Fundamental classic text of Philosophical Yoga System.
Commentary by Yogi Prof. Ramdas Prabhu Ji.
॥ प्रथभ् सभाणधऩाद् ॥
CHAPTER I – Samādhi
And now (atha) begins the instruction (anuśāsanam) about Yoga (yoga) ||1||
1. After examining the nature of the Primordial Substance (Prakṛti) and Puruṣa (the Being pure and unconditioned) through Sāṅkhya philosophy, and being in accordance with the Vedic scriptures, Maharshi Patanjali now begins to expose the system known as Yoga.
Yoga (yogah) is the cessation (nirodhah) of the modifications (vṛtti) of the mind (citta) ||2||
This very simple definition of Yoga has been the source of many misunderstandings; it is understood generally that Yoga is the artificial attempt to empty the mind through some practice or mental exercise: fixing of the mind on an object for some time; for example, fix the mind in the short hand on the clock for 10 seconds at first and then for 15 seconds, and gradually increasing the time in which it keeps the mind empty of thoughts. Sometimes, people are taught to take a few minutes to imagine a beautiful and peaceful place. Other schools prescribe sit before a blank wall or the simple fixation on the point between the eyebrows. However, none of these practices can reveal the true nature of Yoga method. To thoroughly understand what this is, it is important situate Yoga in its proper context: the Sāṅkhya. If we do not understand the doctrinal foundations provided by Sāṅkhya, Yoga does not make sense.
Citta-vṛtti-nirodha — cessation (nirodhah) of the modifications (vṛtti) of the mind (citta) — is not at all the result of the effort to empty the mind, but from the Knowledge of the difference between Puruṣa (Soul) and Prakrti (Material Nature). The attainment of such knowledge require the awakening of a new faculty to be developed through effort (asceticism) and discipline (abhyāsa) — this is the faculty of intuitive and direct perception (called nous by Greek philosophy, the intuitive or noetic faculty). The intuitive perception (vijñana) is only obtained by the production of a specific type of knowledge in buddhi (Intelligence) that consciousness (of Being) is not an attribute of buddhi itself; this consciousness (of Being) really comes from Puruṣa.
And how that knowledge is produced? We should understand by “knowledge”, not the knowledge fruit of reason and logical arguments, but the spiritual knowledge whose determining characteristic is the direct apprehension of inner reality – Puruṣa. To awaken this knowledge in buddhi, Sāṅkhya proposes cognitive methods called tattva-abhyāsa, that is “the repeated study of Tattvas” (of Sāṅkhya philosophy) and reflections such as: “I am not the five sense organs”, “I am not this [body]”, “[These thoughts] are not mine”, “[thoughts, emotions, desires) belong to Nature, are not ‘I’”, and so on. Such investigations (vicara) is meant to awaken the perception that the body is Matter Prakṛti , the mind (citta) is matter Prakṛti, the thought (vṛtti) is also matter Prakṛti: he who perceives the thought as it really is – matter – he’s one step closer to get the intuitive perception of Puruṣa. In practicing the exclusionary method (avīta) of distinguishing the Puruṣa from Prakṛti by purely negative terms, such as – “I am not this”, “[This is] not mine”, “Not I” – which is similar to the famous process “neti, neti” (“not this, not this”) from the Upaniṣads, buddhi (intelligence) goes into a Self cognition process in which realizes the complete dissociation of the Puruṣa with the matter Prakṛti. The real character of Spirit is manifested, and the Puruṣa is perceived as self-established in the state of isolation (Kaivalya).
तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम्॥३॥
Tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe’vasthānam||3||
Then (tadā), the Observer (draṣṭuḥ) [that is to say, the Puruṣa] stands (avasthānam) in his own essential nature (sva-rūpe) of ||3||
It is clear, therefore, that Yoga does not mean anything beyond the cessation of citta-vṛttis, but the experience of distinctiveness of Puruṣa and Prakrti by means of meditation (Yoga) on the essential nature of the Self (Puruṣa). Through meditation, buddhi is infused with the recognition of Puruṣa and takes place another kind of movement – which is not vṛtti or thought – but bhāva (disposition), the bhāva of Knowledge (jñana) which manifests itself as bliss (ānanda).
The constant exercise of Yoga in discriminating the Puruṣa of the Prakrti, as described above, develops the intuitive perception (vijñana) what makes possible the complete cessation (nirodha) of identification (ie, non-discrimination) with the citta-vṛttis. This results in an “effortless awareness of being (Puruṣa)”, since the movements of the mind (citta-vṛttis) cease by themselves, as “the dancer gives up dancing after showing herself to the audience” (Kārikā LIX).
Otherwise (itaratra), the Puruṣa be confused (sārūpyam) with changeable states of mind (vṛtti) ||4||
Being itself a product of Prakṛti (although more refined), buddhi is constantly identifying the consciousness (of Being) – that derives from Puruṣa – with the body, the senses, emotions, intelligence, etc., posing as an agent (ahamkara) – “I see,” “I hear,” “I do”, “I think”, “I feel”, and from there to increasingly complex identifications, such as identification with family, country, football team, ideologies, political party, and so on. Patanjali teaches us that without the practice of Yoga – the cessation of non-discrimination (i.e., identification) with the modifications (vṛtti) of the mind (citta) – the direct experience of the Puruṣa is not possible.
Due to absence of the correct interpretation of what is Yoga – which unfortunately is widely observable – the formula citta-vrtti-nirodha has caused many misunderstandings. Most followers of Yoga system believe that the interruption of the flow of thoughts alone will give them the highest Spiritual Knowledge. That is not true! When a person concentrate the mind on one point – image, shape, sound… – a point that is not the Puruṣa, is just repelling the citta-vrttis, i.e., thoughts. The mere suppression of thoughts does not remove the non-discrimination between the Soul (Puruṣa) and Nature (Prakṛti). Even if the person remains one thousand years repressing the thoughts, latent tendencies of the mind (vasanas) will return to activity as soon as it stops the suppression of thoughts, due to lack of discrimination (vijñana).
वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टा अक्लिष्टाः॥५॥
Vṛttayaḥ pañcatayyaḥ kliṣṭā akliṣṭāḥ ||5||
There are five types (pañcatayyaḥ) of mental modifications (vṛttayaḥ) which may be painful (kliṣṭāḥ) or no-painful (akliṣṭāḥ) ||5||
From this sutra, Patanjali explains what the modifications (vṛtti) of the mind (citta) that must pass the scrutiny of discernment. kliṣṭā also means “tincture”, and Sāṅkhya texts teach that the modifications of the mind have the property of colorize the intelligence buddhi as well as crystal appears red by the approach of the Hibiscus flower. When purified by the quality Sattva (the mode of goodness), buddhi is able to reach the intuitive knowledge of Puruṣa and manifest properties bhāvas such as Dharma (Righteousness), Jñāna (Knowledge), Vairāgya (Dispassion) and Aiśvarya (Power). However, when it is tinged with Rajas (Passion) awakens “I”-thought (ahamkara) and with Tamas (obscurity), buddhi displays the inverse properties of Unrighteousness, Ignorance, Passion and Impotence.
These are: pramāṇa, viparyaya, vikalpa, nidrā e smṛti ||6||
Maharshi Patanjali says that the modifications of the mind (vṛttis) arise from five activities: pramāṇa – valid inference, (through deductive process); viparyaya – incorrect inference (fallacy); vikalpa – imagination; nidrā – sleep; and smṛti – memories.
The pramāṇas are the true conclusions that arise from direct perception (pratyakṣa), inference (anumāna) and word/testimony of reliable source (āgamāḥ) ||7||
According to Patanjali epistemology, there are only three possibilities of the human being to achieve the full and genuine knowledge: empirical, through direct perception provided by the sense organs (pratyakṣa); a rationalist, through reason and logic inference (anumāna); and finally, through the scriptures Testimony (āgamāḥ). However, the Sāṃkhya teach that these forms of knowledge are not able to illuminate the process of intuitive contemplation. The distinctiveness of Puruṣa and Prakṛti must be directly discerned through intuitive direct perception (vijñana). The non-discrimination between Puruṣa and Prakṛti is not removed by the argument (pramāṇas), since the Puruṣa is not liable to be experienced as a separate object of the subject, because it is itself the Self, which can only be apprehended directly (through yoga) without the aid of senses or reasoning.
The error (viparyayaḥ) is a knowledge (jñānam) false (mithyā) based (pratiṣtham) on mistaking a particular shape to another (atad-rūpa) ||8||
Viparyaya is “the opposite, the inverse” of pramāṇas, and in logical terms, it means all kinds of fallacies. Philosophically, both for the Sankhya as the Yoga the term corresponding to non-discrimination between Puruṣa and Prakṛti (or Avidya, Ignorance).
शब्दज्ञानानुपाती वस्तुशून्यो विकल्पः॥९॥
Śabdajñānānupātī vastuśūnyo vikalpaḥ||9||
Vikalpa (vikalpah) proceeds (anupātī) of knowledge (jñāna) verbal (śabda) about something (vastu) that is devoid of substance (śūnyaḥ) ||9||
Vikalpa extends not only to the imaginary creations of the mind, such as dreams and fiction, as well as abstract ideas such as “good”, “infinity”, and “nothingness”. Philosophically, the difference between the error (viparyaya) and the imaginary creation (vikalpa) is that the former can be destroyed by rational knowledge, while the latter cannot be, since it has no equivalent object in physical reality.
The modification (vṛttiḥ) (known as) nidrā (sleep) is based (ālambanā) on experience (perception) (pratyaya) of nonexistence (abhāva ||10||
According to Patanjali, deep sleep is a mental process (vṛttiḥ) in which the mind is empty of contents. The proof is that there is cognition in deep sleep, because when a person wakes up arise memories such as “I had a deep sleep,” “I slept well”, “I did not dream at all.” Many types of meditation induce a similar state to deep sleep, and this has nothing in common with the true state of permanence in the Puruṣa, in which the Self- consciousness is the only experience that remains, after obtaining the perfect isolation (Kaivalya).
The remembrance (smṛtiḥ) is the not-complete disappearance (asampramoṣaḥ) of a thing (Viṣaya) that was (previously) experienced (anubhūta) ||11||
The remembrance is also a vṛtti that must be contained by discernment; however, at least in two sutras further on, Patanjali will relate memory smṛti to the success of Yoga inasmuch as it is the practice of continually remind oneself that one is not this body, feelings and thoughts. The memories that arise from the experiences of pleasure, pain and ignorance should be strictly hindered (vṛtti-nirodha) through discrimination between Puruṣa and Prakṛti.
There is cessation (nirodhah) of it (tad) (namely “of the previous five mental modifications”) through Abhyāsa (assiduous practice) and Vairāgya (detachment) (abhyāsavairāgyābhyām) ||12||
According to Patanjali, the two fundamental conditions for the success of citta-vṛtti-nirodha (Yoga) are: Abhyāsa – discipline (assiduous practice) – and Vairāgya – dispassion.
तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोऽभ्यासः॥१३॥
Tatra sthitau yatno’bhyāsaḥ||13||
Practice (abhyāsaḥ) is the effort (yatnaḥ) (maded) to achieve that (Tatra) ‘steadiness’ i.e. “steadiness of the mind on the Puruṣa” (sthitau) ||13||
The state of “steadiness of the mind” is obtained after cessation of identification with the modifications of the mind (citta-vṛtti nirodha), i.e., Yoga, in which the focus is on the Puruṣa
स तु दीर्घकालनैरन्तर्यसत्कारासेवितो दृढभूमिः॥१४॥
Sa tu dīrghakālanairantaryasatkārāsevito dṛḍhabhūmiḥ||14||
And this (practice) (saḥ) when it is cultivated assiduously (āsevitaḥ) and with uninterruptible (nairantarya) attention (satkārā) for a long (dīrgha) time (kāla) certainly (tu) (becomes) firmly (dṛḍha) rooted (bhūmiḥ) ||14||
The effort to cease (nirodha) the identification, i.e., non-discrimination, with all modifications (vṛtti) of the mind (Citta) culminates in “direct experience” of Puruṣa. Insofar as the Self is realized in its pure and isolated essence (kaivalya), the Yogi makes an effort to stay in this steadiness of the mind (Puruṣa consciousness). When the effort to remain in this state ceases, then the Samadhi occurs, in which the mind is completely absorbed in the Self.
