[Advaita-l] The Bhagavadgita and the Patanjali Yoga

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon May 24 20:34:38 CDT 2010

ShrIgurubhyo namah

The Gita and the Patanjali Yoga – The Vedantic Perspective

`Gitaa-shAstraartha-vivekaH' (An exposition of the system of the
Bhagavad Gita) is a book authored by Swami SacchidAnandendra
Saraswati, in Sanskrit. This work contains a succinct overview of
the entire Gita in several chapters. Here, in this post, two
specific chapters from this book viz., `dhyAnayoga viveka'
and `yogadarshana upasangraha' are taken up for presentation.

First let us see what the Swami has to say in the Yoga darshana
chapter no.22 commencing on page 174:

An analysis on the method of a `compare and contrast' study of the
Patanjali Yoga and the Bhagavadgita is taken up. The aspects of
Patanjali system that are admissible in the Gita shastra are
enumerated. First of all, the Yoga declaration: `Through attainment
of the `chitta vritti nirodha' one gets established in one's True
Self' is admitted to be common to both the Yoga and the Gita
shastra. The first two sutras of the Yoga:

1.2. Union is restraining the thought-streams natural to the mind.
1.3. Then the seer dwells in his own nature.

are compared with the Gita: VI. 20 and 23. –

English Translation - Swami Gambhirananda

6.20 At the time when the mind restrained through the practice of
Yoga gets withdrawn, and just when by seeing the Self by the self
one remains contented in the Self alone [A.G. construes the word eva
(certainly) with tusyati (remains contented).-Tr.];

6.23 One should know that severance of contact with sorrow to be
what is called Yoga. That Yoga has to be practised with perservance
and with an undepressed heart.

Here, what is the `one's True Self' and how is one established in it
are questions where there is difference between Yoga and Gita. This
will be considered towards the end of the chapter.

What is the means to be adopted to accomplish `chitta vritti

The Yoga sutra says:

1.12. These thought-streams are controlled by practice and non-

The Gita says:

6.35 The Blessed Lord said -- O mighty-armed one, undoubtedly the
mind is untractable and restless. But, O son of Kunti, it is brought
under control through practice and detachment.

What are these `practice and detachment' ? The Yoga sutra says:

1.13. Practice is the effort to secure steadiness.
[1.14. This practice becomes well-grounded when continued with
reverent devotion and without interruption over a long period of

1.15. Desirelessness towards the seen and the unseen gives the
consciousness of mastery.

In the Gita, the Bhashya for 6.35 says:

English Translation of Sri Sankaracharya's Sanskrit Commentary -
Swami Gambhirananda

6.35 Mahabaho, O mighty-armed one; asamsayam, undoubtedly - there is
no doubt with regard to this; that the manah, mind; is durnigraham,
untractable; and (calm ?), restless. Tu, but; it-the modifications
of the mind in the form of distractions-grhyate, is brought under
control; abhyasena, through practice- abhyasa means repetition of
some idea or thought of the mind one some mental plane ['Some mental
plane' suggests some object of concentration.]-; and vairagyena,
through detachment-vairagya means absence of hankering for enjoyment
of desirable things, seen or unseen, as a result of the practice of
discerning their defect. That mind is thus brought undr control,
restrained, i.e. completely subdued. By him, however, who has not
controlled his mind-

The method of attaining `samAdhi' characterized by `chitta vritti
nirodha' are specified in the Yoga Sutra thus:

1.23. Or by surrender to God.
1.37. Or the mind taking as an object of concentration those who are
freed of compulsion.
1.38. Or depending on the knowledge of dreams and sleep.
1.39. Or by meditation as desired.

In the Gita too we have:

2.61 Controlling all of them, one should remain concentrated on Me
as the supreme. For, the wisdom of one whose organs are under
control becomes steadfast.

6.14 He should remain seated with a placid mind, free from fear,
firm in the vow of a celibate, and with the mind fixed on Me by
controlling it through concentration, having Me as the supreme Goal.
(There is difference between Yoga and Gita regarding the nature of

Regarding the upaasana method also there is similarity between Yoga
and Gita:

Yoga: 1.28. The repetition of Om should be made with an
understanding of its meaning.


8.13 He who departs by leaving the body while uttering the single
syllable, viz Om, which is Brahman, and thinking of Me, he attains
the supreme Goal.

