Bhagwad Gita Sloka 2.58 (Parisamvad)

Bhagwad Gita Transcribed from Parisamvad at The Yoga Institute.

Chapter 2, Sloka 58

One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness.

What the Gita is saying is something simple – keep your mind on something for long. Unfortunately, we have not trained the mind like that. The mind wants to find out new things around, trying to act on them and is never able to stay on one object continuously for a long time. The same thing happens in spiritual development. The attention should be on a spiritual goal – mind stable, concentrated on spiritual life. We just can’t stay there. It is not interesting, we do not want to waste time, we have many other important things to do. We have lots of arguments. One keeps on jumping from one thing to another all the time. In the process, spiritual life and spiritual understanding is very very poor for us. We use the words but we don’t know the contents.

The example of tortoise is given. It withdraws its limbs in the shell and remains there for long. It catches the vibrations of any inimical object around and doesn’t allow the head or legs to come out. For a very long time tortoise can stay that way. In the case of humans it is not so. The founder Shri Yogendraji used to tell us how he together with one of the famous philosopher of India, Mr. S.N. Dasgupta, were climbing the stairs of the library in Calcutta. They were having some deep conversation. The great philosopher looks around and sees a young girl walking and he forgets the conversation and is looking at the young girl all the time. If that is the story of the great philosopher; with ordinary people it is worse. We can’t keep stable on any object and not at all on a spiritual object. This is what this Sloka tells us, how we are and what we have to do. Unfortunately we do not see this as our target. How much more money I can make, that is uppermost. How much better I can look, is high in priority. How much I can control the senses, just doesn’t occur. We take it as natural, normal and in fact we enjoy this way. We have never made these things important. Our whole life is going that way.

Occasionally some people like Mr. Buch (a Sadhaka present in the Parisamvad) may set something and work but most of us don’t. For us, the other things are important. These things appear very petty. Actually these petty things have to be taken up. If during the day I did not speak something harsh or loud and I keep watching that – that will be a great achievement. But we take it as very ordinary. We are thinking of conquering Mount Everest and these little things are left. Learning yoga and such systems, we should not think of Samadhi and all these high things. We should think of the low things. In Ahimsa there are 81 varieties – did I allow someone to cause Himsa – was it verbally allowed – mentally allowed –did I make a show? Each of this can be taken care of. Putting efforts at very low level could be the answer, instead of aiming at something high.

To gain steadiness, all the senses have to be controlled. The sensory organs create sensations. They are with the sensory objects where you are interested. Then the interest starts, there are likes. If you don’t get what you like, then you get angry, perturbed. So all that starts. The solution is all the sensory organs have to be withdrawn. The example is given of the tortoise. A little danger and it withdraws all the limbs inside. This is symbolic. The Yogis say do not get too much into sensation, pleasures. If you feel that you are going to get lost, withdraw. Otherwise the mind will become unsteady. Unsteady mind means ruin, life is finished. This is a very important Sloka. All of us have to become very cautious in life. Prevention is the suggestion.

There is a story – A man went to Kabir, to keep his valuables as he was going for a long pilgrimage. Kabir refused, he said I don’t want to touch money. The man was sad, so he went to Kabir’s son Kamaal. Kamaal also was a great philosopher and he had a separate house. The man pleaded to him to keep his valuables. Kamaal said, I don’t touch money, but you can dig a hole anywhere in the house, keep the valuables, cover it and go. This is the difference. One side there is total caution; the other side (one is not having personal interest at all) has a helping nature. Kabir was also helpful, but he was cautious. Unfortunately we are very gullible, impressionable. Something will always bother us. Sometimes we think, what will happen if I smoke once, or drink once? There are chances that if there is some problem later then one may start drinking regularly. But if one has never had drinks, then no matter how grave the problem might be, one will not even think of drinking. Let us be away from all wrong things. We have to be very very cautious.

About Parisamvad

On every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, The Yoga Institute, Santacruz holds Parisamvad sessions – Free interactive sessions that are open to all. These session begin at 7:20 am and end around 7:45 am.
The Tuesday Parisamvad is dedicated to explanation of the the Bhagwad Gita by our esteemed Gurus, Dr. Jayadeva and Smt. Hansaji.
All are welcome to attend.

Click Here to learn more about The Yoga Institute, Santacruz, Mumbai.

(Shloka and its English translation taken from
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