दृष्टानुश्रविकविषयवितृष्णस्य वशीकारसञ्ज्ञा वैराग्यम्॥१५॥
Dṛṣṭānuśravikaviṣayavitṛṣṇasya vaśīkārasañjñā vairāgyam ||15||
Dispassion (Vairāgya) is known (sañjñā) as the act of subjugating (vaśīkāra) desire (vitṛṣṇasya) in relation to objects (viṣaya) seen (dṛṣṭa) or described (ānuśravika) ||15||
Detachment by external signs of power and success and by transitory forms of pleasure presupposes acquiring a certain degree of discernment that all phenomenal experiences are conditioned and finite. Vairāgya has been widely praised by all the religions of the world as a sign of holiness, and for this reason, they have produced men and women of renounce – sannyasins, sadhus, monks, priests, nuns, etc. However, if this is not accompanied by Jñana (Knowledge) in the shape of discrimination between Puruṣa and Prakṛti, Vairāgya results – after death – in the temporary liberation to the spiritual sky and transcendental planets (Indra loka, pitr loka, etc.)). The correct Vairāgya must also be accompanied by the bhāva of Dharma (Righteousness and Duty), because otherwise, it becomes lack of compassion and indifference to other living entities.
Indifference (vaitṛṣṇyam) towards gunas (the modes of nature), resultant of knowledge (khyāteḥ) of Puruṣa (puruṣa) is called the highest Vairāgya (tad param) ||16||
In this sutra, Patanjali says that the highest form of Dispassion Vairāgya is that propitiated by Knowledge of distinctiveness of Soul (Puruṣa) and Nature (Prakṛti). For the Yogi, not even the subtle havens (Indra loka, pitr loka, etc) described in the scriptures can be considered desirable objects, because these are also external to the Puruṣa.
In the Aph.9, Book II of Sankhya says “When there is raga (passion), there is creation (vṛttis-thoughts, emotions, etc.), and when there is Vairagya (dispassion) there is Yoga (does that mean), permanence (of the Puruṣa) in his own nature “.
Samprajñāta (samprajñātaḥ) is achieved by means of (anugamāt) Vitarka, Vicāra, Ānanda e Asmitā (vitarkavicārānandāsmitārūpa) ||17||
Samprajñāta means “discerned”, and refers to experience of Kaivalya (isolation), when the Puruṣa is perceived as a distinct entity metaphysical, that is, as being separate from Prakṛti. For this reason, many commentaries associated Samprajñāta with samādhi, the perfect absorption in the Puruṣa.
In the Sāṅkhya Kārikā there is only mention of the exclusionary method (avīta) of distinguishing the Puruṣa from Prakṛti — “I am not this”, “[This is] not mine”, “Not I” — whereas the Aphorisms of Kapila teaches avīta, tattva-abhyāsa and also Yoga (meditation). In this sutra, Patanjali mentions other methods that are not very different: Vitarka means the act of reason and reflect on, and this seems like the tattva-abhyāsa, that is “the repeated study of Tattvas”. Vicāra, the effort to discern (vicāra,) internally the Puruṣa can be equated to avīta. Inasmuch as develops the Samprajñāta experience, the discernment of Puruṣa as Ānanda (bliss and peace) arises. Since the Puruṣa is perceived as his own Self, there is a constant attention to the inner awareness of “I” or “I am” – Asmitā.
The other (anyaḥ) (state) is preceded (pūrvaḥ) by practice of “steadiness of the mind on the Puruṣa” (abhyāsa) in which one experiences (pratyaya) complete extinction (virāma) [of non-discrimination], remaining only (śeṣaḥ) the inner impressions (saṁskāra). ||18||
The word anyaḥ means “other”; this word thus implies that this process is other than the saṁprajñāta defined in the previous sutra (17). Based on Vyasa’s commentary¹, many commentators refer to this as a-samprajñāta-samādhi, defining it as a state that is ” beyond any cognitive process of discrimination” (a-samprajñāta), and this suggests a state in which it is no longer necessary tools such as Vitarka and Vicara (see S17) to dive in the perception of Puruṣa. Others say that in this samādhi becomes unnecessary the support of an object [of contemplation], which is a complete nonsense since the saṁprajñāta does not make use of any external object [of contemplation]. For the Sāṅkhya, the Puruṣa is not liable to be experienced as a separate object of the subject, because it is itself the Self. In this sutra, the term asamprajñāta (that is, literally non-samprajñāta) is not even mentioned by Patanjali. In fact, Patanjali refers here to “Sahaja”, the state in which the non-discrimination was completely dissolved.
In this sutra, the term saṁskāra does not have the same meaning as Vāsanā – the internal conditionings based on non-discrimination. Vāsanās (literally “perfumes”, “fragrances”) are all the impressions and memories that pervade our mind after going through the experiences, both happy and unpleasant. For the Sāṅkhya, saṁskāras are the individual traits of personality and behavior that distinguish one subject from another. In this sense, the complete dissolution of non-discrimination (or Ignorance) does not imply the dissolution of personality (jiva).
¹ “When all the processes and contents of consciousness have been overcome, and only samskaras remain in residual form, such cessation is called Asamprajnata, samadhi. The way to achieve this samadhi is the highest detachment. Practice with support of objects [of contemplation] is not efficient to achieve this degree of enlightenment.”
Experience (pratyaya) of such a state of being (bhava) is of those [who will come to be] dissolved in Prakṛti (prakṛtilayānām), after leaving their physical bodies (videha) ||19||
This abstruse sutra has received numerous interpretations, many of which are absolutely meaningless. Scriptures as the Puranas describe the prakṛtilaya process as being literally the dissolution of constituents of jiva (individual soul) — prakṛti, manas, ahaṃkāra and buddhi — which return to their state of cause, that is, Pradhāna, the Nature Prakṛti in its eternal and causal Form unmanifested. But it would be illogical, since the jivanmukta (the man who has attained Liberation) would be in a similar state to all living entities during Pralaya period (Universal Dissolution), which in itself does not mean Liberation (mokṣa). Sometimes the word “dissolution” (laya) is interpreted as the absorption of a “part” (individual Puruṣa) into the “whole” (Supreme Consciousness), which implies the notion of self-dissolution. This false conception of Liberation (mokṣa), still widespread in many Yoga Samprayadas, is contrary to the notion of individuation supported by Sankhya. Indeed, what these Yoga-sampradayas call “Universal Consciousness” or “cosmic consciousness” is nothing more than Mahat, the first production of Prakṛti, and the cosmic aspect of buddhi. In Mahat, there is no trace of individuality or jiva (individual soul), however, to the extent that the Puruṣa illuminates with its light a limited “field experience” (Kshetrajña) in Mahat, at the expense of transmigration through various forms of life, evolves the process of individuation, and then the jiva – the individualized soul – emerges from the cosmic aspect of Prakṛti. Thus, jiva is a “portion” (aṃśa) of Mahat who came to conquer his status of individuation through of a growing discrimination of Puruṣa within itself. And when jiva recognizes the Puruṣa as its true Self, gets the Liberation and Immortality. Thus, any concept that advocates the dissolution of the jiva – consisting of buddhi, manas, etc. – is definitely incorrect.
