Wednesday, March 16, 2011






Readers who have followed the introduction, verses.1 and 2  are now ready for verse.3. 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 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. The word 'Nirodha' is subject o several interpretations.

In Mahabharat war – an insignificant warrior called Saindhava stops (Nirodh) the 4 Pandavas (Great warriors by all standards) from entering a military formation called Padma vyuha. He got such a boon from Lord Siva that he can stop / Nirodh the 4 pandavas (other than Arjuna) on just one day, though he cannot kill them. So stopping chittha vritthis from entering the Chittha also is one way of understanding this word. As we proceed – all these will get clarified.

When the Chittha vritthis are restrained (kept outside the chittha itself!), what happens?
Verse 3

Thadhaa drashtuh svaroope avasthaanam

Almost all verses in the yoga sutras have very few words and they state either a verifiable truth, principle or a distinct opinion. These also do not follow much of the grammar rules of verses. For that reason, it is usual to call these verses as aphorisms.

The aphorism.3 has just 4 words. Let us examine the meaning of the words :

thadhaa = then; at that time.

Let us remember that, this verse is a continuation of verse.2 which says “yoga is control/mastery/restraining of the oscillations of the mind.”  Now, only when the control is being achieved through Yoga, this verse comes into the picture.

drashtuh = the seer; the witness; the watcher.

Patanjali is not defining the seer, or the witness. It is largely understood as the real self. Who the watcher is - is to be experienced by the yoga practitioner or Sadhaka directly.

svaroope = in his / its own form.

avasthaanam = settling, remaining, abiding; (stha means to stand)

This means that – when the Sadhaka (the practitioner of Yoga) is achieving success in mastering the oscillations / modifications of the mind (Chittha), then the Seer or witness abides in his own true form or true nature.

This aphorism answers several questions, albeit indirectly.

Who is striving to master the Chittha?

What is the process of mastering?

What happens when the mastering is occurring?

What is 'witnessing'?

Who abides in his true form – when  he does the witnessing?

Is it the chittha itself which is witnessing itself? Or else, who else can do the witnessing? Who is the real “witness”?

Most externally – we may say, the Sadhaka is striving to master the chittha. 

The process of mastering is indicated indirectly in this aphorism.  The Sadhaka must be a witness or watcher – evidently, of the chittha, over which he is seeking to gain control / mastery. This watching / witnessing itself is the process of mastering. It is as simple as that.

Just watch – and thereby, gain control!

What is the detailed process of Mastering?

Sadhakas  find numerous obstacles in the process of witnessing. Again and again, they are drawn either to sensory inputs and outputs or to a barrage of thoughts and feelings, over which they seem to have no control at all. It takes quite some time and good effort, before real witnessing seems to happen effectively and stabilize in the Sadhaka.

Some great Yogis give / indicate the process of this “witnessing”.

In his Viveka choodamani, verse.368, Adi Sankaracharya says – “yogasya prathamam dvaram vaak-nirodhah”, meaning, Your entering into Yoga must start with control over your speech.  Control over other sensory outputs also is stated later. Speech being the most active sensory output of Chittha, is specifically stated as  the first one to be mastered.

In verse.370, Adi Sankara further says – speech must be dissolved through the chittha; chittha must be dissolved through the Buddhi, Buddhi must be dissolved through the watcher / witness of Buddhi namely the true self (Atman) and Atman must be dissolved in the Paramathma…

So, first, we need to watch our sensory outputs through the same chittha (the part called manas, in the chittha responsible for thoughts and emotions), which is producing these sensory outputs.

By this mere process of watching them, gradually, these outputs come down and are dissolved by the Chittha, who is the watcher at this stage.

But, the internal thoughts and feelings in the Chittha (or, the manas part of chittha) still continue. Chittha is not watching its own internal creation!

As the watching progresses, the process of watching is now taken over by the Buddhi (the intellect part, responsible for intelligent decisions) from the manas part of Chittha. Buddhi is now the watcher. In this process, gradually, all thoughts and feelings ( in other words, the whole chittha itself) are dissolved in the Buddhi. For all practical purposes, now, the chittha is dissolved, as all sensory outputs and internal thoughts and feelings are totally dissolved.

Only the intellectual decisions part, namely, Buddhi, remains now.

Then the watching is progressively taken over by the witness or watcher of Buddhi, which is the REAL SELF (ATMAN).

The Sadhaka need not worry – which part of him is acting as the watcher at a particular time. He just needs to start the process of watching.

As a watcher – he needs to follow certain basic requirements. He must not try to create any fresh sensory inputs or outputs by his own fresh efforts.

Second, he must certainly watch all thoughts and feelings as they come and go through the Chittha. But, he must not go behind those thoughts and feelings. He must stay as the watcher. Sure, the chittha makes all-out efforts to drags the Sadhaka along with each thought. But, the Sadhaka must stay as watcher – without going behind these thoughts and feelings rushing through his chittha. This concept will become very clear – once a Sadhaka sits as the watcher.

If however, he finds himself going behind the thoughts, quickly he must return to his watcher position again. No regrets. No feelings of failure or success are to be generated. Just be a watcher.

Sadhaka must watch the process of dissolution – with the same attitude of - no feelings of regrets or elation.

First, the sensory outputs stop.

Then, the thoughts and associated feelings gradually come down to a trickle and stop.

Then, the intelligent decision making process stops.

Then, suddenly, with all these obstacles removed, the real self, the Atman discovers itself, and shines forth, in its true form.

In an experienced Sadhaka, the seer / witness /watcher part can be very quickly taken over by the Atman – from the sense organ level – but going through Buddhi and chittha.

Now, the seer / witness is none other than the real Self.

The obstacles like sensory outputs, the manas / chittha and the Buddhi are no more there. Therefore, the witness or the watcher (seer) abides in his real form now.

Till this happens, the Sadhaka is assuming himself to be some thing other than this real self, as the real self is not experience-able to him up to this point because of the aforesaid obstructions. This is explained in the next aphorism.

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