Thursday, February 16, 2012

PATANJALI = YOGA SUTRAS = Ch.3.7 = Vibhoothi Paadha = SAMYAMA the Great Inward Journey

Chapter 3

Vibhoothi Paadha


thrayam antharangam purvebhyah

Ø  thrayam = these three steps (Dharana, Dhyanam, Samaadhi)
Ø  anthar = more internal
Ø  angam = parts, constituents
Ø  purvebhyah = (than the) preceding (five steps)

We have examined  the eight limbs of Ashtamnga Yoga – five in Sadhana Paadha and three in Vibhoothi paadha.

The first five limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are – yama, niyama, aasana, pranayama and pratyahara. Yama is for pure living and cleansing of the mind through, non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, chastity, and non-receiving (of gifts, non-due incomes).

Niyama is for cleansing of body and mind, contentment, thapas, self-study (or study by self) and surrender to Eeswara. Patanjali’s Eeswara is a special Purusha who is beyond all the weaknesses of Man and other beings. We must not see or attach any specific religious connotation in it.

Aasana is for achieving a certain discipline of the body and control over its movements.

Pranayama is control of the prana energy through breath regulation etc. It is also a bodily Sadhana but directed to achieving control over the unseen Prana Force in us.

Pratyahara is intended for directing the senses inward so that they become one with the mind.

All these five parts or Sadhanas of Ashtanga Yoga – have body and mind as their objects or Goals. They have almost nothing to do with external Universe and all that is available in it.  That way – we tend to feel that these are internal practices. But, no; Patanjali affirms that these are external to us, to our real self.  

These (first five parts) are external to us - in comparison to the last three parts of Ashtanga Yoga, but they  are internal compared to the external world and worldly objects.

The last three parts of Ashtanga Yoga are – Dharana, Dhyana and Samaadhi.

These three - Concentration, meditation and very deep merger with the object of concentration – happen in smooth, gradual succession. When Samaadhi happens, the Chittha and the object become one. Till Samaadhi happens, Chittha is present and the Object of Concentration also is present in its form and shape. Now, both of them vanish. The meaning, the essence of the object only is present –but not its form. Now, the object reveals to the sadhaka all its hither-to unrevealed secrets, on its own.

These three – Dharana, Dhyanam and Samaadhi happen, one after the other, in an orderly manner, but, not in a hurried manner. They happen naturally.  In nature, nothing is ever in a hurry. So are these three parts of yoga. 

Sadhaka does not make the Samaadhi happen. He waits for it. He is not in a hurry for it. Samaadhi is the result of all the seven earlier limbs of Ashtanga Yoga.

One cannot jump to Samaadhi without going through Yama and Niyama. Or aasana, pranayama and pratyahara. 

Some people can be seen to be doing aasana and pranayama without yama and niyama.  This is possible. Teaching in some modern Yoga schools is focused on pranayama and different aasanas to the exclusion of other parts of yoga

Before Aasana Siddhi happens, some may practice pranayama. To a certain extent, these may benefit the practitioner. Aasana and Pranayama are steps visible to others easily. One can show off great talent in them. But, for success in yoga, what happens internally in the Chittha is more important than the external show-off.

The Chitta and the body – do not become calm unless yama and niyama are also practiced. Yama and niyama are not enough. Aasana and pranayama are also essential. Then occurs pratyahara, in which we draw the senses inward, to look where chittha is internally looking at. So, ultimately, the sadhaka’s aim is to achieve a concentration of the body and mind – and prepare them for Dharana.

Dharana is the first crucial, critical, inward step the Chittha takes towards Dhyanam and Samaadhi.

For this reason, Patanjali says, the first five steps are external steps, compared to the last three steps. In other words, Dharana, Dhyanam and Samaadhi are three steps which are COMPARATIVELY SPEAKING, internal steps – more internal than the first five.

What does all this mean? In the very beginning, we had defined Yoga as restraining of the activities of the Chittha. Thereafter, we defined the eight steps needed for it. Chittha is an unseen part of us. It is the most internal, unseen part of the sadhaka. It is not normally available for the five senses to experience - but it is Chittha which uses the five senses for its inward and outward communications with the world. In pratyahara, for the first time, the five senses are turned inward, to become one with chittha, the purpose being, to shut off Chittha's external travels.

All the eight limbs of ASHTANGA YOGA are therefore directed first to reach the chittha, stay there and then restrain its activities.

The whole of Ashtanga Yoga is therefore inward in its direction. One who is not performing Ashtanga Yoga is ALMOST TOTALLY OUTWARD BOUND. His senses are outward bound. His mind is following the senses and therefore is outward bound too. The body is acting according to the Chittha, which is acting according to the senses. Therefore, Body also is outward bound. This is normal.

But, for the Sadhaka,  with each step, his body, his senses, and his Chittha slowly become inward-bound – until, in Pratyahara, the senses start following the Chittha within itself. Now, the external Journeys are halted and the internal journey is about to begin. We are within the Chittha at the end of Pratyahara.
So, all these five steps are INWARD  in direction.


Dharana, Dhyanam and Samaadhi take us towards our innermost core. This is the real journey. So far, we only were stopping our outward journeys. After Pratyahara, we are at the Doorstep of the Chittha – and opened it and became ready and eligible for taking our inward journey. Now, the inward journey begins with Dharana.

Therefore, Patanjali says – with these three steps, together called as Samyama, the real inward journey has begun. Compared to the first five steps, these three steps are much more internal and inward in direction.

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