Bhagavad Gita with Commentaries of Ramanuja | Discourse 6 verse 33-47

arjuna uvāca
yo’yaṃyogas-tvayāproktaḥsāmyena madhusūdhana |
etasyāhaṃna paśyāmi cañcalatvāt sthitiṃsthirām || 33 ||

Arjuna said:
33. This Yoga of equanimity, which has been taught by You, O Krishna, I can not imagine it's steady continuance, because of the restlessness of the mind.

cañcalaṃhi manaḥkṛṣṇa pramāthi balavad-dṛḍham |
tasyāhaṃnigrahaṃmanye vāyoriva suduṣkaram || 34 ||

34. The mind is fickle, O Krishna, turbulent, powerful and stubborn, I deem it as difficult to control as to control the wind.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

The mind, which is fickle even in matters which are incessantly practiced and are dear to one, cannot be firmly focused in one spot by anyone, the mind agitates one violently and flies away stubbornly elsewhere.

I regard the restraint and focusing of such a mind on the ātman, which is of quite an opposite nature, to be as difficult to do as restraining a strong contrary gale with such things as fragile fans.

śrībhagavān uvāca
asaṃśayaṃmahābāho mano dur-nigrahaṃcalam |
abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇa ca gṛhyate || 35 ||

The Blessed Lord said:

35. The mind is undoubtedly hard to subdue and fickle, O mighty-armed one, but, O son of Kuntī, by repeated practice and by the exercise of dispassion it can be brought under control.

asaṃyatātmanāyogo duṣprāpa iti me matiḥ|
vaśyātmanātu yatatā śakyo’vāptum upāyataḥ|| 36 ||

36. In my opinion Yoga [harmony] is hard to attain by a person of unrestrained mind. However, it can be attained through skilful means by one, who strives for it and has a subdued mind.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

That the mind is difficult to control and direct due to its fickle and tempestuous nature is a fact unable to deny.

But the possibility of taming it depends upon generating in the mind a feeling of affection and attachment by accustoming the mind regularly reflect on the sublime, transcendental qualities of the ātma or soul and then meditating upon the ātma daily.

In this way very soon an aversion will arise to focus on anything that does not facilitate ātma tattva or realisation of the soul. This will happen naturally when the discerning mind perceives the imperfections inherent in all other topics and subjects.

Lord Krishna is reiterating that for one who has not subjugated their mind this yoga is extremely difficult to realise;

but it is possible to achieve by one who has the vision of equanimity towards all beings and understands that the same fundamental spiritual basis is present everywhere as the ātma existing in all living entities.

Controlling the mind has already been elucidated by Lord Krishna in the process of selfless karma yoga as offerings of worship to the Supreme Lord.

 Lord Krishna has also instructed in chapter II.XXXX that there is no loss or diminution by the performance of this yoga; but the greatness of karma yoga there described is certainly that which embodies ātma tattva and culminates in communion with paramātmā the Supreme Soul by meditation.

arjuna uvāca
ayatiḥ śraddhayopeto yogāc-calita-mānasaḥ|
aprāpya yoga-saṃsiddhiṃkāṃgatiṃkṛṣṇa gacchati || 37 ||

Arjuna said:
37. What becomes of that person, O Krishna, who has conviction, but due to the wandering of the mind and the lack of diligent effort, fails to attain perfection in [meditation] Yoga?

kaccin-nobhaya-vibhraṣṭaś-chinnābhram iva naśyati |
apratiṣṭho mahābāho vimūḍho brahmaṇaḥpathi || 38 ||

38. Having no support, confused in the path leading to Brahman, and thus fallen from both, does one not perish, O mighty armed, like a broken cloud?

etan-me saṃśayaṃkṛṣṇa chettum arhasy-aśeṣataḥ|
tvad-anyaḥsaṃśayasyāsya chettāna hy-upapadyate || 39 ||

39. This doubt of mine, O Krishna, you should remove completely for there is no other than you who can dispel it.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

No matter how enthusiastically one may embark on the path of yoga,

if one lacks the sufficient determination to maintain the persistent application of regulated discipline, the mind will inevitably be distracted and deviate and one will fail to succeed in reaching perfection in yoga.

What will be the fate of such a person? Will they perish like a divided cloud in the sky leaving the rest behind while failing to unite with the cloud in front of it in the distance? What is meant by double loss?

The word apratiṣṭho means unfixed situation and the words vimūḍho brahmaṇaḥ pathi means baffled due to ignorance of the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence which is the first cognition on the way to achieving enlightenment.

The first loss is failure to secure svarga loka or the heavenly planets for executing the appropriate actions:

Prescribed Vedic activities performed with the goal of residing in svarga loka liberally reward one's efforts and allows one to enjoy heavenly delights for as long time as one's merits warrant.

