SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 22 – Chapter 6, Verses 1 to 10 – Dhyana Yoga 

In this Chapter, Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains Dhyana (Meditation) as a means of gaining Moksha. While Karma Yoga is through external means of actions, Dhyana Yoga is entirely internal whereby the actions are born in the mind but remains in the mind and does not manifest in any form of action.  The intent of meditation is to fix the mind on the divine and contemplate on the Supreme for purification of self.

Bhagavan goes on to explain the attributes of a Yogi and the benefits of meditation through these 10 verses.  Lord Krishna explains the essential attributes for Dhyana Yoga and one is said to have mastered it when one is:

  • unattached to the fruits of his work,
  • free from any desires,
  • has gained total control over mind,
  • in a state of equanimity considering everything and everyone as equal/same,
  • in deep devotion surrendering unto the Lord, and
  • forever engaged in the contemplation of the Supreme

Such a person is said to be Yogi who is firmly established in Dhyana Yoga and attains Moksha.

6.1      Shloka 6.1

श्री भगवानुवाच

अनाश्रितः कर्मफलं कार्यं कर्म करोति यः।

संन्यासी योगी निरग्निर्न चाक्रियः।।6.1।।

Sri Bhagavan Uvaca

Anasritah karma-phalam karyam karma karoti yah

Sa sannyasi ca yogi ca na niragnir na cakriyah ।।6.1।।

Meaning: Bhagavan Shri Krishna said: One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and performs his work as obligated is leading a renounced life, and such a person is a true sage; not he who does not light fire or performs no work.

The sannyasis (renunciate) sometimes think that they have become liberated from all material duties, and therefore they cease to perform agnihotra yajnas (fire sacrifices), while being interested in uniting with Brahman. Such a desire is greater than any material desire, but it is not without self-interest. Similarly, the mystic yogi who practices the yoga system with half-open eyes, ceasing all material activities, desires some satisfaction for his personal self. Lord Chaitanya, the highest perfectional symbol of renunciation, prays in this way:

Na dhanam na janam na sundarim kavitam va jagadisa kamaye

Mama janmani janmanisvare bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi  ।।

Meaning: “O Almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor to enjoy beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. All I want is unmotivated devotional service to You, birth after birth.”

In the fifth chapter, Lord Krishna described and praised the path of selfless action as well as the path of knowledge. At the very end of the chapter, He introduced briefly the procedures for meditation in the final two verses. In this chapter, He elaborates them further.

In this verse, Lord Krishna speaks about meditation as the principal element of spiritual knowledge. He also explains the method of renunciation through meditation. Sannyasa is the fourth stage of life (after Brahmacharya, Grihastashrama, Vaanaprastha) and can only be accepted by performing yagna to the Supreme Lord by propitiating the sacred fire. The worship for a sannyasi is the performance of Vedic activities such as teaching the Vedas, chanting of mantras with devotion and helping the conditioned souls develop devotion to the Supreme. Therefore, one who is not devoted either to yagna or the sacred fire cannot be considered a sannyasi or a yogi.

6.2      Shloka 6.2

यं संन्यासमिति प्राहुर्योगं तं विद्धि पाण्डव।

ह्यसंन्यस्तसङ्कल्पो योगी भवति कश्चन।।6.2।।

Yam sannyasam iti prahur yogam tam viddhi pandava

Na hy asannyasta-sankalpo yogi bhavati kascana।।6.2।।

Meaning: O’Arjuna, you should know that which is acclaimed as renunciation is the yoga of uniting oneself with the Supreme, but no one can become a yogi unless he renounces the desire for sense gratification.

The discussion of the previous verse is augmented here by the statement ‘yogam tam viddhi’ meaning know that yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness, which means performing karma yoga selflessly without any sense of ego or desire for rewards.  Developing such an attitude is the same as leading the life of sannyasa or renunciation.

The words ‘asannyasta-sankalpo’ means ‘without renouncing the desire for rewards’ and this seeks to emphasise that without renunciation of desires for rewards, it is not possible for one to be considered a Yogi.

6.3      Shloka 6.3

आरुरुक्षोर्मुनेर्योगं कर्म कारणमुच्यते।

योगारूढस्य तस्यैव शमः कारणमुच्यते।।6.3।।

Aruruksor muner yogam karma karanam ucyate

Yogarudhasya tasyaiva samah karanam ucyate ।।6.3 ।।

Meaning: For one who is a beginner in the eightfold yoga system, action is said to be the means; and for one who has already attained perfection, cessation of all actions is said to be the means.

