Introduction to Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6, Meditation / Dhyana-Yoga (42)


Lesson 42 establishes groundwork for Upanishadic Meditation, it's true role and purpose. We also correct 3 common false notions regarding Meditation: It is NOT meant for Liberation. Not meant for gaining Knowledge. Not meant for mystical/extraordinary experiences.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6 INTRODUCTION.

Quick Revision of Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2-5

  • Chapter 2 (Yoga of Knowledge: Sāṅkhya Yoga):
    • Śrī Kṛṣṇa expounds vision of Oneness. Essence of all Upaniṣad.
    • Describes jñāni with mental equipoise/equanimity (steadiness in profit or loss).
    • Wets Arjuna's appetite so Arjuna to would want to discover the Truth for him/her self and enjoy mental equanimity. Gain doesn't add to jñāni's cheerfulness. Loss doesn't subtract cheerfulness.
      • Because to say joy/fear adds/subtract to jñāni to wrongly assume say: Consciousness has attributes.
  • Chapter 3 (Path of Action: Karma Yoga):
    • Śrī Kṛṣṇa sees Arjuna's intellectual incompetency, emotional dis-balances, attachments for results… and recognizes unable to contemplate/comprehend higher teachings.
    • Karma-Yoga is prescribed to help prepare mind for intellectual comprehension of Higher.
  • Chapter 4: (Yoga of Renunciation of Action by Knowledge; Jñāna Karma Saṁnyāsa Yoga):
    • Outer actions, however noble/pure, create puṇya/pāpa (karma-phala).
    • Meaning, sādhana only washes away the sins/impurities, but doer remains, who will commit another action in future.
    • “Renounce of Action” is to continue acting, but know “I am not doer of this Acting” by Self-Knowledge.
    • Thus guilt/shame can only be dropped when “I” is disassociated from doer/enjoyer (aham kāra). EG: Sinner Ratnākar become Sage Vālmīkī.
  • Chapter 5 (Yoga of Renunciation: Sannyāsa Yogaḥ):
    • Arjuna is confused and asks, which is better, CH3/CH4 for preparing mind for jñāna-yoga.
    • By settling for limited results (Mithyā) in life, you're missing out on LIMITELESSNESS (Ānanda).
    • Manage your desires/angers. Easiest way, simplify life.
    • Make Self-Knowledge a way of life, whether one is jñāni/ajñāni.


Bhagavad Gita, CH6: Dhyana-Yoga – (Vedantic Meditation) Intro/ Framework

  • Chapter 6 comprehensively deals with important spiritual sādhana: Meditation.
  • Dhyāna Yoga / Ātma Samyama (restraint) Yogaḥ (Yoga of Self-restraint to Control the Mind).
    • Dhyāna & Ātma Samyama = same: Meditation
  • Meditation is prescribed for assimilation and internalization of Vedānta/Bhagavad Gītā/Upaniṣad teachings.
  • Purpose of this is to transfer/penetrate this knowledge from Intellectual knowing to Unconscious mind.
    • Most reactions/true intentions in situations comes from unconscious mind. 95% are from unconscious. Only 5% conscious.
    • Similarly, problem is Gītā remains in Conscious mind alone. Meaning only 5% of Gītā gets used. Rest 95% is usual child patterns.
  • How is it transferred to unconscious and made accessible automatically?
    • Have to do something to mix the Knowledge with your personality. Just like how sugar is mixed with tea.
      • EG: One drinks tea and notices it's not sweet. Then complain to spouse. Spouse says it already has sugar, I just didn't stir it with tea.
  • Before going into text, we build basic idea of Meditation from Upaniṣad. Because Gītā is based on Upaniṣad alone, it's not independent text.
  • What is role/purpose of meditation? First need to know what meditation is NOT meant for. Because many ideas/misconceptions regarding role of Meditation.
  • Meditation is NOT:
    1. Meditation is NOT prescribed as means of Liberation (mokṣa)
      • Because according to Upaniṣad, meditation is not a goal to be accomplished. Meditation is our own intrinsic nature.
      • Since mokṣa is already an accomplished fact (whether you believe it or not), it is only matter of OWNING UP TO THIS FACT or KNOWING IT.  Just like whether you believe in gravity or not, gravity doesn't care! It's just waiting for the individual to accept it's existence.
        • Similarly, whether you believe you're already free or not, Existence doesn't care. Fact is, Existence (which nothing is apart from) is already free of the objects “within” Existence.
        • Thus Upaniṣad say, Knowledge alone is means of Liberation. In fact, even knowledge also doesn't accomplish Liberation for us.
        • Knowledge simply REVEALS fact that Liberation IS, and already accomplished.
          • prāptasya prāptiḥ: attaining that which is already attained.
        • Śāstra says: tam evam vidvān amṛta iha bhavati jñānādeva tu kaivalyam
          • “Liberation is through knowledge.” Nowhere in various Upaniṣad said that it's through Mediation.
    2. Mediation is NOT prescribed for gaining Knowledge (neither material/spiritual).
      • Meditation is not considered as “means of knowledge”.
      • In scriptures, we discuss different means of knowledge.
      • There are 6 “ṣaṭ pramāṇam” means of knowledge accepted:

Senses are like doorkeepers which bring knowledge of the outer world to the mind. Not all things in this universe are grasped straightway by the five senses – of touch, smell, taste, hearing, and sight. There are so many things which we know indirectly, without the direct aid of the senses. Hindu sages have classified all such means of valid knowledge into six broad groups.

These are called pramāṇās. Pramāṇās are valid means of knowledge. The knowledge that we gain through all these means should be foolproof.

These six means of knowing are (1) Direct Perception by Sense Contact (Pratyakṣa); (2) Inference by Previous Experience (Anumāna); (3) Verbal Testimony of the Vedas (Śabda); (4) Knowing by Example (Upamāna) (5) Conjecture from Insignificant Information (Arthāpatti); and (6) Absence of a Thing (Anupalabdhi).

1. Direct Perception by Sense Contact (Pratyaksa): I see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Through these I come to know about the objects of the world. This is called Pratyaksa. If the object is not subtle, distant, very near, in darkness, or covered; or unless our eyes are defective, we can all see the thing clearly and know it.

2. Inference by Previous Experience (Anumana): There is smoke on the yonder hill. There must be fire over there. We have seen on countless occasions that where there is smoke there is fire. So we infer that there is fire on the hill. This is inference. Sense organs are needed here also, for unless we see smoke the other things will not follow.

3. Verbal Testimony of Vedas (Sabda): Regarding supernatural and divine things, there is only one source of knowledge – the words of the sages. Their words are compiled in the Vedas. The Vedas are infallible. But even here we need the senses to either read or listen to the Vedas.

4. Knowing by Example (Upamana): ‘Have you seen Mars?’ ‘No, I haven’t.’ ‘Have you not seen the pictures of Mars either?’ ‘No, I haven’t. And I do not know what Mars is. What is Mars and how does it look like?’ ‘Ah! You know nothing then? Mars is a planet. It is like our earth.’ ‘Like the earth. Ah! I understand.’ This is knowing by visible examples.

5. Conjecture from Insignificant Information (Arthapatti): ‘Is Mr So-and-so home?’ ‘No, he is not.’ ‘Aha! Then he must be dead.’ Why should Mr So-and-so be dead just because he is not home? His not being at home means he is out; that he may return soon. Such conjecture using some information is called arthapatti.

6. Absence of a Thing (Anupalabdhi): ‘There is no car on the table. Therefore, here is its absence.’ Absence is not seen directly, but inferred. So Advaitins and one group of Purva Mimamsakas accept this as a means of knowledge.

Conclusion: There are the six means of valid knowledge. Using them, we come into contact with the universe outside and know it. The worldly Carvakas (materialists) depend only on direct perception (Pratyaksa). Buddhists depend on Perception and Inference. Advaitans of Adi Shankara depend on all six methods.

