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O Madhusudana, the system of yoga which You have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady

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"O Madhusudana, the system of yoga which You have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady" |"O Madhusudana, the system of yoga which You have summarized, appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady"

Bhagavad-gita As It Is

BG Preface and Introduction

Arjuna said: O Madhusūdana, the system of yoga which You have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady.
BG Introduction:

In this material world, in order to maintain the body one has to work. Human society is divided, according to work, into four divisions of social order—brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra. The brāhmaṇa class or intelligent class is working in one way, the kṣatriya or administrative class is working in another way, and the mercantile class and the laborers are all tending to their specific duties. In the human society, whether one is a laborer, merchant, administrator or farmer, or even if one belongs to the highest class and is a literary man, a scientist or a theologian, he has to work in order to maintain his existence. The Lord therefore tells Arjuna that he need not give up his occupation, but while he is engaged in his occupation he should remember Kṛṣṇa (mām anusmara (BG 8.7)). If he doesn't practice remembering Kṛṣṇa while he is struggling for existence, then it will not be possible for him to remember Kṛṣṇa at the time of death. Lord Caitanya also advises this. He says, kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ: (CC Adi 17.31) one should practice chanting the names of the Lord always. The names of the Lord and the Lord are nondifferent. So Lord Kṛṣṇa's instruction to Arjuna to "remember Me" and Lord Caitanya's injunction to "always chant the names of Lord Kṛṣṇa" are the same instruction. There is no difference, because Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa's name are nondifferent. In the absolute status there is no difference between reference and referent. Therefore we have to practice remembering the Lord always, twenty-four hours a day, by chanting His names and molding our life's activities in such a way that we can remember Him always.

How is this possible? The ācāryas give the following example. If a married woman is attached to another man, or if a man has an attachment for a woman other than his wife, then the attachment is to be considered very strong. One with such an attachment is always thinking of the loved one. The wife who is thinking of her lover is always thinking of meeting him, even while she is carrying out her household chores. In fact, she carries out her household work even more carefully so her husband will not suspect her attachment. Similarly, we should always remember the supreme lover, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and at the same time perform our material duties very nicely. A strong sense of love is required here. If we have a strong sense of love for the Supreme Lord, then we can discharge our duty and at the same time remember Him. But we have to develop that sense of love. Arjuna, for instance, was always thinking of Kṛṣṇa; he was the constant companion of Kṛṣṇa, and at the same time he was a warrior. Kṛṣṇa did not advise him to give up fighting and go to the forest to meditate. When Lord Kṛṣṇa delineates the yoga system to Arjuna, Arjuna says that the practice of this system is not possible for him.

arjuna uvāca
yo 'yaṁ yogas tvayā proktaḥ
sāmyena madhusūdana
etasyāhaṁ na paśyāmi
cañcalatvāt sthitiṁ sthirām

"Arjuna said: O Madhusūdana, the system of yoga which You have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady." (BG 6.33)

But the Lord says:

yoginām api sarveṣāṁ
mad-gatenāntarātmanā
śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ
sa me yuktatamo mataḥ

"Of all yogīs, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion." (BG 6.47) So one who thinks of the Supreme Lord always is the greatest yogī, the supermost jñānī, and the greatest devotee at the same time. The Lord further tells Arjuna that as a kṣatriya he cannot give up his fighting, but if Arjuna fights remembering Kṛṣṇa, then he will be able to remember Kṛṣṇa at the time of death. But one must be completely surrendered in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.

BG Chapters 1 - 6

O Madhusūdana, the system of yoga which You have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady.
BG 6.33, Translation and Purport:

Arjuna said: O Madhusūdana, the system of yoga which You have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady.

The system of mysticism described by Lord Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna beginning with the words śucau deśe and ending with yogī paramaḥ is here being rejected by Arjuna out of a feeling of inability. It is not possible for an ordinary man to leave home and go to a secluded place in the mountains or jungles to practice yoga in this Age of Kali. The present age is characterized by a bitter struggle for a life of short duration. People are not serious about self-realization even by simple, practical means, and what to speak of this difficult yoga system, which regulates the mode of living, the manner of sitting, selection of place, and detachment of the mind from material engagements. As a practical man, Arjuna thought it was impossible to follow this system of yoga, even though he was favorably endowed in many ways. He belonged to the royal family and was highly elevated in terms of numerous qualities; he was a great warrior, he had great longevity, and, above all, he was the most intimate friend of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Five thousand years ago, Arjuna had much better facilities than we do now, yet he refused to accept this system of yoga. In fact, we do not find any record in history of his practicing it at any time. Therefore this system must be considered generally impossible in this Age of Kali. Of course it may be possible for some very few, rare men, but for the people in general it is an impossible proposal. If this were so five thousand years ago, then what of the present day? Those who are imitating this yoga system in different so-called schools and societies, although complacent, are certainly wasting their time. They are completely in ignorance of the desired goal.

