for the fruits of actions. To keep oneself detached from the desires for the fruits of actions is therefore the real art (kauśala) of performing one’s duties; for it is only in this way that a man can make himself fit for the higher union with God or his own higher self. Here, then, we have a definition of yoga as the art of performing one’s duties (yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam — ii. 50). The art of performing one’s duties, e.g. the art of keeping oneself unattached, cannot however be called yoga on its own account; it is probably so-called only because it is the indispensable step towards the attainment of the real yoga, or union with God. It is clear, therefore, that the word yoga has a gradual evolution to a higher and higher meaning, based no doubt on the primary root-meaning of “association.”

It is important to note in this connection that the process of prāṇāyāma, regarded as indispensable in Patañjali’s Yoga, is not considered so necessary either for karma-yoga, buddhi-yoga, or for the higher kind of yoga, e.g. communion with God. It has already been mentioned that the reference to prāṇāyāma is found only in connection with some kinds of sybstitution-meditations which have nothing to do with the main concept of yoga in the Gītā. The expression samādhi is used thrice in the noun form in the Gītā, in 11. 44, 53 and 54, and three times in the verb form, in vi. 7, xii. 9 and xvii. 11; but the verb forms are not used in the technical sense of Patañjali, but in the simple root-meaning of sam + ā + √ dhā, “to give” or “to place” (arpaṇa or sthāpana). In two cases (11. 44 and 53) where the word samādhi is used as a noun it has been interpreted by both Śaṅkara and Śrīdhara as meaning the object in which the mind is placed or to which it is directed for communion, viz. God[13]. The author of the Gītā is well aware of the moral conflict in man and thinks that it is only by our efforts to come into touch with our higher self that the littleness of passions and desires for fruits of actions and the preference of our smaller self-interests can be transcended. For, once man is in touch with his highest, he is in touch with God. He has then a broader and higher vision of man and his place in nature, and so he identifies himself with God and finds that he has no special interest of his own to serve.

The low and the high, the sinful and the virtuous, are the same in his eyes; he perceives God in all things and all things in God, and it is this state of communion that is the real yoga of the Gītā ; and it is because in this state all inequalities of race, creed, position, virtue and vice, high and low vanish, that this superior realization of universal equality is also called yoga. Not only is this union with God called yoga, but God Himself is called Yogeśvara, or the Lord of communion. As a result of this union, the yogin enjoys supreme bliss and ecstatic joy, and is free from the least touch of sorrow or pain; and this absolute freedom from pain or the state of bliss, being itself a result of yoga, is also called yoga. From the above survey it is clear that the yoga of the Gītā is quite different from the yoga of Patañjali, and it does not seem at all probable that the Gītā was aware of Patañjali’s yoga or the technical terms used by him[14].

The treatment of yoga in the Gītā is also entirely different from its treatment in almost all the Upaniṣads. The Katha Upaniṣad speaks of sense-control as being yoga ; but sense-control in the Gītā is only a preliminary to yoga and not itself yoga. Most of the yoga processes described in the other Upaniṣads either speak of yoga with six accessories (ṣaḍ-aṅga yoga) or of yoga with eight accessories (aṣṭāṅga-yoga), more or less after the manner of Patañjali. They introduce elaborate details not only of breath-control or prāṇāyāma, but also of the nervous system of the body, iḍā, piṅgalā and suṣumṇā, the nerve plexus, mūlādhāra and other similar objects, after the manner of the later works on the Ṣaṭ-cakra system.

Thus the Amṛta-nāda enumerates after the manner of Patañjali the six accessories of yoga as

  1. restraint (pratyāhāra),
  2. concentration (dhyāna),
  3. breath-control (prāṇāyāma),
  4. fixation (dhā-raṇā),
  5. reasoning (tarka)
  6. and meditative absorption (samādhi),

and describes the final object of yoga as ultimate loneliness of the self (kaivalya).

The Amṛta-birtdu believes in an all-pervading Brahman as the only reality, and thinks that, since mind is the cause of all bondage and liberation, the best course for a yogin to adopt is to deprive the mind of all its objects and thus to stop the activity of the mind, and thereby to destroy it, and bring about Brahma-hood. Brahman is described here as being absolutely indeterminate, uninferable, infinite and beginningless. The Kṣurika merely describes prāṇāyāma, dhyāna, dhāraṇā and samādhi in association with the nerves, suṣumṇā, piṅgalā, etc. and the nerve plexuses.

