“He incarnates in different forms such as Rama, Narasimha, Varaha and Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He descends like a human being, as the son of Mother Yashoda, and He is known as Krishna, Govinda and Vasudeva. He is the perfect child, husband, friend and master, and He is full with all opulences and transcendental qualities. If one remains fully conscious of these features of the Lord, he is called the highest yogi.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.47 Purport)
Yoga is the linking of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. Real yoga is difficult to accomplish; it is not meant to be a one-hour class attended in the morning, mixed in with the hustle and bustle of material life. Not that such yoga is lacking in benefits; any step made towards purifying consciousness is a positive move towards fulfilling the destiny of the valuable human birth.
But real yoga is beyond gymnastics. It has residual health benefits for sure, as the aim is to remove the influence of the temporary body. Every living being is spirit soul at the core. They may have different coverings, and thereby different tendencies, but this doesn’t mean that those tendencies define them. We see that people of a certain race look a certain way. We see that people from a particular region of a country have a certain behavior. Yet this doesn’t mean that all people of a race and all people of a region are the same. The soul is the same in quality, and it can appear in any species and in any region. Therefore the external features are temporary and not permanently accurate for identification purposes.
tapasvibhyo ‘dhiko yogī
jñānibhyo ‘pi mato ‘dhikaḥ
karmibhyaś cādhiko yogī
tasmād yogī bhavārjuna
“A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.46)
In the Bhagavad-gita the yogi gets high praise by the most praiseworthy person, Shri Krishna. The Supreme Lord says that the yogi is superior to the ascetic. This makes sense because the rewards from undergoing austerities for the purpose of elevation to the higher planets are limiting. We hear of the many fasting days in a specific religion, and they are kinds of austerity. With this voluntarily accepted suffering, there is the benefit of pious credits accumulated for the afterlife.
The yogi is superior to the empiricist, known as the jnani. This is because knowledge is also limiting. I may know how to build a car engine from scratch, but unless I actually do something with that knowledge, it is more or less for vanity’s sake. The yogi is also superior to the fruitive worker, as the results to action are temporary.
But Krishna makes an additional stipulation. He says that of all yogis, one who worships Him and abides in Him is the best. Is there any other kind of yoga? Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He can be realized in different ways; some of them reveal Krishna more directly than others. There is the light of transcendence known as Brahman or the brahmajyoti. This is the destination for the jnana-yogis. There is the expansion of the Supersoul, which resides within every heart. This is the object of meditation for the mystic yogis.
By saying that the best yogi meditates on Him, Krishna is referring to Himself, the person, or one of His personal incarnations. In addition to connecting with the full representation of God, superior to that of Supersoul, there are specific features that make this style of meditation most beneficial.
1. He is the perfect child.
Though attempting to get beyond the dualities of heat and cold, birth and death, childhood and adulthood, the yogi can still find these features in their object of meditation. The idea is that childhood can exist in a spiritual way. This is shown in Krishna’s time spent in the farm community of Vrindavana. God the person descended there some five thousand years ago and gave pleasure to everyone. He was mild when necessary, naughty at times, and always endearing. He was known as the butter thief, and this delighted everyone.
2. He is the perfect husband.
The word for husband in Sanskrit is “pati.” This also means “lord” and “protector.” The wife is the dependent of the husband, and in God you get the greatest protector for the dependents. Since He is almighty and unlimited, He is not forced to limit Himself to only one wife. During His time on earth, Krishna acted as the ideal husband for more than 16,000 wives. They all renounced everything and accepted only Him as their husband. He never refuses His devotees; this includes their specific mood of worship. Krishna is such a perfect husband that one time He travelled all the way to the heavenly planets simply to get a flower that His wife desired.
“Krishna had experienced that when Rukmini was offered a parijata flower by Narada Muni, Satyabhama had become envious of her co-wife and had immediately demanded a similar flower from Krishna. In fact, she could not be pacified until she was promised the whole tree. That was actually done by Krishna; the tree was brought down to the earth planet from the heavenly kingdom.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 5)
3. He is the perfect friend.
There is the saying that a friend in need is a friend indeed. The cowherd boys in Vrindavana were often in need due to fiends invading from the nearby town of Mathura. These people came to attack with deadly force, and they were looking for Krishna. Whenever the friends were in need, they relied on the son of Yashoda and Nanda. He saved them every time. When they weren’t in danger, they enjoyed roaming the fields during the day with Him. They would take lunch together, tend to the calves, and play various games.
4. He is the perfect master.
Though Krishna was great friends with His cousin Arjuna, when the time came for giving guidance He did not hesitate. Arjuna needed someone to purge his doubts over a very important matter. Krishna was there with him, guiding his chariot on the battlefield. Krishna’s teachings to Arjuna became famously known as the Bhagavad-gita, in which the explanation of real yoga is found. Krishna removed Arjuna’s doubts because He is the original spiritual master, the guru of the universe.
5. He is full with all opulences and transcendental qualities.
The yogi concentrates on the Supersoul within the heart, which they initially think is lacking form. After all, I can’t see the soul inside of me or the soul inside of you. How, then, can I see the Supersoul? But in fact we know from Vedic teachings that the Supersoul has the form of Lord Vishnu, which is beautiful and four-handed.
Shri Krishna is the superior object of meditation for the yogi because they can better perceive the transcendental form of God through Him. They can realize His opulences, which are unlimited. Krishna has every great feature you can imagine. He has every amazing quality, exhibited across all times and all spaces. Thus the yogi never runs out of things to contemplate, and from their fixed concentration they achieve the rare benediction of uninterrupted love and devotion to God. They reach the pinnacle of yoga practice and never return to the cycle of birth and death.
Seeing Krishna best yogi is He,
All Lord’s opulences in full to see.
How as son He is the best,
Protecting one wife and all the rest.
For the cowherd boys in fear living,
Protection from demons to them giving.
Yogi’s concentration to break never,
Can contemplate Lord’s features forever.