Yoga Sutras - An Exposition
by Shoutir Kishore Chatterjee
1: The Section on Samadhi (Samadhi-padah)
concentration [yoga] is explained.
Only he who is well trained, that is has his body and mind
under control and who is eager to enter the inner world is
eligible for practising the yoga of meditation. Such a person
qualifies for the practice of yoga only if he is able to understand
that Brahman is the goal of a seeker of freedom and that spiritual
practice consists in tearing the mind away from the world
to engage it in the pursuit of that goal. Maharshi Patanjali's
instructions are meant for those who have acquired such awareness
about the goal and the means. This is the significance of
the word atha ('now'} in the first aphorism.
is restraining the mind-stuff (citta) [which is like a lake]
from taking various forms (vrttis) lor modifications, which
are like waves and ripples rising in it when external causes
impinge on it.
Tada drastuh svarupe'vasthanam.
that time (the time of concentration) the seer (Purusha) rests
in his own (unmodified) state.
other times (other than that of concentration) the seer is
identified with the modifications.
Comment: Our mind has been busy with external things life
after life. Now if we are to attain Self-knowledge we have
to stop all activities of the mind. Even when the mind ceases
to think, we have the consciousness 'I exist'. We need to
sit still for long hours, holding only to that fir-consciousness'.
This is the first instruction in the practice of yoga.
Vrttayah pancatayyah klistaklistah.
are five classes of modifications, (some) painful and (others)
are) right knowledge, indiscrimination, verbal delusion, sleep
perception, inference and competent evidence [the words of
an apta or 'attained per-] are proofs.
is false knowledge not established in real nature [like mistaking
a piece of mother-of-pearl for a piece of silver].
Sabda-jnananupati vastu-sunyo vikalpah.
delusion follows from words having no (corresponding) reality.
is a vrtti that embraces the feeling of voidness.
is when the (vrttis of) perceived subjects do not slip away
(and through impressions come back to consciousness).
Usually we do not observe the movements of the mind. But if
we want to make the mind inactive, it is extremely important
that we keep a watch on its movements. The thoughts we entertain
throughout the day are broadly of five types. Every thought
results sometimes in pleasure, sometimes in pain. Generally,
whatever circumstances we are in, we think about our associated
daily activities. Due to bad upbringing or lack of upbringing,
sometimes various strange ideas too crop up in the mind. We
always think about the happiness and misery of our past life.
And when we get tired, the mind, as it were, winds itself
up and lies down like an inert mass. What else is our life
but such variegated plays of the mind?
control is by practice and non-attachment.
Tatra sthitau yatno'bhyasah.
struggle to keep them (the vrttis) perfectly restrained is
Sa tu dirgha-kala-nairantarya-satkarasevito drdha-bhumih.
becomes firmly grounded by long constant efforts with great
love (for the end to be attained).
Drstanusravika-visayavitrsnasya uastkara-samjna vairagyam.
effect which comes to those who have given up their thirst
after objects, either seen or heard, and which wills to control
the objects [that is to control the twofold motive powers
(for our actions) arising from our own experience and from
the experience of others, and thus prevent the citta being
governed by them], is non-attachment.
Life means the activities of the gross and subtle bodies.
Both these are constituted by avidya (nescience). These are
insentient matter like pieces of brick. The first step towards
stopping their activities is to realize that such play is
absolutely useless for us. Then we have to follow it up with
efforts to check the mind's propensity towards them. The second
task is to forcibly stop these activities.
find it difficult to get rid of lesser addictions like chewing
betel leaves and tobacco. But if we really want to be free
from them, we have first to reason out that these do not benefit
us in any way but involve only pointless waste of energy and
depletion of wealth. Above all, these mean slavery to a habit.
Then we need to abstain from them now and then and see for
ourselves whether the abstentions really harm us in any way.
to free ourselves from the addiction to worldly enjoyments,
we have to develop the following awareness: Through endless
time we have catered so much enjoyment to the five senses
and the mind, but that has not given us the least bit of satisfaction;
rather, the addiction has only grown. Therefore we should
not proceed farther in that direction. When the issue becomes
clear through such reasoning, we have now and then to stop
the activities of our mind and intellect and look inside and
beyond them. We will then be convinced that when there is
so much joy inside us, we shall only court disaster if we
keep playing with things outside.
such practice, when non-attachment becomes well established,
the bondage of maya formed of the three gunas will fully snap
and the conception of one's true Self will become clear.
the enjoyments of this world there exist infinite life, infinite
knowledge and infinite bliss. One has to hear of this fact
from a man of illumination or read it from scriptures and
then ruminate over it again and again. How happily illumined
souls live is evident from their play-like activities. As
one thinks about their forms, and the facts of their lives,
a longing to rise above worldly lures arises in one's mind.
This is something to be specially comprehended before embarking
on the practice of yoga.
control the extreme restlessness of the mind one has to discriminate
and understand that one has been intoxicated with this kind
of play of the mind through so many births, without being
benefited in the least. Therefore, this restlessness of the
mind has to be stopped if one is to attain peace. As a sequel
to this, one will develop disgust for the habit of thinking
about various things. One will then have to adopt the above-mentioned
methods to restrain the mind.
this habit is not something that goes away in one or two days.
