śucau deśe pratiṣṭhāpya
sthiram āsanam ātmanaḥ
tatraikāgraḿ manaḥ kṛtvā
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 6.11-12
To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kusa grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should be neither too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogi should then sit on it very firmly and practice yoga to purify the heart by controlling his mind, senses and activities and fixing the mind on one point.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“Sacred place” refers to places of pilgrimage. In India the yogis, the transcendentalists or the devotees, all leave home and reside in sacred places such as Prayaga, Mathura, Vrindavana, Hrishikesha and Hardwar and in solitude practice yoga where the sacred rivers like the Yamuna and the Ganges flow. But often this is not possible, especially for Westerners. The so-called yoga societies in big cities may be successful in earning material benefit, but they are not at all suitable for the actual practice of yoga. One who is not self-controlled and whose mind is not undisturbed cannot practice meditation. Therefore, in the Brihan-naradiya Purana it is said that in Kali-yuga (the present yuga, or age), when people in general are short-lived, slow in spiritual realization and always disturbed by various anxieties, the best means of spiritual realization is chanting the holy name of the Lord.
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.”
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
He establishes his own asana, which has kusa on the bottom, then deer skin, and finally cloth on top. The yogi engages in meditation for purification of the consciousness (atma visuddhaye). This purification or freedom from disturbance is suitable for the very subtle realization of God. As the sruti says, drsyate tv agryaya buddhya: atma is seen by concentrated intelligence. (Katha Upanisad 1.3.12)
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
6.11 – 6.12 ‘In a clean spot,’ i.e., in a spot pure in itself, not owned or controlled by impure persons and untouched by impure things; having ‘established a firm seat,’ a seat made of wood or similar material, which is neither too high nor too low; which is covered with cloth, deer-skin and Kusa grass in the reverse order; seated on it in a way which promotes the serenity of mind; having the mind concentrated on Yoga; and holding the activities of the mind and senses in check in all ways — he should practise ‘Yoga’, i.e., practise the vision of the self for ‘the purification of the self,’ i.e., to end his bondage.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The rule regarding the sitting place for meditation is being given by Lord Krishna. The word sucau means clean and sanctified and that is the conditions to begin. The reason why a deer skin or tiger skin or other skins are used is because when one sits upon them poisonous creatures such as scorpions and snakes do not like to wander upon such skins and thus will not bite when one is in meditative trance performing yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
If one has not yet developed equanimity of mind then one should undertake the practice of meditation given previously and gradually achieve such equanimity.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
The appropriate place to sit is given here by Lord Krishna beginning with the word sucau dese pratisthapya meaning established in a clean and sanctified place and ending with yogam atma-visuddhaye meaning one should purify their mind in meditation by practicing yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
6.11-12 Pratisthapya, having established; sthiram, firmly; sucau, in a clean; dese, place, which is solitary, either naturally or through improvement; atmanah, his own; asanam, seat; na ati ucchritam, neither too high; na ati nicam, nor even too low; and that made of caila-ajina-kusa-uttram, cloth, skin, and kusa-grass, placed successively one below the other-the successive arrangement of cloth etc. here is in a reverse order to that of the textual reading-. What follows after thus establishing the seat? Upavisya, sitting; tatra, on that; asane, seat; yogam yunjyat, he should concentrate his mind. To what purpose should he concentrate his mind? In answer the Lord says: atma-visuddhaye, for the purification of the internal organ. How? Krtva, making; manah, the mind; ekagram, one-pointed,by withdrawing it from all objects; and yata-citta-indriya-kriyah, keeping the actions (kriyah) of the mind (citta) and senses (indriya) under control (yata). The external seat has been spoken of. Now is being stated how the posture of the body should be:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
6.10-15 Yogi etc. upto adhigacchati. Self : the mind. Let him yoke it : let him make it single-pointed. Always : not for a limited period of time. If the conditions like remaining alone etc., are fulfilled, this [controlling of mind] is possible and not otherwise. On account of the firmness of seat, the time-nerve (or the body ?) remains firm and due to this, mind remains firm. He, by whom the mental activities i.e., those that are in the form of intention, and other activities of the sense-organs are subdued i.e., are brought under full control; [he is the person of the subdued mental and sensual activities]. Holding : i.e., with effort. If the nose-tip is looked at, [it is possible] not to look at [different] directions. Let him remain endowed with the state of having Me alone as supreme goal. This is the meaning [here]. He who yokes i.e., concentrates his self (mind) in this manner, there arises for him Peace in which the culmination – as far as the end-is the same as attaining Me.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
sucau dese pratisthapya
sthiram asanam atmanah
tatraikagram manah krtva
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
śucau — in a sanctiﬁed; deśe — land; pratiṣṭhāpya — placing; sthiram — ﬁrm; āsanam — seat; ātmanaḥ — his own; na — not; ati — too; ucchritam — high; na — nor; ati — too; nīcam — low; caila-ajina — of soft cloth and deerskin; kuśa — and kuśa grass; uttaram — covering; tatra — thereupon; eka-agram — with one attention; manaḥ — mind; kṛtvā — making; yata-citta — controlling the mind; indriya — senses; kriyaḥ — and activities; upaviśya — sitting; āsane — on the seat; yuñjyāt — should execute; yogam — yoga practice; ātma — the heart; viśuddhaye — for clarifying.