mano hṛdi nirudhya ca
mūrdhny ādhāyātmanaḥ prāṇam
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 8.12
The yogic situation is that of detachment from all sensual engagements. Closing all the doors of the senses and fixing the mind on the heart and the life air at the top of the head, one establishes himself in yoga.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
To practice yoga as suggested here, one first has to close the doors of all sense enjoyment. This practice is called pratyahara, or withdrawing the senses from the sense objects. The sense organs for acquiring knowledge—the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and touch—should be fully controlled and should not be allowed to engage in self-gratification. In this way the mind focuses on the Supersoul in the heart, and the life force is raised to the top of the head. In the Sixth Chapter this process is described in detail. But as mentioned before, this practice is not practical in this age. The best process is Krishna consciousness. If one is always able to fix his mind on Krishna in devotional service, it is very easy for him to remain in an undisturbed transcendental trance, or in samadhi.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Please see text 13 for Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur’s combined commentary to texts 12 and 13.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
8.12 – 8.13 Subduing all the senses like ear etc., which constitute the ‘doorways’ for sense impressions, i.e., withdrawing them from their natural functions; holding the mind in Me, the imperishable ‘seated within the lotus of the heart’; practising ‘steady abstraction of mind (Dharana) which is called concentration or Yoga,’ i.e., abiding in Me alone in a steady manner; uttering the sacred ‘syllable Om,’ the brahman which connotes Me; remembering Me, who am expressed by the syllable Om; and fixing his ‘life-breath within the head’ — whosoever abandons the body and departs in this way reaches the highest state. He reaches the pure self freed from Prakrti, which is akin to My form. From that state there is no return. Such is the meaning. Later on Sri Krsna will elucidate: ‘They describe that as the highest goal of the Atman, which is not destroyed when all things are destroyed, which is unmanifest and imperishable’ (8.20–21). Thus, the modes of contemplation on the Lord by the aspirants after prosperity and Kaivalya (Atmann-consciousness) have been taught according to the goal they lead to. Now, Sri Krsna teaches the way of meditation on the Lord by the Jnanin and the mode of attainment by him.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The proposed means together with its accessories is being stated by in this verse and the next. Lord Krishna uses the word samyamya which means controlling. Withdrawing all the inlets of the organs being eyes, ears, tongue, etc. by non-cognition of external objects and focusing the mind in the heart, dismissing all external conceptions while fixing the life force in the ajna cakra between the eyebrows one should establish themselves and become absorbed in yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna describes the method in brief with details with the word samyamya meaning restrained. Having restrained all the senses by withdrawing them from their respective objects, all the doors of the body such as the eyes, ears, etc., along with the cessation of all worldly considerations, fixing the mind in the heart and directing the life breath to the ajna cakra between the eyebrows one so becomes established in yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
8.12 Samyamya, having controlled; sarva-dvarani, all the passages, the doors of perception; niruddhya, having confined; the manah, mind; hrdi, in the heart-not allowing it to spread out; and after that, with the help of the mind controlled therein, rising up through the nerve running upward from the heart, adhaya, having fixed; atmanah, his own; pranam, vital force; murdhni, in the lead; (and then) asthitah, continuing in; yogadharanam, the firmness in yoga-in order to make it steady-. And while fixing it there itself,
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
8.12-14 Sarvadvarani etc., upto Yoginah. The gates : the sense organs, like the eyes and not the place of excrement etc. Restraining the mind in the heart : By this, only the absence of attachment towards the objects, and not any seat, is stated. One’s own Prana : the driver of one’s own Self (the vital air). So, the meaning is ‘Fixing this Prana in the head i.e., the very Self with the Power-of-Will, lying beyond all categories. Thus the controlling of body [has been prescribed]. Reciting Om : This denotes the act of controlling the sense of speech. Meditating on Me : It signifies the non-wandering of the mind over other objects. Whosoever travels well : Whosoever travels day after day not to return back (i.e., for final emancipation). Therefore casting away the body i.e., longing ‘How to avoid taking once again the body, a repository of all troubles’, whosoever remembers Me always with his mind, that thinks nothingelse-he reaches Me i.e., he realises My state. Really the Sage (Vyasa) does not favour [the idea of] upward flight [of the Soul from the body] that may go against the pronounced intention of [attaining] total identity with the Absolute Brahman that admits no duality. Therefore it has been said : ‘If the Siva-existence (the Absolute State) is Omnipresent, then the upward flight serves no purpose indeed. On the othe hand, if Siva (the Absolute) is not Omnipresent then the upward flight cannot yield Siva (the Auspicious one, the Absolute)’. Alternately [the Gita passage may be interpreted as :] If some persons have not undergone the process of constant practice, yet at the time of death there arises [in them] – due to some undefinable reason, like the Free Will of the Lord and the like-a condition, similar to the one mentioned above, then [in the case of those persons] this condition itself – characterised as ‘the flight from the body’ (getting oneself disassociated from the body) – is stated [by the Sage] as a means obstructing all the other potential mental impressions. That is why in the passage starting ‘That unchanging one which the Veda-knowers speek of’ and ending ‘I shall tell you that’, [the Sage] has made a solemn declaration in order to explain the astonishing nature of the reflection on the Bhagavat – even though it lasts only a moment – marked by the destruction of all the [other] potential mental impressions. Hence the great teachers also say : ‘O Sambhu ! If You could set Your foot, atleast for the duration of a single winking of the eye, in [my] blemishless mind, what else would You not accomplish [for me]’. That is why, with a view to satisfy those who raise the question ‘But the breaking [of body of the wise] has been found without remembrance [of the Lord] at the time of departure’, here it is said ‘He who [remembers Me] constantly with the mind, not attached to any other thing.’ The meaning of it is : ‘He whose mind is not attached to any other result to be achieved.’ For him I am easy to attain : For him there is no need to undertake the trouble of searching for a suitable time for departure; making pilgrimage to sacred places; [waiting for] the time of the summer solastice; taking shelter in the temples; augmenting the [Strand] Sattva; remaining absorbed in the thought [of the Lord]; [expecting] the auspicious moment of equinox and of the day [time]; selecting a locality that is naturally pure; having body free from dirt of attachment (or unguent); wearing clean cloth; and similar other ones. Hence it has been stated earlier [under VIII, 5-7 above] ‘Either in a sacred place or in the house of a dog-cooker’ etc. But it has been declared that ‘He attains My State.’ Will there he rebirth for him even after attaining that State ? Considering this doubt [the Lord] says :
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
mano hrdi nirudhya ca
murdhny adhayatmanah pranam
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
sarva-dvārāṇi — all the doors of the body; saḿyamya — controlling; manaḥ — the mind; hṛdi — in the heart; nirudhya — conﬁning; ca — also; mūrdhni — on the head; ādhāya — ﬁxing; ātmanaḥ — of the soul; prāṇam — the life air; āsthitaḥ — situated in; yoga-dhāraṇām — the yogic situation.