Ch 6 VERSE 17

युक्ताहारविहारस्य युक्तचेष्टस्य कर्मसु

युक्तस्वप्नावबोधस्य योगो भवति दुःखहा ॥१७॥



yukta-ceṣṭasya karmasu


yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā


yukta—regulated; āhāra—eating; vihārasya—recreation; yukta—regulated; ceṣṭasya—of one who works for maintenance; karmasu—in discharging duties; yukta—regulated; svapna-avabodhasya—sleep and wakefulness; yogaḥ—practice of yoga; bhavati—becomes; duḥkha—hā—diminishing pains.


He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.

yukta-ceṣṭasya karmasu
yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā

“He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.”

So, this is very much a continuation of the previous verse that we discussed, a continuation of the idea, in the sense that here now we are looking at the solution. The previous verse we spoke about the quest for happiness, and how simply following the dictates and desires of the mind and senses does not lead one to happiness, but to distress; and that one needs to be going in another direction.

So, I’ll just draw your attention to a one of the words here duḥkha-hā, this duhkha means pain or sorrow, and when you say the ha it means to get rid of, or to reduce, but actually to escape from the suffering. Ramanuja Acharya, he, in describing this verse and this word, he referenced it as “the yoga which destroys all sorrows” which I thought was a very beautiful definition.

In the course of discussing this we will read also the preceding verse, so that you can get the bigger picture and the context of what’s being described here. There are many practitioners since ancient times that viewed the path of spiritual liberation as being a path of tremendous austerity, and tremendous penances, and so much difficulty. But here Si Krishna is presenting a better way of seeing things. He is speaking about, or to, the subject of temperance, to be temperant in one’s habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation, and that living that way, one can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.

I’ll just like to read a verse from the Bhagavat Purana that speaks to this subject:

“When the living entity passes from the present body to the next body, which is created by his own karma, he becomes absorbed in the pleasurable and painful sensations of the new body and completely forgets the experiences of the previous body. This total forgetfulness of one’s previous material identity, which comes about for one reason or another, is called death”

So, death produces the total forgetfulness of one’s previous material identity. And just looking at that verse for a moment we see that it was one’s own karma, one’s own actions, create the type of body which we will next occupy. And then occupying a new body—

And I’m just having recollections of little babies lying in the crib, and parents talking to them, “Oh, you like that? You like that?” and always offering sensual stimulation; and the little child’s like “Oaah!,”laughing, or giggling, or getting excited, and legs and arms going, you know, and just all stimulated. When we see with the vision that that person, we wouldn’t have related to them that way a year or two earlier when they were in a 70, or 80, or 90 year old body. We probably wouldn’t have been inclined to embrace them or cuddle them at all.

But now that they’ve shown up like this, in this brand new little body, we are utterly in an illusion, and we’re just seeing this, what’s before our eyes. And here, the person having moved to a new body has now become utterly absorbed in the pleasurable and painful experiences or sensations of this new body, and have completely forgotten the experience from the previous body. And that forgetfulness was the result of what is described as “death.”

The yogis, the transcendentalists were not pessimists. They were realists, and their realism, the real way in which they look at the world and things, might be perceived as pessimistic; but only a person who is holding on to false ideas, and false hopes, and false dreams about the nature of material life would call them a pessimist, because when they speak about the reality of material life and the material world, it’s crushing to the hopes and aspirations of the daydreaming materialist.

So in the Bhagavad-gita, in the eighth chapter, the sixteenth sloka it states:

“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.”

So here we have this, what would be perceived as a very pessimistic view, that doesn’t matter what your situation is in the material world, from a higher perspective the entire material creation is considered a place of misery.

Then from the Bhagavata Purana we have another verse:

“Misidentification of oneself and others as “I” and “you” on the basis of the bodily concept of life is a product of ignorance. This bodily concept is the cause of repeated birth and death, and it makes us go on continuously in material existence.”

So this is incredibly relevant and important, and is very foundational to how the transcendentalist sees; and explains what is the type of vision that motivates them on the spiritual path.

When we—I mentioned that there was a previous verse to this one that we read, where Krishna was explaining to Arjuna how the path of spiritual cultivation is not the path of deprivation or the path of artificial renunciation. We have heard the term, it’s been used, yukta vairagya, the useful application of everything in the service of God brings about the highest and most real form of true renunciation. When one understands that principle, then they understand that there is a middle path between the path of complete sensual absorption, absorption and the attempt of sensual enjoyment, and on the other side the path of complete deprivation of sensual experience. There is a middle path, that is the actual spiritual path, and which has been now spoken about.

So the verse preceding the one that we’re studying now, it says:

“There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough”

And then into the current verse we’re reading:

“He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.”

So the way in which one practiced this term yukta, which sometimes replaces the word yoga, meaning union with the Supreme, was by seeing the reality of this world as not being my home and not being my property, but in reality is the energy and the property of the Supreme Soul; and therefore when I live in this place I accept, as it states in the first mantra of the Sri Isopanisad, īśāvāsyam idaḿ sarvaṁ, “Everything animate and inanimate is owned and controlled by the Supreme Lord.” And speaking to how one should live, “One should therefore accept that which is set aside as their quota and not accept other things knowing well to whom they belong.”

With that angle of vision one is able to restrain the appetites of the senses that are always demanding more and more and more, which do not uplift a person, but as we have discussed in the previous verse that we studied, lead to material entanglement. By seeing everything in relation to God and living that life, a life of devotion to Him, offering everything, all that one eats, all that one gives away, all work that you do, all undertakings are done as an offering to Him, one is naturally able to restrain the senses—meaning it’s not like an artificial thing that you have to do. No. You are on another course. You have another path that you are walking on.

