Outsmarting Obstacles- Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2:61

He for whom all the senses are held in restraint, sitting intent on Me with his senses under control, his wisdom stands firm. —  Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verse 61

Alternate translation:

But submitting to Me according to his wish, when he rests absorbed in devotion to Me all the senses become restrained, and with certainty his wisdom stands firm. 

Throughout our lives and throughout our sadhana, obstacles will arise. We may not be able to change this, but we can outsmart these obstacles. In our last installment, we came up with some solutions to this ever-present dilemma. Now this verse gives us the best solution for that aspect of our lives that is our sadhana, our spiritual practices, the solution to outsmarting all obstacles to reaching union with the Absolute:

Submitting to Me according to his wish”

Surrendering to God by your own choice in the meditation room, the senses will automatically become restrained (pratyahara). 

Translations of mystical texts always take the position of using the will to try to achieve success with each step along the way, no matter what the subject of the text. We humans don’t like to submit. We think it is weak. But this verse is telling you that submission is your greatest strength, your highest choice. It is not telling you to just submit, but to submit specifically to God—this is the key.

When you submit to God, Truth, The Absolute, you have made the ultimate choice and have accessed your ultimate power. You have paved your way to resting absorbed in God. Having chosen God, the senses will come under control, not by you, but automatically they are withdrawn and their activities restrained.

Surrender specifically and ONLY to God
by your own choice
in your meditation room.

“With his senses under control”

Pratyahara, the withdrawal and restraint of the senses, happens in a state of surrender as your awareness leaves the linear world where the senses and their functions are needed. This can happen the way it does because, in this situation, you no longer need anything to bring you information. In the earlier stages you perceive directly. I later stages you don’t perceive at all—you don’t need to perceive; you are beyond being a knower knowing knowable things.

The senses are under control, but you are not doing the controlling. As the lover to the beloved, you have surrendered to That Divine One. The senses are no longer yours to control—you have surrendered them, given them back to God. Thus are pratyahara, meditation (dhyana) and samadhi (merging with God) successfully attained.

Once you have attained samadhi your experience proves this to be so—you know from our own experience that all the senses become spontaneously restrained and under control without any help from you. Until that time comes, you resort to ‘faith’, the assumption that this is so, based on the words of those who have been there. In your meditation room you are free. Once having experienced this freedom, even if only for an hour or two a day, you come to know what freedom is and what it is like to be free. Having had the experience, the way is paved to achieving it fully (moksha, liberation). So the message here is: do your sadhana, meditate.

Reading these verses (from vs 55) as descriptive of a natural sequence of events, one discovers that all this will happen on its own through surrender to God in meditation, where you give up trying to make things happen by using your will.

Jaya Bhagavan! (Victory to God!),
Durga Ma


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7 thoughts on “Outsmarting Obstacles- Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2:61

  1. Surrender only to God, I suspect, requires enough knowledge of God and about God to avoid being deceived (by myself or others). Where might this knowledge come from?


    1. Hello David,
      You ask a really important question! It is one that myself and I suspect many others have considered over the life of our sadhana. The answer I can offer is this- the most important thing is to do the sadhana, as instructed. Knowledge of the intellectual kind will come through study of self and of scripture, as well as guru and will fortify your faith until the time when your own personal experience wins the Grace of true wisdom.

      There is really nothing but God. So there is in effect no knowledge to gain. We are always at risk of deceit until we are finally at home and in the arms of this Truth.

      I feel that this question often comes up the most when people are actively looking to resolve the paradox of the relative and the absolute and fancy (consciously or unconsciously) the idea of projecting non-dualism onto relative reality in an intellectual attempt to bypass the work of being human (aka. suffering). So if it is being deceived that concerns you, I would encourage you to always come back to the basics- surrender belongs in the meditation room and the yama and niyama are the tools we use outside of the meditation room. There will be occasion when surrender spills out of the meditation room, and beautiful moments of realization bing depth and illumination to life, but the two are meant to be separate until the time when the walls come down of their own accord. If this is something that is a concern, it is another conversation all together.

      With Love,


  2. It is such a blessing to have this contact with you, Durga Ma. I certainly find that just going in meditation does tend to weaken the hold that the senses have in life.Thank you!
    This is my share:
    It’s really so amazing that the senses are automatically withdrawn in meditation. At first when I started meditating my attention wavered after a few minutes from being on some aspect of God, usually Shiva, and on to other things so I would re-surrender to God and my attention would go back on Shiva. Now, after many years of off-and-on irregular meditation my attention immediately goes to Lakulish or Shiva and stays there for quite a long time without any effort at all. And there is stillness, peace, tranquility and no thoughts, viewing or anything going on.
    In my life outside of yog sadhana I am more peaceful, calm, much less reactive to mundane matters than ever before. I feel and experience more openness, divine love in deeper acceptance of others. Many things that used to bother me or that I reacted to have and are falling away. There is much more contentment now. Also there is not so much fear that if I go on with meditation my life will fall apart. It may, I don’t know, but I’m not concerned about it anymore. Truth prevails!
    Lots of love to you,


    1. Dear Ritam,

      I am always so pleased to have you share with us. You are one of so very few people who continue to do this sadhana. What you share with us is extremely important and helpful to us all. Your continued sadhana, all the stopping and starting notwithstanding, is a blessing to the world.

      Durga Ma


      1. Thank you so much, Durga Ma. I am encouraged and inspired to continue sadhana and do more regular yog when I read your interpretations and comments on scripture. Just the focus and contemplation on Truth alone give me more direction and helps with self discipline.


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