The Self and self control

The Supreme Self of one who has control over the aggregate of his body and organs, and who is tranquil, becomes manifest. [He should be equipoised] in the midst of  cold and heat, happiness and sorrow, as also honor and dishonor.

— Bhagavad-Gita, Ch VI, sloka 7

4 thoughts on “The Self and self control

  1. Hi Ramesam, Sw. Gambhirananda’s translation “becomes manifest” seems a bit puzzling here – the Self being “manifest” as everything always anyway, or neither manifest nor unmanifest because it is not matter. What kind of manifestation is pointed to here? Also, as Shankara never seizes to emphasize the supremacy of knowledge over action, the meaning of the verse cannot be that the person becomes enlightened just because he has control over body-mind. So I wonder about the implications of the word samAhita. Do you know why this translation has been chosen or how else one could translate it ? Could it be something like the Self “shining through”?

    • Thank you Sitara for spurring a discussion on the way we (particularly the old timers from India) tend to be not so fastidious in our word usage through your subtle observation. I cannot, as you might have anticipated, know why Swami Gambhirananda preferred to translate the word as “becomes manifest”, unlike the other translations as shown by Martin and Venkat.

      But in a lighter vein, I may say that we normally feel that the word, being just an inert medium, should mean what we want to say rather than ‘me’ being constricted by its sabdArtha! For example, please see to what extent some take the liberties:

      One Swami who gets often quoted here calls this verse ‘an advertisement gimmick’ of Krishna, as if ‘market development and sales kill’ were a concern for Him, who was and is considered a Jagadguru and Yogeswara, who two chapters earlier on declared that a seeker should approach a teacher ‘praNipAtena (prostrating) and pariprasnena (inquiring) sevaya (service) in order to learn’ !


  2. “To him who has mastered himself and has become serene, the higher self is completely stable…” BG, VI, 7 – trans. by A.B. van Buitenen

    “A peaceful man who has mastered himself has a higher self that is deeply concentrated… ” BG, trans. by George Thompson
    ‘completely stable’, or ‘deeply concentrated’ do not appear very apt actually, though the first seems to be preferable. I would opt for Sitara’s rendering: ‘the Self shining through’, but this may be just a personal (or subjective) preference, not based on linguistic analysis.

  3. Swami Nikhilananda’s translation:
    “He who has conquered himself and is serene in mind is constantly absorbed in the Supreme Self, alike in heat and cold, pleasure and pain, and honour and dishonour”

    Surely this is simply noting that knowledge to be really assimilated needs to be meditated upon – nididhyasana. And assimilated knowledge transforms the person so that there is no ego, equanimity.

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