The Qualities of a True Yogi. ~ Vic DiCara

Via elephant journal
on Oct 24, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

Bhagavad-Gita, Plain and Simple—Chapter Two, Texts 54-72.

This is the fifth installment of my Bhagavad-Gita series. You can find the previous discussion here.

Arjuna asks, “Please tell me about the qualities of yogis: deep people with practical intelligence who have attained samadhi. What do they talk about? How do they sit still? How do they walk around?” [54]

Krishna replies, “A ‘person with practical intelligence’ is totally uninterested in the desires that roam her mind, because she is fully satisfied by her own soul. She is a ‘deep person,’ not aggravated by pleasure and displeasure flickering through her mind. Therefore she is sagacious, dispassionate, fearless, and placid.  She has no special affection for anything in this world; she makes no special effort for gain or loss, and does not particularly praise or criticize any success or failure. This is the nature of ‘samadhi.’” [55-57]

The fundamental quality of a true yogi is dispassion for all that is external to the soul. How does she “talk?” She talks dispassionately, fearlessly, calmly—without partiality towards anything in this world.

Now Krishna will answer how a true yogi “sits still:”

“He withdraws his senses from sense objects like a turtle withdrawing its limbs. He does not do it by force, struggling to repress enjoyment while still hungry for pleasure. Rather he does it as a natural result of his attraction to superior pleasures. It is impossible to control the senses by force; they will bewilder even the most cautious. But by engaging his senses spiritually in me, they easily come under his control.” [58-61]

Answering how a yogi “sits still” also answers how they “move around” because it is the movement of a yogi that enables them to be still. They still the ego-world by activating the spirit-world. Actively engaging the senses and mind in all-attractive Krishna brings a delightful experience of rasa (ecstatic joy) from the very depths of the soul. Intoxicated by such spiritual delights, one forgets everything else.

Arjuna will wonder, “Is there any other way to ‘sit still,’ perhaps without involving devotional, spiritual action?” So Krishna explains why it is impossible to become truly still by any other method:

“As soon as we experience any sense object, we develop an opinion of it. From this comes desire. From desire inevitably comes angry frustration, from which comes confusion, causing us to lose our principles. When principles are forgotten, we make unintelligent choices, bringing about our own ruination.” [62-63]

Opinion boils down to “good” or “bad.” Desire immediately follows in the form of,“I want the good thing” and “I want to get away from the bad thing.” Frustration immediately follows because it is impossible to get enough of the good thing, and have absolutely none of the bad.

So, as soon as our senses enter the ego-world, ruination is guaranteed. “If so,” Arjuna wonders, “how can a yogi possibly succeed?”

“Someone who makes the sincere effort to regulate her sensual attachments and repulsions will attract divine compassion. It is this divine compassion that quickly destroys sorrow and distress, and makes her happy heart still and steady in practical intelligence. Without divine compassion it is impossible to attain practical intelligence, without which the heart cannot exhibit its inherent joy, without which there is no peace of mind, and without which there is no true pleasure.” [64-66]

Krishna continues to illustrate the same point, “The senses push the heart and mind off course like the wind pushes a sailboat. The senses can therefore destroy intelligence. Arjuna, you are the mightiest hero, but can you stop your senses from dragging you towards their own destinations? Only by strength of intelligence can this foe be curbed.” [67-68]

Arjuna will want to know, “What is victory like?” So Krishna explains:

“When intellect takes command of your senses, they will yawn at things that so titillate the common man, being stimulated instead by things the common man is asleep to.” [69]

Arjuna may doubt, “How can anyone forego the powerful force of their own selfish desires?” So Krishna explains: “Don’t be the sailboat, be the ocean.”

“The ocean is always being filled by the incessant flow of rivers, but it remains steady and does not rise. Be like that. Tolerate the incessant flow of sensual desires, and you will achieve peace of mind. If you try to satisfy the flow of desires, you will never know peace. But if you tolerate them, you become free from longing, possessiveness and egoism; peace comes within reach.” [70-71]

Arjuna will wonder, “Isn’t it risky to try this?” So Krishna says:

“Arjuna, there is no risk on this path. Follow it to the end and attain absolute peace (nirvana).” [72]



To continue reading, click here.


Vic DiCara (Vraja Kishor das) practices Gaudiya Vaishnava sadhana in Southwestern Japan. His blogs are Bhagavatam by Braja and Bhagavad Gita Plain and Simple.

He is also a practicing astrologer, prolific writer and former guitarist and song writer in the popular underground spiritual-punk band, 108. His astrology website is available here.



Editor: Thaddeus Haas

Like elephant bhakti on Facebook


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter. Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of Questions? Send to [email protected]


9 Responses to “The Qualities of a True Yogi. ~ Vic DiCara”

  1. Edward Staskus says:

    I do not believe in that culture the pronouns she or her would have been used, at least I have not seen it in the several translations I have read.

  2. Vic DiCara says:

    A) So what.

    I am not writing the Bhagavad Gita in English for Indians from the 3rd Millenium BCE to read. I am writing it for a modern western audience. I have the licence to adjust the pronouns to engage the audience.

    B) Feminine tense is used ALL OVER classical and ancient Sanskrit literature


  3. The 4th Om says:

    I understand your ABC's, but in the context of the BG, it is wartime, women would not have been in the field of war, and Krishna is talking to a man about what a man needs to do. In the context of the tale the feminine is not being addressed. Anyway, it's a small point, not really worth arguing about.

  4. Vic DiCara says:

    It is a small point, but since no one else is discussing anything :)…

    I agree with your point that Krishna is talking to Arjuna and therefore there would tend to use the male tense. I don't agree that Krishna is taking about "what a man needs to do" – he never says like that. He says "person" not "man." He is talking about what human beings need to do.

    I am writing for an audience that is probably mostly women – I think it would be stupid not to make sure that the pronouns don't bring out the universeality of what Krishna is saying.

    Anyway – I guess there's nothing more to argue about – but thanks for paying attention to the article! =)

    PS – as per your icon: "Haribo! Haribo!" =)

  5. […] to Become Wise. The theme of the Gita so far is, “Put philosophy into practice. Don’t give up responsibilities, perform them with wisdom.” Wisdom and philosophy are of central importance to this theme; so, in […]

  6. Kamal Nayan Ganguly says:

    As per the bhakti tradition, only the Param-atma (Lord Krishna/Rama etc.) is male. All the aatmas (we all) are female. Even the sufi's sang the praise of the lord with a feminine perspective. Lord Krishna is just conforming to that fact.