6 means of knowledge advaita vedanta pramana

In summary of all 6 means of knowledge…

        1. Pratyakṣa (perception. What we see. EG: Cloud)
        2. Anumāna (inference by logic. “Knowing after __”. EG: Smoke thus fire!)
        3. Upamāna (comparison and analogy. EG: Brahman is like the Sun. Always shining independently of Earth's body or existence)
        4. Arthāpatti (postulation, derivation from circumstances, presumption of a fact. EG: Fat person says he doesn't eat in day. We postulate he eats at night, else his observed fatness can't be explained any other way).
        5. Anupalabdhi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof. Means “Non-apprehension”. Non-existence (abhava) of a thing is perceived by its non-perception. EG: ‘There is no teacher in the class-room’, There is no sound here’, ‘This flower has no fragrance’ etc.)
        6. Śāstram/Śabda (word, testimony of past or present reliable experts. EG: Upaniṣad)
      • Amongst 6, meditation is not listed. Not means of knowledge.
    1. Meditation is NOT prescribed for any extraordinary/mystical experience.
      • Reason: All experience (ordinary/extra), deal with finite field (bound by time). Thus deal with Objective Universe. All experience belongs to Objective Universe (vyāvahārika).
      • Experiencer subject, can never become object of experience.
      • We're not discounting mystic/extraordinary experience. Only that they belong to Objective field of Mithyā. Can't touch the Subject.
      • Experiences can only provide Objective/Material Knowledge. Can NEVER come under Self (Subject)-Knowledge, nor spiritual knowledge.
      • Since experience deals with objective knowledge, incapable of giving Liberation.
      • Seeker of Liberation should not be after extraordinary/mystical experiences. Because he will continue to be within Objective / Finite / Saṃsāri / Anātma world.
      • Even if extraordinary experiences come, REJECT them as Objects (anātma), nothing to do with Self (ātma).
        • Just like an adult naturally rejects toys which he/she played with in childhood, is how mature spiritual aspirant rejects any experience as anātma. Problem is most seekers mind's are still in childhood-mode. So for adults, toys are special experiences. Hence “REJECTING” word often sounds offensive. But it's only offensive because of attachment to one's experiences for validating one's Existence. Just like it's offensive/disturbing to 5 year old child to take away his/her toy away.
      • Thus Self is the subject BEHIND all ordinary/mystical/extraordinary experiences.
  • What PURPOSE is Meditation prescribed in śāstra? 2 roles:
    1. Upāsana-Dhyānam (preparation) > Śravaṇam (gathering) / Mananam (conviction)
    2. Nididhyāsanam-Dhyānam (removing false notions)


