Patanjali Yoga Sutras – 7

Are you looking for proof? Debating within yourself? Are you hanging on to ‘wrong knowledge’ of how things are? You do not know how things are because the world is fluid. There is nothing solid here. Nobody is solid. Nobody’s mind is solid. No thoughts are solid. The whole world is fluid.

Anything can change any time, in any way. The whole world is filled with all sorts of possibilities. But your mind tries to fix everything — thought, people, ideas and places — into definite items or quantities. This is how it is. Your mind has set ideas of yourself, using proof, wrong knowledge or vikalpa, fantasies or fears or dwelling in the past. The four modulations of the mind plus sleep, that is another modulation.

Abhyasavairagyabhyam tannirodhaha

They can be restrained by practice or dispassion.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #12

How do you get over that? One can overpower this vrutti (modulation) through abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (detachment or self-centeredness).

Tatra sthithou yatnobhyasaha

Practise is that effort made to steadily be there in the seer.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #13

That which you do to be there is called abhyasa or practice. Abiding in the seer is abhyasa, that which you do to be right here, this moment is abhyasa. A little effort is needed to relieve you from the five modulations and just be here, now, now, now, now, now. Bringing the mind to the present and not dwelling on the past memories. That effort is called abhyasa.

You can do the following practise. Close your eyes. You are not going to dwell on any logic now. That means you are free from pramana. You are not interested in proof from anything. You just observe it. You relax. You are not interested in any wrong knowledge or right knowledge, whatever.

Often when the mind has wrong knowledge, it thinks it has the right knowledge. Retrieving the mind from knowing also (from knowledge). You are not anxious to see, smell, touch, feel, understand anything… let things be the way they are. Who cares? Right or wrong, no judgement. That means that you are freeing yourself from viparyayaya and vikalpa.

If the mind is on some imagination, fantasy, just knowing that it is imagination, fantasy is enough and it fades away. Just like when you know that you are dreaming, the dream vanishes. Then free yourself from sleep and relieve yourself from all the experiences of the past. Pleasant and unpleasant experiences are gone. The moment is free, fresh and full. Being here this moment totally is abhyasa.

The mind might try to go to the past, to smruti, or may try to go off to sleep and it can try to bring some logic and justification or some knowledge or some fantasies. Just knowing that again it is getting into the five vruttis, without aversion or craving, come back to the center, to the seer. This is abhyasa.

Om Namah Shivay

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Patanjali Yoga Sutras – 6

Five modes of consciousness arises in your Self. What are they?

Pratyakshanumanagamaha pramanani

The different kinds of proof the mind requires are the obvious experiential proof, inferential proof and scriptural proof.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #7

Pratyaksha means obvious, experiential. Our mind constantly wants to have an obvious, solid, experiential proof. This is one mode of activity of the mind. Another is anumana, which means, it is not so obvious, but you infer and whatever you infer, you believe.

Agamaha is the proof the mind takes from scriptures or from books. Because it is written. Even today in certain remote villages, anything printed is the gospel truth. Many people say that since something is written it must be right. We are constantly looking for proof of something or anything.

Yoga is when you drop this search and abide in the Self. Abiding in the Self does not need proof. Truth cannot be understood through proof. God is beyond proof. You cannot prove God, nor can you disprove God.

Proof is connected to logic and logic is very limited in its purview. This is the same with enlightenment, same with love. Love can never be proved or disproved. This is not in the realm of the seer. The seer is beyond proof.

Viparyayo mithyajnanamatadrupa pratishtam

Wrong understanding is knowing the unreal in a form that is not its own.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #8

Most of the time you impose your own ideas, views and feelings on others and you think that is how they are. This is called viparyaya. You have an inferiority complex or you suddenly see someone else behaving very arrogantly. They might not be arrogant and you are not being ill-treated by them. But you suddenly feel that you are being ill-treated. You are not respected because you do not respect yourself. You think that others do not respect you. This tendency of your mind is viparyaya. Suddenly people feel that they are not being loved.

Shabdajnananupati vastushunyo vikalpaha

It is a sort of hallucination followed in sequence by mere words or knowledge and which, in reality, is devoid of truth.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #9

Vikalpa is a sort of a hallucination. Nothing of that sort exists, just mere words which do not carry much meaning hover in the mind. This fantasy is called vikalpa, the third modulation of mind or chitta.

Vikalpa can be of two types. One could be a joyful, pleasurable fantasy and the other could be baseless fears. “What will happen if I die tomorrow? What if I have an accident?” These are all just simply sounds which have no value. Baseless fears in the mind or fantasies.

Abhavapratyayalambana vruttirnidra

Sleep is that modulation of the mind which has, for its objective, substratum, the cause of non-existence.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #10

If the mind is not in any one of the above mentioned three modulations, then in the fourth place it goes to sleep. The fifth activity of the mind is smruti, which is remembering the experiences it had.

