Thursday, April 7, 2011





Summary of
First 11 Aphorisms : Practical Aspects

Patanjali, as we have all seen, is very BRIEF. He doesn’t use one word more than what can convey the briefest possible Indicator meaning. So, here are the practical aspects  from the first 11 Verses.

Be in the Now; Be in the present. This is an essential part of the discipline of Yoga.

Practice Yoga as a Discipline. Be a devoted disciple of the discipline of Yoga.

Work on the mind and master it. Yoga works on the Mind. Do not remain the servant of  the mind.

Be a witness. This restrains the mind. As witness who has restrained the mind – you will stand in your true form. If you do not restrain the mind and master it – you will be the slave of Chittha Vritthis and assume you to be them.

Your Mind works in five types of Vritthis, some times, these are painful and some times, these are painless.

These are (1) right Knowledge having valid proof; (2) wrong knowledge without valid proof; (3) Delusion / fantasy (4) deep (dreamless) sleep and (5) remembering or recall.

Right knowledge comes to us from (i) Direct Perception; (ii) Sound Reasoning and (iii) Scriptural testimony and other competent evidence. All Sciences come from right knowledge.

Wrong Knowledge is - perceiving a thing as some thing that it actually is not. This arises from the weaknesses of our sense instruments; the fickleness of the mind,  nature of external environment; our habits; time and space effects; and many such reasons.

Fantasies or Delusions :Some times, sounds we hear are likely to mislead us into various fantasies and delusions in the absence of any real object to support such imagination or fantasy. Internal confusion, negativity and substances like LSD etc are causes of fantasizing.

Dreamless, deep sleep is also considered a Chittha Vritthi – since, we feel the freshness effect of that sleep, after we get up. Dreamless sleep equalizes all, the king, the beggar and all those in between. All support for other chittha Vritthis must fall – for deep sleep to ensure. It is as if a superior force is carrying you into itself for rejuvenating you.

Memory : What has once been learned and experienced, may be recalled again and again by the Chittha, when it needs it, or even, when it does not need it. This happens as long as these experiences are not lost in the memory or otherwise changed by some other experience.

In final analysis – Chittha Vritthis are –

(i)                  Storage processes for knowledge (right  and wrong),
(ii)                 Swinging between past memories and future fantasies and
(iii)                Deep, dreamless sleep.

Do you find any thing else, which Patanjali has not found? When is the Chittha in the Present; or, in the Now?

We all know, that NOW is the only time, when we actually live. But, mind does not want to stay in the NOW and is much afraid of staying in the NOW. Unless the five Chittha Vritthis are totally controlled, and restrained, there is no way, mind stays in the present. But, we have seen earlier, that mind is too strong but fickle for us to control. It doesn’t easily obey us. Then, how to make the mind obey us? Let’s see now :


abhyaasa vairagyabhyam tannirodhah

abhyasa = by repeated practice
vairagyabhyam = by non-attachment, by dispassion
thath = of that or those
nirodhah = control, master, quieten

Through (i) repeated practice and (ii) non-attachment to them – all the five Chittha Vritthis (thought patterns / modifications) can be restrained or regulated and mastered.

Lord Krishna also mentions these two great weapons only for controlling the mind and its modifications.

We want to regulate and restrain each Chittha Vritthi. This must be practiced consciously, all the time. Again and again, the mind will go back to its uncontrollable ways. Again and again, we must bring back the mind within our control.

Patanjali has already indicated one very effective way of practice. Be a witness. Stand behind the thought-filled mind and watch what the mind is doing. The moment, the witness starts watching – the mind’s power comes down drastically. As the witnessing progresses, the mind’s wayward ways shrink gradually and it begins to take orders from you (first from Buddhi, who starts the witnessing process; and then from the Self, who takes over the witnessing process).  But, again and again, mind goes behind the thoughts which keep on arising in it. Suddenly, you find that you have forgotten the witnessing process you started and are again identifying with some thought process.

There is a confusion in many people as to who is the witness? Is it not also a thought? How can a thought in the mind control other thoughts in the mind?

Do not worry about such questions. You can be a witness. The moment you try to be a witness – you know you are a witness now. No one needs to prove it to you. Now, it is your experience. You know, you are a witness of thoughts created by the mind. Never mind, if mind starts the process of witnessing. Finally, if you persist in the witnessing – you also know that from mind – control is passing to Buddhi, from which, the witness function goes to the self. The Self now stands in its own true form. To bring us to this stage only, the whole science of yoga is intended.

As a beginner, either you are yourself the THOUGHT; or, you are yourself the  WITNESS. You are switching roles between the two roles very frequently.

Witnessing  requires great care, caution and also consistent practice.

Becoming a Thought – is however a very unconscious process. One moment of non-witnessing makes you go behind the thought and become the thought yourself.

So, a supportive weapon also is needed to strengthen you. That weapon is NON-ATTACHMENT, or, Dispassion. Suppose, you develop non-attachment to sense-objects and they cease to interest you, that non-attachment supports your efforts in being an efficient witness and thereby control the thought modifications. This also is a gradual process as below explained.

You must replace your strong Thaamasic temptations with strong Raajasic temptations initially and thereafter with strong Saathvic temptations.

You must replace thaamasic food with raajasic food and then with saathvic food.

You must surround your life with Sathsang – i.e., strong friendships of the wise and the learned. Adi Sankaracharya emphatically says – that sathsang leads you easily to non-attachment to sense pleasures and chittha Vritthis. Lord Krishna also advocates the same measures.

Thus – there are only two measures for Mind-control. (i) Constant and consistent practice and (ii) Non-attachment.

The first one basically works on the senses and mind inside us.

But, the second one works on the Sense- objects all around us in the outside world which tempt us always.

I must repeat here – that the falling off, of sense modifications does not lead in any way to a lack of joy in our life. On the other hand, it introduces a joy of  more permanent type in our life, in place of the fleeting pleasures.
So – no one should think that (i) Practice of sense control and (ii) Non-attachment to sense objects  leads to a dry life.

It actually leads us to a permanent, infinite joy. The real test of progress in spirituality or Yoga is the continuous enhancement in your serene Joy and the falling off, of all fears.

Let us therefore understand more about these two principle weapons for Mind-control in the coming Aphorisms.

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