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(Chapter-wise Summary)



(NOTE: The subtle difference between the two seems to be that of maintaining ego as the doer).

On the other hand,


One who follows the yoga path should not give up the path of actions.  By assuming proper posture and breath-control, by steadying the intellect, controlling the organs and separating them from the sense-pleasures, he should turn the consciousness inwards, and meditate with continued abstraction of mind (Dharana).  This will lead to elimination of the tendencies.  Then the means (sadhana) becomes one with the goal (sadhya) and one attains steadiness in the state of samadhi.  Continued practice leads the yogi to perfection.

[NOTE:  Dnyaneshwar Maharaj now introduces the yoga practice in which certain sitting postures are  adopted  while practicing meditation.  This is discussed in more details later under the sub-heading Kundalini Yoga].


Sense objects do not enter the mind of a perfect person and he stays engrossed in the Knowledge of the Self.  pleasures and sorrows do not excite him nor do  pleasures entice him.  Even if he has to perform actions, he does not care about the fruits thereof.  He does not do needless actions, they are just sufficient for the survival of his body.  Such a person may be considered as one settled in yoga.  (These characteristics were given earlier in Ch 2 and will be repeated further.  in this summary for convenience and effect).


Events in a dream appear real until the dreamer wakes up and realises it was only a dream; similarly, life and death appear real due to ignorance though actually they are unreal.  But once the ignorance goes he becomes aware that he himself is the Brahman.

This awareness comes when the ego leaves him.  Therefore,  one should give up this ego using discrimination.  Really speaking, I-am-the-body ego arises by nurturing desire and by being infatuated by the body.  The intellect restrains him from realising that his individual self is the Brahman.  But one who is not thus restrained is the real knower of the Self.


For a person who has conquered his mind and calmed his desires and in whom the false ego has completely vanished the Supreme Self is not far.  He becomes one with the Brahman that is within himself.  The thoughts of hot and cold, happiness and sorrow, honour and insult are not possible in such a person’s mind.

Just as whatever comes in the path of the sun gets illuminated, whoever encounters such a perfect person becomes like him.  The thoughts like “these deeds are good and those are bad” do not enter his mind because he has become devoid of duality by the unity with the Brahman.

When he ponders over the nature of the world, he finds that it is unreal.  And when he searches for the knowledge about the Reality, he experiences that that Reality is himself.  Because now his feeling of duality with Brahman has vanished, he finds that he is no longer bound by space and time and is all-pervading.

He, who has conquered his senses while remaining in his body, has automatically reached the level of Brahman.  Such a person should be called a yogi who is the master of his senses.  The differences like big and small do not enter his mind.  A lump of earth, a precious stone or gold are same to him.  Then how can the ideas like friend and foe, a relative or a stranger, come to his mind? To him everything in this world appears as Brahman.  One who has experienced that this world is pervaded by Brahman, is a person with vision of equanimity to everything.  Even if one remembers such person, he becomes like that person.  But there is no limit to the praise of such a person.

[NOTE: The above description of a person who has realised Brahman is so concise and beautiful that I have not even attempted to summarise it any further.  This is the apt description of great saints like Shri Swami Samarth, Shri Saibaba, and Shri Shankar Maharaj, Shri Gajanan Maharaj etc.].


[NOTE: So far, Shri Krishna was talking about actions as prescribed by Swadharma.  These actions pertain to socio-religious category.  Now he mentions actions of a more personal nature, namely the practice of Yoga, which also requires routine actions. The reference to yoga so far implied the state of unity with  the Brahman.   Now the term Yoga refers to the practice of meditation and breath control (i.e. pranayama) adopting certain sitting postures. This practice is called Rajayoga aimed at the spiritual progress. The yoga system so popular now-a-days in the westernised world as a pathway to health is known as Hathayoga.  It gives importance to the control of the body for which various body postures (asanas) including sitting postures are adopted. The postures are supported by pranayama and together lead to the ability to control both the body and the mind.

The Hathayoga together with Pranayama practice has been adopted by various “experts” to reduce mental and physical stresses and thereby maintain good health.  Some experts have used their own variations of the techniques to develop attitude of positive thinking and thus become successful in the world. Unfortunately, this adaptation for materialistic use has been so much commercialised that a few “Gurus” have even patented some of the yogic processes adopted by them so that others cannot use them. Many commercial organisations, having realised the potential of this kind of yoga training, make their executives undergo yoga courses to increase their effectiveness. Even Governmental organisations, especially  those involved in the intelligence work seem to use these techniques for their personnel.