According to Sāṅkhya texts, the dissolution into the Materiality – prakṛtilaya – at which the sutra refers, it is not literal, but consists in the dissolution of the self-identification with Prakṛti, ahaṃkāra, buddhi, etc. In this sutra, Patanjali says that one who experiences, still in life, the last state of samprajñāta, which is the complete extinction of non-discrimination, after death, is not subject to abide in any of the planes of existence of those who identify themselves with Prakṛti, ahaṃkāra, buddhi, etc. — the worlds of Brahmā, Prajāpati, Soma, Indra, gandharvas, rākṣasas, piśācas and pitṛs. Since the conditions (bhāvas) of buddhi that determine the circumstances of the subsequent incarnation were all dissolved into Prakrti (prakṛtilaya), he gets a Liberation (mokṣa) of the transmigration cycle (of births and deaths).
In fact, dissolution – prakṛtilaya – is the result of vairāgya (Dispassion), one of the four sāttvika conditions (sāttvika-bhāvas) of buddhi*, and not saṁprajñāta; however, there is no contradiction in this Patanjali sutra, since the perfect vairāgya is only achieved with saṁprajñāta (accordance with S16). On the other hand, without saṁprajñāta — the perfect knowledge of distinctiveness between Soul (Puruṣa) and Materiality (Prakṛti) — vairāgya results in partial dissolution (prakṛtilaya) of the self-identification with Prakṛti.
* The four sāttvika-bhāvas of buddhi are righteousness (dharma), knowledge (jñāna), dispassion (vairāgya), and lordliness (aiśvarya). Of these conditions bhāvas, only knowledge (jñāna) in the shape of discrimination between Puruṣa and Prakṛti leads to liberation (mokṣa) from the cycle of transmigration (saṃsāra).The merit (dharma) results in the transmigration of the subtle body to the heavenly worlds (the worlds of Brahmā, Prajāpatis, Soma, Indra, etc.). However, the length of stay in these worlds varies according to vairāgya. Dispassion (vairāgya) results in prakṛtilaya or dissolution of the self-identification with Prakṛti, the ego, intellect and 5 tanmātras. Lordliness (aiśvarya), which includes all classes of human and superhuman powers (Siddhis) results in no-obstruction (of one‘s will). The other four forms of intellect (buddhi) characterized by inertia (tāmasa-bhāvas) are exactly opposite to those – Ignorance demerit, attachment and impotence – resulting bondage to the cycle of transmigration, transmigration to lower forms of life, self-identification, and obstructions, respectively.
In the case of other (yogis) (itareṣām) “steadiness of the mind on the Puruṣa” is preceded (pūrvakaḥ) by faith (śraddhā), vigor (vīrya), memory (smṛti), full absorption (samādhi) (and) true discernment (prajñā) ||20||
In this sutra, Patanjali suggests that the states of saṁprajñāta described earlier are obtained without effort — – was the case of Maharsi Kapila Muni, Patanjali himself and others — whereas for many yogis this process of achievement the spiritual knowledge requires effort.
(saṁprajñāta) is near (āsannaḥ) for those who apply themselves (saṁvegānām) intensely (tīvra) ||21||
Therefore (tatas), there are also (api) differences (viśeṣaḥ) in the intensity of effort: mild (mṛdu), moderate (Madhya) and intense (adhimātratvāt). ||22||
Or else (vā) (one can achieve samādhi) through profound devotion (praṇidhānāt) to God (īśvara) ||23||
क्लेशकर्मविपाकाशयैरपरामृष्टः पुरुषविशेष ईश्वरः॥२४॥
Kleśakarmavipākāśayairaparāmṛṣṭaḥ puruṣaviśeṣa īśvaraḥ||24||
The Lord (īśvaraḥ) is a Puruṣa (puruṣa) different of others (viśeṣaḥ), who is not affected (aparāmṛṣṭaḥ) by afflictions- (kleśa), actions (karma), fruit of the actions (vipāka) or by karmic residues still to come bear fruits (āśayaiḥ) ||24||
तत्र निरतिशयं सर्वज्ञवीजम्॥२५॥
Tatra niratiśayaṁ sarvajñavījam||25||
In Him (tatra), the seed (vījam) of omniscience (sarvajña) is unsurpassed (niratiśayam) ||25||
पूर्वेषामपि गुरुः कालेनानवच्छेदात्॥२६॥
Pūrveṣāmapi guruḥ kālenānavacchedāt||26||
(That Īśvara is) the Guru (guruḥ) even (api) of the former (guru-s) (pūrveṣām), because He is not limited (anavacchedāt) by Time (kālena)||26||
तस्य वाचकः प्रणवः॥२७॥
Tasya vācakaḥ praṇavaḥ||27||
The word (vācakaḥ) to (designate) Him (tasya) is Praṇava-AUM (praṇavaḥ) ||27||
Through repetition (Japa) of that (tad) its (tad) purpose (artha) is accomplished (bhāvanam) ||28||
From that (tatas) introverted consciousness (pratyakcetana) is obtained (adhigamaḥ) as well as (api… ca) the removal (abhāvaḥ) of obstacles (antarāya) ||29||
Many commentators are reluctant to translate “Īśvara” as God, and through verbal juggling they try to avoid any approach to the concept of personal God from Judaic-Christian culture. But this artifice is completely unnecessary, since Maharsi Patanjali really means to say “God”, to use the word “Īśvara”, in its most monotheistic concept of personal God. Such a concept is nothing new within the Vedic culture, a fact confirmed by hymns such as Puruṣa sukta and Viśvákarma sukta.
