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The Gita and Yoga

It is important to note in this connection that the process of pranayama, regarded as indispensable in Patanjali's Yoga, is not considered so necessary either for karma-yoga, buddhi-yoga, or for the higher kind of yoga, e.g. communion with God. It has already been mentioned that the reference to pranayama is found only in connection with some kinds of substitution-meditations which have nothing to do with the main concept of yoga in the Gita. The expression samadhi is used thrice in the noun form in the Gita, in II. 44, 53 and 54, and three times in the verb form, in VI. 7, XII. 9 and XVII. 11; but the verb forms are not used in the technical sense of Patanjali, but in the simple root-meaning of sam + a + dha, "to give" or "to place" (arpana or sthapana). In two cases (II. 44 and 53) where the word samadhi is used as a noun it has been interpreted by both Sankara and Sridhara as meaning the object in which the mind is placed or to which it is directed for communion, viz. God.(1) The author of the Gita is well aware of the moral conflict in man and thinks that it is only by our efforts to come into touch with our higher self that the littleness of passions and desires for fruits of actions and the preference of our smaller self-interests can be transcended. For, once man is in touch with his highest, he is in touch with God. He has then a broader and higher vision of man and his place in nature, and so he identifies himself with God and finds that he has no special interest of his own to serve. The low and the high, the sinful and the virtuous, are the same in his eyes; he perceives God in all things and all things in God, and it is this state of communion that is the real yoga of the Gita; and it is because in this state all inequalities of race, creed, position, virtue and vice, high and low vanish, that this superior realization of universal equality is also called yoga. Not only is this union with God called yoga, but God Himself is called Yogeshvara, or the Lord of communion. As a result of this union, the yogin enjoys supreme bliss and ecstatic joy, and is free from the least touch of sorrow or pain; and this absolute freedom from pain or the state of bliss, being itself a result of yoga, is also called yoga. From the above survey it is clear that the yoga of the Gita is quite different from the yoga of Patanjali, and it does not seem at all probable that the Gita was aware of Patanjali's yoga or the technical terms used by him.

(1) In II. 44, however, Sankara considers this object of mind to be antahkarana or buddhi. But Sridhara considers this object to be God, and in II. 53 Sankara and Sridhara are unanimous that the object, or the support of the union or communion of the mind, is God.

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