The Tejo-bindu is a Vedāntic Upaniṣad of the ultra-monistic type, and what it calls yoga is only the way of realizing the nature of Brahman as one and as pure consciousness and the falsity of everything else. It speaks of this yoga as being of fifteen accessories (pañca-daśāṅga yoga).

These are

  • yama (sense-control through the knowledge that all is Brahman),
  • niyama (repetition of the same kinds of thoughts and the avoidance of dissimilar ones),
  • tyāga (giving up of the world-appearance through the realization of Brahman),
  • silence,
  • a solitary place,
  • the proper posture,
  • steadiness of mind,
  • making the body straight and erect,
  • perceiving the world as Brahman (dṛk-sthiti),
  • cessation of all states and breath-control (prāṇa-saṃyamana),
  • perceiving all objects of the mind as Brahman (pratyāhāra),
  • fixing the mind always on Brahman (dhāraṇā),
  • self-meditation
  • and the realization of oneself as Brahman.

This is, however, a scheme of yoga quite different from that of Patañjali, as well as from that of the Gītā. The Triśikha-brāhmaṇa speaks of a yoga with eight accessories (aṣṭāṅga-yoga), where the eight accessories, though the same in name as the eight accessories of Patañjali, are in reality different therefrom.


  1. yama here means want of attachment (vairāgya),
  2. niyama means attachment to the ultimate reality (anuraktiḥ pare tattve),
  3. āsana means indifference to all things,
  4. prāṇa-saṃyamana means the realization of the falsity of the world,
  5. pratyāhāra means the inwardness of the mind,
  6. dhāraṇā means the motionlessness of the mind,
  7. dhyāna means thinking of oneself as pure consciousness, and
  8. samādhi means forgetfulness of dhyānas.

Yet it again includes within its yama and niyama almost all the virtues referred to by Patañjali. It also speaks of a number of postures after the haṭha-yoga fashion, and of the movement of prāṇa in the nerve plexuses, the ways of purifying the nerves and the processes of breath-control. The object of yoga is here also the destruction of mind and the attainment of kaivalya.

The Darśana gives an aṣṭāṅga-yoga with

  • yama,
  • niyama,
  • āsana,
  • prāṇāyāma,
  • pratyāhāra,
  • dhāraṇā,
  • dhyāna
  • and samādhi

more or less after the fashion of Patañjali, with a supplementary treatment of nerves (nāḍī) and the movement of the prāṇa and other vāyus in them. The final object of yoga here is the attainment of Brahmahood and the comprehension of the world as māyā and unreal. The Dhyāna-bindu describes the self as the essential link of all things, like the fragrance in flowers or the thread in a garland or the oil in sesamum.

It describes a ṣaḍ-aṅga yoga with

  • āsana,
  • prāṇa-saṃrodha,
  • pratyāhāra,
  • dhāraṇā,
  • dhyāna
  • and samādhi.

It also describes the four cakras or nerve plexuses, and speaks of the awakening of the serpent power (kuṇḍalinī) and the practice of the mudrās. It speaks further of the balancing or unifying of prāṇa and apāna as leading to yoga[15]. The object of this yoga is the attainment of the transcendent state of liberation or the realization of the paramātman. It is useless to refer to other Upaniṣads; for what has already been said will be enough to show clearly that the idea of Yoga in the Gītā is entirely different from that in the Yoga Upaniṣads, most of which are of comparatively late date and are presumably linked up with traditions different from that of the Gītā.

Footnotes and references:


Asaṃnyasto ’parityaktaḥ phala-viṣayaḥ saṅkalpo ’bhisandhir yena so 'saṃnyas-ta-saṅkalpaḥ.
      Śaṅkara’s commentary, vi. 2.

Na saṃnyastaḥ phala-saṅkalpo yena. 
      Śrīdhara’s commentary on the above.
      Yogāśrama edition, Benares, 1919.


Yuktaity ucyateyogīsama-loṣṭāśma-kāñcanaḥ,
      VI. 8.

Śaṅkara, however, splits it up into two independent sentences, as follows:

ya īdṛśo yuktaḥ samāhita iti sa ucyate kathyate;
sa yogī sama-loṣṭāśma-kāñcanaḥ.

Śrīdhara, again, takes a quite different view and thinks it to be a definition of the yogārūḍha state and believes yukta to mean yogārūḍha, which in my opinion is unjustifiable. My interpretation is simpler and more direct than either of these and can be justified by a reference to the context in vi. 7 and vi. 10.