The most significant of these sutras 23-29 of Patanjali is its divergence from the Sankhya system, which is the very doctrinal basis of Yoga. As is already well known, Sankhya is nirīśvara, that is, in its perspective cosmological and metaphysical transcendentalism, the concept of personal God Īśvara is totally out of question, since – for the Sankhya – both the Nature (Prakṛti) as unconditioned beings (Puruṣa) have existed from forevermore, and do not require creation or any extra doer to bring it about.
Such a disagreement between Yoga and Sankhya can be explained by the fact that the Yoga system is more concerned with the practical experience than the philosophical argumentation, teachings based on the results of the experiences of the yogins over the centuries; and such experiences do not discard the possibility that God may be pure awareness, like the selves (Puruṣa-s), and sometimes God gets a distinct form of jiva (buddhi, manas) and even takes a bodily form — a glorious body (mahatmya) like Viṣnu, the body of a Yogi, like Siva, the body of a King, like Rama, or the body of a Sage, like Kapila Muni.
The Yoga of Patanjali not only affirms the existence of God; Yoga is quite daring to disagree with the soteriological basis of Sankhya, which says that Salvation (mokṣa) comes solely from Knowledge (of distinctiveness between the Puruṣa and Prakṛti); Patanjali states that “surrender to the Lord”- īśvara praṇidhānāt – could produce by itself Samadhi!
We can argue that the sutras 23-29 were inserted much later on , a posteriori (posteriorly) and are not part of the original manuscripts; or that Patanjali was indulgent and complacent with all those who would not be able to understand the doctrine of the Sankhya/Yoga; and for this reason, he would have offered an alternative path to the Samadhi (and the Hindu scriptures are very complacent with the various types of followers). The truth we will never know. Admittedly Vyasa, the main commentator of the Yoga Sutras, endorsed the view of Patanjali, stating that the Lord not only exists, He also is the true revealer of the Sankhya doctrine (ie Kapila Muni)!
Regarding the pranava AUM, Vyasa declares that there is a direct relationship between this syllable and Īśvara, and the concentration upon either Isvara, or AUM, implies, the manifestation of the other.
sickness (vyādhi), apathy (styāna), doubt (saṁśaya), insanity (pramāda), laziness (ālasya), incontinence (avirati), following false perspectives and philosophies (bhrānti-darśana), failing to attain (alabdha) yogic development (bhūmikatva) and inconstancy (anavasthitatvāni), all these are obstacles (antarāyāḥ) and distractions (vikṣepāḥ) in consciousness (citta). ||30||
pain (duḥkha), distress (daurmanasya), nervous twitches (ejayatva) (aṅgam), restless inhalation (śvāsa) (and) exhalation (praśvāsāḥ) appear (bhuvaḥ) together (saha) with the (already said) distractions (vikṣepa) ||31||
The objective (artham) to ward off such distractions (tad-pratiṣedha), (it is recommended) eka-tattvābhyāsa, ( is, the Sankhya method of meditating on the distinctiveness between Puruṣa and Prakṛti).||32||
In these sutras, Patanjali reveals the nine obstacles which all human beings discover when they try to take the first steps in the true spiritual life. The disease to be on the top of the list should not surprise us, since the non-discrimination between Puruṣa and Prakṛti is considered by Sankhya as a kind of collective and individual insanity. The problems of physical and mental health can distract the attention in such a way that it will not be left any time for meditation. Physical illness may require time and effort to be remedied, but not necessarily prevent meditation on Puruṣa – eka-tattvābhyāsa.
Apathy (styāna), results from mental inertia (according to Vyasa) or lack of interest in obtaining spiritual realization (samādhi). Doubt (saṁśaya) is due to lack of faith in the Guru and the Yoga teachings. Pramāda is a manifestation of madness to identify the Self (Puruṣa) with the Materiality (Prakṛti). Laziness (ālasya) is the lack of effort to devote oneself to meditation (Dhyana). Incontinence (avirati), means the constant pursuit of the enjoyment of the senses, such as sex, food, drink, the unbridled quest for entertainment, travel, consumer goods, etc. Bhrānti-darśana refers to those who are distracted by religions and philosophies that will not help them to awaken discernment between Puruṣa and Prakṛti. Alabdha, the failure to obtain the yogic state of meditation is the result of intelligence (buddhi) obscured by Tama-guna (the mode of ignorance); the inability to discern the Puruṣa, during meditation, leads the mind to be distracted by the endless activities of the outside world. Finally, because the intelligence (buddhi) is contaminated by the mode of passion (Rajo-guna), the awareness is unable to focus on the Puruṣa for a long time, resulting in instability and fluctuations (anavasthitatvāni) of the mind.
These are the nine enemies of Yoga. How do these impediments and mind fluctuations effect the practice of meditation? The meditator, yogi-aspirant will not be focused nor concentrated as these impediments obscure the mind. The meditator may feel bodily pain within 15 or 20 minutes into the meditation. This is duhkha (pain,) This becomes a form of distress (daurmanasya) and the yogi-aspirant will stop the practice with 15 or 20 minutes. During those minutes of meditation he will manifest nervous tics (ejayatva), and swing the legs, feet, or move the fingers of the hands continuously. Besides these restless movements, there is also a display of irregular, and restless breathing.
The Sankhya texts say that all people are subject to these nine impediments and that the Liberation (mokṣa) is nothing more than the removal of these impediments. The Sankhya method – ekatattvābhyāsa is explicitly mentioned and recommended by Maharishi Patanjali in the sutra 32, and here again, we can see the close connection between Yoga and Sankhya system. There are commentators who interpret the eka-tattvābhyāsa differently, but this is intellectual dishonesty, since eka-tattvābhyāsa refers precisely to the exclusionary method (avīta) of distinguishing the Puruṣa from Prakṛti by purely negative terms, such as – “I am not this”, “[This is] not mine”, “Not I”. When buddhi (intelligence) becomes purified by this process of meditation (dhyana), then comes the enlightenment “I am the Puruṣa,” in the form of bhāva – bhāva of Knowledge (jñana). Some metaphors are used to illustrate the state of Enlightenment, such as the story of a newborn Prince who was kidnapped and brought to a village of peasants. The prince grows up thinking he is a village peasant (an analogy to the false identification with the Prakrti). The King’s ministers tried to locate the missing boy, many years passed until finally the prince was found and the whole truth about his identity is revealed. Another well-known fable is that of a baby tiger (a baby Lion in other versions) which had been living among goats (sheep, in another version) but through the words of a Guru, discovers his own true nature.
