The purpose of meditation is described in the Bhagavad Gita in the 13th chapter. It says
Dhyanenatmani pasyanti kecidatmanamaatmana XIII 24
Yogis behold or perceive the Self in the self by the self by means of meditation. This means that the Yogis develop a power by the self by means of which they can perceive the Self in the self (of others too). This is the meaning of the assertion ‘aatmaanam atmani aatmana pasyanti’ in the verse mentioned above. Many commentators have interpreted the assertion made by the Gita differently. The idea mentioned in the assertion implies that the knower of the Self becomes the very Self. This is the highest truth embodied in the Upanishads. The Bhagavad Gita has described the abstract truths given in the Upanishads in a more detailed manner.
The Gita says that meditation requires more attention on the part of the Yogi. In fact it needs a prolonged effort on the part of the practitioner. This is possibly because of the fact that it comes after dharana in the list of the eight limbs of Yoga as stated by Patanjali. Hence dhyana or meditation requires an extra effort on the part of the practitioner in trying to strengthen his concentration.
The methodology involved in meditation is described in the 6th chapter called Dhyana Yoga or the Yoga of meditation of the Bhagavad Gita. It says a Yogi, through meditation, should concentrate his mind living alone in solitude, having gained a superb control over his mind and body getting rid of all desires in the process. This is the process of meditation. The Yogi should lose his thoughts about possessions during meditation.
Yogi yunjita satatamaatmaanam rahasi sthitah
Ekaki yatacittatma nirasiraparigrahah VI 10
The word ‘ekaki’ is to be understood in the sense of living in solitude. He is not affected by the disturbances and the agitations caused by the outer agents. He is unperturbed by the agitations caused by the inner agents as well due to his control over the mind. This kind of situation is reached by his presence in solitude. The Yogi is a ‘niraasi’ meaning ‘free from all sorts of hopes or desires’. In meditation, a Yogi becomes free from desires. The quality of ‘aparigraha’ is also attained by the Yogi in meditation. Aparigraha means non-possession. The Gita says that a true Yogi is one who commits no sin even when he is all by himself.
The process of meditation is described in the Gita as follows:
Having firmly seated in a clean place, his seat neither high nor low should be covered by the kusa grass or the skin of a deer and a cloth too. They should be placed one over the other. Having seated on such a seat, the Yogi should make his mind one pointed and should restrain from all thoughts and sense objects to practice meditation for self-purification. Thus it can be understood from the process mentioned above that the very purpose of meditation is to attain purification of the self. This is the truth about meditation enjoined in the Bhagavad Gita.
Sucau dese pratishtahapya sthiramaasanamaatmanah
Naatyucchitam naatinicam cailaajinakusottaram
Tatraikagram manah kritva yatacitendriyakriyah
Upavisyasane yunjyadyogamaatmavisuddhaye VI 11 & 12
The practitioner of meditation should then hold his body, head and neck erect and still. He should then look at the tip of his nose and should not look around when in meditation. It is understood from the description of meditation in the Bhagavad Gita that a Yogi should not close his eyes completely when he sits firmly in meditation. Instead he should gaze only at the tip of his nose and ensure that he does not close his eyes completely. This has to be followed with all care and attention when it comes to practicing meditation. The Gita says ‘samprekshya naasikagram’. The word ‘naasika’ in Sanskrit means ‘nose’. The word ‘agram’ means ‘the tip’.
The Gita says that the person who sits in meditation as per the procedure described above should think only about the God and nothing else. Krishna says ‘Calm and fearless, the Yogi should sit firm in the vow of a Brahmachari or a celibate with a total control over his mind. He should continue to meditate on me or should think about me and intent on me alone’. Krishna says:
Manah samyamya maccitto yuktah aasita matparah VI 14
The word ‘macchittah’ in the assertion made above means ‘intent on me’. The word ‘mat’ or ‘me’ is interpreted differently by different commentators. Some commentators feel that the word ‘mat’ refers to the Supreme Brahman or the Absolute Bliss for which the Yogi sits in meditation. The word ‘mat’ also refers to Krishna himself who is the abode of the Supreme Bliss. Similarly the word ‘mat’ may refer to any object or thing that is considered as the manifestation of the Almighty. A Yogi can thus have before him any object or a thing that is considered a manifestation of the Supreme God and meditate upon that particular object or thing. This is one of the techniques of meditation. This is why the phrase ‘without looking around’ is given in the process of meditation. The person who meditates should cast his glace towards the tip of his nose without looking around. The phrase goes as ‘dishascanavalokanam’ in the 13 the verse of the 6th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.
The final moments of meditation are also described in the verse 15 of the 6th chapter as follows:
The Yogi should keep himself steadfast in this manner. He should continue to subdue his mind. Finally he attains the peace abiding in the Supreme Brahman. He finds the path to liberation.
Santim nirvanaparamaam matsamsthaamadhigacchati VI 15
The word ‘santi’ has the meaning of ‘peace’. The Yogi is bestowed with peace if he performs meditation as prescribed above with steadfast mind and devotion. Peace consists in the realization of the bliss abiding in the God or the Brahman. Here Krishna speaks of himself as the abode of Bliss and Peace.