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Now, there is the crucial test of yoga system. If you can concentrate your mind on the form of Viṣṇu, the process has been described previously that you have to sit like this, you have to look like this, you have to live like this, so many things we have already discussed.
Lecture on BG 6.30-34 -- Los Angeles, February 19, 1969:

Viṣṇujana: Verse thirty-three: "O Madhusūdana, the system of yoga which You have summarized, appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady (BG 6.33)."

Prabhupāda: Now, there is the crucial test of yoga system. If you can concentrate your mind on the form of Viṣṇu, the process has been described previously that you have to sit like this, you have to look like this, you have to live like this, so many things we have already discussed. But Arjuna said that "It is very difficult for me." We have to understand this point. He says, "O Madhusūdana, the system of yoga which You have summarized," this system is called aṣṭāṅga-yoga. Aṣṭāṅga-yoga, eight different parts. Yama, niyama. First of all controlling the senses, following the rules and regulation, then practicing the sitting posture. Then exercising the breathing process. Then concentrate your mind. Then be absorbed in the form. There are eight processes, aṣṭāṅga-yoga.

So Arjuna said, "This aṣṭāṅga-yoga system is very difficult." He says, that, "Impractical." Appears not impractical. For him. Just like, it is not impractical. If it is impractical then Kṛṣṇa would not have described and taken so much trouble. It is not impractical, but appears. What one thing may be impractical for me but practical for you, that is a different thing. But generally this system is impractical for ordinary common man. Arjuna is representing himself as a common man in the sense that he was not a mendicant or he has renounced his family life or he has no connection with his bread problem. Because he was on the warfield to fight for the kingdom. So he's supposed to be an ordinary man. So for ordinary men who are engaged in these worldly activities for earning livelihood, family life, children, wife, so many problems, it is not practical. That is the point here. It is practical for one who has already renounced everything completely. In a secluded sacred place, just like in the hill or in the cave of the hill, alone, no public disturbance. So where is the opportunity for ordinary man, for us, especially in this age? Therefore this yoga system is not practical. It is admitted by Arjuna, who was a great warrior. And he was so advanced, he belonged to the royal family and very expert in so many things. He said that it is impractical. Just try to understand. And what we are in comparison to Arjuna? If we try this system, it is not possible. Failure is sure. Go on reading the purport.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1974 Conversations and Morning Walks

Yoga, this yoga system means controlling the mind. But 5,000 years ago a person like Arjuna, who had his friend Kṛṣṇa, he is saying that it is not possible for him. And at the present moment people are so degraded—not in the position of Arjuna—how they can get success? He is not ordinary man.
Room Conversation with Mr. Tran-van-Kha, and President & Members of the Society of Buddhists in France -- June 15, 1974, Paris:

Yogeśvara:

arjuna uvāca
yo 'yaṁ yogas tvayā proktaḥ
sāmyena madhusūdana
etasyāhaṁ na paśyāmi
cañcalatvāt sthitiṁ sthirām

(French translation) "Arjuna said, O Madhusūdana, the system of yoga which you have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady."

Prabhupāda: Yoga, this yoga system means controlling the mind. But 5,000 years ago a person like Arjuna, who had his friend Kṛṣṇa, he is saying that it is not possible for him. And at the present moment people are so degraded—not in the position of Arjuna—how they can get success? He is not ordinary man. Such a great warrior belonged to the royal family, and so qualified that he could talk with Kṛṣṇa personally, he says that it is not possible. So, do you think that you are..., become more than Arjuna that you can get success?

Pṛthu Putra: Translating into French.

Prabhupāda: Read this second verse, cañcalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa pramāthi balavad dṛḍham.

Yogeśvara:

cañcalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa
pramāthi balavad dṛḍham
tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye
vāyor iva suduṣkaram
(BG 6.34)

(French translation) "For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Kṛṣṇa, and to subdue it is, it seems to me, more difficult than controlling the wind."

Prabhupāda: So Arjuna is presenting his inability, and what we are?

Guest (3): (French)

Yogeśvara: He says, in history there was the mystery of the sphinxes of Egypt, do these sphinxes carry any significance?

Prabhupāda: Hum?

Yogeśvara: Is the pyramid and the sphinx in Egypt civilization are any mystic significance?

Pṛthu Putra: It's a great relevance for the Egyptian civilization.

Prabhupāda: Yes, it is just like samādhi. Samādhi, when you become samādhi, then if you're, I mean to say, put within the earth, you do not die.