मैत्रीकरुणामुदितोपेक्षाणां सुखदुःखपुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां भावनातश्चित्तप्रसादनम्॥३३॥
Maitrīkaruṇāmuditopekṣāṇāṁ sukhaduḥkhapuṇyāpuṇyaviṣayāṇāṁ bhāvanātaścittaprasādanam||33||
Through the cultivation (bhāvanātaḥ) of friendship (maitrī), compassion (karuṇā), joy (muditā) and patience (upekṣā) to situations that bring (viṣayāṇām) happiness (sukha), suffering (duḥkha), virtues (puṇya) and sins (apuṇya) of others (respectively) one obtains steadiness (prasādanam) of mind (citta) ||33||
From this sutra onwards, Maharshi Patanjali teaches different techniques and processes for attaining the steadiness (prasādanam) of mind (citta). “Steadiness” is not Samadhi, but an important step on this path. Without “steadiness” it is not possible to achieve Samadhi. By cultivating the four qualities described in this sutra (maitrī, karuṇā, muditā and upekṣā), the mind obtains the Tranquility necessary to attain the goal of Yoga (Samadhi). In general, these four forms of psychological response to situations of happiness (sukha), or suffering (duḥkha), the virtuous (puṇya) or malicious (apuṇya) conduct of other people, are (spontaneously) present in the consciousness of all those who follow the yogic discipline. However, sometimes we allow negative reactions to be incorporated into our consciousness, without our perception of it. For example, who is capable of cultivating patience (upekṣā) toward an ill-mannered neighbor? The constant misbehavior of a neighbor can impregnate our conscience with hatred and anger to the point of disturbing our meditation. In many cases, the best course of action is to resort to legal or police action to resolve the problem. In all cases, the person who wants to follow the path of Yoga should be aware of the difficulties of being a Yogi. The advanced Yogi is aware and mindful of all the negative reactions as they arise in consciousness, and the Yogi identifies it, sees it clearly for what it is and abandons the negative, but this will not occur until steadiness of mind is established.
प्रच्छर्दनविधारणाभ्यां वा प्राणस्य ॥३४॥
pracchardana-vidhāraṇābhyāṁ vā prāṇasya ||34||
Or (vā) [steadiness of mind is gained] by exhaling (pracchardana) and pausing (vidhāraṇa) the flow of Prāṇa (prāṇasya) ||34||
The process of appeasing the vrttis (Citta movements) is not limited to purely psychological effort (by cultivating the qualities of friendship, compassion, joy, and patience); according to Yoga, it is possible to change mental states by controlling the movements of the physical body (Asanas, Mudras, Bandhas). From the evidence between mind and respiratory rhythm, one of the most important disciplines of Yoga emerged – Prāṇāyāma. There are several types of prāṇāyāma, and among these, nāḍiśodhana and ujjayi have a privileged place within this system. The prāṇāyāma to which this sutra refers to is the breathing employed during Bandhas (jalandhara, uddiyâna and mûla-bandha).
विषयवती वा प्रवृत्तिरुत्पन्ना मनसः स्थितिनिबन्धिनी॥३५॥
Viṣayavatī vā pravṛttirutpannā manasaḥ sthitinibandhanī||35||
Or (vā) by steady (sthiti) adherence (nibandhanī) (of consciousness)) before any one object of the senses (viṣayavatī) at the very moment (pravṛttiḥ) when they are produced (utpannā) by the mind (manasaḥ ||35||
The firm and silent observation of the contents produced by the mind is also capable of generating inner tranquility. This practice combined with the Neti Neti method — the exclusionary method of distinguishing the Puruṣa from Prakṛti – “I am not this”, “[This is] not mine”, “Not I” — is even better.
विशोका वा ज्योतिष्मती॥३६॥
Viśokā vā jyotiṣmatī||36||
Or (vā) by meditation on (the inner) light (jyotiṣmatī) which is free of sorrows (viśokā) ||36|
When consciousness is well established upon a point of concentration in the form of the Light — of the sun, moon, stars, or jewels — the mind becomes able to attain steadiness and tranquility. In this state of stability, consciousness merges with the sense of Self, and recognizes itself as the manifestation of the Puruṣa.
वीतरागविषयं वा चित्तम्॥३७॥
Vītarāgaviṣayaṁ vā cittam||37||
Or (vā) by focusing the mind (cittam) on things (viṣayam) that are free of passions.(vītarāga). ||37||
The religious traditions of India are rich in sacred symbols representing the various faces of the Supreme Divinity, and can serve as a support for meditation: Śivaliṅga, sacred mountains like Kailāśa and Arunachala, Mūrtis and mystic diagrams (Yantras). all are examples of sacred symbols. Another way of doing the practice suggested by this sutra is to meditate on a Ṛṣi, Guru or Spiritual Master for whom we have great respect and veneration. In fact, it is customary to perform this meditation at the beginning of any sadhana.
Or (vā) take to support (ālambanam) the knowledge (jñāna) of dreams (svapna) and deep sleep (nidrā) ||38||
Another method of quieting the mind consists in meditating on the nature of the dream and dreamless states. This meditation helps the perception of the Self – “I am” – as distinct from the movements of the mind, and consequently, the permanence into thePuruṣa.
Or (vā) through meditation (dhyānāt) on any object as desired (yathā-abhimata) ||39||
Here, Patanjali uses for the first time the word dhyana, “meditation”, and which will be the subject of further study. For Patanjali’s Yoga, meditation means a more advanced state of Concentration, one-pointed and profound. The sacred practice of dhyāna alone can save man from destruction caused by his own desires and thoughts; even if he is not able to achieve a deeper state of discernment between Puruṣa and Prakṛti, the meditation on any object of the Yogi’s choice gradually increases the distance between consciousness and the movements of mind, reducing the power of identification with Materiality (Prakṛti,) bringing peace, joy, and happiness.
The mind (asya) is under complete control (vaśīkāraḥ) when it can become fully absorbed in any object, from the infinitely vast (paramamahattva) to the (antaḥ) infinitesimally small (paramāṇu). ||40||
Through this sutra, we can understand that, with the continued practice of meditation, the mind becomes more and more subdued and consciousness is able to merge completely (Samadhi) with the object of meditation. The perfection of Yoga is something that usually requires a certain time, perhaps years; in large part, this depends upon the extent of individual efforts (abhyāsa) and the degree of dispassion (Vairāgya) for the material world, as already explained in sutras 14, 15, 21 and 22.
