The Yoga of Self-Control
Yoga means union. One aspect of yoga, according to Patanjali, is called pratyahara, which means self-control or a withdrawing of the senses. In chapter eight of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna describes the Yoga of the indestructible (verses 1 to 4) and the Yoga of God Realization (verses 5 to 10). In verses 11 to 15, Krishna continues the description of the Yoga of Self-Control that leads us to the Imperishable state. This Yoga is practiced by living a life of religious studentship through meditation.
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 8, Verse 11
In this verse, Lord Krishna is assuring Arjuna that the divine, the imperishable, is indeed attainable by following certain definite methods.
That which the Vedic seers declare as the Immutable,
That which is gained by renunciants of vanished attachments,
Desiring with they lead a life of self-discipline —
The method for attaining That
I will relate to thee in brief
– God Talks with Arjuna by Parmahansa Yogananda
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 8, Verse 12
The first goal of Yoga practice is to be in a state where all the “nine gates” (sarvadvaaraani deham) of the body are restrained. These “nine gates” are the two eyes, the two ears, the two nostrils, the mouth, and the organs of excretion and procreation. The second goal of Yoga is to confine the mind within the heart i.e. to develop a mind whose functions are restrained. The third goal is to fix one’s life force in the head. All these three goals are achieved by the power of yogic concentration. In these states, when the soul passes from the heart through the sushumna-naadi to the brahmarandhra in the head and thence goes out, becomes one with the Supreme. (Gita – S. Radhakrishnan)
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 8, Verse 13
Furthermore, he who thus engages in the steady practice of Yoga, establishing himself in AUM (the Holy Word of Brahman), and remembering Me (Spirit) at the time of their final exit from the body, reaches the Highest Goal. The Yogi hears the Cosmic Sound of AUM, and merges into its vibration. This complete immersion eventually leads to complete liberation in Spirit.
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 8, Verse 14
Lord Krishna says – O Arjuna! He who constantly meditates on Me, thinking of none else, reaches Me. The Yogi who is ever disciplined, and practices with diligence, finds that his life has become an uninterrupted prayer. The know the value of constant meditation, and his practice becomes filled with joy, and yields more and more bliss with every passing day. Such a Yogi is destined to attain Me, the imperishable goal.
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 8, Verse 15
What happens to those who eventually attain to Me? They have reached Supreme success. They incur no further rebirths. They shall never return to the place of sorrow, the place of impermanence – they have reached the highest perfection. They have escaped the bonds of karma, they no longer dream of desires, and they have broken all bonds of attachments. They have achieved realization and liberation (mukti).
In summary, these five verses of the Bhagavad Gita explain the path of Yoga practice by which any human being can attain the Supreme. It will take dedication, determination, persistence, perseverance, self-control, austerity and self-discipline. With our effort, and with divine grace, we can attain the Supreme goal. We can merge with the imperishable, and reside in the seat of Vishnu.