Yoga is freedom from the false actor

Acharya Prashant
20 min readJul 29, 2021

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

योगसंन्यस्तकर्माणं ज्ञानसंछिन्नसंशयम्।

आत्मवन्तं न कर्माणि निबध्नन्ति धनञ्जय।।4.41।।

yoga-sannyasta-karmāṇaṁ jñāna-sañchhinna-sanśhayam

ātmavantaṁ na karmāṇi nibadhnanti dhanañjaya

Actions do not bind the one, who has renounced actions through Yoga, whose doubts have been fully dispelled by Realization and who is poised in the Self, O Dhananjaya

~ Chapter 4, Verse 41

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Acharya Prashant (AP): “Actions do not bind the one,” obviously Krishna sees our actions as bondage; that is why he refers to the Yogi as someone whose actions do not bind him. What is this bondage of actions? Let’s go into it, because if we can understand this, then we will know what Yoga is and who that Yogi is who is not held captive by actions.

Actions bind us in two ways which are interrelated, and which are actually one, but for the sake of clarity, we’ll call them two.

Firstly, our actions are not free right at the time of their inception. If I push a particular switch and due to that the fan has no option but to act, then surely the movement, the action of the fan cannot be called free action. The beginning itself is automatic, programmed, designed. And whatever is programmed, externally designed, can also always be controlled by the external. The fan has no right over who would come to push the switch. Anybody can just switch it on, and anybody can come and switch it off. The fan is helpless. The fan would have to act according to the external master’s wishes.

You take two chemicals and drain them together, and what you see is vigorous activity. Do the chemicals have an option there? No, the chemicals are a slave of their properties, a slave of their physical constitution. The action happens without the consent of the actor. The actor has no real say or freedom or independence. The actor is helpless. The…