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The Gita and Yoga

Whoever may have written the Gita, it seems very probable that he was not acquainted with the technical sense of yoga as the cessation of mental states (citta-vrtti-nirodha), as used by Patanjali in his Yoga-sutra, I. 1. I have elsewhere shown that there are three roots, yujir yoge and yuj samadhau, i.e. the root yujir, to join, and the root yuj in the sense of cessation of mental states or one-pointedness, and yuj samyamane, i.e. yuj in the sense of controlling. In the Gita the word yoga appears to have been used in many senses, which may seem to be unconnected with one another; yet it may not be quite impossible to discover relations among them. The primary sense of the word yoga in the Gita is derived from the root yujir yoge or yuj, to join, with which is connected in a negative way the root yuj in the sense of controlling or restricting anything to that to which it is joined. Joining, as it means contact with something, also implies disjunction from some other thing. When a particular type of mental outlook or scheme of action is recommended, we find the word buddhi-yoga used, which simply means that one has intimately to associate oneself with a particular type of wisdom or mental outlook. Similarly, when the word karma-yoga is used, it simply means that one has to associate oneself with the obligatoriness of the performance of duties. Again, the word yoga is used in the sense of fixing one's mind either on the self (atman) or on God. It is clear that in all these varying senses the dominant sense is that of "joining." But such a joining implies also a disjunction, and the fundamental and indispensable disjunction implied is dissociation from all desires for pleasures and fruits of action (phala-tyaga). For this reason cases are not rare where yoga is used to mean cessation of desires for the fruits of action. Thus, in the Gita, VI. 2, it is said, "What is called cessation (of desires for the fruits of action) is what you should know, O Pandava, as Yoga: without renouncing one's desires (na hy asamnyasta-sankalpa) one cannot be a yogin." The reason why this negative concept of cessation of desires should be regarded as yoga is that without such a renunciation of desires no higher kind of union is possible. But even such a dissociation from the fruits of desires (which in a way also means samyamana, or self-control) is to be supplemented by the performance of duties at the preliminary stages; and it is only in the higher stages, when one is fixed in yoga (yogarudha), that meditative peace (shama) can be recommended. Unless and until one succeeds in conquering all attachments to sense-objects and actions and in giving up all desires for fruits of actions, one cannot be fixed in yoga. It is by our

This reading on the Gita and Yoga is Chapter II:XIV:2 of Surendranath Dasgupta's A History of Indian Philosophy.

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