Yam - In Gita Verse 2.48 Perform your duty equipoised, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga.
Krishna is talking regarding inner-discipline of Yoga - yam (inner discipline, direction, centering). Asking Arjuna to perform his duty as a Kshatriya, and also as a messenger of universe. Unless first he becomes kshatriya he will not be able to bring his inner discipline. Once he will balance with his inner discipline, direction and centreing he will not be able to balance himself, without balance he will not be able to do his duty by abandoning all attachments.
A man of awareness will become immediately aware that death and sex are one energy, and a total culture, a whole culture, a holy culture, will accept both. It will not be lopsided; it will not move to one extreme and avoid the other. Each moment you are both life and death. To understand this is to transcend duality. The whole effort of Yoga is how to transcend.
Yam is meaningful because when a person becomes aware of death, only then is a life of self-discipline possible. If you are only aware of sex, of life, and you have been avoiding death – escaping from it, closing your eyes to it, keeping it always at the back, throwing it into the unconscious – then you will not create a life of self-discipline. For what? Then your life will be a life of indulgence – eat, drink. be merry. Nothing is wrong in it, but, in itself, this is not the whole picture. This is just a part, and when you take the part as the whole, you miss; you miss tremendously.
Animals are without any awareness of death: that’s why there is no possibility for Patanjali to teach animals. No possibility because no animal will be ready for self-discipline. The animal will ask, “For what?” There is only life, there is no death, because the animal is not aware that he is going to die. If you become aware that you are going to die, then immediately you start rethinking about life. Then you would like death to be absorbed in life.
When death is absorbed in life yam is born: a life of discipline. Then you live but you always live with the remembrance of death. You move but you always know that you are moving towards death. You enjoy but you always know that this is not going to last forever. Death becomes your shadow, part of your being, part of your perspective. You have absorbed death; now self-discipline will be possible. Now you will think, “How to live?” because life is not the goal now: death is also part of it. How to live so that you can live and die also beautifully? How to live so that not only does life become a crescendo of bliss, but death becomes the highest? – because death is the climax of life.
To live in such a way that you become capable of living totally and you become capable of dying totally. That’s the whole meaning of self-discipline. Self-discipline is not a suppression; it is to live a directed life, a life with the sense of direction. It is to live a life fully alert and aware of death. Then your river of life has both the banks. Life and death, and the river of consciousness flows between these two. Anybody who is trying to live life denying death its part is trying to move along one bank; his river of consciousness cannot be total. He will lack something; he will lack something very beautiful. His life will be superficial; there will be no depth in it. Without death there is no depth.
The life of yam is a life of balance.
Krishna is saying that you are in the middle of the war, very unique circumstances, where you are facing the death but against that your whole family and attachments are also there.
If you can see and fight this war which has given you unique opportunity to drop all the attachments including your own, you can liberate yourself.
Yoga is not against indulgence, attachments; Yoga is for balance. Yoga says, “Be alive but be always ready to die also.” It looks contradictory. Yoga says, “Enjoy. But, remember, this is not your home. This is an overnight stay.”
Be total so all the contradictions are absorbed and a harmony arises. You want to become monotonous. A life of ordinary indulgence is monotonous. A life of ordinary Yoga is also monotonous, boring. A life which comprehends all contradictions in it, which has many notes in it but, still, all notes fall in harmony; that life is a rich life. And to have that rich life, is Yoga.
Krishna says become conscious of this moment come back to your inner discipline and with this you fight. Remember Krishna is not asking him to fight the war, he is asking Arjuna to become aware and connect with his inner discipline, subjectivity and then fight the war. As from the awareness if he will fight the war then it will be just his role in this whole universe.