Fortunately, the aim of Rajayoga has so far been only spiritual.  The classical Rajayoga, based on the Yogasutras of Patanjali is also called Ashtangayoga because it involves observance of eight aspects:

1. Restraints (yama),  2. Discipline (niyama),  3. Postures (asanas), 4. Control of breathing (pranayama),  5. Turning attention inwards (pratyahara), 6. Concentration (dharana), 7. Meditation (dhyana involving prolonged state of concentration) and 8. Deep Trance (Samadhi).

Many spiritual Gurus have introduced several variations of the Rajayoga.  These eight aspects purify both the body and the mind as well as character.  This will be clear from the following aspects of Yama and Niyama:

Yama: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy) and Aparigraha (Non-receiving or non-accumulation of property).

Niyama: Shoucha (internal and external purification), Santosha (contentment), Tapa (austerity), Swadhyaya (study) and Ishwarpranidhana (Worship of God)].

Some variations of Rajayoga developed by various spiritual masters are: e.g. Siddha yoga (Swami Nityananada centre at Ganeshpuri near Mumbai, Shaktipat Yoga (Gulavani Maharaj Ashram in Pune and Swami Loknath Tirtha centre in Nashik),  Kriya Yoga (Swami Paramhansa Yogananda), Laya yoga and Sahajayoga.

The variation mentioned here in the Dnyaneshwari is often termed as Kundalini Yoga because  the main aim of the practice is to awaken the Kundalini, a dormant force present in all human beings, located near the base of one's spine between the anus and the sexual organs.  This location is called the Muladhar Chakra or base centre. The Kundalini can be awakened by yogic practice described in this chapter, but a capable Guru also can awaken it in a disciple by using his own energy.  This latter process is called Shaktipat.  This technique is used by the Swami Nityananda school of Siddhayoga at Ganeshpuri and by the Gulawani Maharaj school in Pune.

Before we proceed, it would be advantageous to understand a few things about Prana, Nadi and Chakras

 (i) About Prana:

In common parlance, prana means life, but it is  also used to mean Life-force. Prana also means vital breath that supports life therefore it also means life-force. Prana is also translated as Awareness with which life is always associated. In yoga parlance prana implies a subtle force that supports life. Pranayama implies control of prana by control of breathing. Oxygen supports life hence it is called Pranavayu (vayu=gas).

This life force prana manifests itself through various processes in the body e.g. breathing, blood circulation, hunger, thirst, digestion and activities of the organs.  Actually, prana has ten different names, five main and five secondary, according to the particular action and its location. The main types are Prana, Apana, Samana, Vyana and Udana.  Secondary pranas are Naga, Kurma, Krikala, Devadatta and Dhananjaya. Dnyaheshwar Maharaj tells about the following functions of these Pranas in the 18th chapter which for convenience are summarised here as follows:

The vital air has ceaseless power of action.  It is called vital air (Pranavayu) when it gives rise to the Aum sound while moving from navel to the heart.  The same vital air when it moves around in the upper parts is called Udana, when it comes out through the lower end it is called Apana and when it occupies the whole body it is called Vyana.  When it supplies the alimentary juices to all corners of the body and fills in all the joints then it is called Samana.  Actions like yawning, sneezing, burping etc. are the manifestations of the minor aspects of the vital energy namely Naga, Kurma, Krikal etc.  Thus, the power of action of Prana has different names according to its behaviour in different places.  But there are also slightly different definitions of Prana and Apana.

In the older texts, when physiological processes were not well understood,  it was believed that prana originates in the heart.  But we now know that the lungs and the heart together maintain the most vital blood circulatory system.  The body gets energy for its activities by utilising the nutrients during which process the oxygen in the blood is used up and replaced by carbon dioxide. The heart collects the impure blood from all parts of the body and pumps it to the lungs where the carbon dioxide in the blood is replaced by oxygen from the inhaled air and the carbon dioxide loaded air is exhaled.  Following description is an adaptation of the classical process based upon the modern knowledge of physiology.

There are three stages of the breathing process: Puraka or inhalation, Rechaka or exhalation and the internal Kumbhaka or the in-between stage when the lung is kept filled with the inhaled air. The stage between Rechaka and Puraka is called external Kumbhaka during which the lung is empty. During Rechaka,  the air leaves the lungs as Prana and comes out of the nose extending out to about 15 cm. From here it returns via the nose to the lungs as Apana. Prana air is warm while Apana is cool hence Prana is said to be like the Sun and Apana like the moon. It is clear that Prana takes the carbon dioxide air out of the lungs and Apana brings fresh air in. During the internal Kumbhaka, the impure blood pumped by the heart into the lungs gets purified by exchanging the carbon dioxide in it for fresh oxygen from the inhaled air during the Puraka stage. The purified blood goes to the heart and is pumped to various parts of the body. As Dnyaneshwar Maharaj has mentioned (see above) Prana in the lower part of the body is also called Apana. This has a role to play in the Kundalini process as will be seen later.