Yogī yuñjīta satatatn ātmārtaṃ rahasi sthitaḥ.
vi. 10.

Upaviiyāsane yuñjyād yogam ātma-viśuddhaye.
      VI. 12.

Yukta āsīta mat-paraḥ.
      VI. 14.

Yuñjann evaṃ sadātmānaṃ yogī niyata-mānasaḥ.
      VI. 15, etc.


Ekākī yata-cittātmā nirāśīr aparigrahaḥ.
      VI. 10.

The word ātmā in yata-cittātmā is used in the sense of body (deha), according to Śaṅkara, Śrīdhara and others.


Both Śaṅkara and Śrīdhara make tatra an adjective to āsane. Such an adjective to āsane would not only be superfluous, but would also leave ekāgram without an object. The verb yuñjyāt, literally meaning “should link up,” is interpreted by Śrīdhara as “should practise,” apparently without any justification (vi. 12).


See Hindu Mysticism, by S. N. Dasgupta, Chicago, 1927, pp. 18-20.


prāṇāpānau samau hṛtvā nāsābhyantara-cāriṇau, V. 27. The phrase samau kṛtvā is left unexplained here by Śaṅkara. Śrīdhara explains it as “having suspended the movement of prāṇa and apāna”—prāṇāpānāv ūrddhvādho-gati-fiirodhena samau kṛtvā kumbhakaṃ kṛtvā. It is difficult, however, to say what is exactly meant by concentrating the prāṇa vāyu between the two eyebrows, bhruvor madhye prāṇam āveśya samyak (viii. 10). Neither Śaṅkara nor Śrīdhara gives us any assistance here. In mūrdhny ādhāyātmanaḥ prāṇam āsthito yoga-dhāraṇām (viii. 12) mūrdhni is paraphrased by Śrīdhara as bhruvor madhye, or “between the eyebrows.”


Atharva-śiras, 4 and 6 and Atharva-śikhā, 1.


śāntiṃ Nirvāṇa-paramāṃ mat-saṃsthām adhigacchati, vi. 15. The Gītā uses the words śānti and Nirvāṇa to indicate the bliss of the person who abides in God. Both these words, and particularly the word Nirvāṇa, have a definite significance in Buddhism. But the Gītā seems to be quite unacquainted with the Buddhistic sense of the word. I have therefore ventured to translate the word Nirvāṇa as “bliss of self-effacement.” The word is primarily used in the sense of “extinguishing a light,” and this directly leads to the Buddhistic sense of the absolute destruction of the skandhas. But the word Nirvāṇa is also used from very early times in the sense of “relief from sufferings” and “satisfaction.”

Thus the Mahā-bhārata, with which the Gītā is traditionally associated, uses it in this sense in III. 10438:

sa pītvā śītalaṃ toyaṃ pipāsārtto mahī-patiḥ;
Nirvāṇam agamad dhīmān susukhī cābhavat tadā.

Again, in the Mahā-bhārata, XII. 7150 and 13014, Nirvāṇa is described as being highest bliss (paramaṃ sukham), and it is also associated with śānti, or peace, as it is in the above passage—

śāntiṃ Nirvāṇa-paramāṃ.

In Mahā-bhārata, vi. 1079, and in another place it is called a “state of the highest Brahman”

(paramaṃ brahmaibid. xii. 13239).


taṃ mdyād duḥkha-saṃyoga-viyogaṃ yoga-saṃjñitam,
      vi. 23.


Yathā dīpo nivāta-stho neñgate sopamā smṛtā,
      vi. 19.


samatvaṃ yoga ucyate, II. 48.


In 11. 44, however, Śaṅkara considers this object of mind to be antaḥkaraṇa or buddhi. But Śrīdhara considers this object to be God, and in 11. 53 Śaṅkara and Śrīdhara are unanimous that the object, or the support of the union or communion of the mind, is God.


paśya me yogam aiśvaram, ix. 5, etārn vibhūtiṃ yogaṃ ca, x. 7. In the above two passages the word yoga seems to have a different meaning, as it is used there in the sense of miraculous powers; but even there the commentators Śaṅkara and Śrīdhara take it to mean “association” (yukti) and interpret aiśvaraṃ yogaṃ as “association of miraculous powers.”


Tadā prāṇāpānayor aikyaṃ kṛtvā ;
      see Dhyāna-bindu, 93-5 (Adyar Library edition, 1920).

This seems to be similar to prāṇāpānau samau kṛtvā of the Gītā.

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