My Favourite Bhagavad Gita भगवद्गीता

Posted by Cora Wen Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bhagavad Gita भगवद्गीता
Chapter 6 ~ Samkhya Yoga
The Science of Self Realisation

In chapter six Lord Krishna reveals astanga Yoga, and the exact process of practicing such yoga. He explains in detail the difficulties of the mind and the procedures by which one may gain mastery of their mind through Yoga which reveals the spiritual nature of a living entity.

uddhared ātmanātmānaḿ

nātmānam avasādayet

ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur

ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ

uddharet — one must deliver; ātmanā — by the mind; ātmānam — the conditioned soul; na — never; ātmānam — the conditioned soul; avasādayetput into degradation; ātmā — mind; eva — certainly; hi — indeed; ātmanaḥ — of the conditioned soul; bandhuḥ — friend; ātmā — mind; eva — certainly; ripuḥ — enemy;ātmanaḥ — of the conditioned soul.


Only by the Self can one uphold oneself, and only by the Self can one degrade oneself. Self is the friend of oneself, and its enemy as well.

The word ātmā is body, mind and soul. In Yoga, the mind and the conditioned soul are especially important, and liberation of the mind is Yoga, so ātmā is the mind.

The purpose of Yoga is to see the mind clearly and to draw it away from attachment to sense objects. It is stressed the mind must be trained so well, it can deliver the soul from the mire of ignorance.

In material existence one is influenced by the mind and sense perception. We are entangled in the material world because the mind is in false ego, which desires and grasps.

The mind can be trained so that it will not be attracted by the material world, and the conditioned soul may be liberated from bondage.

The more one is attracted by sense objects, the more one becomes entangled in material existence. The best way to disentangle is to keep the mind focused in pure consciousness.

"For man, mind is the cause of bondage and mind is the cause of liberation. Mind absorbed in sense objects is the cause of bondage, and mind detached from the sense objects is the cause of liberation." ~Amrta-bindu Upanishad

mana eva manuṣyāṇāḿ

kāraṇaḿ bandha-mokṣayoḥ

bandhāya viṣayāsańgo

muktyai nirviṣayaḿ manaḥ


  1. sfauthor Says:
  2. Nice posting. Do you know about this edition of the Gita?

  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. Thank you...for the light you are spreading by posting this!!
    This is all sooo true...& at the same time so difficult to achieve..
    detachment...i'm really really trying..

  5. For readers new the Bhagavad Gita, I would like to reassure them that, according to many commentators, the Gita is not, as a whole, anti-sensual in the least, like one might assume from the passage above alone.

    To contrary, detachment from the senses just makes them many times more vivid and wondrous in the end, like the way colors look after closing your eyes for awhile.

    By the end of the Gita it is crystal clear that there is no struggle at all between our bodies, minds, and spirits. They are one and the same and divine. The initial struggle, as in the above passage, is to free ourselves of our egos so we can awaken to the wonder of everything, including the senses.

    I should add that not all Bhagavad Gita interpreters agree on these points I'm making. There is another school of thought that interprets life as an biblical-like battle between the evil senses and the higher spirit. But I don't go for this myself. It's too much like Catholicism for me.

    I'm not familiar with Cora's version above, so I can't tell which school of thought this commentator belongs to. But I bet Cora can tell us!

    Bob Weisenberg

  6. Cora Wen Says:
  7. Thank you Bob for your (always) thought provoking inquiry and I agree that the concept is not anti-sensual, but is actually an enhancement of the senses...

    The translation is more of my own musings on the statement based on much contemplation of this verse. And the commentary is from Vedanta school, primarily Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Translation of Gita - Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

    from Wikipedia: The focus of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is the devotional worship (bhakti) of Radha and Krishna, and their many divine incarnations as the supreme forms of God, svayam bhagavan.

  8. Thanks for your thoughts, Cora.

    As you probably know, this translation of the Gita, and especially the commentary, are quite controversial among Gita scholars. To make a long story short, those who don't like it feel the Swami has tilted the translation to conform to his preconceived notions of Yoga and the Bhakti dominance of the Krishna Consciousness movement.

    Graham Schweig, one of the more prominent dissenters, even went so far as to dub this version "As-It-Isn't"!

    I'm not scholar enough to participate in those discussions, but I can say that I personally had a lot of trouble with this version. It was the first version I read and I just couldn't relate to the Yoga as Hare Krishna religion commentary.

    I almost gave up on the Gita altogether, but it seemed too central to my love for Yoga philosophy to do that, so I went on to read several other versions including Schweig's and found them all to be more than wonderful, particularly Stephen Mitchell's.

    All that said, I'm guessing that if I went back to "As It Is", with what I know now, I would probably enjoy it just like you do! I am much better at seeing strictly religious oriented commentators in perspective and turning things into metaphors.

    Bob Weisenberg

  9. Mukesh Says:
  10. Nice and interesting Blog.



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