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The Gita Speaks To The Yogi

Krishna teaches ArjunaChapter Five of How to Be a Yogi

The wise yogi reads the Gita daily and ponders its truths. The more he does so, the more he will understand as his buddhi (intellect/intelligence) is being continually purified and enlightened through daily meditation.

The entire scripture is directed to the yogi, so all seven hundred verses speak to him, but I would like to present those that are specific about the principles of the Yoga Life.

Confidence in yoga

“In this yoga, even the abortive attempt is not wasted. Nor can it produce a contrary result. Even a little practice of this yoga will save you from the terrible wheel of rebirth and death” (2:40).

“The scriptures declare that merit can be acquired by studying the Vedas, performing ritualistic sacrifices, practicing austerities and giving alms. But the yogi who has understood this teaching of mine will gain more than any who do these things. He will reach that universal source, which is the uttermost abode of God” (8:28).

Total dedication

“In this yoga, the will is directed singly toward one ideal” (2:41). “When can a man be said to have achieved union with Brahman? When his mind is under perfect control and freed from all desires, so that he becomes absorbed in the Atman, and nothing else” (6:18).

“Great is that yogi who seeks to be with Brahman, greater than those who mortify the body, greater than the learned, greater than the doers of good works: therefore become a yogi” (6:46).

“How hard to break through is this, my Maya, made of the gunas! But he who takes refuge within me only shall pass beyond Maya: he, and no other” (7:14).

“Strive without ceasing to know the Atman, seek this knowledge and comprehend clearly why you should seek it: such, it is said, are the roots of true wisdom: ignorance, merely, is all that denies them” (13:11).

“The Lord lives in the heart of every creature. He turns them round and round upon the wheel of his Maya. Take refuge utterly in him. By his grace you will find supreme peace, and the state which is beyond all change” (18:61, 62).

“Give me your whole heart, love and adore me, worship me always, bow to me only, and you shall find me: this is my promise who love you dearly. Lay down all duties in me, your refuge. Fear no longer, for I will save you from sin and from bondage” (18:65, 66).

Inward orientation

“Only that yogi whose joy is inward, inward his peace, and his vision inward shall come to Brahman and know Nirvana” (5:24).


“The yogi should retire into a solitary place, and live alone” (6:10).

“Adore me only with heart undistracted; turn all your thought toward solitude, spurning the noise of the crowd, its fruitless commotion” (13:10).


“He must exercise control over his mind and body” (6:10).

Detachment from material things

“He must free himself from the hopes and possessions of this world” (6:10).

Constant in meditation

“He should meditate on the Atman unceasingly” (6:10).

“Make a habit of practicing meditation, and do not let your mind be distracted. In this way you will come finally to the Lord, who is the light-giver, the highest of the high” (8:8).

“When a yogi has meditated upon me unceasingly for many years, with an undistracted mind, I am easy of access to him, because he is always absorbed in me” (8:14).

“If a man will worship me, and meditate upon me with an undistracted mind, devoting every moment to me, I shall supply all his needs, and protect his possessions from loss” (9:22).

Regard for scriptures

“He who flouts the commandments of the scriptures, and acts on the impulse of his desires, cannot reach perfection, or happiness, or the highest goal. Let the scriptures be your guide, therefore, in deciding what you must do, and what you must abstain from. First learn the path of action, as the scriptures teach it. Then act accordingly” (16:23, 24).


“Yoga is not for the man who overeats, or for him who fasts excessively. It is not for him who sleeps too much, or for the keeper of exaggerated vigils. Let a man be moderate in his eating and his recreation, moderately active, moderate in sleep and in wakefulness. He will find that yoga takes away all his unhappiness” (6:16, 17).


“Who burns with the bliss and suffers the sorrow of every creature within his own heart, making his own each bliss and each sorrow: him I hold highest of all the yogis” (6:32). This is most important. Many sincere yogis think that unattachment means to be indifferent to others. I have known some yogis who tried to cultivate indifference to their children, showing them no love or affection. This is a terrible misunderstanding.

“A man should not hate any living creature. Let him be friendly and compassionate to all” (12:13).

Devoted to God and loving God

“He gives me all his heart, he worships me in faith and love: that yogi, above every other, I call my very own” (6:47).

“Devote your whole mind to me, and practice yoga. Take me for your only refuge. By doing this, you can know me in my total reality, without any shadow of doubt” (7:1).

“Great in soul are they who become what is godlike: they alone know me, the origin, the deathless: they offer me the homage of an unwavering mind. Praising my might with heart and lips for ever, striving for the virtue that wins me, and steadfast in all their vows, they worship adoring, one with me always” (9:13, 14).

“Whatever your action, food or worship; whatever the gift that you give to another; whatever you vow to the work of the spirit: O son of Kunti, lay these also as offerings before Me. Thus you will free yourself from both the good and the evil effects of your actions. Offer up everything to me. If your heart is united with me, you will be set free from karma even in this life, and come to me at the last. My face is equal to all creation, loving no one nor hating any. Nevertheless, my devotees dwell within me always: I also show forth and am seen within them. Though a man be soiled with the sins of a lifetime, let him but love me, rightly resolved, in utter devotion: I see no sinner, that man is holy. Holiness soon shall refashion his nature to peace eternal; O son of Kunti, of this be certain: the man that loves me, he shall not perish” (9:27-31).

“Those whose minds are fixed on me in steadfast love, worshipping me with absolute faith, I consider them to have the greater understanding of yoga…Quickly I come to those who offer me every action, worship me only, their dearest delight, with devotion undaunted. Because they love me these are my bondsmen and I shall save them from mortal sorrow and all the waves of Life’s deathly ocean” (12:2, 6, 7).