Upāsana-Dhyānam > Śravaṇam / Mananam

  1. Upāsanam-Dyānam (Preparatory Meditation. Meditation practiced as preparation for knowledge):
    • Preparation/Cultivation/Refinement/Integration/Organization of Mind for spiritual knowledge.
    • Accelerated Learning, Alpha state before learning.
    • Jñānam-yogyatā-prāpti: necessary qualification for acquiring spiritual knowledge
    • Before sowing the seed, soil must be prepared.
    • Meditation is not the only exercise for tuning mind, but ONE of them.
    • Preparation is done BEFORE Self-Knowledge acquisition. Just like hands are cleaned before eating.
  2. Śravaṇam / Mananam (switch to AFTER successful Upāsanam Dyānam):
    • After upāsana, must work for, and Gain Self-knowledge. By which one will become clear of one's nature and one's life is transformed.
    • Self-Knowledge (only means to Liberation):
      • When I want to see my eyes, with them I can see everything in the creation, except the eyes itself. The seer cannot be seen. No matter what means of knowledge to know the eyes, all fail.
      • Only 1 method works to see the eyes: Mirror. Similarly, only 1 method works to reveal the seer; Self-Knowledge.
        • When knower/experiencer has to be known, my independent attempts will not help. I may sit in meditation for 15,000 years…. nothing will happen.
      • Thus Self-Knowledge mirror is called: śāstram / śabdha / upadeśa (explanation) pramāṇam
      • Mirror should be appropriately used, only then śāstram pramāṇam will be effective.
    • HOW to use MIRROR (śāstra pramāṇam) properly? (Explains why Vedanta fails. How to live/breathe/integrate/life-transformation?)
      • CH4.34: TWO fold exercises called: jñāna-yoga, vedānta-vicāra, adhyātma-yoga, Brahma-jijñāsā (wish to know Brahman):
        • Systematic and consistent study of scriptures, for length of time, under guidance of competent ācāryā.
        • Metaphor of What is Śravanam: All tell you have BEAUTIFUL eyes. But you won't believe, and will doubt… until you use mirror (Self-Knowledge) and see for yourself.
        • When done appropriately, śravaṇam produces Self-Knowledge (knowledge “I am Self”)
        • Any doubts here are to be noted. Only ask after gaining sufficient Knowledge. WRITE DOWN!
        • If doubts remain, won't convert to actuality.
      • mananam (saṃśaya nivṛtti: Doubt disappearance): REMOVING DOUBT from Gathered Knowledge to DISCOVER HOW IT's TRUE.
        • Despite listening to śāstra, parallel doubts arise in the mind while learning Vedāntic teaching. “Is it true?”. Because Vedanta is so different from our usual way of thinking, that it's unbelievable.
          • EG: Vedānta says “You are already WHOLE, COMPLETE, SECURE, TRUTH… thus all seeking is in vain”. The seer is TRUTH, the seen is UNTRUE.
        • Don't immediately ask question. First listen to teaching, then ask. Self-Knowledge in śravaṇam is WEAKENED by doubts. Meaning: Knowledge mixed with doubts (saṃśaya[doubt] sahita[associated] jñānam)
        • Fundamental doubt: Why should I accept scriptures?
        • Doubtful knowledge is NOT knowledge, but IGNORANCE.
          • EG: Suppose wire is exposed. You ask me if safe to touch. I say “it is”. As about to touch, I say “I'm 99% sure safe. And 1% chance of live power”. Will you touch? No. Else immediate liberation!
          • Meaning even 0.00001% doubt makes non-jñānam.
        • Most doubts will be answered by own Q&A. If not, then ask other students (have different perspective). Or thousands of Vedanta books answering every possible questions. Or teacher.
        • Process of Mananam: Converts Self-Knowledge to Knowledge of Conviction (niścaya-jñānam). Gained NOT through Meditation. But śravaṇam/mananam. Have to use Intellect. Because Knowledge is JOB of Intellect.
        • Śāstra says: Though intellect alone can one gain knowledge. Knowledge can't be undertaken by Mind (emotions), Ātman… only locus of gaining and assimilating knowledge is Intellect.
          • Intellect only knows ONE LANGUAGE: Reasoning. Have to reason it out. Remove doubts. And convert to Conviction “I and Īśvara enjoy the one same Truth”.
        •  Story of worm demonstrates how misapprehension of one's nature creates fear and even after resolution, fear (false notions) still remains:
          • Man thought he was a worm. Due to false identity, he had genuine fear of birds, and couldn’t go out.
          • Taken to therapy. Therapist brings worm and says “Do you look like this?”. No!
          • Doctor applied śravaṇam: You are not a worm. You are a human being (true nature). Still think self as worm? No! Discharged.
          • He goes out, and sees a bird. Scared. Goes back in.
          • Doctor: Why afraid? Don't you know you're a human!
          • Patient: I know I am a human (Brahman). But you haven't treated the WORM in me. Does the WORM know that I am a human being.
          • Meaning: patients conviction of truth is independent of world opinion. Let the world call jñāni “Mortal small ordinary nobody”. But jñāni alone knows: “I am Brahman in which the whole world arises, by which world is sustained, in which world resolves.”
        • Objection: Isn't “I am Brahman” intellectual knowledge? Yes. Every knowledge is intellectual (because all knowledge is in intellect alone).
  3. Result of Śravaṇam, Mananam: Liberation.
    • What does Liberation mean? Explained CH2.
      • Liberation is: Freedom from all inner problems, independent of external situations. Meaning free from:
        1. rāga / dveṣa
        2. kāma — lust
        3. krodha — anger
        4. lobha — greed
        5. moha — attachment . Delusory emotional attachment or temptation / infatuation
        6. mada — pride, hubris, (being possessed by)
        7. mātsarya — envy, jealousy
      • One free of above attributes = jīvan muktiḥ (Liberation/jīvan muktaḥ: Liberated one) / saintliness / sainthood
      • How to define saintliness in simple way? Gītā has many definitions.
        • Simple definition: Saintly person is one who is incapable of getting hurt by external situation. And who is incapable of hurting other people.
          • CAUTION: Depending on one's knowledge of Self, depends how one will interpret above statement. If one believes “I am Body-Mind”, then above statement will be total incorrect to what it means from one who knows Self has nothing to do with the instruments (Body-Mind) of Mithyā. See video for more explanation.
        • He/She doesn't hurt others, and not hurt by others.
        • Jīvanmuktaḥ enjoys: Śānti, samatvam (equanimity)