But actions performed by persons without such intent do not enable a person to reside there hence one forfeits the opportunity for heavenly pleasures.

The second loss is ignorance of the path of the Brahman which includes performing selfless actions without desire for reward while contemplating on the ātma or soul.

But the person who fails to pursue it consistently and steadfastly will deviate and stray away and will lose in both instances.

So Arjuna wants Lord Krishna to alleviate his doubts.

śrībhagavān uvāca

pārtha naiveha nāmutra vināśas tasya vidyate |
na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaścid durgatiṃtāta gacchati || 40 ||

The Blessed Lord said:
40. Neither here [in this world] nor there [in the next], O Arjuna, is there destruction for him. For verily, no one who does good, my son, ever comes to grief.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Lord Krishna is unconditionally confirming that there is no loss or diminution in the present life or in their next life for one who sincerely and earnestly engages themselves in yoga but who later discontinues the practice due to weakness of mind and lack of dispassion.

The word vināśas means destruction. It denotes forfeiture of material enjoyment in svarga loka or the heavenly planets and it also denotes the loss of spiritual accomplishments as well, both which an aspirant could have achieved. Destruction also infers the intervention of undesirable obstacles in the form of negative activities.

But when one has performed even a little yoga in meditation one is automatically insured that there will be no diminution either in the present or in the future. How this is so is answered next.

prāpya puṇya-kṛtāṃlokān uṣitvā śāśvatīḥsamāḥ|
śucināṃ śrīmatāṃgehe yoga-bhraṣṭo ‘bhijāyate || 41 ||

41. Having attained to the realms of the righteous and dwelt there for many long years, one who has fallen from Yoga is born again in the house of the pure and prosperous.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Lord Krishna is declaring that whatever desire diverted one from continuing on the path of yoga, such desire will find its fulfilment and be exquisitely enhanced manifold in the delightful spheres of those who performed virtuous deeds.

There one enjoys to the utmost limit of their capacity extending over a long duration of time. This all happens by virtue of the yoga one began but was unable to finish.

When one's time limit for enjoyment has come to an end one incarnates and takes birth in a pious and wealthy family already practising yoga at the stage where one discontinued in their previous life.

To be thus born in such a favourable environment is due to the potency and efficacy of the yoga which was commenced but not completed.

athavāyoginām eva kule bhavati dhīmatām |
etaddhi durlabhataraṃloke janma yadīdṛśam || 42 ||

42. Or one is born into a family of wise Yogis; but verily such a birth in this world is very difficult to obtain.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

If one somehow was diverted and diverged almost at completion from the path of yoga then he would be born in a family of enlightened sages or those illuminated within from the perfection of yoga.

In both these cases it is extremely rare for one to take birth in either situation but when it does occasionally manifest it is the result of the efficacy of yoga that had been almost perfected in the previous life and was not possible to complete due to expiration of life.

tatra taṃbuddhi saṃyogaṃlabhate paurva-dehikam |
yatate ca tato bhūyaḥsaṃsiddhau kurunandana || 43 ||

43. There, O Arjuna, one regains the disposition of mind which one had acquired in the former body, and from there one strives more than before for success in Yoga.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

In the very next reincarnation such a practitioner of yoga is propelled by the impressions of the previous birth and is drawn by the habits cultivated in their previous existence.

Like one who while performing a task slumbers briefly but when roused from sleep enthusiastically continues onwards to finishing it.

In the same way in their next birth such a practitioner of yoga enthusiastically continues onwards in perfecting yoga from where they left off in the previous life.

Lord Krishna is declaring that the influence of yoga and the past life habits including yoga are so potent that they impel such a person in their next life to gravitate towards yoga instinctively and intuitively as if it were not in one's power to resist.

Verily the majesty and greatness of yoga is well known to be such.

pūrvābhyāsane tenaiva hriyate hyavaśo’pi saḥ|
jijñāsur-api yogasya śabda-brahmātivartate || 44 ||

44. By that very former practice one is borne on in spite of oneself. Even one, who merely enquires about Yoga, transcends the Śabda-Brahman.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Even one who has not embarked upon it but is merely enquiring about yoga, such a person resumes such inquiries in their very next birth that they had discontinued in their previous lifetime.

Gradually one advances on the path of yoga and transcends śabda-brahma or the fruitive ordinances of the Vedic scriptures.

Śabda-brahma signifies matter and from this matter in its manifested modifications comes śabdita or all things having names and forms such humans, demigods, earth, sky, heaven, etc., all things nameable and all things of matter.

Even the mere inquirer about yoga acquires enough merit to ultimately transcend beyond the śabda-brahma.