Anubhuta vishaya sampramoshaha smrutihi

Remembering the past experiences.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #11

Om Namah Shivay

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Patanjali Yoga Sutras – 5

Vrutti sarupyamitaratra

You identify yourself with the modulations of the mind all the time.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #4

What this means is that your mind is engaged in the outside world all the time. With eyes open in the waking state you are caught up in all that you see, smell, hear, touch and taste. If not, you return to sleep or to the state of dreaming where you are completely shut off from the world.

In the sleep and dreaming state, the same memories return but you are never to yourself, calm and quiet. You become the object of your perception. You know, if you see villagers or innocent people or children, when they are watching a movie, they are so totally involved in the movie and nobody exists for them at that time. It is just the movie that exists at that moment. They wouldn’t even know if their legs were hurting or if they had a backache. They do not feel pain. They do not feel their body at all.

What happens? Your consciousness assumes the form of that movie, of that vrutti. You know, once in a village, somebody was watching a movie and the people saw that the hero was being tortured by the villain. People, actually, stood up with sticks and stones and said, “Come on, I am going to hit you,” and rushed towards the stage. Our consciousness assumes the form otherwise.

The whole purpose of yoga is to be one with the Self, to bring integrity and make you whole. Abiding in the form, in the nature of the seer is yoga. Whenever you experience joy, ecstasy, bliss, happiness in life — knowingly or unknowingly — you are abiding in the form or in the nature of the seer. Otherwise, at other times you are with the different activities of the mind. You become one with the different activities. The modulations of the mind are of five forms.

Vruttayaha panchatayyaha klishtaklishtaha

The modulations of the mind are five-fold, painful or not painful.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #5

There are certain vruttis or modulations of the mind, which are problematic. Now, what are those?

Pramanaviparyayavikalpanidra-smrutayaha

Wanting proof, wrong understanding, imagination, sleep and memory.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #6

Om Namah Shivay

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Patanjali Yoga Sutras – 4

So what is yoga? It is our second sutra.

Chitta vrutti nirodaha

Yoga is the act of restraining or freeing the mind from the clutches of its modulations.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #2

There are five types of modulations of the mind:

Wanting proof for everything

Lack of comprehension

Imagination

Sleep

Memory

All through the day, your mind is in one of these modulations. But, if there are those moments when you are not sleeping, not remembering old things, not imagining, or looking for proof, then that moment yoga has happened.

At that moment, what is happening? You are just by yourself in the journey of your own Self, which is the source of joy, the source of love, the source of peace and knowledge.

There are two types of thinking — occidental and oriental. In the oriental way of thinking, it said that there is an ultimate and in the ultimate everything happens. In the occidental way of thinking, you are always looking for an ultimate. In either of the approaches, yoga is what happens when you are in the moment so totally at ease and peace.

So, when does this happen? Whenever you are watching the sunset or when you experience beauty in your life or when you experience lot of energy in the body. This also happens after pranayam (breathing techniques) or during meditation. The mind is then free from all these five modulations. That is why when you do yoga asanas (yoga postures), you put the body, mind, and breath all in one rhythm. That is when real yoga is happening and you are with yourself.

Tado drashtuhu swarupe avasthanam

The seer then rests or remains in his/her own nature.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #3

Discipline is to unite yourself, to unite all the loose ends of your existence.

Vrutti sarupyamitaratra

You identify yourself with the modulations of the mind all the time.
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #4

What this means is that your mind is engaged in the outside world all the time. With eyes open in the waking state you are caught up in all that you see, smell, hear, touch, taste. If not, you return to sleep or to the state of dreaming where you are completely shut off from the world.

Om Namah Shivay

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Patanjali Yoga Sutras – 3

Atha yoganushasanam

Now I will enunciate the discipline of Yoga.

– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #1

Shasana means rules someone imposes on you. Anushasana is the rule you impose upon yourself. Do you see the difference? Now, why is yoga called a discipline? Where is the need for discipline? When does the need for discipline arise?

When you are thirsty and want to drink water, you do not say “Oh! This is a rule, I must drink water”. When you are hungry, you just eat. When it comes to the question of enjoying oneself, no discipline is necessary.

Where does discipline come into the picture?

Discipline arises when something is not very charming to begin with. Isn’t it? When you are happy, when you are in peace or happiness, then you are already in yourself. There is no discipline there. But when the mind is wagging its tail all the time, then discipline is essential to :calm it down.

The fruit of it is eventually blissful, joyful. As a diabetic says, “I have the discipline not to eat sugar.”

There are three types of happiness.

Sattvic — happiness which is not pleasurable to begin with, but ends in joy

Rajasic — happiness that seems to begin well but ends in misery

Tamasic — there appears to be happiness but in reality there is only misery from beginning to end

No discipline is necessary for tamasic happiness. Wrong discipline results in rajasic happiness. For sattvic happiness, discipline is essential to begin with. It need not be uncomfortable all the time. But if it is uncomfortable, then you should be able to bear with it. You need discipline. That is why Patanjali begins with the present, when things are not clear and when your heart is not in the right place.