The process of uniting oneself with the Supreme is called yoga, which may be compared to climbing a ladder for attaining the topmost rung of spiritual realisation. This ladder begins from the lowest material condition of the living entity and rises to perfect self-realisation in pure spiritual life. Accordingly, various elevations of the ladder are known by different names.

The eightfold yoga system (namely yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi) begins with meditation and progresses through regulative principles of life and practice of different sitting postures are considered fruitive material activities. All such activities lead to achieving perfect mental equilibrium to control the senses. When one is accomplished in the practice of meditation, he ceases all activities.

The essential path for attaining Moksha is equanimity of mind. The compound word ‘yoga-arudhasya’ means ‘those who practice meditation continuously, they attain a state of equanimity’.  Serenity, equanimity of mind, self-control, austerity, restraint over senses, rejection of rewards of action and renunciation are pre-requisites for those striving for Moksha. 

Lord Krishna further clarifies this with the word ‘aruruksoh’ meaning ‘one who aspires’. If one is aspiring for atma tattva or realisation of the Soul, then karma yoga is merely a stepping stone until one is established in selfless actions without the influence of ego influence. Such actions soon lead to renunciation which culminates in dhyana yoga (meditation) and results in uniting the individual consciousness with the ultimate consciousness. The purport is that an aspirant should perform prescribed activities until they are securely established in renunciation of desires and a state of equanimity which leads to the attainment of Atma tattva (self-realisation).

6.4      Shloka 6.4

यदा हि नेन्द्रियार्थेषु कर्मस्वनुषज्जते।

सर्वसङ्कल्पसंन्यासी योगारूढस्तदोच्यते।।6.4।।

Yada hi nendriyarthesu na karmasv anusajjate

Sarva-sankalpa-sannyasi yogarudhas tadocyate ।।6.4।।

Meaning:  A person is said to have attained yogic life when, having renounced all material desires, he neither acts for sense gratification nor engages in fruitive activities.

In this verse, Lord Krishna explains the qualities of one who has established themselves in equanimity of mind. For such a person there is absolute detachment because there is no desire for results. If one is devoted to the Supreme Lord, then all imperfections are dissolved on their own.

How does one become detached from one’s actions?

The answer lies in renouncing the desire for the rewards of actions.  And if one is devoted to the Supreme Lord, then offer all the rewards to Him. By acting in either of these ways, one is considered to be in renunciation. At the culmination every spiritual activity, we recite ‘Sarvam Krishnarpanam Astu’ i.e. everything is being offered to Bhagavan Shri Krishna. Of course, this needs to be recited with intent/devotion and not merely as a routine chant.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna speaks the words: ‘na karmasv anusajjate’ meaning ‘when one reaches a state where they no longer crave for sense objects’. Such a person thinks why should I strive to obtain pleasures which are here today and gone tomorrow, being only transient and temporary? With constant endeavour one ceases to seek sensual pleasures and eventually succeeds in eliminating all thoughts of enjoying sense objects along with dissolving the memories of previous enjoyments. Only such a being can be firmly established in Yoga or the science of uniting the individual soul with the ultimate consciousness.

In the verse, Lord Krishna uses the compound word ‘yogarudhas’ which means ‘one who is adept at dhyana yoga’. Such a person, having experienced sublime bliss of the atma or soul within, ceases to be infatuated by lower-level desires from sensual objects and is no longer deluded by the impulses of the senses in relation to such sense objects.  The words ‘na anusajjate’ means ‘not enamoured’ and denotes that such a person is no longer under the influence of such delusions.

6.5      Shloka 6.5

उद्धरेदात्मनाऽऽत्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत्।

आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः।।6.5।।

Uddhared atmanatmanam natmanam avasadayet

Atmaiva hy atmano bandhur atmaiva ripur atmanah ।।6.5।।

Meaning:  A man must elevate himself by his own mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.

The word ‘atmana’ refers to the mind in this verse as the mind is the central point in the practice of yoga. The objective of the yoga system is to control the mind and to train it to enable it to withdraw from attachment to sense objects. The pure soul is entangled in the material world because of the mind’s ego which desires to lord over material objects. The more one is attracted by sense objects, the more one becomes entangled in material existence. Hence, the word ‘hi’ isused to emphasise this point, i.e., that one must do this. It is also said:

mana eva manusyanam karanam bandha-moksayoh I
bandhaya visayasango muktyai nirvisayam manah

Meaning: 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.

