Friday, March 18, 2011






PATANJALI YOGA SUTRAS – as we have understood, is an absolute science – and follows all scientific principles – except that, it deals with the inner world of the Individual.

The science of Yoga is spreading to all countries – though, people of different countries are adding different flavours for it.

There are a ancient and modern commentaries on Patanjali Yoga sutras from Indian practitioners of Yoga. Many western commentators have added their own commentaries and their own independent views too, in recent past.

We need to remember that - Patanjali Yoga sutras were not written in an independent, isolated context. It was not the invention of Patanjali. It was an exemplary explanation from Patanjali – of an already existing science. Yoga was as old as the first being in the Universe. It was carried forward through a Guru-Sishya Parampara from each generation to the next. 

Some of the most ancient Upanishads contain many references to Yoga principles – like in Swethaswatharopanishad. This Upansihad is much prior to Lord Krishna’s time – and is difficult to date.

We also find Yoga Vaasistam – a treatise said to have been told to Lord Rama by Yogi Vasista, containing many principles of Yoga. All ancient Sages like Vasista, Viswamitra, Agstya, Atri, Chyavana, Jamadagni, Narada and many others were all Yogis by definition.

Lord Krishna’s Dhyana Yoga Chapter in Bhagavad Gita is great complement to Patanjali Yoga sutras and details many things that Patanjali omits.

Adi Sankaracharya has never quoted Patanjali (to my knowledge), but in many of Adi Sankara’s writings, we find detailed explanation of the processes of Yoga, much on the same lines as that told by Patanjali.  Yoga thus has a great lineage.

Yoga is a practical science from beginning to end. As Osho says, “Yoga is existential, experiential, experimental.” Readers must become Sadhakas and bring yoga into their own lives – and not keep it in a theoretical plane. Is Yoga easy or difficult? It is both. It depends on the seriousness of the student.

But – one great feature of yoga is – there are immense benefits from yoga with the practicing of each step. Therefore, many people get satisfied and stop with just 2 steps now a days – Aasana and Pranamaya. Many people have therefore come to think that – Aasana and Pranamaya are the only things that are there in Yoga. This  blog is attempting to place before you those aspects of yoga which are “understood” in the Guru-sishya parampara but not specifically stated in the Yoga Sutras and those supplemented in other ancient writings on the subject.

In verse.1, we saw that “now, the discipline of Yoga” starts. For being in a discipline, one necessarily has to be a disciple of that discipline. One must have respect and devotion for the Guru and the Science.

In verse.2 we saw that “yogah chittha vritthi nirodhah”. Yoga is the mastering / controlling /restraining of the oscillations (in fact, all types of work done in) chittha.

When the Chittha Vritthis are restrained (kept outside the chittha itself), what happens? We saw in Aphorism.3 that the watcher / witness (the real self) now abides in his real form , unobstructed by the veil of Chittha. When the watching starts and progresses, the watcher comes in to his true form. Who this watcher is – is not explicitly stated by Patanjali – but Sadhaka is to experience the watcher himself.

There are other methods also, of watching, practiced by some Sadhakas – like the process of “nethi,nethi..” wherein the Sadhaka mentally looks at /examines each of his physical parts like gross body, subtle body etc closely (going from the grossest to the subtlest) and starts understanding and affirming that this is not me, this is not me.. and so on. Watching and denying also works fine, in ultimately zeroing on the self. The process of watching by either route – requires practice for quite some time, before the watcher achieves the goal. In first method the control passes from senses to Chittha to Buddhi to the real self by pure watching, while in the second, the control passes by watching and assertion of the self as not being this, this and so on.

How long will the process of watching be done before success comes? Patanjali provides answer elsewhere. The passive watching of chittha and its thoughts and emotions can also be followed or preceded by the more active process of watching and affirming with “nethi, nethi”. Evidently, both processes require the Sadhaka to sit motionless in meditative postures and perform the Sadhana. A non-moving body, meditating in a calm, quiet place,  quietens the Chittha (mind) considerably. Mind prefers a moving body, or at least moving surroundings (like a train, bus etc) for itself to be jumping about between thoughts and emotions.