In the older texts it is stated that Prana assists in the digestion of the food while Apana cools the heart.  It is also stated that the state when Prana  merges with Apana during the internal Kumbhaka, is important from the consideration of stabilising the mind. Hence the four stages of breathing must be properly controlled in order to reach a harmonious state of the mind. This is what is called Pranayama. For proper harmony it is recommended that if the Puraka lasts for four counts (i.e. counting one to four), the Kumbhaka should be for sixteen and Rechaka for eight.   (To be practised only under expert guidance otherwise it can be harmful).

(ii) About Nadi and Chakras

The spinal column is a very important organ of the human body in the context of Kundalini Yoga.  The spine is said to have three Nadi’s or channels starting from the base. These channels are not material channels but subtle channels not to be found in the anatomical map. The Ida Nadi or Surya (Sun) Nadi is to the right, Pingala Nadi or Chandra (Moon) Nadi is to the left and the Sushumna Nadi is in the centre. When the Kundalini is dormant  it blocks the lower end of the Sushumna nadi. The upper end ends in the brain.

Once the Kundalini is awakened in the Muladhar Chakra, continued yoga practice enables the Kundalini to rise upwards through the Sushumna Nadi through five more charkas.  These are: the Swadhishtan Chakra located a little above the Muladhar Chakra and below the navel; the Manipur Chakra near the navel; the Anahat Chakra near the heart; the Vishuddha Chakra at the throat; and Adnya Chakra in between the eyebrows.  Finally, it rises further up to the Sahasrara or the centre of thousand lotus petals on the vertex crown.  This is also called Brahmarandhra or the aperture of the Brahman.  This is when the yogi enjoys the bliss of the unification with Brahman.  The time taken between the Kundalini awakening and the ultimate realisation can be several years or even several lifetimes, depending upon the efforts of the seeker.  Spiritual status in earlier birth and Guru’s grace can make the attainment of Brahman faster.  (WARNING) The yoga postures described here should not be practiced without guidance from a teacher.

Most of the variations of the Rajayoga, which is more common now-a-days require Lotus or half-Lotus sitting posture as compared with the relatively difficult Hathayoga postures of Vajrasana as described by Dnyaneshwar Maharaj. Practice of Hathayoga was common among the Nath Sect yogis for disciplining the body and hence the mind. It is natural that Dnyaneshwar Maharaj who was himself a Nath yogi should recommend the Hathayoga route].

Shri Krishna now tells about the technique of Kundalini yoga as follows.
This path of (Kundalini) Yoga is the king among all yoga paths. One gains innumerable fruits of detachment through deliberate actions by following this path.  A person who has taken up this path forgets about day, night or even his bodily needs.  Every step in this path takes one nearer to liberation.  The progress on this path occurs quietly but definitely.

Dnyaneshwar Maharaj then gives instructions (not given in Bhagvadgita) about the practice of meditation.  The instructions are summarised as follows:

Selection of location

The seeker should first select for his Yoga practice a proper location where one can seat and practice the yoga without disturbance. If the location is away from habitation then food (e.g. fruits and roots) and water should be available round the year. After selecting the place of practice one should sit there alone for a long time and check whether or not the mind becomes calm.

Preparation of the seat

Next, the seeker should prepare a proper seat that should be neither too hard nor too soft. It should be covered with a clean washed cloth over it.  The seat should be of such a thickness as to make it steady and comfortable.  (Dnyaneshwar Maharaj suggests deer skin over the seat but that is not possible in this age).

Stabilising the mind

The seeker should then sit there concentrating the mind while remembering one's Guru until the mind is filled with Sattvic (pure) feelings in order that the ego is blunted, mind is rid of thoughts of sense-objects and the organs do not stir.  He should remain in this state until he experiences that the mind has merged with the heart.  In this state the body automatically becomes steady and airs in the body (pranas) come together.  Subsequently, the mind stabilises, interest in worldly affairs gets inhibited and he effortlessly attains the state of deep trance (samadhi) as soon as he sits on the seat.

Yogic posture

Having attained control over the mind the seeker should practice the yoga postures as follows:

Thus the Yoga practice starts with the external parts of the body while internally, the thoughts, desires and other affairs of the mind vanish.  He is not aware anymore of hunger and sleep.

