paśyann ātmani tuṣyati
sukham ātyantikaḿ yat tad
vetti yatra na caivāyaḿ
sthitaś calati tattvataḥ
yaḿ labdhvā cāparaḿ lābhaḿ
manyate nādhikaḿ tataḥ
yasmin sthito na duḥkhena
taḿ vidyād duḥkha-saḿyoga-
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 6.20.-23
In the stage of perfection called trance, or samadhi, one’s mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by practice of yoga. This perfection is characterized by one’s ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness, realized through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
By practice of yoga one becomes gradually detached from material concepts. This is the primary characteristic of the yoga principle. And after this, one becomes situated in trance, or samadhi, which means that the yogi realizes the Supersoul through transcendental mind and intelligence, without any of the misgivings of identifying the self with the Superself. Yoga practice is more or less based on the principles of the Patanjali system. Some unauthorized commentators try to identify the individual soul with the Supersoul, and the monists think this to be liberation, but they do not understand the real purpose of the Patanjali system of yoga. There is an acceptance of transcendental pleasure in the Patanjali system, but the monists do not accept this transcendental pleasure, out of fear of jeopardizing the theory of oneness. The duality of knowledge and knower is not accepted by the nondualist, but in this verse transcendental pleasure—realized through transcendental senses—is accepted. And this is corroborated by Patanjali Muni, the famous exponent of the yoga system. The great sage declares in his Yoga-sutras (3.34): purushartha-shunyanam gunanam pratiprasavah kaivalyam svarupa-pratishtha va citi-shaktir iti.
This citi-shakti, or internal potency, is transcendental. Purushartha means material religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and, at the end, the attempt to become one with the Supreme. This “oneness with the Supreme” is called kaivalyam by the monist. But according to Patanjali, this kaivalyam is an internal, or transcendental, potency by which the living entity becomes aware of his constitutional position. In the words of Lord Caitanya, this state of affairs is called ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12], or clearance of the impure mirror of the mind. This “clearance” is actually liberation, or bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam. The theory of nirvana—also preliminary—corresponds with this principle. In the Bhagavatam (2.10.6) this is called svarupena vyavasthitih. The Bhagavad-gita also confirms this situation in this verse.
After nirvana, or material cessation, there is the manifestation of spiritual activities, or devotional service to the Lord, known as Krishna consciousness. In the words of the Bhagavatam, svarupena vyavasthitih: this is the “real life of the living entity.” Maya, or illusion, is the condition of spiritual life contaminated by material infection. Liberation from this material infection does not mean destruction of the original eternal position of the living entity. Patanjali also accepts this by his words kaivalyam svarupa-pratishtha va citi-shaktir iti. This citi-shakti, or transcendental pleasure, is real life. This is confirmed in the Vedanta-sutra (1.1.12) as ananda-mayo ’bhyasat. This natural transcendental pleasure is the ultimate goal of yoga and is easily achieved by execution of devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga will be vividly described in the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita.
In the yoga system, as described in this chapter, there are two kinds of samadhi, called samprajnata-samadhi and asamprajnata-samadhi. When one becomes situated in the transcendental position by various philosophical researches, he is said to have achieved samprajnata-samadhi. In the asamprajnata-samadhi there is no longer any connection with mundane pleasure, for one is then transcendental to all sorts of happiness derived from the senses. When the yogi is once situated in that transcendental position, he is never shaken from it. Unless the yogi is able to reach this position, he is unsuccessful. Today’s so-called yoga practice, which involves various sense pleasures, is contradictory. A yogi indulging in sex and intoxication is a mockery. Even those yogis who are attracted by the siddhis (perfections) in the process of yoga are not perfectly situated. If yogis are attracted by the by-products of yoga, then they cannot attain the stage of perfection, as is stated in this verse. Persons, therefore, indulging in the make-show practice of gymnastic feats or siddhis should know that the aim of yoga is lost in that way.
The best practice of yoga in this age is Krishna consciousness, which is not baffling. A Krishna conscious person is so happy in his occupation that he does not aspire after any other happiness. There are many impediments, especially in this age of hypocrisy, to practicing hatha-yoga, dhyana-yoga and jnana-yoga, but there is no such problem in executing karma-yoga or bhakti-yoga.