Rest of the world may say – think! But, yogi says – still all thinking. Be your self.

Till we achieve perfection in Yoga, we will be with rest of the crowd and we will be thinking and feeling, all of our waking time. In sleep also, we generate dreams to compensate for the unfinished business of the waking time. In dreams, we think and feel – must faster and much longer – but in a short (external) time!!

How are we during these states when we are the thinkers – and, when we are not the WATCHER / WITNESS  (Drasta / Sakshi)?

We will try to understand this now.


Vritthi saaroopyam itharathra

This aphorism has 3 words : vritthi ; saaroopyam ; itharathra ;

The spellings in this blog (in English, for the Sanskrit words) are given for easy and correct pronunciation and may differ slightly from that of others.

Vritthi = refers to Chittha vritthi; whatever the Chittha indulges in; like taking in sensory input; giving out sensory output; all thoughts, feelings, imaginations, dreaming etc; All modifications and changes which are constantly happening in Chittha (the mind-stuff or mind-field)

saaroopyam = taking of the same shape or form; assimilation of the same form, conformity with the same shape;

itharathra = at other times, when not in that state stated in aphorism 3.

When the chittha Vritthis are restrained, the witness abides in his own real form, of self. At other times – means, “when the Chittha Vritthis are not restrained”, which also means, “when the Sadhaka is not being a “watcher / witness of the chittha Vritthis” , the non-watcher self takes on the same form as that of the Chittha Vritthis.

This must be carefully understood :

1.   Now, we are looking at a state in which Chittha Vritthis are not restrained.
2.   We are seeing that the Sadhaka is not being a “watcher / witness of the Chittha Vritthis” and therefore the Chittha Vritthis are not restrained / controlled /mastered.

When we are not even watching the Chittha Vritthis, they are in a FREE-FOR-ALL mood. They go berserk. Buddhi (intellect) may become passive for several reasons but will be occasionally telling the Chittha to avoid certain dangers to the body and mind from outside happenings. But that’s all. Even Buddhi is dominated by the Manas part of the Chittha, which has strong force of habit, backing it and the inevitable temptations.

The gross body also cooperates with the chittha Vritthis in most cases (except serious dangers).

What happens in such cases?

The Self is wearing several glasses on its vision - to look at itself or outside. First is the Buddhi, which is now passive and meekly follows the chittha Vritthis. The Chittha (or manas part of it) which is highly sense-bound and habit-bound is the second.

Chittha forms certain LIKES and DISLIKES over a period of time, and stays bound by them. It chains itself by them and binds the non-watching SELF also by them.

Somebody is mad about money-earning. Somebody wants more and more real assets. Somebody is sex-crazy. Somebody watches movies all the time. Some body is a drunkard. Some body is a drug addict. Some body is addicted to Politics. Some body else is addicted to books. Some body is addicted to talking. Some body likes cricket. Some body likes foot ball. Some body likes karate. Some body likes to be sadistic, beating some one or other all the time. Some body wants to be a terrorist, and some body wants to be a freedom fighter and some one wants to be both.

Billions of people on earth have billions of LIKES and Dislikes and billions of habits which bind them.   In all these, the Chittha, the Buddhi and the SELF are seeing themselves.

You show your finger at your physical body and you say – this is me.  Or you will say, this is my shirt, my car, my house and so on.

If some one asks, who is saying this, who is thinking this, who is feeling this – you will definitely say – why? I am saying, I am thinking, I am feeling, I am doing. You identify yourself totally with your chittha Vritthis.

Let us see some more of these Vritthis.

When asked who you are – you will say – I am an MBA, I am the Chairman, I am the President, I am the workman, I am the driver and so on. May be, on a second thought, you may tell your name too!

Or, you may say – I am a woman, I am a Man and so on. When it is convenient, you may say – I am a young, handsome man, I am a beautiful young woman, I am an Old man – and so on.

Or, you may say, I am the father, I am the mother, I am the daughter, I am the son, I am the grand son – and so on.