क्षीणवृत्तेरभिजातस्येव मणेर्ग्रहीतृग्रहणग्राह्येषु तत्स्थतदञ्जनता समापत्तिः॥४१॥
Kṣīṇavṛtterabhijātasyeva maṇergrahītṛgrahaṇagrāhyeṣu tatsthatadañjanatā samāpattiḥ||41||
Absorption (samāpattiḥ) occurs when the appeasement (kṣīṇa) of vrttis (vṛtteḥ) is (finally) obtained (abhijātas) and there is fusion (samāpattiḥ) between the perceiver (grahītṛ), the instrument of perception (grahaṇa) and the object of perception (grāhya). It is likened to (iva) a clear crystal (maṇeḥ) dyed by the color of what is near (tad-stha-tad-añjanatā). ||41||
Now, Patanjali describes the process of Samāpattiḥ (or Samādhi). The Sage has already made it clear in the previous sutras that Samadhi cannot be reached by improvisation and unpreparedness, but through intense and continuous spiritual discipline. Sanskrit noun meaning literally “union” or “agglutination”, samāpattiḥ designates the phenomenon of unification between one who perceives – grahītṛ – and the object of perception – grāhya – by means of an internal instrument of perception – grahaṇa.
For the yogin who is a Sāṅkhya-follower (or Vedanta-follower) the highest form of Samādhi is the oneness with the Self — Puruṣa. The focus of his Concentration – grāhya – is the Puruṣa (the Soul), the source of “I”-sensation. The yogic method advocates a gradual non-identification (discrimination) of the Self with the dense elements — ether, air, fire, water and earth, which constitute the dense body and the visible and tangible world of which we are aware by sensory experiences. Repeated discrimination exercises (Vitarka, Neti Neti Method) are applied to the subtle elements — the five Tanmatras or the internal and subtle counterparts of the five sensory experiences; to the five Karmendriyas (faculties of action), the five Jñanendriyas (faculties of the senses), and, finally, to the inner instruments of perception: mind (manas), sense of individuation (ahamkara) and intelligence (buddhi). This is the essence of eka-tattva-abhyāsa, “the practice of the one Tattva” (that is, the Puruṣa) of Sāṅkhya philosophy. The discriminating process – Neti Neti method (“I am not it”) applied to all that we habitually confuse as being the Self – will eventually lead to the experience of Isolation of Puruṣa (Samāpatti).
In passages such as “He who knows Brahman, truly becomes Brahman” (Mundaka Upanisad, III, 2, 9), the ancient wisdom of the Vedas already gave clues about the nature of samāpatti. Thus, the definition of this sutra 41 has excellent applicationfor the yogin who is a Sāṅkhya-follower or Vedanta-follower since these doctrines (which are based on the Vedas), from beginning to end, trace a centrifugal path towards the Self and its oneness with the Supreme Reality – “I am the Puruṣa,” “I am Brahman”. However, this same definition of samāpatti has no immediate application to those yogins who follow other paths (which does not have the Self as the object of meditation). In these cases, the character of fusion (samāpattiḥ) is substantially altered according to the nature of the grahītṛ (the perceiver) and the object of concentration (grāhya). Although the objects of concentration may differ from one yogin to another, the essential characteristic of the “fusion of consciousness” in the samāpatti is the same and universal. In the case of the yogin who takes Īśvara (God) as the object of Concentration, the type of samāpatti obtained does not imply the widespread and erroneous idea that he “becomes God”, but in the experience of merging one or more aspect and attribute of Īśvara with the object of Concentration of yogin¹.
¹ Some examples may give the reader an understanding of how this process may occur. In the yajña, while offering ghee oblations to the ceremonial fire, the brahmin priest experiences samāpatti as the fusion of all devatas in Brahman, and Brahman with fire. The brahmin has the clear perception and feeling – bhāva – that Brahman and fire have become one. While repeating the japa of the name of Visnu, the vaisnava devotee feels the bhāva of unification between God and the name “Visnu”, in such a way that the Lord and His Name become one (samāpatti). That devotee who recites Stotras prayers to the Lord Venkatesa may suddenly be invaded by the bhāva that Lord Venkatesa and Sri Rama (or Sri Krsna) are the same person. This too is samāpatti. The Saiva (devotee of Siva) will experience the same type of samāpatti while worshiping the Lingam, the mantra or the Holy Arunachala Hill. In all cases, the experience of samāpatti is unforgettable and occupies a central place in the consciousness of the yogin that reaches it, and can be reproduced and deepened to unfathomable corners of his devotion.
शब्दार्थज्ञानविकल्पैः सङ्कीर्णा सवितर्का समापत्तिः॥४२॥
Śabdārthajñānavikalpaiḥ saṅkīrṇā savitarkā samāpattiḥ||42||
Samādhi (samāpattiḥ) “accompanied with reason or thought” (savitarkā) happens through the composition or mixture (saṅkīrṇā) of word (śabda), object (artha), knowledge (jñāna) and thoughts (vikalpaiḥ) ||42||
Savitarka-samādhi (or Savikalpa-Samādhi) is a state of absorption in Puruṣa induced by repeated reading and reflection of the Sankhya/Yoga doctrine, the practice of Neti Neti Method, by meditation on the mahāvākyas (“The Great Sayings” of the Upaniṣad) and by reading the literary works of the ācāryas. This Samādhi can also be induced through the Satsanga (association with holy men), or meditating on an Enlightened Guru. At this stage, the yogic method is not only helpful, but also necessary. The yogin needs to make use of the Method and the assiduous reading of the sources of Divine Revelation (and in many cases, of association with the Guru and other more advanced yogins) to be with the Self (Puruṣa) in complete intimacy. However, this intimacy is not made with full awareness of oneness with the Puruṣa, in spite of the yogin experiencing great peace and intense waves of bliss (Ānanda) flowing from within. For this reason, in the Savitarka-samādhi stage, the yogin requires much attention and care in order not to fall from the spiritual platform attained.