To conquer this habit acquired through innumerable births,
one has to ceaselessly keep the thought-stream of the mind
stopped for many days. If I quell the thoughts of the mind,
I will find out my true Self. It will not do me the least
bit of harm; rather, through it, I will be able to free myself
from the clutches of misery. This fact needs to be firmly
imprinted in the mind.
we find that non-attachment arises in the mind because of
some particular distress. But such non-attachment does not
produce any lasting effect. True non-attachment comes only
to those who realize through subtle perception or discrimination
that none of the objects of enjoyment they have known or heard
about from others is beneficial to them, and that total renunciation
of all desires for enjoyment does not harm them in the least.
The term vasikara-sarhjna (sarhjna = jnana,
or awareness) means firmly imprinting the idea in our mind
that the objects of enjoyment are out and out vile, and a
clear awareness (and conviction) that they can never lure
is extreme non-attachment which gives up [under which one
ceases to feel attraction for] even the qualities [the three
gunas, which constitute the whole of nature], and [which]
comes from the knowledge of (the real nature of) the Purusha.
When the mind is thus kept restrained for many days, one experiences
a wonderful peace, and the mind becomes serene. Then one knows
for certain that all peace and happiness is within oneself.
One needs to apprehend nothing apart from one's true Self.
This state is called para-vairagya (supreme non-attachment).
When this state is attained, the mind becomes absolutely free
from attraction for anything in this creation.
concentration called right knowledge [samprajnata samadhi]
is that which is [upon a single object and is] followed [in
stages] by reasoning, discrimination, bliss [and] unqualified
egoism [depending on the object chosen].
is another samadhi [asamprajnata samadhi] which is attained
by the constant practice of cessation of all mental activity,
[and] in which the cittu [mind] retains only the unmanifest
Concentration of the mind is the first discipline for spiritual
progress. That is why a Hindu's religious practice started
with Gayatri worship. In that worship boys were taught to
concentrate on [an inner] light. Those who want to follow
the path of meditation have to first practise making the mind
inactive. Established in that state, they have to comprehend
the idea 'I am'. For those who , succeed in this, certain
other practices are prescribed. First, one has to think about
some gross object. When the mind becomes totally fixed on
that, one can understand that the power of concentration of
the mind has developed. Then in the second stage, the mind
needs to be fixed on some subtle (or abstract) idea. Thus
when the mind becomes completely still and steady, a stage
called samadhi is reached. In that tranquil state of
the mind, sometimes one gets a faint glimpse of one's true
Self. That is called ananda samadhi. There is another
state in which one remains in a sort of unswerving awareness
of that very T. That is known as sasmita samadhi. When
the mind comes out from such samadhis, one finds that one's
previous impressions (samskaras) continue to remain
as earlier. But unlike the worldly-minded, who move about
with a restless mind swayed by their impressions, yogis can
keep the impressions fully under control.
samadhi when not followed by extreme non-attachment) becomes
the cause of the re-manifestation of the gods [the offices
of gods are filled successively by various souls, none of
rwhom is perfect] and of those that become merged in nature.
One has to undergo various disciplines to become eligible
for the practice of meditation. Those who do not do that but
practise remaining inactive by the sheer exercise of will
power do not attain freedom. Possibly, due to the propagation
of the Buddhist doctrine of nirvana, many people followed
various spiritual disciplines based on erroneous beliefs.
They did not know about Brahman, either with or without attributes;
what is more, they did not admit of any entity called Brahman.
Many among them were atheists and nihilists. Their idea was
that there is nothing called jivatman. Therefore they thought
that the ultimate goal of life was to hold the breath (practise
kumbhaka) and hibernate mugly like a frog or a snake.
During deep sleep we become as if dead. But on waking up we
find ourselves exactly as we were before sleep. If such atheists
and nihilists die while in a state of samadhi, they remain
merged in nature, as if in deep sleep, until the end of the
kalpa (until the dissolution of the universe at the end of
the cycle). When a new cycle of creation begins they are reborn
as they were before, with the sum total of their earlier impressions
who embark on yoga without purifying the mind through the
practice of karma yoga and attaining concentration of the
mind through worship, become tempted by various occult powers
when they accrue to them. This spells their downfall. And
if they die in a state of samadhi with their mind void and
inactive, their mind-stuff continues to be covered by avidya
(nescience). Thus they are reborn at the end of the kalpa.
people may be able to merge their mind in nature, that is
in avidya, through meditation. If they die while not in a
state of Samadhi, they may have in their mind even thoughts
other than that of the primal avidya. Their next birth will
of course be determined by their thought at the time of death.
And if their consciousness remains merged in nature even while
they give up the gross body, they will remain in that state
until the end of the kalpa.
kinds of liberation have been spoken of in Vedanta: videha-mukti
(liberation when bereft of the body) and jivan-mukti
(liberation when still living). Videha-mukti means
liberation after death. Likewise we can also interpret videha-laya
as the state in which one remains merged in nature (Prakriti)
when bereft of the body. And it is a universal truth that
one is reborn exactly in accordance with one's state of mind
just before death.
have understood the word videha to mean devata (god).
Swami Vivekananda too accepted the same meaning.
others [those who do not want the position of gods or even
that of rulers of cyclesl (this samadhi) comes through faith,
energy, memory, concentration and discrimination of the real.
[They attain to liberation.]