Therefore, the mind should be trained to such an extent that it will not be attracted by the glitter of material nature, and in this way the conditioned soul attains purity. Only by constant endeavour with faith and determination is one able to detach themselves from ego and the deluded thinking of associating actions with their bodily activities.

6.6      Shloka 6.6 

बन्धुरात्माऽऽत्मनस्तस्य येनात्मैवात्मना जितः।

अनात्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे वर्तेतात्मैव शत्रुवत्।।6.6।।

Bandhur atmatmanas tasya yenatmaivatmana jitah

Anatmanas tu satrutve vartetatmaiva satru-vat ।।6.6।।

Meaning: The mind is the best of friends for someone who has conquered it, but for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be his greatest enemy.

The purpose of practicing eightfold yoga isto control the mind to make it a friend in discharging the actions without attachment and desire for results. Unless the mind is controlled, the practice of yoga as an exercise does not deliver the full benefits. One who cannot control his mind lives always with the greatest enemy, as the uncontrolled mind can make one do irrational things.

So long as one remains a slave to one’s mind, one has to serve the demands of the mind which can take the form of lust, anger, avarice, illusion, etc. But when the mind is conquered, one voluntarily engages in devotion to the Supreme, who is situated within the heart of everyone as atma. Real yoga practice entails the meeting of the Atma within the heart with Paramatma  through perfect surrender to the Supreme Lord and self-realisation follows automatically.

A mind that is obsessed with sensual pleasures is forever in bondage whereas the mind devoid of the desire to enjoy sensual pleasures leads to moksha or liberation from material existence.

6.7      Shloka 6.7

जितात्मनः प्रशान्तस्य परमात्मा समाहितः।

शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु तथा मानापमानयोः।।6.7।।

Jitatmanah prasantasya paramatma samahitah

Sitosna-sukha-duhkhesu tatha manapamanayoh ।।6.7।।

Meaning: For one who has conquered the mind, he already united with Paramatma, for he has attained equanimity and tranquillity. To such a man happiness and distress, heat and cold, honour and dishonour are all the same.

After previously describing that a person who has conquered their mind, the mind is their best friend, Bhagavan Shri Krishna now refers to the person who has successfully traversed the path of yoga or the science of uniting the individual consciousness with the ultimate consciousness. Such a person has transcended all dualities such as heat and cold, happiness and distress, honour and dishonour. Such persons are serene and peaceful in all situations because they are established in spiritual knowledge.

6.8      Shloka 6.8

ज्ञानविज्ञानतृप्तात्मा कूटस्थो विजितेन्द्रियः।

युक्त इत्युच्यते योगी समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः।।6.8।।

Jnana-vijnana-trptatma kuta-stho vijitendriyah

Yukta ity ucyate yogi sama-lostrasma-kancanah ।।6.8।।

Meaning:  A person is said to be established in self-realisation and is called a yogi when he is fully satisfied by virtue of spiritual knowledge. Such a person is situated in transcendence and is self-controlled. He sees everything, whether it be pebbles, stones, or gold,the same.

Bookish knowledge without realisation of the Supreme Truth is futile. This is stated as follows:

Atah Shri-Krishna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih

Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah ।।

Meaning: No one can gain an understanding of the transcendental nature of the name, form, qualities and pastimes of Bhagavan Shri Krishna simply by reading and acquiring academic knowledge about Him. Only when one seeks to learn with devotion and becomes spiritually engaged in transcendental service to the Lord, are the transcendental name, form, qualities and pastimes of the Lord are revealed to him.

Lord Krishna speaks of the benefits of victory over the senses in this verse. Only one who has succeeded in controlling the senses will become equiposed and tranquil. When the mind is no longer inclined to the attraction of sense objects and is turned inward, at that time one becomes qualified for enlightenment and the Supreme Being magnanimously and comprehensively becomes established in the heart.

The characteristics of a spiritually enlightened person are being explained in this verse. The word ‘vijnana’ means transcendental knowledge which denotes spiritual awakening and realisation.  What one realises by learning and reflecting on scriptures is Jnana. What one realises by direct perception of the Atma is Vijnana.

