Sannyasa, Yoga and the Yogi

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

The sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is dedicated to the topic of sannyasa, yoga and the yogi. Sri Krishna says, "He who does not base his actions on expectations is a sannyasin and a yogi indeed; not the man who has renounced actions."

Sannyasa and yoga are the same. Unless one has renounced imagination, one cannot be a yogi. When the sadhaka is ascending the path of yoga, actions become the cause, but once he has reached the high plateau, peace of mind becomes the cause. For the sannyasin all objects are images, imaginations or fantasies. One who is not attached to the objects of the senses has gone far on the path of yoga.

The yogi's mind

It is through the mind that the mind has to be released, and therefore, the mind should not be hurt. The mind must be known to be a friend as well as an enemy for it is the best friend to those who have control over it and the worst enemy to those without control.

A yogi's mind remains balanced in every aspect of life. Having gained control of his self, he has attained serenity. His mind is submerged in consciousness and is balanced in heat and cold, pain and pleasure, insult and praise. He is content with knowledge and experience, makes the mind his friend and has transcended the emotions which are caused by jealousy. He maintains the same steadiness of mind with a saint as well as a sinner.

A yogi devotes himself to the awareness of consciousness by remaining within the mysterious realms of himself. He tries to concentrate his mind by controlling his consciousness and actions without expecting anything.


In order to control and purify the mind, choose a clean place, neither too high nor too low, spread a deerskin with a piece of cotton cloth over it and sit down in your asana. The body, neck and head should be in a straight line. Maintain steadiness and do not move. Visualize the tip of the nose without looking in any other direction. Fear should depart and the mind become serene. When the mind is clear try to establish yourself in your consciousness. Such a yogi attains nirvana or transcendental peace.

This yoga is not possible for those who eat too much or who do not eat at all, or who sleep too much or do not sleep at all. Yoga eliminates all pains and agonies of life for those who maintain a proper balance regarding movement, actions, sleep and waking. When the mind is established in the Self, we say that the aspirant has established himself in yoga. Just as a solitary lamp does not flicker in a place where there is no wind, so the mind of the yogi becomes quiet in the absence of distractions.

Having attained this great accomplishment, the yogi should not consider anything else to be more valuable. Even the greatest of problems and difficulties cannot disturb a person who is established in yogic consciousness. Therefore, it is important for a yogi to annihilate imagination and fantasies, which represent the qualities of the mind, in toto. Gradually, steadily and with utmost patience one lifts the mind to higher consciousness without thinking of anything else. When the mind becomes restless and unsteady one has to try to bring it back under control.

Nothing is lost

Arjuna asked Sri Krishna, "Oh Lord, this yoga of which you have spoken is not possible due to the restless mind. Restlessness is powerful. It is as difficult to control the mind as it is to control the wind."

Sri Krishna replies, "No doubt it is difficult, but by incessant practice and by making the mind dispassionate it can be brought under control. If the aspirant has no control over himself, yoga is not possible for him. However, for the aspirant who has control over himself, yoga comes easily with a little practice."

Arjuna asks again, "If, while practising yoga, one leaves the body what happens? Do one's practices come to an end?"

Sri Krishna answers, "The efforts of yoga are never lost. When the sadhaka attains the next body, he unconsciously remembers the point where he had left in his previous life and he starts his practices from there."

Therefore, the yoga of meditation is greater than austerity, self-analysis and selfless service. The yoga of meditation is supreme.

1968 World Tour