Bhagwat Gita as a Yog shastra

Yog means union and shastra means a manual, rules, a step-by-step direction. Union of what? Of the body with the soul, of the soul with the Eternal, of karma with the soul, ‘union’ can be quite a wide topic. From the Sadhak’s point of view union means self realisation this is achieved after the union of the Kundalini with the Para-‘unknowable beyond’ Moksh.

There are several Gita-s. The Bhagwat Gita is recited by Krishna in the Mahabharat, it is in Sanskrit – Devbhasha Samskrutam. It is fundamentally an Advaita experience. The first commentary i.e. Bhashya on the Bhagwat Gita is written by Adi Shankaracharya. In fact before he wrote his Bhashya, the Bhagwat Gita was not very popular, as its real nature is extremely esoteric. This Bhashya clearly establishes the Gita to be a manual for attaining Sadyo-mukti i.e. experience Advaita/ Non-duality. This Bhashya is obviously written in Sanskrit. Most of us have lost touch with our real mother-tongue Sanskrit. Then the more recent commentary ‘Pranab-Gita’ originally in Bengali and available in Hindi was written some 150 yrs ago. Some of us can read these languages so this is very valuable. It also about Advaita. Read these commentaries if you want to understand what the Gita really means. Else read the actual Gita in Sanskrit. Even now in traditional Indian schools, the children are required to learn by heart the actual Gita shlok/verses. Even if you do not understand it, the original Sanskrit will go deep within and trigger changes.

Dhrutarashtra Uvacha, ‘Dharamkshetre Kurukshetre Samaveta Yuyutsavah, Mamakah Pandavashchaiva Kimakurvata Sanjay’.

The first verse of the Bhagwat Gita starts with ‘Dharma-kshetrae Kuru-kshetrae’. Now what is this really, the physical battle-ground? Perhaps yes, when you were a child and your Grandmom told you stories from the Mahabharat. But not anymore. You are a sadhak now, the meaning is different for you.

A quick re-cap. You are familiar with the energy structure of your body. There are 6 chakra, linked to your back, from the base of the spine to the center of the eyebrows, Muladhar, Swadhisthan, Manipur, Anahat, Vishuddhi, Ajnya. Then there are the six chakras in the head, Mula, Vama, Jeyshtha, Raudri, Sahasrara and the Bindu. The Kundalini is the energy of self-identification locked at the Muladhar chakra and it is supposed to reach the top-most chakra complex of Sahasrara+Bindu. Thus you achieve self-realisation or Moksh.

You also know about the 24 Tattva-s of creation. These are Prakruti, Mahat-buddhi, Ahamkar, Manas, the 5 sense organs, the 5 organs of action, the 5 panch-bhoot/ elements and the 5 tan-matra/ perceptions. I have written about these in my earlier posts. This is how your individual soul is created and the differentiated from other souls.

All this energy now forms your energy body and this is the Kshetra.

You know that there are the three Gun, Sattva, Raja and Tama. You, your body and mind are animated by the movements of these Gun. These three Gun are represented by the top-most triangle of the Shri-yantra. Now these three pervade throughout the energy body animating it. Their action divides the Kshetra into 3 parts.

The first part is the Karma-kshetra or simply Kuru-kshetra. ‘Kuru’ in Sanskrit means to act eg ‘kim kuru?’, means ‘what to do?’. So Kuru-kshetra means the ‘field of action’. This is composed of the 11 tattvas ie the 5 sense organs, the 5 organs of action and the Manas. This area is dominated by the Raja and Tama Gun. This part is connected to the actions related to the external world. You sense things, you see, smell, taste, etc. You also move things with your hands, legs and reproduce, create children etc. All this stuff is connected with the external world. These are infinite actions created by infinite permutations and combinations of these tattvas and animated by the Raja-Tama Gun-s in combination. The mind/ Manas is more dominant in this region and it decides what actions are to be taken.

Kundalini and the Shatchakra

Then next part of the energy body is the Dharmakshetra-Kurukshetra. This is composed of the Sushumna which extends from the Muladhar chakra to the Ajnya chakra and includes the 6 lower chakras. This part of the energy body is controlled by the Ajnya chakra. Your individual soul resides in the Ajnya chakra. The Bhagwat Gita starts with this word and the first verse/shlok describes this region. This is the real battle-ground of the spiritual aspirant.

This region is dominated by Satva-Raja Gun-s. The lowermost area near the Muladhar chakra is pervaded more by the Raja-gun and the upper areas near the Ajnya chakra is more Satvik. This is the reason why starting spiritual practice is so difficult. The Raja dominated lower chakras, i.e. Muladhar and Swadhisthan, do not allow the mind to focus, there is always movement. These lower chakras are linked more to the field of action ie the Kurukshetra, so are susceptible to greater interference from the tattvas. The gross body moves, the pran moves and the mind also moves under the influence of external forces and it takes significant mental force to still them. Raja means movement. But if you persevere and battle it out here, your body and mind both start getting still and more sookshma/ subtle or fine. Later, things ease out as you approach the Satva dominated upper regions.

