Sunday, January 29, 2012

PATANJALI YOGA SUTRAS - Verse.2.54 - Pratyahara, the start of INWARD JOURNEY - Vs.2.55 - Mastery of Senses - End of Saadhana Paadha



sva vishaya asamprayoge
chittha svaroopa anukaarah
iva indriyaanaam pratyaharah

Ø  sva = their own
Ø  vishaya = objects
Ø  asamprayoge = not in contact with
Ø  chittha =  mind
Ø  svaroopa = its own form
Ø  anukaarah = following
Ø  iva = like this
Ø  indriyaanaam = the five sensory organs
Ø  pratyaharah = withdrawal of the indriyas (the senses), bringing inward

The five sensory organs are the Gateways of the mind and the Ego to the outside world. All knowledge comes from their conjunction and interaction with the outside world.

This means, all knowledge of the world and even of the body-mind complex of one’s own self comes from the five senses and their interaction with the world.
Yoga is our inward journey. Patanjali has defined yoga as the cessation of the chittha’s various activities. It must become silent. It will not be silent – as long as the interaction of the senses with their respective sense objects continues.
The Eye sees the images and forms in the world. The ear hears the sounds. The Nose receives the smells. The tongue receives the taste signals. The skin receives the touch sensation.

But, the external sense organ is only a receiver. Its synthesis and understandin takes place solely in the Chittha itself. But, if the receiver does not transmit any signal from outside, the chittha becomes helpless in its outward journeys.

If the eye does not see, the ear does not hear, the nose does not smell, the tongue does not taste and the skin does not feel the touch – the chittha’s contact with the external world is cut off. Then, there is only one way left for the Chittha. For some time, it battles with the impressions already stored in itself from the Past. The reason for this – is to encourage the sense organs to do their outward forays again. 

When the sense organs do not do that – the Chittha – has only one way to go. It is INWARD.

Let us understand that this INWARD JOURNEY, called Pratyahara, starts only after yama, niyama, asana, and pranayama. By this time, the mind is sufficiently motivated and trained and encouraged to be calm and silent. The rhythm of the Sadhaka’s breath itself is now harmonious with the universal breath. Therefore, the interest of the sadhaka in external Objects comes down sufficiently.

His readiness to start his inward Journey is now complete.

But, the first step in this inward Journey is to delink the sense organs from the sense objects. It is for this reason that a sadhaka needs to choose an appropriate, lonely place for his Yoga Sadhana. The place must ensure that sense attractions are minimal , and if anything, they must encourage his inward journey.

This means that the sense organs will leave their sense objects and become one with the Chittha and strive to take on the original form of the Chittha itself – rather than the outside sense objects.

Sense objects are the tools for outward journey. Now, they also aid in the inward journey by  merging themselves with the Chittha.

All that happens now – happens inside chittha – with no help from outside, no distraction from outside.

Now, Chittha has to fight its own recorded past. This happens for some time. This means, different thoughts go on bombarding it from within itself.

But, they cannot survive without help from outside. When that is denied for sufficient time, all these thoughts die – and the Chittha becomes calmer and calmer. 

The Chittha travels from alpha, to beta to theta state and so on – and becomes calmer and calmer
This state of the Chittha where it travels totally inward (along its sense organs) is called Pratyahara –which is the fifth step of Ashtanga Yoga – and the first inward step. The first four steps – yama, niyama, aasana and pranayama – are basically with an external orientation though they do impact on the INTERNAL.

But, Pratyahara has left the outward world completely behind and has started the INWARD JOURNEY.


thathah parama vashyatha indriyaanaam

Ø  thathah =  thereby
Ø  parama =  the best, or the highest
Ø  vashyatha = mastery
Ø  indriyaanaam = of the sense organs

This step – of Pratyahara – gives excellent and the highest form of MASTERY for the Sadhaka over his own sense organs and their functions.

A Sadhaka, after sufficient practice of Pratyahara – is able to see the world Drama – as Drama – and is able to see his own Goal of Samadhi, or enlightenment – very clearly now.

It is true that - Samadhi is still a Goal – but, the journey has started on the HIGH WAY now. The preparations for the Journey – the first four steps – are over now. The sense organs are no more distractions. They too aid in the INWARD JOURNEY.

After Pratyahara starts the sixth step of Dhaarana. Dhaarana, Dhyana and Samadhi are SPECIAL STEPS  in Yoga. They are very special and they go together almost always. Together, they are called samyama. They are special – for several reasons.

Now – the Sadhaka has travelled from Sadhana – to a phase called vibhoothi. His capabilities for Yoga have become unquestionable. Nature – the entire Universe - acknowledges his capabilities. He becomes the Master now – and nature starts serving him.

But, his Goal is not – becoming master of Nature. It is something else and something more.

These are therefore dealt with by Patanjali – in the next 2 chapters – vibhooti Paadha and kaivalya Paadha.

These will start in the Next Post.

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1 comment:

  1. Nowadays Yoga has come to mean, in actual practice, world over, just a single limb -- Yogaasanas, or Sitting postures with various contortions of the body many times deviating from the rules-- of the Ashtanga yoga system, which is the real thing. Is it not a ridiculous state of affairs and a travesty, that "teaching" of these postures to the total exclusion of all those other limbs like Yama, Niyama, Pratyaahaara, etc., have become a huge commercial propoition. Plainly, if the Yoga practitioner is neither informed with guidelines on these other limbs, the Yogic practitioner will only be enabled to become a person whose physique is fine but the mind and spirit all the same as any of those suffering fellowmen around