“He who is free from delusion, and knows me as the supreme Reality, knows all that can be known. Therefore he adores me with his whole heart” (15:19).

Constant remembrance of God/Self

“At the hour of death, when a man leaves his body, he must depart with his consciousness absorbed in me. Then he will be united with me. Be certain of that. Whatever a man remembers at the last, when he is leaving the body, will be realized by him in the hereafter; because that will be what his mind has most constantly dwelt on, during this life. Therefore you must remember me at all times, and do your duty. If your mind and heart are set upon me constantly, you will come to me. Never doubt this” (8:5-7).

“On Him let man meditate always, for then at the last hour of going hence from his body he will be strong in the strength of this yoga, faithfully followed: the mind is firm, and the heart so full, it hardly holds its love. Thus he will take his leave: and now, with the life-force indrawn utterly, held fast between the eyebrows, he goes forth to find his Lord, that light-giver, who is greatest” (8:10).

“You find yourself in this transient, joyless world. Turn from it, and take your delight in me. Fill your heart and mind with me, adore me, make all your acts an offering to me, bow down to me in self-surrender. If you set your heart upon me thus, and take me for your ideal above all others, you will come into my Being” (9:33, 34).

“Be absorbed in me, lodge your mind in me: thus you shall dwell in me, do not doubt it, here and hereafter” (12:8).

“Who sees his Lord, within every creature, deathlessly dwelling amidst the mortal: that man sees truly. Thus ever aware of the Omnipresent always about him, he offers no outrage to his own Atman, hides the face of God beneath ego no longer: therefore he reaches that bliss which is highest. Who sees the separate lives of all creatures united in Brahman brought forth from Brahman, himself finds Brahman” (13:27, 28, 30).

The mind of the yogi

“He must free himself from the delusion of ‘I’ and ‘mine.’ He must accept pleasure and pain with equal tranquility. He must be forgiving, ever-contented, self-controlled, united constantly with me in his meditation. His resolve must be unshakable. He must be dedicated to me in intellect and in mind. Such a devotee is dear to me. He neither molests his fellow men, nor allows himself to become disturbed by the world. He is no longer swayed by joy and envy, anxiety and fear. Therefore he is dear to me. He is pure, and independent of the body’s desire. He is able to deal with the unexpected: prepared for everything, unperturbed by anything. He is neither vain nor anxious about the results of his actions. Such a devotee is dear to me. He does not desire or rejoice in what is pleasant. He does not dread what is unpleasant, or grieve over it. He remains unmoved by good or evil fortune. Such a devotee is dear to me. His attitude is the same toward friend and foe. He is indifferent to honor and insult, heat and cold, pleasure and pain. He is free from attachment. He values praise and blame equally. He can control his speech. He is content with whatever he gets. His home is everywhere and nowhere. His mind is fixed upon me, and his heart is full of devotion. He is dear to me. This true wisdom I have taught will lead you to immortality. The faithful practice it with devotion, taking me for their highest aim. To me they surrender heart and mind. They are exceedingly dear to me” (12:13-20).

“Be humble, be harmless, have no pretension, be upright, forbearing, serve your teacher in true obedience, keeping the mind and the body in cleanness, tranquil, steadfast, master of ego, standing apart from the things of the senses, free from self; aware of the weakness in mortal nature, its bondage to birth, age, suffering, dying; to nothing be slave, nor desire possession of man-child or wife, of home or of household; calmly encounter the painful, the pleasant” (13:7-9).

“Yogis who have gained tranquility through the practice of spiritual disciplines, behold him in their own consciousness” (15:11).

“A man who is born with tendencies toward the Divine, is fearless and pure in heart. He perseveres in that path to union with Brahman which the scriptures and his teacher have taught him. He is charitable. He can control his passions. He studies the scriptures regularly, and obeys their directions. He practices spiritual disciplines. He is straightforward, truthful, and of an even temper. He harms no one. He renounces the things of this world. He has a tranquil mind and an unmalicious tongue. He is compassionate toward all. He is not greedy. He is gentle and modest. He abstains from useless activity. He has faith in the strength of his higher nature. He can forgive and endure. He is clean in thought and act. He is free from hatred and from pride. Such qualities are his birthright” (16:1-3).

The life of the yogi

“Learn from me now how man made perfect is one with Brahman, the goal of wisdom. When the mind and the heart are freed from delusion, united with Brahman, when steady will has subdued the senses, when sight and taste and sound are abandoned without regretting, without aversion; when a man seeks solitude, eats but little, curbing his speech, his mind and his body, ever engaged in his meditation on Brahman the truth, and full of compassion; when he casts from him vanity, violence, pride, lust, anger and all his possessions, totally free from the sense of ego and tranquil of heart: that man is ready for oneness with Brahman. And he who dwells united with Brahman, calm in mind, not grieving, not craving, regarding all men with equal acceptance: he loves me most dearly. To love is to know me, my innermost nature, the truth that I am: through this knowledge he enters at once to my Being. All that he does is offered before me in utter surrender: my grace is upon him, he finds the eternal, the place unchanging. Mentally resign all your action to me. Regard me as your dearest loved one. Know me to be your only refuge. Be united always in heart and consciousness with me. United with me, you shall overcome all difficulties by my grace” (18:50-58).

The right response

“By your grace, O Lord, my delusions have been dispelled. My mind stands firm. Its doubts are ended. I will do your bidding” (18:73).

Read the next chapter of How to Be a Yogi: It Is All in Your Hands

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Chapters in How to Be a Yogi

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