The Bhagavad Gita II:39

Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda

Yoga: Remedy for Doubt

The ultimate wisdom of Sankhya I have explained to thee. But now thou must hear about the wisdom of Yoga, equipped with which, O Partha (Arjuna), thou shalt shatter the bonds of karma.
— The Bhagavad Gita II:39

Having received instruction about the sublime wisdom of Self-realization (Sankhya),* the devotee must then learn about the secret celestial route of Yoga, by which Self-realization can be attained—the way that leads out of the prison of karma. When by yoga the ego is united to the soul, and the soul to the Spirit, the ego loses its delusion of being a mortal whose actions are governed by the law of karma.

* From Sanskrit sam, "union; completeness," and khya, "to be known; knowledge"— i.e., to have complete knowledge; to attain the ultimate wisdom, or Self-realization and God-union.

[Sankhya (Sāmkhya) is one of the six āstika schools of Hindu philosophy. It is most related to the Yoga school of Hinduism. It is strongly dualist. It philosophy regards the universe as consisting of two realities, puruṣa (consciousness) and prakṛti (matter). Jiva (a living being) is that state in which puruṣa is bonded to prakṛti in some form.]

The wisdom of the cosmos is knowledge of twenty-four principles of Nature in interplay with Spirit. All inference, perception, and understanding about creation are explained in Sankhya philosophy. Yoga is the science or techniques for practical realization of the philosophical truths of Sankhya.

The word yoga signifies "union," mergence. When the soul of man unites with the Spirit, the union is described as yoga. This yoga is the goal of every truth-seeker. Anyone who practices an effective technique to attain this supreme union is a yogi.
Realizing the theoretical Sankhya by practical Yoga has a definite meaning. The yogi "involves" creation (reverses the twenty-four evolu-tionary processes of Nature, as expounded in Sankhya), starting with matter (the grossest form of creation) and proceeding through the linked chain of the twenty-four primordial qualities, whose origin is Spirit.


24 Principles of the Evolutionary Process of Nature

According to Sankhya, the twenty-four principles of the evolutionary process of Nature, from Spirit into matter, are as follows:

(1) Prakriti (the basic creative power bringing forth all phenomena);

(2) Mahat-tattva (Cosmic Intelligence; referred to in Yoga as chitta) from which comes buddhi (individual discriminative intelligence);

(3) ahamkara (egoism);

(4) manas (mind);

(5-14) jnanendriyas and karmendriyas (ten senses—five of perception and five of action);

(15-19) tanmatras (five supersensible or abstract qualities of matter);

(20-24) mahabhutas (five subtle elements or vibratory motions, the conglomeration of which appear as gross matter in solid, liquid, fiery, gaseous, and etheric form).

In Yoga, which is concerned with the practical application of the principles by which Spirit becomes matter and by which matter can be resolved again into Spirit, Sankhya's tanmatras (abstract qualities of matter) and the mahabhutas (subtle elements of gross matter that arise from the tanmatras) are implicitly included as one. The five pranas, or life forces, are enumerated instead of the tanmatras. Elaborated on, the Sankhya-Yoga cosmology is as follows:

Prakriti is the creative power of God, the aspect of Spirit as creative Mother Nature—Pure Nature or Holy Ghost. As such it is imbued with the seed of twenty-four attributes, the workings of which give birth to all manifestation.

From Prakriti evolve

(1) chitta (intelligent consciousness, the power of feeling—the basic mental consciousness—Sankhya's Mahat-tattva), inherent in which are

(2) ahamkara (ego);

(3) buddhi (discriminative intelligence); and

(4) manas (sense mind). From chitta, polarized by manas and buddhi, arise five causal creative principles (panchatattvas) that are the quintessence and root causes of the remaining twenty evolutes of creation. These causal principles are acted upon by the three gunas, or qualities, of Nature (sattva, rajas, and tamas) and become manifested as

(5-9) the jnanendriyas (five instruments of sense perception);

(10-14) the karmendriyas (five instruments of action);

(15-19) the mahabhutas (or mahatattvas: earth, water, fire, air, and ether—the five subtle vibratory "elements" or individualized forces (motions) of the Cosmic Creative Vibration);

(20-24) the five pranas (five instruments of life force empowering circulation, crystallization, assimilation, metabolism, and elimination). The pranas, together with the five subtle vibratory elements, inform all matter in solid, liquid, fiery, gaseous, and etheric form.


By ascent of the consciousness through the subtle centers of life and spiritual awakening in the spine, the yogi learns the inner science of changing the consciousness of gross matter into the consciousness of its primordial principles. He resolves the five vibratory elements along with their manifestation of the five senses, five organs of action, and five life forces from grosser to finer principles: changing the consciousness of vibratory earth into the consciousness of vibratory water; the consciousness of water into that of vibratory fire; the consciousness of fire into that of vibratory air; the consciousness of air into that of vibratory ether; the consciousness of ether into that of mind (sense consciousness or manas); the consciousness of mind into that of discrimination (buddhi); the consciousness of discrimination into that of ego (ahamkam); the consciousness of ego into that of feeling (chitta). By thus dissolving the twenty-four principles successively into one another, the yogi then merges the consciousness of feeling into that of the primordial cosmic vibratory force (Aum), and the consciousness of Aum into Spirit. He thereby reaches the Ultimate Unity—the One from whom has sprung the many.

By gradual steps the yogi in this way converts all consciousness of matter into the consciousness of Spirit. This realization is not attainable through either reason or imagination, but solely through intuitive experience. Such experience is, in nearly all cases, the result of practicing meditation and yoga techniques as taught by the great sages of ancient and modern India.