As long as the material body exists, one has to meet the demands of the body, namely eating, sleeping, defending and mating. But a person who is in pure bhakti-yoga, or in Krishna consciousness, does not arouse the senses while meeting the demands of the body. Rather, he accepts the bare necessities of life, making the best use of a bad bargain, and enjoys transcendental happiness in Krishna consciousness. He is callous toward incidental occurrences—such as accidents, disease, scarcity and even the death of a most dear relative—but he is always alert to execute his duties in Krishna consciousness, or bhakti-yoga. Accidents never deviate him from his duty. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita (2.14), agamapayino ’nityas tams titiksasva bharata. He endures all such incidental occurrences because he knows that they come and go and do not affect his duties. In this way he achieves the highest perfection in yoga practice.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In verse 16 and the verses following, the word yoga referred to being situated in samadhi. Samadhi is of two types: samprajnata and asamprajnata. Samprajnata samadhi has many types according to differences of savicara and savitarka.
What is asamprajnata samadhi like? Three and a half verses answer. In that state of asamprajnata samadhi, the consciousness does not touch any objects at all (cittam uparamate), because of complete stoppage (niruddham). As Patanjali’s sutra says: yogas citta-vrtti-nirodhah : yoga means stopping the functions of the consciousness. (Yoga Sutra 1.2) The word yatra (in which state) extends its meaning to verse 23.
In that samadhi, the yogi, seeing the self by his consciousness (atmana) in the form of paramatma, is satisfied in the self. In that state of samadhi, he then experiences extreme bliss, which is comprehended by intelligence in the form of the soul (buddhya), devoid of contact with material senses and sense objects. Then, in that state he does not move from the true state of the atma, his true form (tattvatah). Having attained that state, he does not consider attaining anything else. In that state, he is separated from all contact with suffering. One should know that state of samadhi as yoga.
“Though I cannot attain it quickly, certainly I can attain this yoga.” By such certainty one should practice. One should not be discouraged, saying, “After such a long time, I have not achieved perfection. What is the use of all this hard work?” (anirvinna cetasa). One should practice with mind convinced, “What is it to me? Let me attain perfection in this life or in the next.”
Gaudapada has given an example:
utseka udadher yadvat kusagreaika-binduna manaso nigrahas tadvad bhaved aparikhedatah
One should gradually control the mind without complaining, though it is like taking drops of water from the ocean to dry it up with a tip of a kusa.
There is a story to explain this. The ocean stole with its strong waves the eggs of a bird which were situated on the ocean’s shore. Determined to dry up the ocean, the bird took one drop of water at a time using its beak. The ocean, being emptied of many drops by the bird’s beak, was not at all affected. Though discouraged by Narada, who happened to come there, the bird again made the promise in front of him. “In this life or the next, I will dry up the ocean.”
Then merciful Narada, by the will of the Lord, send Garuda to help the bird, saying “The ocean has disrespected you by offending your relative, this small bird.” The ocean, becoming dried up by the wind coming from Garuda’s flapping wings, became frightened, and then returned the eggs to the bird.
Thus one should be convinced that the Lord will bestow his mercy on the resolute person who enthusiastically begins yoga, jnana or bhakti with faith in the words of scripture.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
6.20 – 6.23 Where, through the practice of Yoga, the mind, which is subdued everywhere by such practice, ‘rejoices’, i.e., rejoices in surpassing felicity; and where, perceiving through Yoga ‘the self (Atman)’ by ‘the mind (Atman)’ one is delighted by the self and indifferent to all other objects; and where, through Yoga, one ‘knows’, i.e., experiences that infinite happiness which can be grasped only by the ‘intellect’ contemplating on the self, but is beyond the grasp of the senses; where, remaining in that Yoga, one does not ‘swerve from that state,’ because of the overwhelming happiness that state confers; having gained which, he desires for it alone, even when he is awakened from Yoga, and does not hold anything else as a gain; where one is not moved even by ‘the heaviest sorrow’ caused by any berevaement like that of a virtuous son — let him know that disunion from all union with pain, i.e., which forms the opposite of union with pain, is called by the term Yoga. This Yoga must be practised with the determination of its nature as such from the beginning with a mind free from despondency, i.e., with zestful exaltation.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The meaning of yoga is the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness. The primary meaning to be discerned here is the perfection of attainment by focused meditation in the etheric heart resulting in atma tattva or realisation of the soul which automatically connects one to the Supreme Lord. This is the primary meaning of the word yoga in these four verses. That superior level of consciousness wherein a purified mind is guided to perpetually meditate upon the atma or soul is designated as yoga and is defined by its result as the primary characteristic of yoga.The Yoga Sutras by Pantajali state that: Yoga is controlling the modifications of one’s mentality. The same is defined for meditation by its result being the attainment of what was desired to be achieved. That superior level of consciousness where one perceives the atma alone within but distinct from the physical body and becoming completely satisfied and content no longer infatuated by the delusion of sense gratification is known as this yoga. The word yatra in the first three verses meaning which and the word tam in the fourth verse meaning that are both used to refer to this yoga.