So in the Bhagavad-gita, in the second chapter, 61st verse, speaking to this it says:

“One who restrains his senses, keeping them under full control, and fixes his consciousness upon Me, is known as a man of steady intelligence.”

Then in another verse,

“One who restrains the senses of action but whose mind dwells on sense objects certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.”

So there is this recognition that one cannot artificially renounce things. One cannot artificially just restrain externally the senses, but if internally the mind is still dwelling on these desires for material experience one is categorized as a pretender.

The transcendentalist does not seek to avoid even sensual pleasure. It’s not that when they eat they only eat food that tastes terrible or is tasteless. The bhakta, the devotee of the Lord, he prepares nice offerings of foodstuff to the Lord, and offers it, and then after having offered it to the Lord, in a meditative and thankful manner he takes the remnants of the Lord, and uses them to sustain his own body which he sees as a vehicle for serving the Lord. And so he naturally tastes, “Oh, this tastes very nice.” It’s not that we want to avoid, but there is the shift in consciousness, that this foodstuff that has been eaten by the—offered to and eaten by the Lord, or tasted by the Lord, tastes very nice. I recognize these things, the pleasurable experience, but I am completely connecting it to my relationship to the Supreme Lord

So the bhakta does not seek to avoid sensual pleasure, but the sensual experience, the pleasurable experience, is not the goal of their life, to have these experiences. It’s just something that is recognized, that one experiences on the way, on my journey. It’s not the focus. The reason that it is not the focus is because the spiritual process is a process by which one develops a higher taste. As one develops an increasingly higher taste, those tastes, those experiences of what would be now considered lower tastes are no longer attractive.

Sometimes the example has been given that people that lived—and I’ve lived a lot of my life in in third world countries, and you go to communities of people in the mountains that don’t have hardly any contact with what people call civilization, and so don’t have access to all the resources. And some of them, they may think their idea of something that is sweet is a certain root that, okay this, they say, they describe it as being very sweet, but to our palate maybe actually very bland. And if you bring some molasses in a jar, and you dip that what they call sweet in it, and you let them taste it. Then it’s kind of like,“Whoa! What’s that?” this new experience of something that’s sweeter. And having tasted that nobody wants to continue eating that tuber, or that root, without the molasses. But then if you introduce them to refined sugar, and try dipping that, and eating it, it’s kind of like, Whoa! This is better than the molasses for a lot of them. They will have that experience. But you can go further, of course, and take honey, and let them dip it in honey and taste that. Having tasted that, the molasses all of a sudden is not very attractive, nor is it very attractive to eat this, what was formerly stated as a sweet root or a tuber, without this addition of this wonderful sweet flavour. It’s not a very good example, but it is an example.

As a person progresses on this spiritual path, and we become increasingly awakened to our actual spiritual identity, and we are engaging in those activities that awaken the very nature of the soul itself to experience the happiness from rendering service to God and from the experience of the chanting of these transcendental sounds, His names, which are actually the fountainhead of all sweetness and happiness, and as one progresses in this path, one increasingly experiences this gradual awakening of the experience of transcendental love for God and the great spiritual ecstasies that will eventually come from that. As one progresses on this path of awakening transcendental happiness, the former happiness that one may have experienced from sensual stimulation no longer seems attractive at all.

And the mature state of self-realization is explained in the sixth chapter, this same chapter that we’re reading from. A few verses later, verse 20 to 23, there is a complete account of this experience of this spiritual awakening and the great transcendental happiness that one experiences in it.

“In the stage of perfection called trance, or samadhi, one’s mind is completely restrained from mental activities by the practice of yoga. This perfection is characterized by one’s ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness, realized through transcendental senses. Established thus one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken even, in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact.”

So we learned in the previous verse that we were studying, that by absorption in the experience of material pleasure that arises from stimulating the senses, it always will result in pain, maybe not immediately, but it will eventually lead one to great ongoing continuous pain and suffering, the pain and suffering of material existence. And it’s described here that “Being situated in such a position,” speaking of the great transcendental happiness, “one is never shaken even in the midst of great difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact.”

So this is actually an enormous subject, and trying to deal with it completely is not really possible in the limited amount of time that we are allocating, but my hope and wish is that for those who are studying this course, who are going through these things, that they will—you will develop the determination and the courage and the desire to engage in the spiritual process, having the transcendental faith that you too will experience this outcome, but recognizing that it is going to be a gradual process.

But even though it is a gradual process, it is progressive, in the sense that, as one begins to develop spiritual taste for things, the attraction and taste for the material world diminishes to that degree. And one simply needs to faithfully and carefully continue to practice the path of devotion, of bhakti, or devotional service, so that one may experience the actual fruit of full spiritual realization, full spiritual realization, meaning as I’ve stated in the past, a realization of my essence, my position, and my natural function—“my” meaning the eternal spiritual being, the realization that I am eternal, which causes all forms of fear and anxiety to instantly evaporate. The realization of my position is, yes, I am not the Lord, I am not the master of everything. I am the eternal part and parcel, the surrendered servant of the Supreme Soul. And my natural function is to render eternal loving service to this Lord of my heart, and in doing that it will awaken the experience of such transcendental blissfulness, ecstatic blissfulness that it cannot be compared to any material experience.

Thank you very much.