[NOTE: Dnyaneshwar Maharaj suggests the Vajrasana posture that is part of the Hathayoga system. However, Padmasana and Half-Padmasana or Sahajasana (i.e. easy posture) are the postures used today in the Rajayoga practice].

Awakening of Kundalini

Once this posture is easily achieved, the next stage is the awakening of the Kundalini. The Apana breath then hits the Muladhar Chakra (see note above) and removes all the impurities accumulated there since childhood. It then rises to the Manipur Chakra and starts hitting against it removing the impurities from there similarly.  It then enters the abdomen and eliminates the phlegm and bile.  Then it reaches the centres of the seven essential elements of the body (viz. flesh, blood, muscles, bones, marrow, chyle and semen), gets rid of the fat and drives the marrow out from the bones.  It cleans the blood vessels and relaxes the organs. This may frighten the seeker but he should not get frightened.  By creating these ailments it throws the diseases out from the body.  Then the Apana breath brings the solid flesh and bones and the liquid blood together.

While Apana does all this, the hitherto dormant Kundalini force awakens by virtue of the heat created due to the constriction by the Mula Bandha  of the yogic posture.

Course of the Kundalini

Once the Kundalini is awakened it swallows the Apana  which has occupied the space in the region of the heart.  It then swallows the fat and excess flesh from the region of the heart and wherever else it can find flesh. It goes to every organ including palms and soles, purifies the skin and makes it touch the bones.  Then it cleans the insides of the bones and scrapes the interior of the blood vessels with the result that the roots of the hair are burnt.  It then drinks off the seven essential elements and makes the body  hot and dry.

Pushing tne Prana and Apana aside, Kundalini eats off the Earth principle (solid part) and also completely licks off the Water principle (liquid part) from the body and feeling satiated becomes mild and rests at the Sushumna (central) nerve in the spine. At this stage the heat leaves the body which now becomes cool from inside as well as from outside and the lost strength returns.

The flow in the Sushumna  stops and the functions of the remaining nine Pranas also stop.  Because of this the body becomes still.  The Ida and Pingala nerves in the spine meet, the three knots get loosened and the curtains of the six Chakras  open.  Then the vital breaths passing through the right (Ida) and left (Pingala) nostrils fade to quietness. At this time, the intellect gets stilled and the remaining fragrance in the Prana enters the Sushumna nerve along with the Kundalini.  Then the spiritual nectar (Ambrosia or Amrit) situated at the crown of the head spills into the mouth of the Kundalini and then gets absorbed throughout the body including the ten Pranas.

Body gets rejuvenated

All organs show their bright aura.  The aging process gets reversed.  The yogi gets back his lost childhood and he looks like a boy.  He gets new nails and (small pearl-like) teeth. Tiny hair grow on the body.  The palms and soles become red and the eyes become so clean that even with half-closed eyes he can see afar. Though the colour of his skin becomes golden, his body becomes light as air because now there is no earth and water principles in it.  He is able to see beyond the seas and understand what is going on in heaven.  He is able to understand what is in an ant's mind and he can ride the wind.  Even if he walks on water his feet do not get wet.  Thus he attains such spiritual powers (Siddhis).

Divine experiences

The rising Kundalini now may be considered as the expression of the Supreme Soul. The yogi then starts hearing the divine Anahat sound. The intellect becomes active and is now able to hear some of this Anahat sound.  The Anahat sound reverberations near the heart persist as long as Air principle is not destroyed.  The reverberations in the Sky principle (space) open the window of the Brahmarandhra (Sahasrar) easily. There is another space above the Sahasrar where the Consciousness (Chaitanya) resides.  Finally, the Kundalini force enters the Brahmarandhra or the Sahasrara.  It is here that he becomes one with the Brahman and enjoys the bliss of the Self.  This is also called the point where Shiva principle and Shakti, his active creative principle meet.

Dnyaneshwar Maharaj says, "Using the body itself to devour the I-am-the-body ego is the principle of the Nath Panth (sect).  Shri Krishna has merely mentioned it in the Gita, but I have put the details before the audience.”

Thus the soul, which was separated from the Brahman by virtue of acquiring the body, enters the Brahman.  Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that this phenomenon is not something explicit that can be understood by listening to words.  There is nothing more remains for him to know.  I can only say that if one is fortunate then one should experience the Brahman and be one with it.  But to talk about it is meaningless.
That (Brahman) is the root of the universe, fruit of the yoga, and the energy of the bliss.  That is where the forms dissolve.  It is the place of liberation.  Beginning and end disappear there.  It is the seed of the five principles and brightness of the Great Effulgence.  (Shri Krishna says,) When I take avatar, I take it from there.  The great bliss of this state is beyond description.  Persons who have realised Self by steadily striving for it have become pure and reached My status.