The reason for satisfaction in the atma exclusively is also being stated by Lord Krishna. Referring to that superior level of consciousness where one experiences absolute, unsurpassed and everlasting. Bliss. At this time there is no relationship with the senses and no contact with sense objects yet one experiences bliss. How is this to understand. Lord Krishna reveals that it is transcendental and independent of material nature and is only perceived by spiritual intelligence that has realised the reality of the atma. Established thus one never wavers from the eternal truth which is the reality of the atma. The steadiness and non wavering on the atma is being validated as well by the statements that there is nothing greater than attaininment of the atma which is itself of the nature of infinite bliss. Being thus established in atma tattva one is not affected, influenced or overcome by the dualities of heat and cold or pleasure and pain. It must be noted that a result of this is the cessation of all inauspicious things and by this yoga is also defined. The word dukhena means suffering and refers also to the pleasure derived from sense objects as they are mixed with suffering also. That superior level of consciousness which is completely untouched by any contact with any type of pain or suffering should be known as yoga. The science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness is called yoga. The application of the word yoga to mean action as in karma yoga is only figurative being that by performing prescribed Vedic activities such actions constitute a method of achieving yoga. Since yoga bequeaths such phenomenal results it should be exclusively practised with diligence and determination which is fortified by the conviction and commitment derived from the knowledge of the Vedic scriptures taught by the bonafide spiritual preceptor in the authorised parampara or disciplic succession. Although the results from this assuredly reach fruition in due course of time it should be engaged in with enthusiasm. One should be patient and hopeful and not be subjected to a lackadaisical attitude. A lackadaisical attitude in practise is considered a sickness of spirit.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
In verse twenty Lord Krishna uses the word atmani to indicate the body and the word atmana to indicate the mind and atmanam refers to the resplendent Supreme Lord. In verse twenty-one the word tattvatah means the form of the Supreme Lord. In verse twenty-four the compound words dukha-samyoga-viyogam means that which severs the connection to misery. The word samyoga insures that not only all connection to misery is severed but also the possibility of misery arising in the future is severed as well. The words niscayena yoktavyo means practised with firm determination.
Now begins the summation.
The word atmanam means the Supreme Lord and atmana is indicative to the Supreme Lord’s grace experienced through the mind.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
After presenting the process such as the sitting place and the diet required while practising dhyana yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness by meditation. Lord Krishna reveals the results of such endeavours in these verses. He places emphasis on this superior level of consciousness where the purified mind fully controlled by yoga becomes completely detached from worldly objectives and achieves atma tattva or realisation of the soul. From this point on the yogi becomes perfected in yoga and experiences transcendental bliss independent of all contact with the senses. This transcendental bliss is perceived by the spiritual intelligence of the atma and the yogi established in this superior level of consciousness remains fixed in the atma never digressing from it even for a moment. Lord Krishna states the words na eva calati meaning one never deviates, even in times of great adversity. This is because the transcendental bliss experienced emanates from within one’s own inner self. How can one deviate from themselves for after having become established in this transcendence one realises that the immortal atma is the only thing worthy of attainment and that there is nothing greater to be gained. After explaining the condition of steadiness and non-deviation in general terms. Lord Krishna presents further in specific terms. That superior level of consciousness which brings about a total state of contentment and tranquillity without ever having even the slightest contact with sorrow and misery is known as yoga. The word dukhena means misery and includes the consequence of suffering which is induced as a result of the senses contacting sense objects and this includes pleasure as well. This superior level of consciousness should be resolutely engaged in with firm faith and dedication by an aspirant seeking moksa or liberation from material existence. And if there appears to be a delay in its accomplishment one should not become distraught or disappointed as by perseverance the goal will assuredly be attained. Disappointment is the impotent propensity to doubt and lose faith for the success in one’s efforts and should not be harboured.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