[Here, let us make a deviation to the other chapter no.
14 `dhyAnayoga viveka'. Herein, on page 74, the Swami says: ]

Resolving the mind in Atman alone is the dhyanam, meditation, for
Jnanam, Realization:

Now, the dhyanam for Realization is elucidated. This is said at the
end of the 5th chapter of the Gita:

5.27-5.28 Keeping the external objects outside, the eyes at the
juncture of the eye-brows, and making equal the outgoing and
incoming breaths that move through the nostrils, the contemplative
who has control over his organs, mind and intellect should be fully
intent on Liberation and free from desire, fear and anger. He who is
ever is verily free. //

In the 6th chapter it is explained in detail:

6.24 By totally eschewing all desires which arise from thoughts, and
restraining with the mind itself all the organs from every side;

6.25 One should gradually withdraw with the intellect endowed with
steadiness. Making the mind fixed in the Self, one should not think
of anything whatsoever. //

6.26 (The yogi) should bring (this mind) under the subjugation of
the Self Itself, by restraining it from all those causes whatever
due to which the restless, unsteady mind wanders away. //

6.25 One should gradually withdraw with the intellect endowed with
steadiness. Making the mind fixed in the Self, one should not think
of anything whatsoever. This is the ultimate limit of yoga. (This
is the ultimate teaching of yoga).

[Here, the Author-Swami makes a footnote: For the sense organs,
their resolving in the mind is the limit. For the mind, its being
resolved in the intellect is the limit. In this manner, gradually
resolving the entire mind-stuff in the Atman free of the world is
the ultimate limit. This is being said in the Kathopanishad

//The wise man should merge his speech in his mind and his mind in
his intellect. He should merge his intellect in the Cosmic Mind and
the Cosmic Mind in the Tranquil Self.//

Note: It is in expatiation of this Kathopanishad mantra did the
Author-Swami give a crisp and comprehensive definition of the
adhyAtma Yoga on page 104 of his book (English): The Intuition of

//6. .....The highest Truth can be known only by means of suggestion
of the Shruti or an Acharya by making use of one's own purified mind
alone. By this ONE INSTRUMENT (all emphasis is of the revered
author, not mine) the seeker can practise the ADHYATMA YOGA (the
graded contemplation leading to the inmost Atman). The process of
this Yoga demands that the seeker should gradually STILL the
activities of the senes, the mind, intellect as well as the ego,
trying to MERGE each preceding entity in the next succeeding one,
till at last he BECOMES ONE with the really real Tranquil Atman,
beyond all objects of the senses and the intellect.// (unquote)

The above definition of the adhyAtma Yoga that is taught in the
Upanishads is authored by the revered Swamiji who has thoroughly
examined several sutra/upanishad bhashya passages of Shankara for
this purpose. He has concluded that the adhyAtma Yoga is a process
by which a saadhaka BECOMES ONE with the Atman. He has highlighted
with his own hands the major component of this adhyAtma yoga
involving `STILLING' the mind, etc. ]

On page 86 of the Sanskrit book that we are now seeing, the Swami

77. The content of the abhyasa, practice, that is demanded for the
meditation directed at Realization: This `abhyasa', it is to be
remembered, is in endeavouring to make the Atman conducive to
become `realizable'. The abhyasa is taught in 6.35. After quoting
the Acharya's bhashyam, the Swami gives a note detailing the
correspondence between the terms used in Patanjali system with the
ones in the Gita. Mano-nigraha is synonymous with chitta-nirodha.
It is this abhyasa that is meant by the word `nididhyasana' in the

In conclusion, the Swami makes a compare-contrast study between the
Yoga of Patanjali and the Gita/Vedanta. The salient features of
this study are:

The Gita does not specify the distinction between sa-beeja and nir-
beeja Samadhi unlike the Yoga system. The ultimate result obtained
by the Yoga Samadhi is distinct from the one obtained by the Samadhi
of Adhyatma shastra. The chief distinction is: In Patanjali yoga
system, the `prajnaa' obtained in Samadhi constitutes of a
distinction between the knower and the known. This duality is
persistent there. On the other hand, in the Samahi of Vedanta, the
knower-knowing-known distinction stands eradicated, resulting in a
nirvikalpa jnanam. The Swami concludes with the note that in view
of `all' these differences, there is a considerable distinction
between the `Samadhi-prajnaa' (Realization obtained through Samadhi)
of the two systems.

[The quotes from the book by the Swami ends here.)

As this (last mentioned) is a subject that can be authentically
commented upon only by those who have actually had the experience
of Samadhi, I desist from making any observations about the Swami's

What transpires from the study of this book is: The Swami is clear
that there is `chitta vritti nirodha' involved in the Gita system in
the same manner as it is in the Yoga system. What leads to chitta
vritti nirodha is also common to both the systems. What results from
chitta vritti nirodha is also same: Samadhi. There is `samadhi' in
both the systems. It is this Samadhi that results in final
realization and release in both the systems; there being a
difference in the content of the Samadhi and realization. This book
is not available in English. There is a Kannada translation

Pranams to the Swamiji,
Pranams to all sadhakas,
Om Tat Sat

[This post originally appeared on the Advaitin List as message No. 33976

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