Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 6, Verse 16

नात्यश्नतस्तु योगोऽस्ति न चैकान्तमनश्नत: |
न चाति स्वप्नशीलस्य जाग्रतो नैव चार्जुन || 16||

nātyaśhnatastu yogo ’sti na chaikāntam anaśhnataḥ
na chāti-svapna-śhīlasya jāgrato naiva chārjuna

nanot; atitoo much; aśhnataḥof one who eats; tuhowever; yogaḥYog; astithere is; nanot; chaand; ekāntamat all; anaśhnataḥabstaining from eating; nanot; chaand; atitoo much; svapna-śhīlasyaof one who sleeps; jāgrataḥof one who does not sleep enough; nanot; evacertainly; chaand; arjunaArjun

Translation

BG 6.16: O Arjun, those who eat too much or eat too little, sleep too much or too little, cannot attain success in Yog.

Commentary

After describing the object of meditation and the end-goal achieved by it, Shree Krishna gives some regulations to follow. He states that those who break the rules of bodily maintenance cannot be successful in Yog. Often beginners on the path, with their incomplete wisdom state: “You are the soul and not this body. So simply engage in spiritual activity, forgetting about the maintenance of the body.”

However, such a philosophy cannot get one too far. It is true that we are not the body, yet the body is our carrier as long as we live, and we are obliged to take care of it. The Ayurvedic text, Charak Samhitā states: śharīra mādhyaṁ khalu dharma sādhanam [v11] “The body is the vehicle for engaging in religious activity.” If the body becomes unwell, then spiritual pursuits get impeded too. The Ramayan states: tanu binu bhajana veda nahiṅ varanā [v12] “The Vedas do not recommend that we ignore the body, while engaging in spirituality.” In fact, they instruct us to take good care of our body with the help of material science. The Īśhopaniṣhad states:

andhaṁ tamaḥ praviśhanti ye ’vidyām upāsate

tato bhūya iva te tamo ya u vidyāyām ratāḥ (9)[v13]

“Those who cultivate only material science go to hell. But those who cultivate only spiritual science go to an even darker hell.” Material science is necessary for the maintenance of our body, while spiritual science is necessary for the manifestation of the internal divinity within us. We must balance both in our lives to reach the goal of life. Hence, yogāsans, prāṇāyām, and the science of proper diet are an essential part of Vedic knowledge. Each of the four Vedas has its associate Veda for material knowledge. The associate Veda of Atharva Veda is Ayurveda, which is the hoary science of medicine and good health. This demonstrates that the Vedas lay emphasis on the maintenance of physical health. Accordingly, Shree Krishna says that overeating or not eating at all, extreme activity or complete inactivity, etc. are all impediments to Yog. Spiritual practitioners should take good care of their body, by eating fresh nutritious food, doing daily exercise, and getting the right amount of sleep every night.