अब्भक्ष उपशान्तात्मा स आस्ते विगतैषण: ॥ ५३ ॥
hutvā cāgnīn yathā-vidhi
sa āste vigataiṣaṇaḥ
snātvā — by taking bath; anusavanam — regularly three times (morning, noon and evening); tasmin — in that Ganges divided into seven; hutvā — by performing the Agni-hotra sacrifice; ca — also; agnīn — in the fire; yathā-vidhi — just according to the tenets of the scripture; ap-bhakṣaḥ — fasting by drinking only water; upaśānta — completely controlled; ātmā — the gross senses and the subtle mind; saḥ — Dhṛtarāṣṭra; āste — would be situated; vigata — devoid of; eṣaṇaḥ — thoughts in relation with family welfare.
On the banks at Saptasrota, Dhṛtarāṣṭra is now engaged in beginning aṣṭāṅga-yoga by bathing three times daily, in the morning, noon and evening, by performing the Agni-hotra sacrifice with fire and by drinking only water. This helps one control the mind and the senses and frees one completely from thoughts of familial affection.
The yoga system is a mechanical way to control the senses and the mind and divert them from matter to spirit. The preliminary processes are the sitting posture, meditation, spiritual thoughts, manipulation of air passing within the body, and gradual situation in trance, facing the Absolute Person, Paramātmā. Such mechanical ways of rising to the spiritual platform prescribe some regulative principles of taking bath daily three times, fasting as far as possible, sitting and concentrating the mind on spiritual matters and thus gradually becoming free from viṣaya, or material objectives. Material existence means to be absorbed in the material objective, which is simply illusory. House, country, family, society, children, property and business are some of the material coverings of the spirit, ātmā, and the yoga system helps one to become free from all these illusory thoughts and gradually turn towards the Absolute Person, Paramātmā. By material association and education, we learn simply to concentrate on flimsy things, but yoga is the process of forgetting them altogether. Modern so-called yogīs and yoga systems manifest some magical feats, and ignorant persons are attracted by such false things, or they accept the yoga system as a cheap healing process for diseases of the gross body. But factually the yoga system is the process of learning to forget what we have acquired throughout the struggle for existence. Dhṛtarāṣṭra was all along engaged in improving family affairs by raising the standard of living of his sons or by usurping the property of the Pāṇḍavas for the sake of his own sons. These are common affairs for a man grossly materialistic and without knowledge of the spiritual force. He does not see how this can drag one from heaven to hell. By the grace of his younger brother Vidura, Dhṛtarāṣṭra was enlightened and could see his grossly illusory engagements, and by such enlightenment he was able to leave home for spiritual realization. Śrī Nāradadeva was just foretelling the way of his spiritual progress in a place which was sanctified by the flow of the celestial Ganges. Drinking water only, without solid food, is also considered fasting. This is necessary for advancement of spiritual knowledge. A foolish man wants to be a cheap yogī without observing the regulative principles. A man who has no control over the tongue at first can hardly become a yogī. Yogī and bhogī are two opposite terms. The bhogī, or the merry man who eats and drinks, cannot be a yogī, for a yogī is never allowed to eat and drink unrestrictedly. We may note with profit how Dhṛtarāṣṭra began his yoga system by drinking water only and sitting calmly in a place with a spiritual atmosphere, deeply absorbed in the thoughts of the Lord Hari, the Personality of Godhead.