The Satva and Raja are in equilibrium at the Manipur chakra. This chakra is the location of the samaan vayu. It is when you reach this chakra that the Kundalini actually starts getting aware. Reaching the 10 petalled lotus of the Manipur is the crucial point in your sadhana. In the Gita this stage is described as the fall of Bhishma, which takes place on the 10th day of the war.

In this Dharmakshetra-Kurukshetra region the mind/ Manas and the individual soul/ Jivatma both operate. Your individual soul along with the mind together have control over the actions of this region. Here the 5 subtle perceptions, tanmatra reside. Also the 5 -bhoot, the conscious parts of the earth, water, fire, air and ether. These are the subtle tattva-s. These move outwards and power the sense organs and the organs of action. But when these subtle tattva-s turn inwards they illuminate the real self. If you consciously act here you can influence your mind as well as soul. This happens when you do your Dhyan with pure Om or either of the ajapa mantra-s Soham or Hamsa. Thus is the paramount importance of this Dharmakshetra-Kurukshetra region.

If the aspirant wishes to realise himself, he has to fight the battle here in Dharmakshetra-Kurukshetra. The tendencies of the Mind fight the tendencies of the Intelligence. The mind and the creations of the mind attack, there is no other word, they really attack, these are the armies of the Kuru.

The aspirant stills the flow of breath by pranayam, thus the flow of pran also starts getting regulated. Then pran is made even finer, ie extreme control over the movement of the pran is achieved. Thus you make this thinnest pran move in a controlled way into the Sushumna. While you are doing this the mind located in the Ajnya chakra also is required to be made still. These things happen simultaneously and spontaneously.

How do you thread a needle? It is the same concept, but here the thread/pran is a million times thinner. You cannot see it with your physical eyes. The eye of the needle is in fact a super-thin tube twisted and re-twisted in complicated knots. You are required to push your pran-thread through all these twists. It requires super-intense focus. Another problem is that you really don’t have the thread-pran available. Pran is being distributed by the Ajnya chakra to the entire body! Your thread is frayed! So first you have to collect the pran at one point. All this happens gradually as you do regular Dhyan. (My Guru, his Guru, his Guru-brothers all are very clear on this, if you do your Dhyan regularly as it should be done, you will achieve your goal within 2 yrs.)

And, the last part of your energy body is the Dharma-kshetra. This extends from above the Ajnya chakra and includes the 6 chakras of the head. This is the region of the Para. This is also called the Bindu Mandala of Shri-Vidya. Here the Satva-Tama Gun dominate. There Raja-Gun does not push things out of equilibrium. Here things are still, stable. The topmost Bindu is the abode of the Para in your own body. The residence of the Bhairav of Vidnyan Bhairav Tantra. Dharma also means the right foundation. This region is neutral in nature. If you reach this level in your Sadhana you move onwards by the inexorable pull of your own Self. Things don’t get easier but the pull is stronger. It is Sahaj/ spontaneous.

The Gita is highly esoteric. It took an entire post to write about just ‘Dharmakshetra-Kurukshetra’ and I haven’t even touched 5% of its reality. So read the original Sanskrit Gita, or the Bhashya by Adi Shankaracharya or the Pranab-Gita. For the real Sadhak there is no other option. Any other ‘translations’ of the Gita are ok for the beginner levels but are extremely misleading for the real aspirant. A commentary is only as good as the person who wrote it. A person who has actually practiced and experienced the Gita a Yog-shastra, is an authority, none other.

Every story in Sanatan Dharm aka Hinduism is about the Kundalini its movement and your eventual Moksh. Every single story. There are 3 very valuable books which detail the step by step process on Dhyan and spiritual progress. I keep these with me always for reference because these also describe what happens when you do practice.

  1. Vidnyan Bhairav Tantra
  2. Bhagwat Gita
  3. Devi Mahatmya or Durga Saptashati

The first is a clear precise manual. The other two are written as allegory-stories, but are quite understandable if you know Sanskrit. And they all describe the same thing. The words may be different but they ultimately mean the same.

Vishvam-aatma vinirgatam’. Creation has emerged out from the Singular Atma. A real sadhak does not worship a specific ‘deity’. Hinduism has several gods, goddesses, deities and energies which are worshipped. This is necessary for the initial steps into Sadhana. But a genuine aspirant does not worship a ‘form’, he is an Atma-sadhak, an aspirant of the Self. His goal is Sadyo-mukti. He desires to know himself completely, aatma-pratishtha, and is determined to attain Brahma-sthiti the stability of the Self.

Kundalini and the Shatchakra

(The sequence of studying the Bhagwat Gita is this – first read just the Sanskrit shloks, then read the Pranav Gita. Then start your study of the Vedant/Upanishads and then come to the Shankarbhashya. This is written by Adi Shankaracharya, he expounds on the true essence of the Gita as the pure distillation of the Vedant is explained)