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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Regulating sleep and work

The Lord says in Bhagavad Gītā [6.17]:


yuktāhāra-vihārasya yukta-ceṣṭasya karmasu |
yukta-svapnāvabodhasya yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā ||

"Yoga removes all distress if one is regulated and balanced in eating, moving or mating, working, sleeping and waking."

Though it is glorious to sit down in deep meditation or chant a fabulous number of rounds all day, every day on one's back side, such a lack of physical activities leads to all kinds of physical and mental malfunctions - overweight, heart problems, constipation, lack of sleep or irregular sleep to name but some. Hence it is often seen that the physicians of great sādhus and mahātmās advice them to take a stroll in the afternoon at least. 'Work' need not be in a factory or office among non-devotees necessarily. One can also be physically active in the holy places by doing parikramā or visiting temples, or in the west by going on harinām sankīrtan.

As usual, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda provides a brilliant commentary to this Gītā verse:

yukto niyata evāhāro bhojanaṁ vihāro gamanaṁ ca "Yukta means disciplined or restrained. It counts for eating as well as gamana [the words vihāra and gamana mean both 'going' and 'sexual intercourse' and the advice applies to both.] yasya tasya karmasu vyavahārika-pāramārthika-kṛtyeṣu yuktā niyatā eva ceṣṭā 'There needs to be discipline too in activities, either material and spiritual.' Here the hint is given that activities can be spiritual too - one can pick flowers for the Lord, circumambulate the temple or a holy place like Rādhākund, or perform harinam sankīrtan. Material activities are things like working on a job, bringing the children to school etc. vāg-vyāpārādyā yasya tasya - also speech must be disciplined. One should avoid discussing gossip, which inevitably leads to some kind of Vaiṣṇava aparādha, or speaking [too much] about the latest news of the world. Even too much Kṛṣṇa-kathā is unnecessary. If a nice topic is briefly discussed it should lead to lengthy meditation on Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa's rūpa-guṇa-līlā, too. Any extremity in either renunciation or sensual indulgence may lead to duḥka, distress, that is the point of the verse - na nirviṇṇo nātisaktis bhakti yogo'sya siddhi-da 'Bhakti yoga which is neither too renounced nor too materially attached, bestows perfection." See also my blog of February 20, 2009.

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