Saturday, June 11, 2011





CONTINUED…From Last Post…

The last Post on Patanjali Yoga Sutras was on V.16 = under the URL :

V.16 talked of the Guna thrayam or the three Gunas. It saus that you must transcend the Gunas and go beyond them to reveal your true self, the Purusha.

Patanjali assumes a good knowledge of the three Gunas, their characteristics, their influence on us – and how we must deal with them in ordinary life – and how we can transcend the,

But, the detailed exposition on Guna thrayam is  given by none other than Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita in several Chapters, chiefly, Guna thraya Vibhaga Yoga.

So, we detoured into Bhagavad Gita in the last 2 Posts and analyzed in detail, the three Gunas, their functions and how we can use them.

We saw in Lord Krishna’s own words –
I am now going to give you that knowledge, which is the best of all knowledge. Knowing this – all sages are instantly freed from all Sorrow – even in the most  disastrous catastrophes (Like Paralaya)”.

The knowledge of the three Gunas is therefore so important for study of Yoga sutras.

Having now understood the Gunathrayam – we now revert back to Yoga sutras and start from V.17


vitharka vichara
ananda asmitha roopa
anugamaath samprajnaathah

Ø  vitharka = analytical reasoning; argument-oriented;
Ø  vichara = Internal deliberation; subtle thought processing;
Ø  ananda = bliss, elation; ecstasy
Ø  asmitha = ego, identity as “I”, individuality
Ø  roopa = appearances, nature, form
Ø  anugamaath = accompanying, association with
Ø  samprajnaathah = Samaadhi associated with prajna or cognition or consciousness;

In aphorism 16, Patanjali spoke of only the Gunas and their effect. He said – that by transcending the three Gunas, you arrive at your own self, the Purusha.

Now – he has jumped several steps ahead and speaks of Samprajnaatha – which is the the first type of Samaadhi.

So – the first question before Samprajnaatha is – have you transcended the three Gunas?

If you are at the level of thamo guna, forget about dhyana or samaadhi. Your mind is full of laziness and jealousy – and is unfit for dhyana. You must first come to Rajas level at least.

But, rajas also does not enable you to get into samaadhi. A viswamitra with rajoguna can only make penance or thapasya – for some earthly or some gains. Only when he leaves his rajo guna behind and enters into Sathva guna – he gets the maturity to enter into dhyana, which seeks no gains.

With Sathva guna, you get the maturity to follow the true path of yoga – which is enquiry into the self, and attaining to the self. There are no earthly or heavenly gains sought by the Yogi.

For this reason only – Patanjali first spoke of transcending the three gunas in v.16.

Now, in V.17, he speaks of 4 stages to attain “Samprajnaatha”.

What is prajna? Jna signifies knowledge. Prajna is the highest level of knowledge. You are proficient in this knowledge. Samprajnaatha means – that which is accompanies by this proficiency of the highest wisdom.

So far – Patanjali has not yet used the term samaadhi, except in the name of the chapter itself, which he called as samaadhi paada. Patnajali assumes that we have some knowledge of the terms being used.

The terms have the same meaning that they have – when used by Lord Krishna in his Gita, by sage vasista, in Yoga Vaasista and in many other ancient expositions on Yoga.

Let us see where the four steps talked of in this verse lead us.

First is vitharka.  Tharka means reasoning. Vitharka means sound, good reasoning.

There is another tharka – called kutharka, which means negative reasoning. You deny every thing – even if they are true – as it usually happens in politics etc. You are not interested in finding and accepting truth – but only in proving that you are right – or the other is wrong. This is kutharka.

But, Vitharka – is sound, good reasoning – always interesting in arriving at truth. For this to happen, one must be a master of one’s thinking process. There are people who are led by their thoughts and there are people who are masters of their thinking. There is difference between you doing the thinking; and you being led by a stream of thoughts. In Vitharka - you must lead by reasoning and thinking.

But reasoning about whom? and about what? This becomes clear to us when we see the fourth step.

The second is vichaara. When you are reasoning and arguing about a particular question very deeply to find out the real truth – you gradually go inward and get into a deep contemplation. This happens automatically. This indicates that the tharka which started this inward contemplation was vitharka. The contemplation on the question which you now perform is called vichaara. It is in this vichaara – that you receive answers to your reasoning and thinking.

In this quiet, inner contemplation, when the answers are streaming in, to your questions, you feel a rare bliss. The ordinary joy coming from external sources is different. But, this bliss arises internally. This bliss is the third stage (Aananda). Why the bliss? Because – the answers you are seeking are streaming in. And, the answers are removing all doubts, suspicions, discensions etc and leading you to pure, highest wisdom.

The fourth stage is the realization of the “I”ness, not ego, but the egoless “I”ness. Your deepest core is now known to you. You now are in contact with your real self. This is the answer that was streaming in to you.

Now – go back to the first 2 stages – vitharka and vichaara. Is it not obvious – on what question you should do the reasoning and contemplation in these 2 stages? It is on who you are!

If you go further back to V.16, when you transcend the 3 gunas – what are you ready for – not for any earthly gains or earthly knowledge. The gunas’ transcendence leads you to the question of who you are.

When do you go from argument and reasoning into contemplation? Only when the reasoning is on the inner self. When does bliss arise? When the real self starts coming in to your experience. And, finally – comes the “I” ness itself. We get into our inner core – our inner self. This prajna takes us into “samprajnaatha samaadhi”. There is nothing else now – except the experience of the innermost self. Your true self.

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