yada hi nendriyaartheshu na karmasvanushajjate |
sarvasankalpasannyaasi yogaaroodhastadochyate || 4 ||

When one does not find attachment in sense objects and in actions, when one has renounced all projections, at that time one is said to have been established in yoga.

yada : when
hi : for
na : not
indriyaartheshu : in sense objects
na : not
karmasu : in actions
anushajjate : attached to
sarva : all
sankalpa : projections, urge to go outward
sannyaasi : one who has renounced
yogaaroodhaha : established in yoga
tadaa : at that time
uchyate : is called

Having introduced the qualification of a meditator to be “yogaaroodha”, Shri Krishna now explains what that term really means. He says that it refers to a person who no longer gets attracted or attached to sense objects and actions. This happens because that person finds contentment within himself and does not need to rush out into the world, in other words, he does not have sankalpas.

So far we have understood sankalpa to mean desire. Now, let us understand the deeper meaning of sankalpa. As we have seen throughout the Gita, ignorance of our true self is the root cause of all our sorrows. Ignorance makes us think that we are incomplete. It causes desires that push the mind to go outward to seek happiness. This outward projection is called sankalpa. Typically, sankalpa is seen in the urge to give undue importance to objects, and to actions.

No matter how much we want to deny it, each one of us has a weakness for certain material objects. We think that those objects will give us happiness, peace, security, stability and so on. But if we follow path of karmayoga diligently, the undue importance we place on objects slowly diminishes.

As an example, compare the experience of a child walking in a toystore to that of an adult doing the same thing. The minute the child enters into the store, each object pulls the child towards itself, as it were. The pull is so strong that the child thinks that he cannot live without these toys. A multitude of desires get generated in his mind. He gets excited and restless. But if an adult walks into the toy store, he may very well appreciate the toys, but there is no urge or force that compels him to get attached to any toy. Once our outlook towards all objects of the world is like that adult in a toy store, we are fit for meditation.

Similarly, we have a fascination towards performance of actions. But when we deeply examine our actions, we realize that most of these are performed due to a herd mentality, in other words, because everyone else is doing it, and because we think we will be left out of a group if we do not perform those actions. Many of us pursue educational and career paths by emulating what someone else had done.

Another reason that we perform actions is for strengthening our ego (asmita). Our ego puffs up when we say “I did this”. We forget that actions are part of nature, that they are happening of their own accord. For instance, we do not boast when we have taken a shower or when one of our hands puts a bandage on another hand. So it is only when we have a similar attitude towards all actions that we perform, that we become fit for meditation.

A child eventually stops putting his finger in the fire, having burned it each time. Similarly our sankalpa, our need to act for gaining objects diminishes as the wisdom gained through contemplation increases. When this wisdom dawns and we diminish our attachment to action and objects, we become yogaroodha or established in dhyaana yoga. In other words, we become qualified for meditation.

This journey to meditation seems arduous. How can we get some support? Who can help us? The next shloka goes into this topic.