Now let us look into the discipline of yoga

It is nobody’s imposition; it is self-imposed. There is a lot we impose on ourselves — every morning we wake up and brush our teeth, we then brush them again before going to bed. This is your discipline. However, these have been self-imposed from childhood. Haven’t they?

When you were a child, your mother had to impose the discipline on you. Then, once it became a habit, you understood it was for your own good. Then you found it was no longer your mother’s rule but your own.

In the same way, keeping yourself clean, hygienic, exercising, meditating, being kind, considerate etc. All these rules you have imposed on yourself are all discipline.. Isn’t it?

Yoga means uniting with your source. When does that happen? This happens when the mind, which is chattering all the time, suddenly becomes silent.

Om Namah Shivay

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Patanjali Yoga Sutras 2

Another person became curious. “What is the Master doing behind the curtain? I want to see.” He got so curious that he lifted the curtain to see the Master. Just as he did so, all 999 disciples were burnt to ashes. Now, Patanjali became very sad. There he was ready to impart knowledge to the whole world and all of his disciples were burnt.

At this moment, that one little boy returned. Patanjali asked him where he had gone. The boy explained and asked his forgiveness. Patanjali was compassionate and felt that at least one of his disciples was saved.

So he gave him the rest of the yoga sutras, the rest of the knowledge. But, the student had violated the law and Patanjali was not willing to forget that. He said, “Since you have violated the law, you will become a Brahmarakshasa, a ghost and hang on the tree.” And the only way he could liberate himself from the curse is to teach one student. Saying this, Patanjali disappeared.

Now Brahmarakshasa, hanging on a tree, would ask everyone who passed by a question and when they could not give an answer, he would eat them. He had no choice. For a few thousand years, this was the story. He could not find a single person to whom he could teach the yoga sutras. So, he remained in the tree as a Brahmarakshasa. (The lesson here is that when one who has great knowledge does something wrong, the state of Brahmarakshasa will come. An intelligent person becoming a criminal is more dangerous than an innocent person becoming a criminal. If a person, who knows all knowledge and then turns a criminal, it is much more dangerous). Brahmarakshasa was hanging there and waiting for relief.

Then out of compassion, Patanjali himself becomes a disciple and comes as a student to Brahmarakshasa who told him all the yoga sutras, which Patanjali wrote on palm leaves. The story goes that to redeem one disciple, the Master became the disciple of a disciple.

Patanjali wrote the yoga sutras sitting on the top of the tree as that was where Brahmarakshasa sat. Brahmarakshasa worked only in the night. So, he dictated the sutras at night and Patanjali wrote them on leaves. He plucked all the leaves and made a small scratch, drew blood and wrote. This went on for seven days. At the end of it, Patanjali was tired. He put everything he had written into a piece of cloth, set it down and went to bathe. When he returned, he found that a goat had eaten most of the leaves. Patanjali then took the cloth bag and the rest of the leaves and walked away.

Om Namah Shivay

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Patanjali Yoga Sutras 1

We will begin with a story, the greatest and most effective way of conveying knowledge. Once upon a time, long ago, all the munis and rishis approached Lord Vishnu to tell him that even though He (incarnated as Lord Dhanvanthari) had given them the means to cure illnesses through Ayurveda, people still fell ill. They also wanted to know what to do when people got sick.

Sometimes it is not just physical illness, but mental and emotional illness too that needs to be dealt with. Anger, lust, greed, jealousy etc. How does one get rid of all these impurities? What is the formula?

Vishnu was lying on the bed of snakes — the serpent Adishésha with a 1,000 heads. When the Rishis approached Him, he gave them Adishésha, the symbol of awareness, who took birth in the world as Maharishi Patanjali.

So Patanjali came to this earth to give this knowledge of yoga which came to be known as the yoga sutras. Patanjali said he was not going to discuss the yoga sutras unless 1,000 people got together. So 1,000 people gathered south of Vindhya Mountains to listen to him.

Patanjali had another condition — he would put a screen between him and his students and told them that nobody was to lift the screen or leave. Everybody had to stay in the hall till he finished. So Patanjali stayed behind the curtain and he transmitted his knowledge to the 1,000 gathered. Each of them absorbed this knowledge. It was an amazing phenomenon and even amongst the students, they could not believe how they were getting this knowledge, how the master was making each of them understand without uttering words from behind the curtain.

Everybody was amazed. Each one of them experienced such a blast of energy, such a blast of enthusiasm, that they could not even contain it. But they still had to maintain the discipline.

But one little boy had to go out to attend nature’s call. So he left the room. He thought to himself that he would go quietly and return quietly. Another person became curious. “What is the Master doing behind the curtain? I want to see.”

In this story, there is a lot of depth. The puranas do not give any explanation. They just give a story and it is for us to unlock the meaning. So what is that you all have to find out?

How did the master convey the knowledge to everybody without uttering a word?

What was the significance of the veil?

Om Namah Shivay

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