Perfection of Yoga [1972 (first) edition]
It is certainly remarkable that the perfection of yoga was taught in the middle of a battlefield. It was taught to Arjuna, the warrior, just before Arjuna was to engage in a fratricidal battle. Out of sentiment, Arjuna was thinking, "Why should I fight against my own kinsmen?" That reluctance to fight was due to Arjuna's illusion, and just to eradicate that illusion, Sri Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-gita to him.
One can just imagine how little time must have elapsed while Bhagavad-gita was being spoken. All the warriors on both sides were poised to fight, so there was very little time indeed--at the utmost, one hour. Within this one hour, the whole Bhagavad-gita was discussed, and Sri Krishna set forth the perfection of all yoga systems to His friend Arjuna. At the end of this great discourse, Arjuna set aside his misgivings and fought.
However, within the discourse, when Arjuna heard the explanation of the meditational system of yoga--how to sit down, how to keep the body straight, how to keep the eyes half-closed and how to gaze at the tip of the nose without diverting one's attention, all this being conducted in a secluded place, alone--he replied,
"O Madhusudana, the system of yoga which You have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady." (Bg. 6.33)
This is important. We must always remember that we are in a material circumstance wherein at every moment our mind is subject to agitation. Actually we are not in a very comfortable situation. We are always thinking that by changing our situation we will overcome our mental agitation, and we are always thinking that when we reach a certain point, all mental agitations will disappear. But it is the nature of the material world that we cannot be free from anxiety. Our dilemma is that we are always trying to make a solution to our problems, but this universe is so designed that these solutions never come.
Not being a cheater, being very frank and open, Arjuna tells Krishna that the system of yoga which He has described is not possible for him to execute. Arjuna considers his mind to be like a great demon, such as the demon Madhu. If it were possible for Krishna to kill the demon called the mind, then Arjuna would be able to attain the perfection of yoga. "My mind is much stronger than this demon Madhu," Arjuna is saying. "Please, if You could kill him, then it would be possible for me to execute this yoga system." Even the mind of a great man like Arjuna is always agitated. As Arjuna himself says,
"For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krishna, and to subdue it is, it seems to me, more difficult than controlling the wind." (Bg. 6.34)
It is indeed a fact that the mind is always telling us to go here, go there, do this, do that--it is always telling us which way to turn. Thus the sum and substance of the yoga system is to control the agitated mind. In the meditational yoga system the mind is controlled by focusing on the Supersoul--that is the whole purpose of yoga. But Arjuna says that controlling this mind is more difficult than stopping the wind from blowing. One can imagine a man stretching out his arms trying to stop a hurricane. Are we then to assume that what was impossible for Arjuna in a more advanced age is possible for us in this degenerate age? We should not for one moment think that we are in Arjuna's category. We are a thousand times inferior.
Moreover, there is no record of Arjuna's having executed the yoga system at any time. Yet Arjuna was praised by Krishna as the only man worthy of understanding Bhagavad-gita. What was Arjuna's great qualification? Sri Krishna says, "You are My devotee. You are My very dear friend." Despite this qualification, Arjuna refused to execute the meditational yoga system described by Sri Krishna. What then are we to conclude? Are we to despair the mind's ever being controlled? No, it can be controlled, and the process is this Krishna consciousness. The mind must be fixed always in Krishna. Insofar as the mind is absorbed in Krishna, it has attained the perfection of yoga.