6.20 Yatra, at the time when; cittam, the mind; niruddham, restrained, entirely prevented from wandering; uparamate, gets withdrawn; yoga-sevaya, through the practice of Yoga; ca, and; yatra eva, just when, at the very moment when; pasyan, by seeing, by experiencing; atmanam, the Self, which by nature is the supreme light of Consciousness; atmana, by the self, by the mind purified by concentration; tusyati, one remains contented, gets delighted; atmani eva, in one’s own Self alone-. [Samadhi is of two kinds, Samprajnata and Asamprajnata. The concentration called right knowledge (Samprajnata) is that which is followed by reasoning, discrimination, blisss and unqualified egoism. Asamprajnata is that which is attained by the constant practice of cessation of all mental activity, in which the citta retains only the unmanifested impressions.-Cf. C. W., Vol. I, 1962, pp. 210, 212. According to A.G. the verses upto 6.20 state in a general way the characteristics of samadhi. From the present verse to the 25th, Asamprajnata-samadhi is introduced and defined.-Tr.] Besides,
6.21 Yatra, when, at the time when; vetti, one experiences; tat, that; atyantikam, absolute-which is verily limitless, i.e. infinite; sukham, Bliss; yat, which; buddhi-grahyam, can be intuited by the intellect, intuited by the intellect alone, without the help of the senses; and which is atindriyam, beyond the senses, i.e. not objective; (-when one experieneces this kind of Bliss) and sthitah, being established in the nature of the Self; ayam, this person, the illumined one; eva, surely; na calati, does not swerve; tattvatah, from that Reality-i.e. does not deviate from the nature of Reality-. Further,
6.22 Labdhva, obtaining; yam, which-by acquiring which Self-attainment; na manyate, one does not think; that there is aparam, any other; labham, acquisition; tatah adhikam, superior to that; and also, sthitah,being established; yasmin, in which Reality of the Self; na vicalyate, one is not perturbed; api, even; guruna, by great; duhkhena, sorrow, as may be caused by being struck with weapons, etc.-. The yoga that has been spoken of as a particular state of the Self, distinguished by its characterisics in the verses beginning with ‘At the time when the mind gets withdrawn,’ (20) etc.-
6.23 Vidyat, one should know; tat, that; duhkha-samyoga-viyogam, severance (viyoga) of contact (samyoga) with sorrow (duhkha); to be verily yoga-sanjnitam, what is called Yoga-i.e. oen should know it through a negative definition. After concluding the topic of the result of Yoga, the need for pursuing Yoga is again being spoken of in another way in order to enjoin ‘preservance’ and ‘freedom from depression’ as the disciplines for Yoga: Sah, that; yogah, Yoga, which has the results as stated above; yoktavyah, has to be practised; niscayena, with perservance; and anirvinnacetasa, with an undepressed heart. That which is not (a) depressed (nirvinnam) is anirvinnam. What is that? The heart. (One has to practise Yoga) with that heart which is free from depression. This is the meaning. Again,
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
6.20-23 Yatra etc. upto anirvinna-cetasa. Where the mind well restrained remains quiet : i.e., on its own accord. Where he realises the limitless Bliss : Becuase the dirts created by the sense-objects are absent. Any other gain : the gain obtained through the close contacts with wealth. wives, childeren etc. The idea is : With regard to other objects, the notion of their being sources of pleasure disappears; and it is the nature of the thing in question. Not shaken much : not shaken to a great extent; [hence] there is yet [a little] shaking in him, purely due to [former] mental impression; and it lasts only for a moment due to his compassion [towards all creatures], and not due to the wrong notions like ‘Alas ! I am undone ! What is to done by me.’ and so on. That, due to which the cessation of contact with misery results-that must be yoked i.e., practised (concentrated upon) by all means, with determination i.e., with faith, born of the belief [in the Self]. Of undepressed mind. i.e., because the goal has been reached. Or of depressed mind : i.e., depressed that the birth-and-death-cycle is very firm and is full of misery. The means for abandoning desire is to abandon intention. This (the Lord) says :
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
pasyann atmani tusyati
sukham atyantikam yat tad
vetti yatra na caivayam
sthitas calati tattvatah
yam labdhva caparam labham
manyate nadhikam tatah
yasmin sthito na duhkhena
tam vidyad duhkha-samyoga-
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
yatra — in that state of affairs where; uparamate — cease (because one feels transcendental happiness); cittam — mental activities; niruddham — being restrained from matter; yoga-sevayā — by performance of yoga; yatra — in which; ca — also; eva — certainly; ātmanā — by the pure mind; ātmānam — the Self; paśyan — realizing the position of; ātmani — in the Self; tuṣyati — one becomes satisﬁed; sukham — happiness; ātyantikam — supreme; yat — which; tat — that; buddhi — by intelligence; grāhyam — accessible; atīndriyam — transcendental; vetti — one knows; yatra — wherein; na — never; ca — also; eva — certainly; ayam — he; sthitaḥ — situated; calati — moves; tattvataḥ — from the truth; yam — that which; labdhvā — by attainment; ca — also; aparam — any other; lābham — gain; manyate — considers; na — never; adhikam — more; tataḥ — than that; yasmin — in which; sthitaḥ — being situated; na — never; duḥkhena — by miseries; guruṇā api — even though very difﬁcult; vicālyate — becomes shaken; tam — that; vidyāt — you must know; duḥkha-saḿyoga — of the miseries of material contact; viyogam — extermination; yoga-saḿjñitam — called trance in yoga.