sparśān kṛtvā bahir bāhyāḿś
cakṣuś caivāntare bhruvoḥ
prāṇāpānau samau kṛtvā
yaḥ sadā mukta eva saḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 5.27-28
Shutting out all external sense objects, keeping the eyes and vision concentrated between the two eyebrows, suspending the inward and outward breaths within the nostrils, and thus controlling the mind, senses and intelligence, the transcendentalist aiming at liberation becomes free from desire, fear and anger. One who is always in this state is certainly liberated.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Being engaged in Krishna consciousness, one can immediately understand one’s spiritual identity, and then one can understand the Supreme Lord by means of devotional service. When one is well situated in devotional service, one comes to the transcendental position, qualified to feel the presence of the Lord in the sphere of one’s activity. This particular position is called liberation in the Supreme.
After explaining the above principles of liberation in the Supreme, the Lord gives instruction to Arjuna as to how one can come to that position by the practice of the mysticism or yoga known as ashtanga-yoga, which is divisible into an eightfold procedure called yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. In the Sixth Chapter the subject of yoga is explicitly detailed, and at the end of the Fifth it is only preliminarily explained. One has to drive out the sense objects such as sound, touch, form, taste and smell by the pratyahara process in yoga, and then keep the vision of the eyes between the two eyebrows and concentrate on the tip of the nose with half-closed lids. There is no benefit in closing the eyes altogether, because then there is every chance of falling asleep. Nor is there benefit in opening the eyes completely, because then there is the hazard of being attracted by sense objects. The breathing movement is restrained within the nostrils by neutralizing the up-moving and down-moving air within the body. By practice of such yoga one is able to gain control over the senses, refrain from outward sense objects, and thus prepare oneself for liberation in the Supreme.
This yoga process helps one become free from all kinds of fear and anger and thus feel the presence of the Supersoul in the transcendental situation. In other words, Krishna consciousness is the easiest process of executing yoga principles. This will be thoroughly explained in the next chapter. A Krishna conscious person, however, being always engaged in devotional service, does not risk losing his senses to some other engagement. This is a better way of controlling the senses than by the ashtanga-yoga.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The heart becomes purified by performance of niskama karma yoga offered to the Lord. Then arises jnana, whose subject is the soul (tvam). Then arises bhakti, for gaining knowledge of the Lord (tat). By the appearance of that knowledge of the Lord which is beyond the modes, one gains realization of brahman. This has been stated in this chapter.
Now in three verses 27-29, the Lord speaks in abbreviated form what he will explain in the sixth chapter: that the process of astanga yoga, practiced after having purified the heart by niskama karma yoga, is shown to be superior to the process of jfiana yoga for producing realization of brahman.
The word sparsan (touches) stands for all the sense objects-sound, touch, form, taste and smell. Externalizing these from the mind when they enter, that is, withdrawing the mind from the sense objects (pratyahara), placing the eyes between the eye brows, with half closed eyes, the yogi should fix his glance between the brows in order to prevent both sleep and wandering eyes. By extinguishing the upward and downward motions of the prana and apana which move in the nostrils though inhaling and exhaling, one makes them equal. By that means, the senses mind and intelligence are brought under control.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
5.27 – 5.28 ‘Shutting off all contact with outside objects,’ i.e., stopping the outward functioning of the senses; seated with his trunk straightened in a posture fit for meditation (Yoga); ‘fixing the gaze between the eye-brows,’ i.e., at the root of the nose where the eye-brows meet; ‘equalising inward and outward breaths,’ i.e., making exhalatory and inhalatory breath move equally: making the senses, Manas and intellect no longer capable of anything except the vision of the self, consequently being free from ‘desire, fear and wrath’; ‘who is intent on release as his final goal,’ i.e., having release as his only aim — the sage who is thus intent on the vision of the self ‘is indeed liberated for ever,’ i.e., he is almost a liberated person, as he would soon be in the ultimate stage of fruition. Sri Krsna now says that Karma Yoga, described above, which is facilitated by the performance of obligatory and occasional rites and which culminates in meditation (Yoga), is easy to practise:
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
In verse twenty-four of this chapter Lord Krishna stated that a yogi attains the Brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. Now the method of that yoga or science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness is now described in brief. External sense objects enter the mind when one thinks about them, so one must not think about them. Fixing the gaze up between the eyebrows is done to focus them because if the eyes are fully closed then the mind may fall asleep and if the eyes are wide open they may look here and there at objects, so in order to avoid both these defects one focuses the gaze with eyes half closed between the eyebrows or the tip of the nose. Suspending the breath means to harmonise the prana outgoing breath with the apana or incoming breath until they both become suspended and by the control of breath the mind and senses become controlled. Such a person who has moksa or liberation as their only aim are indeed always free from the material existence even while living in the material world.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
In these two verses Lord Krishna describes the perfected method of meditaion for achieving atma tattva or realisation of the soul and moksa or liberation from material existence. The method commences by turning inward with the mind away from all external sense objects associated with sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. Then one fixes the vision internally between the eyebrows while simultaneously slowly restraining the inward and outward breaths until they merge into one and pause themselves of their own accord in the state know as kumbhaka.