All these are labels given to identify your gross body and the inner chittha (subtle body) by the Chittha itself periodically.

Chittha wants labels. Chittha wants habits. Chittha wants Likes and Dislikes. And Chittha gets them. It hangs all these labels, habits, likes and dislikes - on the gross body and on the chittha itself every where. Now, the identification is with all these – since the watcher is not watching. The witness is not witnessing. The non-watcher self therefore identifies with these labels, habits , likes and dislikes at this point.

Let us also see a few dislikes and harmful habits too – which are our Chittha Vritthis and which bind us.

You like and identify with your country. But, you dislike some other country and its people for some reason. At this level of thinking, all people of your country are OK for you. This includes people of all states, people of all religions, languages, sexes, regions and so on – so long as they belong to your country.  You dislike almost all people of the country you hate – even though you hardly know ten persons of that country. Even a just born child of that country receives no sympathy from you.

Your Chittha is bound to this dislike and many times, it takes absurd forms – like beating up, raping or even killing people of the other country – almost for no reason. Is it not happening in many, many countries today? Dislikes bind the individual much more than LIKES. The bad in us is more powerful than the good in us.

Within the country, you identify with your state – and want the people of your state to be more prosperous than people of other states. You want all industries to be within your state, all river waters to be within your state, all mines to be within your state and so on. Your state must win in all sports, all contests, all competitions and so on. When the same man, I repeat, the same man, comes down from the previous level of chittha Vritthi, to this level of Chittha Vritthi, he may even hate people of other states, bully them, ask them to leave his state and consider them even as enemies, for no reason, or, for, the silliest reasons, which of course looks justified in his eyes. Is this not happening in many states in your country (with some sections of people at least)?

The dislikes travel along all the lines, on which the likes travel. But, the dislikes are more powerful in you. You like people of your religion when this Chittha Vritthi takes over you – and dislike people of other religions, even if they belong to your state. Now the state level Chittha Vritthi is not dominant in you but the religion level Chittha vritthi is.

Within the religion level (dislike) chittha vritthi, a caste level or some other sub-division level (dislike) chittha vritthi comes to the forefront in the same individual. In some countries, we find constant intra-religious wars within the dominant religion, but at the same time, they try to go for war or terrorist actions against people of other countries with other dominant religions.

Thus, the Chittha Vritthis in us go on changing from time to time – with one vritthi coming to the forefront this moment, to be replaced by another vritthi after some time, to be replaced by yet another vritthi after some more time.

All of these Chittha Vritthis are always present in the same Individual. The LIKES chittha Vritthis are usually weaker than the DISLIKES chittha Vritthis. For this reason, separating any two groups of people becomes easy for a crafty individual – who just needs to find a reason (the silliest excuse will do, most of the time) of some difference between the two groups. People living in perfect amity and peace can be separated by selfish, crafty individuals with the silliest reason and made to fight each other.

Why so? You (or I) – are not one single Individual really. Though physical body is just one, there are several unique, distinct, overlapping, confusing, mutually opposing, mutually suspicious, mutually loving (all adjectives possible) Chittha Vritthis in us.  Each Chittha Vritthi acts like a different Individual and carries for that time, the physical body also. You may love an individual wholeheartedly today – but kill him tomorrow in utter hatred. Both are YOU only. All chittha Vritthis are present in you and come to the fore at different times.

When the Chittha Vritthi is acting like this, in different forms, shapes, characteristics, labels, likes and dislikes – the Buddhi is passive and is acting as the slave of the Chittha – and the “non-watcher” self, looking through the Buddhi and the chittha, also identifies himself with the chittha Vritthis. Chittha becomes the veil of Maya acting in us.

In the watcher /witness – these chittha Vritthis die down. His likes and dislikes dissolve. His habits dissolve. He has a new freedom. He has a fresh identify – not a label. His objectivity is the absolute truth. He becomes the master- not the slave.

This is the significance of being a “watcher / witness”.

Now –we need to understand the Vritthis more – in the next post.

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