This means one becomes unfettered from the bondage of material existence and attains ātma-tattva or realisation of the soul,

which is the sole harbour of spiritual intelligence and unlimited bliss or that which cannot be defined by a name as material objects which are composed of matter such as demigod or human etc.

prayatnād yatamānastu yogīsaṃśuddha-kilbiṣaḥ|
aneka-janma saṃsiddhas tato yāti parāṃgatim || 45 ||

45. But the Yogi striving earnestly, purified of all negative karma, and perfected gradually through many births, reaches the supreme goal.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

Such is the greatness and virtue of this yoga, that one's merit increases and accumulates as a person incarnates through many births and ultimately purifies one by disengaging them from all attachments and impurities.

In this way one becomes more and more competent and qualified for perfecting yoga and by enthusiastic effort despite any chance interruptions one eventually achieves perfection and attains mokṣa or liberation from material existence.

The superiority above all others of the yogi who has chosen the highest of human ambitions ātma tattva or realisation of the soul is revealed by Lord Krishna in the next verse.

tapasvibhyo’dhiko yogījñānibhyo’pi mato’dhikaḥ|
karmibhyaścādhiko yogītasmād yogībhavārjuna || 46 ||

46. The Yogi is considered to be superior to the ascetics, superior to the intellectuals, and even superior to the ritualists; therefore, O Arjuna, become a Yogi.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

As yoga leads to the highest aspiration of human existence, it is known that yoga is the greatest what is attainable by ascetics living austerities,

greater than what is attainable by Vedic knowledge that is bereft of knowledge of the soul and greater than what is attained by the performance of ritualistic ceremonies prescribed in the Vedas concerning fruitive rewards.

Hence the yogi is superior to all these.

Thus Lord Krishna encourages Arjuna to become a yogi. This verse is a eulogy on higher theosophy and it relates to the acquisition of ātma tattva or realisation of the soul as the preliminary step to God realisation.

yoginām api sarveṣāṃmad-gatenāntarātmanā|
śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṃ sa me yuktatamo mataḥ|| 47 ||

47. And among all the Yogis and also with all others, one whose inner self is directed to Me, who worships Me with faith —such a one is deemed by Me to be the most accomplished.

Rāmānuja’s Commentary

'Yoginām' —is in the genitive case here, and has to be taken in the sense of the ablative:

In verse 29 Yogis of four levels of spiritual attainment were mentioned. Since the Yogi who is now mentioned in this passage cannot be included in the four types mentioned earlier, the genitive case specifying one out of many will be inappropriate here.

In the clause ‘api sarveṣāṃ’, the word 'sarva'(all) refers to the ascetics, intellectuals and ritualists. According to the grammatical principle set forth, here also the case ending has to be taken as ablative.

The meaning therefore is that the Yogi who is now referred to, is the most integrated compared with those mentioned earlier, and all other types.

Compared to this Yogin, the differences in points of superiority and inferiority among the other Yogis such as the practicing austerities, possessing wisdom or performing rituals, are of no significance —like mustard-seeds compared to Mount Meru.

Even though there exists smallness and largeness in relation to one another among mustard-seeds, still when compared to Meru, such distinctions among them have no significance, as they are all tiny compared to Meru.

“I (Krishna) consider the most integrated to be one, who has the mind, fixed on Me, as the only object worthy of love. Furthermore such a person has realised complete dependence upon Me.

Having 'faith’, i.e., striving assiduously to attain Me because of being unable to bear a moment's separation from Me. 'Worshiping Me,' i.e., serves Me with devotion and meditates on Me as the Supreme Being.”

“My divine form is the repository of an inestimable multitude of auspicious, unlimited and unsurpassed attributes such as knowledge, power, lordship, energy, creative potency and splendour.

My sacred form is the repository of infinite, unsurpassed attributes agreeable and highly worthy, such as radiance, beauty, fragrance, tenderness, pervading sweetness and youthfulness which are in perfect harmony, inconceivable and divine, wondrous, eternal and flawless.

My essential nature and qualities transcend all thought and words. I am the great ocean of compassion, condescension, motherly love and beauty.

I am the impartial refuge of all beings without exception and without considerations of any difference. I relieve the distress of supplicants, and I am the great, unfathomable ocean of affection for supplicants.

I have manifest Myself to all people without compromising My essential nature.

I have incarnated Myself in the house of Vāsudeva and have illuminated the whole world with My limitless and excellent glory; and have gratified the entire universe with My impeccable power of beauty.”

hariḥ oṃ tatsat
iti śrīmad bhagavadgītāsupaniṣatsu
brahmavidyāyāṃyogaśāstre śrīkṛṣṇārjuna saṃvāde
dhyāna-yogo nāma

Thus in the Upanishads of the Glorious Bhagavad Gita
The science of the Eternal, the Scripture of Yoga
The dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna
Ends the sixth discourse entitled
“Communion through Meditation”