The word ‘trptatma’ means one who is exclusively satisfied with these two forms of knowledge i.e. Jnana and Vijnana. The word ‘kutastho’ refers to one who is perpetually consistent and unwavering amidst the variable and ever changing phenomena of material existence. One who is absorbed in the eternal nature of the atma is kutastho and hence vijitendrah or one who has all the senses under complete subjugation. Being constantly in such consciousness without any wavering, such a person remains immersed in the atma with complete equanimity.

Thus, all material objects whether they are gold or a clay of earth are of equal value. All forms of material activities cease to give any pleasure. Such a person is known as ‘yuktah’ meaning one in communion with the ultimate consciousness and a fit candidate to commence perfection of meditation which leads to realisation of the Supreme Being.

6.9      Shloka 6.9

साधुष्वपि पापेषु समबुद्धिर्विशिष्यते।।6.9।।

Suhrn-mitrary-udasina- madhyastha-dvesya-bandhusu

Sadhusv api ca papesu sama-buddhir visisyate ।।6.9।।

Meaning:  A person is said to be still further advanced when he regards all—the honest well-wisher, friends and enemies, the envious, the pious, the sinner and those who are indifferent and impartial—with an equal mind.

Lord Krishna is stating that one who regards equally the well-wishers such as relatives and friends who help due to affection and is also nonplussed by those who are envious or wish to do harm such as an enemy, as well as those of righteous conduct and those of evil conduct, such a person excels even the yogi or one perfecting the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness.

The word ‘Suhru’ refers to one wwho naturally wishes one well and ‘Mitra’ denotes a friend who is affectionate.  Ary is one who wishes one ill and ‘Udasina’ refers to a person who is indifferent. ‘Madhyastha’ is someone who is neutral and ‘Dvesya’ is one who was born as an enemy and bears ill will from birth. Bandhusu is a relative who bears good will and Sadhusu are saintly people who are virtuous and follow the path of righteousness. Papesu are the vile and wicked who follow the path of iniquity.

A ‘yuktah’ is one who has completely abandoned material pursuits and has ceased from all relationships with the world. Such a person has nothing to gain therefore nothing to lose and views all with equal vision in equanimity.  That person is distinguished among mortals who feels equanimity towards both those who are righteous and those who are unrighteous. They alone understand that the consciousness residing in every living entity is the Ultimate Consciousness which is the all pervasive medium equally present in all beings.

Attributes such as compassion, magnanimity and righteousness are bestowed by the grace of the Supreme Lord as otherwise it is not possible to possess them. This has been confirmed by all the saints and sages.

The Narada Purana specifies that: One who is affectionate without any expectation is the magnanimous one. Seeing suffering the one who extends help is the friend. One who causes pain is evil. One who does not reciprocate friendship even when given friendship is ungrateful. One who does good to others only if good was done for them is known as mediocre. The magnanimous one referred to here is the Supreme Lord.

6.10      Shloka 6.10

योगी युञ्जीत सततमात्मानं रहसि स्थितः।

एकाकी यतचित्तात्मा निराशीरपरिग्रहः।।6.10।।

Yogi yunjita satatam atmanam rahasi sthitah

Ekaki yata-cittatma nirasir aparigrahah ।।

Meaning:  A transcendentalist should always try to concentrate his mind on the Supreme Self; he should live alone in a secluded place and should always carefully control his mind. He should be free from desires and feelings of possessiveness.

In this verse, Bhagavan Shri Krishna speaks about the process of attaining equanimity. The word ‘yunjitah’ means concentrated in meditation and denotes that one should focus the mind on the soul and by use of the word ‘atmanam’ He refers to the mind as well as the soul. The word ‘ekaki’ means alone and ‘rahasi’ means a solitary place. One should perform this yoga in seclusion by oneself that is not inhabited by others.

The compound word ‘yata-cittatma’ means checking the capricious stream of thoughts that cascade in the mind and ‘nirasir’ means to be weaned from every impetus except the impetus for atma tattva or realisation of the soul. Aparigrahah means being devoid of every single possession and conception of possession except the atma or soul.

A Yogi is one who has complete control over their mind and senses and is free from desire and is in constant contemplation of the Supreme to attain self-realisation.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat


  1. awesome piece of writing with apt pics to go with the commentary. dhyana yoga appeals to me the most !!. no external actions and it is all about the control of the mind !! eight fold yoga system pic saved for future reference.

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