Ancient India
Yogi: The Person of Discipline

Krishna

   He who, regardless of the fruit of actions, performs the actions which ought to be performed, is the devotee and renouncer; not he who discards the sacred fires, 1 nor he who performs no acts.

   Know, O son of Pandu, that what is called renunciation is spiritual discipline; for nobody becomes a man of discipline who has not renounced all fancies. 2 To the sage who wishes to rise to spiritual discipline, action is said to be a means, and to him, when he has risen to spiritual discipline, tranquillity is said to be a means. When one does not attach one's self to objects of sense, nor to action, renouncing all fancies, then is one said to have risen to spiritual discipline.

   A man should elevate his self by his self; he should not degrade his self, for even as a man's own self is his friend, a man's own self can also be his enemy. To him who has subjugated his self by his self, his self is a friend; but to him who has not restrained his self, his own self behaves like an enemy.

   The self of one who has subjugated his self is tranquil and is absolutely concentrated on itself alone, in the midst of cold and heat, pleasure and pain, as well as honor and dishonor. The man of discipline whose self is contented with knowledge and experience, who is unmoved, who has restrained his senses, and to whom a clump of dirt, a stone, and gold are alike, is said to be spiritually disciplined. And he is esteemed highest who thinks alike about well-wishers, friends, and enemies, and those who are indifferent, and those who take both sides, and those who are objects of hatred, and relatives, as well as about the good and the sinful. 3

   A man of discipline should constantly devote his self to abstraction, remaining in a secret place, alone, with his mind and self restrained, without expectations, and without belongings. Fixing his seat firmly in a clean place, not too high nor too low, and covered over with a sheet of cloth, a deer-skin, and blades of Kusa grass, and there seated on that seat, fixing his mind exclusively on one point, with the workings of the mind and senses restrained, he should practice discipline for purity of self. Holding his body, head, and neck even and unmoved, remaining steady, looking at the tip of his own nose, 4 and not looking about in all directions, with a tranquil self, devoid of fear, and adhering to the rules of Brahmakarins, 5 he should restrain his mind and concentrate it on me, and sit down engaged in devotion, regarding me as his final goal.

   Thus constantly devoting his self to abstraction, a man of discipline whose mind is restrained attains that tranquillity which culminates in final emancipation and assimilation with me.

   Discipline is not his, Arjuna, who eats too much, nor his who eats not at all; discipline is not his who is addicted to too much sleep, nor his who is always awake.

   That spiritual discipline which destroys all suffering is his, 6 who takes necessary food and exercise, who toils moderately in all necessary works, and who sleeps and wakes at the proper time.

   When a man's well-restrained mind becomes steady upon the self alone, then he being indifferent to all objects of desire, is said to be disciplined. As a light standing in a windless place flickers not, that is like the self of the man of discipline, whose mind is restrained, and who devotes his self to abstraction. That mental condition, in which the mind restrained by practice of abstraction, ceases to work, in which, one seeing the self by the self, is pleased in the self, in which one experiences that infinite happiness which transcends the senses and which can be grasped by the understanding only; and adhering to which, one never swerves from the truth, acquiring which, one thinks no other acquisition higher than it, and adhering to which, one is not shaken off even by great misery—that should be understood as spiritual discipline in which there is no experience of pain. That spiritual discipline should be practiced with steadiness and with an undespairing heart.

   Abandoning, without exception, all desires, which are produced from fancies, and restraining the whole group of the senses on all sides by the mind only, one should by slow steps become tranquil with a firm resolve coupled with courage; and fixing his mind upon the self, should think of nothin.

   Wherever the active and unsteady mind breaks forth, there one should ever restrain it, and fix it steadily on the self alone. The highest happiness comes to such a man of discipline, whose mind is fully tranquil, in whom the quality of passion has been suppressed, who is free from sin, and who is become one with the Brahman. 7

   Thus constantly devoting his self to abstraction, a man of discipline, freed from sin, easily obtains that supreme happiness—contact with the Brahman . He who has devoted his self to abstraction, by discipline, looking alike on everything, sees the self abiding in all beings, and all beings in the self. To him who sees me in everything, and everything in me, I am never lost, and he is not lost to me. The man of discipline who worships me abiding in all beings, holding that all is one, lives in me, however he may be living.

   That man of discipline, Arjuna, is judged to be the best who looks alike on pleasure or pain, whatever it may be, in all creatures, comparing all with his own pleasure or pain.


Arjuna

   I cannot see, O destroyer of Madhu, how to sustain this discipline by means of equanimity which you have declared, because, as I see it, humans are constantly changing their minds. For, Krishna, the mind is fickle, boisterous,, strong, and obstinate; and I think that to restrain it is as difficult as restraining the wind.


Krishna

   Doubtless, O you of mighty arms, the mind is difficult to restrain, and fickle. Still, O son of Kunti, it may be restrained by constant practice and by indifference to worldly objects. It is my belief that spiritual discipline is hard to obtain for one who does not restrain his self. But by one who is self-restrained and assiduous, it can be obtained through proper means.


Arjuna

   What is the end of him, Krishna, who does not attain perfect spiritual discipline by not making enough effort, or having a mind shaken off from discipline, though full of faith? Does he, fallen from both paths, 8 go to ruin like a broken cloud, being, O you of mighty arms, without support, and deluded on the path leading to the Brahman? Be pleased, Krishna, to entirely destroy this doubt of mine, for none else than you can destroy this doubt.


Krishna

   O son of Pritha, neither in this world nor the next is ruin in store for him, because, dear friend, no-one who performs good deeds comes to an evil end. He who is fallen from discipline attains the worlds of those who perform meritorious acts, he dwells there for many years, and is afterwards born into a family of holy and illustrious men. Or he is even born into a family of talented men of discipline, for such a birth as that is more difficult to obtain. There he comes into contact with the knowledge which belonged to him in his former body, and then again, O descendant of Kuru, he works for perfection. 9

   For even though he is reluctant, he is led away by the self-same former practice, and although he only wishes to learn discipline, he rises above the fruits of action laid down in the divine word. But the man of discipline, working with great efforts and cleared of his sins, attains perfection after many births, and then reaches the supreme goal. 10

   The man of discipline is esteemed higher than the performers of penances, higher even than the men of knowledge, and the man of discipline is higher than the men of action; therefore, Arjuna, become a man of discipline. And even among all men of discipline, he who, being full of faith, worships me, with his inmost self intent on me, is esteemed by me to be the most disciplined.

Translated by Kashinath Trimbak Telano, 1882
Edited and annotated by Richard Hooker



Next
Knowledge and Understanding


World Cultures

World Cultures Home Page


1997, Richard Hooker
Updated 10-18-97