Gita Chapter 6, Verse 5 – uplift the self by the self

Here is Sri Aurobindo on the Gita Chapter 6, Verse 5


uddhared atmanatmanam natmanam avasadayet
atmaiva hy atmano bandhur atmaiva ripur atmanah

Translation: One must uplift the (lower) self by the (higher) self; one must not degrade it. The (lower) self is the friend of the (higher) self and also it’s enemy.

Prefatory note: There are two Selfs within us:

  1. The Lower Self is an apparition created by our consciousness due to our false identification with the physical body. It is the ego which says, “I am this body. I am this personality. I am the natural being doing all these things.”
  2. The Higher Self is the Soul, the immutable portion of the Divine within us, which, after being freed from the egoistic identification, stands back from our actions and effectively governs over our nature, admitting and rejecting actions as necessary.

Biblical similarity:

This verse is similar to the following verse in the Bible.

“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it” – Luke 17:33

Sri Aurobindo’s exposition of the above verse from his works:

The pure philosopher, the thinker, the born sage not only relies upon the sattwic principle in him as his ultimate justification, but uses it from the beginning as his instrument of self-mastery. He starts from the sattwic equality. He too observes the transitoriness of the material and external world and its failure to satisfy the desires or to give the true delight, but this causes in him no grief, fear or disappointment. He observes all with an eye of tranquil discernment and makes his choice without repulsion or perplexity. “The enjoyments born of the touches of things are causes of sorrow, they have a beginning and an end; therefore the sage, the man of awakened understanding, budhah does not place his delight in these.” “The self in him is unattached to the touches of external things; he finds his happiness in himself.” He sees, as the Gita puts it, that he is himself his own enemy and his own friend, and therefore he takes care not to dethrone himself by casting his being into the hands of desire and passion, nātmānam avasādayet, but delivers himself out of that imprisonment by his own inner power, uddhared ātmanātmānam; for whoever has conquered his lower self, finds in his higher self his best friend and ally. He becomes satisfied with knowledge, master of his senses, a Yogin by sattwic equality, – for equality is Yoga, samatvam yoga ucyate, – regarding alike clod and stone and gold, tranquil and self-poised in heat and cold, suffering and happiness, honour and disgrace.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita: Equality

“By the self thou shouldst deliver the self, thou shouldst not depress and cast down the self (whether by self-indulgence or suppression); for the self is the friend of the self and the self is the enemy. To the man is his self a friend in whom the (lower) self has been conquered by the (higher) self, but to him who is not in possession of his (higher) self, the (lower) self is as if an enemy and it acts as an enemy.” When one has conquered one’s self and attained to the calm of a perfect self-mastery and self-possession, then is the supreme self in a man founded and poised even in his outwardly conscious human being, samāhita. In other words, to master the lower self by the higher, the natural self by the spiritual is the way of man’s perfection and liberation.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita: The Determinism of Nature

2 thoughts on “Gita Chapter 6, Verse 5 – uplift the self by the self

  1. Pingback: Transcending the work-leisure cycle « Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

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