[NOTE: Indian philosophy postulates the world to be made of five principles or elements, Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Sky or Space. This is as per the understanding of the thinkers at the beginning of human civilisation When seen from the modern physical point of view, the first three are the three states of matter namely solid, liquid and gaseous states.  The fourth represents the energy while the fifth is the space.  Modern science has found more than 100 elements, about 92 of them occurring naturally.  But this does not change the basic arguments in the Indian philosophy].


However, in order to become successful in this yoga, the seeker must be worthy and capable of doing it.  But worthiness can be acquired only by performs the prescribed actions with detachment.  Moderation in behaviour helps to become worthy of practising Yoga.  It should be understood that:

The lesson is that one should neither pamper the sense-pleasures nor abandon them totally.  In other words, By such regular routine, the essential constituents of the body remain in balance.  And when the senses are satisfied in proper proportions, the mind also remains satisfied.  Once the external organs get regulated, the internal happiness increases and the yoga is achieved even without practice.  Thus, practising yoga by remaining regular leads to experiences the Self.

A person whose mind becomes steady and remains so until death, may be called a person who has achieved yoga.  In this stage, his mind may be compared to a flame in windless air.

[NOTE: This is a very valuable advice.  Many people think that fasting, or otherwise torturing the body is beneficial spiritually.  One should never forget that all types of spiritual sadhana are aimed at controlling the mind to make it steady.  Mind cannot be disengaged from the body except in the very advanced stages of sadhana (see the next paragraph).  Therefore, it is essential for sadhaks who follow this path to observe moderation as prescribed.  But this is not applicable to Bhakti path.  A devotee may continue bhajans and kirtans unaware of space and time.  His mind is fully engaged by the Object of his devotion].


Just as a beneficial thing often appears to be painful, the practice of Yoga also appears to be difficult.  But the sense-organs can be disciplined only with the practice of yoga, by sitting steadily in the posture as described earlier.  Once that is achieved, the mind automatically sets towards the Soul.  And when it looks back after reaching there, it realises that I have been That all the time.  It then gets immersed in bliss and dissolves in the Brahman, beyond which nothing else exists.

In this state, his mind remains steady, and his awareness about the body vanishes even if it is afflicted by severe pains.  The mind forgets the desires and is no longer mindful of the worldly matters.


Shri Krishna now tells about the attitude to be adopted for taking up the yoga practice.

A person who has experienced Self, even if he goes about looking outwardly to be happy or unhappy like any other person, is himself Brahman by virtue of his experience.  Therefore, there is nothing worth achieving other than this outlook of equality.


Shri Krishna then replies to Arjuna’s doubt: “The nature of the mind is to resist control.  Then how can mind become steady and impart the sense of equality?” Shri Krishna says,

It is impossible for those who are not dispassionate and who do not practice yoga, to control the mind.  But how can it become steady unless one practises regulated behaviour (Yama-Niyama) with an attitude of dispassion and refrains from getting immersed in sense pleasures?


To this question from Arjuna, Shri Krishna replies.

A person who longs for liberation gets nothing other than liberation. If he dies halfway, then it must be considered that he is merely taking rest for some time.  Had he succeeded in his yoga practice, he would have attained liberation even before death.  Death may have stopped him in the middle, but liberation is reserved for him.

After death he easily reaches the higher planes, but gets sick of the enjoyments on these planes because he considers them as impediments in his path to liberation.  Then he returns to the earth and is born in a religious ethical family, where he again starts making spiritual progress.  Or, he is born into the family of a yogi of high level.  Because of his past, the person, even as a child, is already loaded with Knowledge. He has a mature intellect, therefore he naturally knows all branches of knowledge.  His intellect develops further from the point when he died in the earlier birth and he is able to grasp mysterious subjects and even difficult things told by a Guru.  Somehow, Yoga practice also comes easily to him, and he can attain the samadhi state effortlessly.  He attains Siddhis even in the acolyte stage.

He has now reached the shores of Self-realisation after overcoming the impediments of thousands of births.  In time, he becomes one with the Brahman with the consequent indescribable and unfathomable bliss.  He reaches this state while still in his body.  Consider him as my life-force.  He experiences that he is the triumvirate of a devotee, devotion and the deity of devotion.  This union of love between him and me can be described only as I being the body in which he is the soul.




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Dr V. V. shirvaikar,                                     email: vshirvaikar@yahoo.com
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