Thursday, August 25, 2011





In previous verses, we saw that Ignorance, ego, likes, dislikes and love of life (and fear of death) are the five Kleshaas (sorrows) – and we also saw, why Ignorance is declared as the root of all these sorrows. These kleshas may be in totally dormant state, or in attenuated state, or in low or high states in individuals at different times. 

Now – it is necessary for us to understand what exactly we mean by Ignorance – in the parlance of Yoga sutras. Patanjali explains them here :


anithya asuchi duhkhan  anaatmasu 

nitya suchi sukha atma khyaathih avidyaa

Ø  anithya = non-permanent
Ø  asuchi = impure
Ø  duhkhaan = sorrowful
Ø  anaatmasu = the non-self
Ø  nitya = the eternal
Ø  suchi = the pure
Ø  sukha = pleasant
Ø  atman = Self
Ø  khyathih = Assuming to be
Ø  avidyaa = ignorance

Ignorance or avidya which is our foremost sorrow-giving factor - is of four different types: 

1)   Assuming temporary / non-permanent things as permanent and eternal
2)   Assuming the impure as pure
3)   Assuming that which actually brings misery as one which brings  pleasantness / happiness
4)   Assuming that which WE ARE NOT as the Real US – or that which is not the self as the Self

This needs further explanation.

Throughout life, most people fondly assume that - their body is permanent. They however try to protect it, furnish it and beauty it,  in many ways. 

We all remain in too much attachment with the body-mind complex till the last moment of our life. But, the Universal truth is - Whatever is born is bound to die. We do see it happening in the case (of the body-mind complex) of all others. 

All of us are born in the mother’s womb; then we come out of the womb into the world; meet other people; eat; grow; procreate; then ensues a period of non-growth; then decay; and then death – with diseases intervening periodically. It happens to all of us. 

We are all going through all these phases. We see that all the time. Every moment of our life, we are moving effectively one moment or one step towards death. Yet, we wish to be and even fondly assume to be eternal in body; in mind; in our family bonds; in our social bonds; and so on.

Change is the only thing that is permanent in the physical (and mental) world. We must know that nothing born in the world can ever be permanent. But, we always keep that fond dream of eternal life. This arises out of avidya or Ignorance.

The second Ignorance is - assuming the impure as the pure. Is the body Pure or impure? You may decorate your meal in a thousand ways and make it look beautiful. But, once it crosses the mouth – it is a lump of impurity. Many things in your own body join it. Man cannot bear to eat what he gurgles or vomits out after eating. As it proceeds through digestive process – it is not the same food in LOOKS that you sent in. Had the food remained outside also, in time, it begins to stink. Rotting is its natural quality. 

Rotting is also the natural quality of your body. Every thing that comes out of your body stinks. When it is inside – you do not feel it. When it is out – you don’t want to even touch it. With all these inside you – is your body pure or impure?

Now, look at your mind. How many thoughts cross your mind? If all these thoughts are known to all others – can they respect you? How many dreams do you get; and what type of dreams? Is your mind pure or impure?  You may spray beautiful perfumes on your body; you may wear beautiful sacred clothes on it to hush up your mind identity. But, you know well, if your mind is pure or impure. The same thing applies to all people’s bodies and minds in the world. We try to purify these bodies and minds, which are inherently impure.

The third Ignorance is - mistaking the things that bring misery to us as things which give us happiness. The foremost among them is money. We assume that if we get more money – we get more happiness. Is that true? Take a look at all those who have that much or more money than what you want. Are the rich people you envy -  happier than you?  Definitely not.

You are confusing their exterior with your Interior. You are only seeing their exterior and their interior is not visible to you. Their exterior dazzles you and makes you feel, they are in the seventh heaven. The fact is – they are not. Probably – they are in the seventh Hell! In Your interior, you feel miserable only due to this comparison of your interior with their exterior. 

It is a meaningless, foolish comparison.  If the comparison ceases, you are instantly happy. The world No.1 or No.2  or 10 in terms of wealth – let me assure you – is no happier than you in any way, if you cease to make comparisons with them. You are happier. The term, wealthiest man -  inherently means, he is comparing – to grow in wealth, and that makes him race up harder and harder continuously and he has no time to be happy.

Do you have a very beautiful wife or the most handsome husband? If so – be honest – are you happy or nervous? We assume every such possession will give us happiness and pleasure. It may, for some time. Then it ceases to give any happiness. Then, it starts giving pain, sorrow, nervousness and so on. This is what Patanjali is saying here. We are constantly mistaking things that give us unhappiness as things that give us happiness. We are running after mirages.

The last ignorance is of course – the ultimate – but that is what surrounds all of us all the time. We assume what we are not - as what we are. We usually assume the body-mind complex as our self. Do we know that the body-mind complex is completely going out into the world in small, small cells and in about an year or so – your totally body consists of new cells drawn from outside and they metamorphose into your new body cells. The old body or mind in physical form does not just exist any more. What you were three years ago – nothing of that remains in you right now. Which You - are You talking of – as YOU, right Now? 

ARE YOU YOUR THOUGHTS? You can’t reproduce one single thought in its original form. If you are 40 years Old – most of your thoughts of 40 years have gone into cold storage – and – what can come out in any form of mind technology (hypnosis etc) – is a very rough aberration  of very little of your thoughts. Do you remember what you studied in your fifth class? You don’t.

So – you are not your body, not your mind, not your thoughts, not your dreams, not your degrees, not your organization, not your parents, not your age, and not any thing by which the world recognizes you and by which you recognize yourself. This is your ultimate avidya – your perennial inability to recognize your OWN SELF – and confusing every thing else as your self. 

The science of Yoga is actually intended to remove this avidya and enable you to recognize what is permanent and what is not; what is pure and what is not; what is joy-giving and what is not; and what really are You and what You really are not. 

We have defined Ignorance. But, we are still far away from knowing what is permanent, what is pure, what is Joy or Joy-giving and what is the real self. Are they all different – or one and the same? Our journey through the path of Yoga – is precisely for knowing this – and coming out of our Ignorance.


drig darsana

saktyoh ekaatmatha iva asmithaa

Ø  drig = the witness (that is the real You); the consciousness self which is the real Seer
Ø  darsana-saktyoh = the instrument (Or power)of seeing, intellect or anthahkarana (including Buddhi)
Ø  ekaatmatha = identifying as self
Ø  iva = appearing to be
Ø  asmita = I-ness (or ego self)

There is a Permanent Witness (or, Drig) of everything. And then, there is the instrument and Power of seeing (and experiencing)  namely the Antahkarana or Intellect (including Buddhi) – which sees and experiences through the five senses etc, judges,  decides and identifies.  When this instrument  is doing so many intellectual deeds – we, the real witness, tend to identify with the instrument of seeing and experiencing , namely with the antahkarana (and Buddhi) – while it is actually only an instrument and not we, the real self. This gives rise to an I feeling, with the Instrument with which we tend to identify.

Why does this happen? Why does the actual seer identify with the instrument of seeing? This happens because – the seer cannot see himself. The physical part only is visible. The instrument of seeing only is available for sensory perception. The mind can see all things outside – but not the seer who remains unseen by it. The five senses are all outward bound – and therefore all inputs from them come from outside. There are no inputs from the real Seer at all.

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