Keywords: adhyatma, aham kara, ahamkara, ajnani, ananda, anatma, anumana, arthapatti, atma, dhyana, dhyanam, dvesa, dvesha, ishvara, isvara, iswara, jijnasa, jivan mukta, jivan muktih, jivanmukti, jnanam, Jnanam yogyata prapti, jnani, kama, krsna, matsarya, mithya, moksa, moksha, nididhyasana, niscaya, nishcaya, papa, pramana, pramanam, praptasya prapti, Pratyaksa, Pratyaksha, punya, raga, ratnakar, sabdha, sadhana, samnyasa, samsari, samsaya nivrtti, samshaya nivritti, Sankhya, sannyasa, santi, sastra, sastram, shabda, shabhda, shanti, shastra, shastram, shravana, sravana, sri krishna, upadesa, upadesha, upamana, upanishad, upasana dhyanam, valmiki, vedanta, vicara, vidvan amrta jnanadeva, vyavaharika, yoga, yogah

Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching is given to Swami Paramarthananda

Recorded 26 March, 2019



  1. Hi Andre.
    You have pointed out that meditation is not a means to knowledge, because no matter how ecstatic the experience, it is still an experience so confined to the world of Mitya.
    Knowledge of the self is Sattvic, so therefore the experiences of meditation belongs to a different order of reality than the truths being related in The Upanishads.
    My question is this:
    In most forms of meditation that I have done, including kriya yoga, Kabbalistic meditation, Buddhist shamatha, vipashana, and the Tibetan practice of Dzochen, the claim is made that the practice takes you beyond this reality and links you to the divine.
    I think the divine being referred to is Brahma, rather than Ishvara.
    So the meditation practice and in particular the kundalini and samadhi experiences provide knowledge in the form of a direct link to the consciousness of God.
    This could be expressed many ways, but the basic proposal is that meditation takes you from one order of reality to another.
    Many of the experiences of expanded consciousness I have had in meditation seem to confirm this.

    Is it possible to gain knowledge of the self in this way?

    I am sure this is not the first time you have been asked this As many of your students that are drawn to Vedanta would be experienced meditators I think.
    I would hate to think that I have wasted the last twenty years!

    1. How can One be expanded? That contradicts Limitlessness, which means it has no opposite. One means, it is whole and complete.

      To do anything to try to “contact” that which is WHOLE, contradicts the definition of WHOLE.

      WHOLE means nothing is excluded, not even Robert. No “state” is excluded.

      WHOLE means it pervades everything right now. So there’s no question of experiencing it in the future.

      Because past, present and future is also contained in the WHOLE.

      FIRST ISSUES WITH: meditation takes you from one order of reality to another”

      This implies, my reality now is like X. 10 minutes later it’s like Y. 3 hours later it’s like Z.

      Then which reality is real? Is it X, Y or Z?

      And it doesn’t stop at Z. Because every new second is potential for a new experience.

      What’s more, when enough time is spent in Y, one soon starts to wonder what Z is like.

      Such thinking (99.99% of spirituality is dvaita) leads to infinite search for more expansion.

      Rather be immersed in a computer game. Way faster and more fun to achieve samādhi (immersion). 🙂

      SECOND ISSUES WITH: meditation takes you from one order of reality to another

      The word “you” refers to the mind. Not “you” (consciousness).

      Since Robert woke up today, the mind has undergone hundreds of experiences like: alert, dull, ambitious, confused, certain, doubtful, light, heavy, etc.

      Now, when it comes to Yoga philosophy, a certain conclusion is applied. It says:

      Through meditation, “you” can temporarily exit all these mundane daily states, and enter a MEGA-ORGASMIC SPIRITUAL HEAVEN called samādhi.

      Now take that statement in context of real life…

      Suppose wife suddenly sees Robert in some extraordinary state, and he doesn’t want to come out of it. He stays in it so long that body undergoes pain from hunger and thirst. Then dies.

      What has been accomplished? 🙂

      Wife left in tears. Didn’t say goodbye properly. One big mess.

      Even if Robert does come out, he is now in some type of experiential bliss. Making him not care about anything, because he’s in seven heaven.

      When we bring it to real life context, we can see how impractical and fantasy-like these notions become.

      “I would hate to think that I have wasted the last twenty years!”

      I don’t think this is entirely a healthy attitude. It has potential of stubbornly making us hold onto our past skills so we don’t appear like a failure in the present.

      We don’t know how it has contributed.

      What’s important is: Keep moving on.

      Most who come from Yoga world, find peace through gaining a much larger understanding of Reality through Vedanta.

  2. Thanks Andre.
    I deserved the rap over the knuckles for the wasted twenty years comment.
    I think I was having a bit of a sook!?

    Your answer is very detailed a and points out to me that I keep falling into relativity by interchanging ‘ mind’ with consciousness.

    I will ponder. ?

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