Yoga in the Light of Bhagwad Gita || Internation Yoga Day

The Bhagwad Gita is a part of the epic, Mahabharata, which is a story of princely clans, running over many generations. So, one side, one group of allies by the name of Pandavas, are ranged against their cousin brothers, by the name of Kauravas. The setting is a battlefield. Krishna, is the Charioteer, of the lead warrior amongst the Pandavas, his name is Arjun.

The eighteen chapters of the Bhagwad Gita, are all named as different Yogas. These are the eighteen chapters of dialogue between Krishna and Arjun. Only if we understand the setting of the Bhagwad Gita, would we also then know the meaning of Yoga. Why is Yoga needed in the first place? Krishna delivers eighteen chapters, one after the other, to Arjun. Starting from ‘Vishada Yoga’, to ‘Saankhya Yoga’ to ‘Karma Yoga’, to ‘Karm Sanyasa’, ‘Gyana Yoga’.

What is the need for Yoga?

Yoga is needed only when a man experiences, contradictory forces. Only when a mind feels that it is divided between various segments of influence and the segments are contradicting and competing with each other; when the mind is in such a situation, then that which brings peace and resolution to the mind, is called Yoga.

Yoga, hence is the only thing relevant to anybody who is mired in strife, tension, indecision, attachment, grief, memories. If this is what, riddles the mind, then what one needs is Yoga. And if, one’s position is not the same as that of Arjun, then Yoga is irrelevant.

So, first of all, one sees that the setting of the Mahabharata is highly symbolic. The battleground is not, really a physical battleground. It is a literal, a symbol. An indicative thing. It indicates the world itself. One has to quickly come to terms with the symbolism. And it’s a battleground in which one is not really facing strangers. Our world is a battleground, in which we are positioned against those, with whom we have relationships.

Arjun’s predicament is our own confusion. And hence, anybody and everybody, who is standing confused, not really knowing, who he is, and what he ought to do, which way to move, how to decide, where to put in energy and from where to withdraw, that is Arjun. So, through all the literal signs we are being shown the situation of our own life, and in the character of Arjun, our own face. Yes?

And then comes something that Krishna calls as Yoga. If Yoga, is the antidote to such situations, you tell me what is the basic definition of Yoga then? There is Arjun, who is in a particular situation, and Krishna is offering him Yoga as freedom from that situation

The path to end suffering.

And what kind of suffering is it with Arjun? Is it physical suffering? Is Arjun trying to realize God and failing?

So, Yoga is not being offered as a treatment to some physical disorder. Arjun is a stout warrior, physically strong. He is handsome, sturdy, and the best archer, no one can match him. There is nothing wrong with his physicality. So, Yoga is not being offered as a treatment to some physical ailment.

Yoga is the coming together of the various divided fragments of the mind.

Yoga is to have an undivided mind. A mind that is not influenced. Because, the only thing that causes divisions in the mind, is the various forces of conditioning that the mind has experienced.

Arjun has been taught that respecting elders is a virtue. Arjun has been taught that non-violence is a virtue. Arjun, has also been taught, that defending your territory is a virtue. Now, these two things clash with each other. If he must defend his territory, then he must fight his elders. But he has been taught that not fighting with your elders is a virtue. Arjun, has been taught that one must take care of the interests of one’s kins and clan. But Arjun, has also been taught that one must take good care of one’s wife. Now, these two are ranged against each other. The kins have insulted the wife, now Arjun must defend and avenge the wife.

This is how, the mind gets divided.

Society influences it, media influences it, religion influences it, the entire gamut of experiences of the past, influence the mind. The biology inherent in one’s cells and tissues influences the mind. The country you come from, the system you have experienced, in terms of politics, economy, even ecology. That is what, constitutes the Mind. The Mind is the bundle of influences. And these influences, do not agree with each other, they fight with each other. Hence, the contradiction, hence, the strife that makes our life, a battlefield. That is human suffering. That is grief.

One part of oneself is fighting with another part. And none of the parts is prepared to be related directly to the center. All parts are off-center and in disagreement with each other.

Yoga is to have a composite mind. Yoga is to return to one’s innocence. One’s primal Purity, in which the mind is not conditioned, or stained at all. That is Yoga.

Yoga is not about having a fit body. If it was having a fit body, Arjun, was the fittest of them all already. Why does he need lectures on Yoga then?

The fittest warrior is being given sermons on Yoga, surely Yoga is not about physical fitness. If physical fitness would mean Yoga, then Arjun was already established in Yoga. So, Yoga is not at all a physical thing. And Yoga is also not about, enlightenment, or other worldliness or freedom from this world, or transcendental experiences, or divine sparkle, none of that.

Yoga means, how do I live?

Yoga means, what do I do with my relatives?

Yoga means, how do I treat my wife?

Yoga means, if I need to invest everything in a conflict, would I risk my son’s life?

These are the questions that an Arjun faces.

If these questions are relevant to you, then the answers to these questions, is called Yoga.

Finding practical solutions, finding real solutions to the real situations of the life is Yoga.

Acharya Prashant regularly writes at prashantadvait.com and to connect closely with his teachings watch his YouTube videos at Official YouTube Channel or visit his website.

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