Now begins the summation.
The one who has not received moksa or liberation while aspiring for moksa nevertheless has acquired qualities aspiring for moksa. Thus human beings acquiring the qualities of moksa acquire spiritual knowledge and eventually achieve moksa by this spiritual knowledge.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
In preceding verses Lord Krishna has indicated that a yogi can attain the Brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and moksa or liberation as well Now He presents in brief the method of meditation to achieve this. The five sense objects sight, sound, taste, touch and smell enter the mind through the five gates of the physical body being the eyes, ears, tongue, hands and nose. All of them must be dextrously avoided so they exert no influence. The eyes must be half closed focused within on the point between the eyebrows. If they are wide open they may be distracted by external objects and if they are fully closed one may fall asleep. The breath must be regulated and controlled until gently and effortlessly with constant practice the breath becomes suspended automatically controlling the mind and senses. Such a reflective and determined person intent on attaining moksa even while steadfastly practising such austerities is liberated in that very life.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
5.27 Krtva, keeping; bahyan, the external; sparsan, objects-sound etc.; bahih, outside: To one who does not pay attention to the external objects like sound etc., brought to the intellect through the ear etc., the objects become verily kept outside. Having kept them out in this way, and (keeping) the caksuh, eyes; antare, at the juncture; bhruvoh, of the eye-brows (-the word ‘keeping’ has to be supplied-); and similarly, samau krtva, making equal; prana-apanau, the outgoing and the incoming breaths; nasa-abhyantara-carinau, that move through the nostrils; munih, the contemplative-derived (from the root man) in the sense of contemplating-, the monk; yata-indriya-mano-buddhih, who has control over his organs, mind and intellect; should be moksa-para-yanah, fully intent on Liberation-keeping his body is such a posture, the contemplative should have Liberation itself as the supreme Goal. He should be vigata-iccha-bhaya-krodhah, free from desire, fear and anger. The monk yah, who; sada, ever remains thus; sah, he; is muktah yah, who;sada, ever remains thus; sah, he; is muktah, ever, verily free. He has no other Liberation to seek after. What is there to be realized by one who has his mind thus concentrated? The answer this is beig stated:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
5.27-28 Sparsan etc.; Yatendriya-etc. Warding off outside, i.e., not accepting, the external contacts (objects); establishing all the sense-organs – indicated by ‘sense of sight’ – in the middle place in between the two wandering ones, i.e., the right and the left views in the form of desire and wrath viz., in that particular place which is free from both these; he would remain fixing in equipoise (or making neutral) both the forward (upward) and backward (downward) moving forces viz., the pious and impious acts, within the mental modification. Nasa ‘that which acts crookedly’. This is mental modification, because it behaves crookedly i.e., inequally due to anger etc. The same is in the external plane. A man of Yoga of this type is just free, though he transacts all mundane business.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
sparsan krtva bahir bahyams
caksus caivantare bhruvoh
pranapanau samau krtva
yah sada mukta eva sah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
sparśān — sense objects, such as sound; kṛtvā — keeping; bahiḥ — external; bāhyān — unnecessary; cakṣuḥ — eyes; ca — also; eva — certainly; antare — between; bhruvoḥ — the eyebrows; prāṇa-apānau — up- and down-moving air; samau — in suspension; kṛtvā — keeping; nāsa-abhyantara — within the nostrils; cāriṇau — blowing; yata — controlled; indriya — senses; manaḥ — mind; buddhiḥ — intelligence; muniḥ — the transcendentalist; mokṣa — for liberation; parāyaṇaḥ — being so destined; vigata — having discarded; icchā — wishes; bhaya — fear; krodhaḥ — anger; yaḥ — one who; sadā — always; muktaḥ — liberated; eva — certainly; saḥ — he is.