Yogasadhanas in the Gita – Part 1

The satsang is divided in three parts:

Part One Part Two Part Three

I will talk about the system of yogic sadhana and the cultivation of yogic ideas as they have been defined and taught by Sri Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita was narrated to Arjuna on the battlefield of the Mahabharata war which took place about 5,500 years ago. Yet if we look at our own lives today, we find we are going through the same experiences in the journey of life that Arjuna experienced and discussed with Sri Krishna on the battlefield. The story is about two groups of brothers, five brothers known as the Pandavas, and one hundred brothers who are the Kauravas. The Kauravas developed an intense dislike of the five Pandavas.

Over time dislike turned into hatred and ultimately the outcome was a war between the two parties. On one side of the battlefield are the five brothers along with their allies, supporters and armies, and on the other side are the hundred Kaurava brothers along with their friends, allies and armies, all ready to kill each other.

One of the Pandavas is a great archer, known as Arjuna and in the war Sri Krishna became his charioteer. Arjuna tells Sri Krishna to take the chariot in between the two armies so he can see the people who have come ready to fight and kill each other. Sri Krishna places the chariot in the middle of the two armies and Arjuna sees his own brothers with their allies arrayed before him in army formations and on the other side he sees everyone else. The hundred Kaurava brothers, their allies, supporters, family members, uncles, grandparents, parents, nephews, sons, and daughters, anybody who is able to fight is there.

Seeing this, Arjuna suddenly experiences deep pangs of grief and falls into a state of dejection and depression. The cause of Arjuna’s grief is the sight of his own family members preparing to fight and kill each other. As a warrior Arjuna has fought in many wars and never felt grief. The only difference is that on this battlefield he sees people not as enemies but as his own relations – uncles, sons, nephews, parents, grandparents, and friends. These people have been part of the Pandavas life since the time of their birth, and Arjuna feels a natural attachment to them. This attachment became the cause of his deepening grief. Every memory of the relationship, all the physical, intellectual, emotional, and playful memories, every impression or pratyaya came to the surface of his mind and Arjuna could not handle it.

He sat down dejected and said, “Why should I fight? What for? Maybe we will win and gain the kingdom but it will be empty, devoid of everybody that we know. What kind of happiness, pleasure or enjoyment will be derived without anyone whom we can call our own? For whom are we going to win this kingdom? All our friends and supporters are going to die. We call ourselves intellectuals; we formulate religions and laws, yet for the sake of greed and desire we are ready to destroy each other completely, knowing fully well that this civil war will lead to death and destruction of all social norms, structures, and values of the individual, family and society. There will be total chaos, death, destruction, and poverty. We are the leaders of the society yet we are gathered to commit the biggest crime of all times, knowingly, wilfully, consciously taking away another person’s life. There is no greater sinful act than killing somebody.”

Thinking thus, Arjuna sunk into a state of dejection and depression. He lost the clarity of his mind and the will to fight; he forgot his duties and obligations and sat down in the chariot.

Sri Krishna has to intervene to lift Arjuna out of this state of despondency and he tries to make him see the bright side of life and not the dark side. Sri Krishna explains to Arjuna the method, process, and sadhana to bring him out of his state of despondency. The instructions that Sri Krishna gives to Arjuna are actually yogic instructions and yogic sadhanas. Sri Krishna emphasizes adherence to yoga in life and the perfection of yoga to such a degree that he is recognized and known as the master or lord of yoga, Yogeshwara. There are only two people who have been given the title of yogeshwara in history – one is Shiva, the first exponent of yoga and the hero of all the aspiring yogis, so he is called Yogishwara, lord of yogis. Sri Krishna is known as Yogeshwara, meaning he is the lord or master of yoga as a practice, lifestyle, philosophy and understanding.

To enable Arjuna to work through his state of dejection, depression, despondency and grief, Sri Krishna formulated a specific structure of information and practice and these instructions are given in the Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad Gita is not a book of religion or philosophy; rather it is a book which dispels doubts about the dharma that one has to live in life. According to the founding thoughts of the Gita, the process of managing life and the cultivation of better qualities becomes the focus, dharma and journey of life. Yoga becomes the medium through which one is able to complete this journey.

As human beings we all go through states of grief, anxiety, dejection, frustration, and we also experience states of elation, joy, contentment, and security. Sometimes we are able to accept situations, yet other times we find ourselves unable to adapt and adjust to a situation or an environment. Our life swings from one extreme of experience on the plus side to the other extreme of experience on the minus side. The pendulum swing of moods, perceptions, thoughts, and ideas is something which everyone experiences every day, but everything is centred on relationship with others. Each person cultivates a relationship with other people in different degrees of intensity and this relationship creates a world of its own. In a household, the family of parents and children is the world. Relatives are added to their world as the second level, grandparents, aunts, uncles and their families. The third level of family interaction is at the level of friends in society – my friends, my supporters, people who think like me. But the primary group is still family. For friends, there is not the same feeling as you have for your own.