Friday, March 25, 2011






Summary So Far :

Aphorism.1:“now, the discipline of Yoga” begins. For being in a discipline, one necessarily has to be a devoted disciple of that discipline. One must have respect for the Guru and the Science.

Aphorism.2 :“yogah chittha vritthi nirodhah”. Yoga is the mastering / controlling /restraining of the oscillations of (in fact, all types of work done in) chittha.
Aphorism.3:“thadhaa drashtuh svaroopevasthaanam. When Chittha vritthis are restrained (kept outside the chittha itself!) - the watcher / witness (the real self) returns and abides in his real form , unobstructed by the veil of Chittha.

Aphorism.4 : “Vritthi saaroopyam itharathra”. When the chittha Vritthis are not restrained and the watcher/ witness is not abiding in his real self, he identifies with the chittha Vritthis.

Aphorism.5 : “Vritthayah panchathayyah klishta aklishtah”. Vritthis are of five types and they may be either painful or painless.

Aphorism.6 : “pramaana viparyaya vikalpa nidraa smritayahare the five types of chittha Vritthis. These are (1) pramana is right Knowledge having valid proof; (2) viparyayah is wrong knowledge; (3) vikalpah is imagination / fantasy (4) nidra is deep sleep and (5) smritayah is remembering or recall.

Now Patanjali gives their details :


pratyaksha anumana agamah pramanani

pratyaksha = direct perception or cognition
anumaana = inference, reasoning,
aagamah = authority, scriptural testimony, competent evidence
pramaanaani = are the valid sources or means of right knowledge

What are the ways / sources of right knowledge? 

(i)                  Direct Perception (Pratyaksha Pramaana) – through the five senses and correct input into the mind. Here, we need good care. Aksha means Eyes – but, we need to include other senses too in direct perception.

You see with your eyes and your mind directly focuses on the object that the eyes see. This is a direct perception. But, suppose you are unable to see with the eyes but only listen to a familiar voice, the quality of direct perception through the ears may not be very authentic, until you also see with the eyes. Your eyes may be closed, but you smell some thing. It is direct perception by the nose – but, you haven’t seen the object. The quality of direct perception still suffers.

So, is the case with all sense perceptions. If the direct perception happens through more than one sense perception – the quality of direct perception is very High.

Suppose you see a jasmine or rose flower with your eyes – and you now believe it is a jasmine or rose flower. You go near it, and pick up. Your touch sensation now makes it clear that the flower is not a real flower but is a plastic flower. If, while seeing the flower, you are also able to smell the same  and touch the same, the quality of your direct perception – is much better.

Some times, you improve the power of your senses with reliable, scientific, mechanical aids. This improves your direct perception greatly. With bare eyes, the moon is a beautiful, round, small celestial object. But, with a huge telescope, you see that it is a huge sub plant with hills, plains, valleys and so on. The better the quality of the scientific instrument, the better is the quality of your direct perception.

This discussion helps you to appreciate that even direct perception, by any one sense organ – is highly misleading. Use more of them, use scientific aids too, and ensure the quality of direct perception.

There is also the quality of your sense organs. None of our sense organs are perfect. Their quality also deteriorates, as age progresses. Even at birth, they have a small, finite range and beyond that range, their perception is useless.

Also – there should be a focused, uninterrupted connection between the sense object, the sense organ and the mind – for direct perception to occur with reasonable quality. But, there are always interruptions and the mind or the sense organ is constantly losing focus.

There are also matters beyond sense perception. Love, compassion, kindness, peace and many such things are beyond the scope of the five senses.

We assume many times that – direct perception is the best form of proof. But, direct perception, as we see from this discussion – can be highly misleading. The worst part of it is – it does not give us the scope to doubt that it is misleading.

(ii)                  Inference or Reasoning (Anumaana Pramaana) : By inference and reasoning, we arrive at many conclusions. This is a cause and effect relationship in the reverse. We know that a particular effect follows a specific cause. When we find the effect, e presume the existence or occurrence of the cause.

A child assumes the man and woman taking care of it as its parents. Why else do they care for me – only because I am the child of them.

I find a rose flower on a tree. I know the rose flower, but, not a Rose tree. Since rose flower is on the tree I am now seeing, I assume the tree as rose tree, even though, I have never seen a rose tree. We go from the effect we are observing – and presume the cause.

In most court cases, if two people give cogent evidence, swearing by the Gita, Bible, Koran etc, to tell the truth, we assume some thing they say to be the truth. Here also, reasoning and inference are at work.

But, we all know that – even though inference or reasoning is useful – it is highly suspect in certain important events, for judging persons, events etc. Therefore, the courts usually insist on evidence – beyond reasonable doubt! Beyond mere inference or reasoning.

But, inference or reasoning is of great value some times. You are going through a deep jungle. You hear a Lion’s roar at a distance. It may be coming from 2 kilometres away and you don’t see the Lion at all. Yet, you must use “Anumaana” or inference and take your safety precautions.

You will definitely need to use “Anumaana” in dealing with dishonest persons – even if direct evidence seems to be beyond doubtful behavior. That is why, the saying that “devil can quote the scripture” has come. Normally you will believe the scripture, but never believe the devil, even if it is quoting the scripture.

(iii)                Scriptural evidence and evidence of irrefutable value (Agamah pramaanaani) : The word aagmah  usually refers to the ancient scriptures – which are called apaurusheya or ones which were not written by human source (but by a divine source). The Sruthis and Smrithis are considered to be apurusheyas. What has come from such great sources – are to be relied upon, especially, when they are being taught by a great guru.

We may include in aagama, any other well established, well founded competent evidence. For instance, Patanjali Yoga sutras are not considered aagamas – but, they do have lots of commonalities with ancient scriptures like Bhagavad Gita and  swethaaswatharopanishad. The Yoga Sutras are therefore treated on par with aagamah, or, pramana of irrefutable value. Patanjali is considered a great Yogi, who has experienced the ultimate Samadhi state and therefore we take his word to be true. Look at the succinct, simple way that he has written the Yoga Sutras. A man of his reliable stature – must command respectful acceptance.

The same is true of the teachings and writings of great sages like Vasista, Adi Sankaracharya etc – for whom nothing short of one hundred percent truth will do.  Their writings are also considered as aagamas.

Let us remember that even acquiring right knowledge from right or authentic sources of right knowledge is a Chittha Vritthi. This Chittha Vritthi also, finally must cease. All Chittha Vritthis must cease before the self can  abide into its true form.  But, if the vritthi ceases before we acquire the right knowledge , what happens? We cannot learn even Yoga –  even from its authentic sources.

Acquiring right knowledge is of great worldly use and necessity. Can this right knowledge painful or painless? All Chittha Vritthis can be either painful or painless – “klishtah – aklishtah”, as the previous aphorism had said. Right knowledge needs to be rightly used. Right knowledge wrongly used results in painful experience.

Yoga Sutras deal with the experience of the self in its own original form – This is even beyond right knowledge.

The next aphorism deals with false knowledge.

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