स्मृतिपरिशुद्धौ स्वरूपशून्येवार्थमात्रनिर्भासा निर्वितर्का॥४३॥
Smṛtipariśuddhau svarūpaśūnyevārthamātranirbhāsā nirvitarkā||43||
Samādhi (samāpatti) “without reason” (nirvitarkā) occurs when there is complete purification (pariśuddhau) of memory (smṛti), and only (mātra) the object (artha) (upon which the mind concentrates) shines (nirbhāsā), as that (iva) devoid (śūnyā) of its own form (sva-rūpa) ||43||
The assiduous adherence to the method of discrimination between Puruṣa and Prakṛti — Neti Neti Method —, the readings, the holy associations, love for aloneness and contemplative silence, induce ever deeper and more consistent states of Samādhi. At some point, the yogin immerses in the divine experience of Kaivalya, in which one is fully aware of non-duality with the Spirit (Puruṣa). Similar to the lion of the fable when he definitely recognizes himself as a Lion: “I am not a sheep. I’m a Lion!” the yogin is enlightened by the direct and irrefutable Truth of “I am Spirit.” In fact, a single Kaivalya experience can implement in the consciousness (buddhi) an indelible impression (saṁskāra) expressed by the phrase “I am the Puruṣa” (or “I am Brahman”), which will help take the yogin to a new spiritual level: the Nirvitarka Samādhi.
At this stage, the method and paths of Savitarka-samādhi are still present, however, the yogin does not need to use the memory of Sankhya/Yoga teachings (or remember the figure of the Guru and the holy personalities) as a matter of meditation to facilitate the incursions into the Spirit. He is now able to absorb his consciousness in the Puruṣa with the aid of only the impression “I am the Puruṣa” or from bhāva of Knowledge. For this reason, this samādhi is called Nirvitarka (or Nirvikalpa samādhi), or “free from notions, reflections and reasoning”. Without the contribution of the Kaivalya experience and the impression (saṁskāra) left by the Kaivalya, it would be very difficult for the yogin to reach Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
In Nirvitarka Samādhi, the feeling (bhāva) of oneness with the Puruṣa is so perfect that there is no trace of identification with the inner instruments of perception – mind (Manas), sense of individuation (ahamkara) and intelligence (buddhi). With the loss of the sense of individual identity, the consciousness then appears to be emptied of its own form, and the Puruṣa shines alone in a perfect state of isolation.
एतयैव सविचारा निर्विचारा च सूक्ष्मविषया व्याख्याता॥४४॥
Etayaiva savicārā nirvicārā ca sūkṣmaviṣayā vyākhyātā||44||
In the same way (etayā), it is also (eva) explained (vyākhyātā) Savicārā (reflective) and (ca) Nirvicārā (reflection-free), whose object (viṣayā) are subtle (sūkṣma) ||44||
Savicārā samādhi is the fusion obtained through an intense and deep inquiry (vicārā) about the nature of the Self – “Am I this living body and the processes of the thinking mind? Who am I? “,” Who am I? The process is very similar to the Neti Neti Method, in which any emotion, thought or intellection that arises in the field of consciousness should be annihilated by negation “neti, neti” (not this, not this). In the Vicārā method, the modifications of the mind and non-discrimination are annihilated by the constant inquiry “Who am I?”, and by the intense Concentration on the source of the feeling of the “I”.
Such meditation will eventually lead to the pure consciousness of the “I”, stripped of all sensation, feeling, emotion, intellection and even “I”-thought. Nirvicārā Samādhi happens when the yogin perceives himself as pure and formless Spirit (Puruṣa), completely distinct from Materiality (Prakṛti). In the same way as in Nirvitarka Samādhi, the impression (saṁskāra) of “I am Spirit” left by this samādhi, becomes the sole support for the Meditation. Therefore, in Nirvicārā samādhi, the absorption in the consciousness of the “I” (Puruṣa) takes place without the need to do any probing or inquiry (vicārā). Similar to Nirvitaka, the yogin is able to enter directly into the essence of his being, without having to resort to a method which like a map, guides the itinerary to find the desired address.
Neither Savitarka/Nirvitaka, nor Savicārā/Nirvicārā can be achieved by concentration on gross objects (sthula-bhuta, tanmatras, etc.), but only through concentration on a single subtle object (sūkṣma) of meditation — the sensation or consciousness of the “I”.
And (ca) the characteristic of a subtle (sūkṣma) object (viṣayatvam) is to end up (paryavasānam) in a formless and indeterminable state (aliṅga). ||45||
The consciousness of “I” in living beings is the only object of perception (grāhya) that truly has the characteristic of sūkṣma. In the grossest manifestation of Manas, it is “I”-thought. On a more subtle level, it is the sense of individuation or feeling of the Ahamkara; on an even more subtle level is the “knower” (buddhi); and on a level beyond all Materiality (Prakṛti) is Puruṣa himself. While all Tattvas end up in the state of atoms or energy (Prakṛti), the “I”-consciousness that pierces Buddhi, Ahamkara and Manas, has its origin in the Spirit, the Puruṣa itself.
ता एव सवीजः समाधिः॥४६॥
Tā eva savījaḥ samādhiḥ||46||
In fact (eva), these (four varieties of Samādhi – Savitarkā, Nirvitarkā, Savicārā and Nirvicārā (tāḥ) (constitute) Sabīja (with seed) Samādhi (samādhiḥ). ||46||
The expression “with seed” (Sabīja) means that Samādhi depend on the support of a grāhya or object of meditation to develop. Like the embryo of a seed leaves its state of latency and begins its growth as a plant and then slowly evolves to become tree, similarly, the four varieties of Samādhi must evolve from an object of meditation, to which the yogin will offer the totality of his love and the fullness of his being. Excepting the yogins who take Īśvara, nāḍīs, etc. as an object of meditation, the difference between these varieties of Samadhis is not on the object of meditation (as many interpret erroneously), since their only object of meditation is none other than the Puruṣa. The difference is in the degree of growth and maturity, in the same way as a plant in the early stage of growth and a large tree. However, even though they are at different stages of growth, both the plant and the tree require the same conditions of water, temperature, and light in order to develop.
With the mastery (vaiśāradye) over the Nirvicāra (nirvicārā) Samādhi, the nature of Self (adhyātma) becomes clear (prasādaḥ). ||47||
When mastery over Nirvicāra or Nirvikalpa-samādhi is attained, continuous permanence in the overflowing oneness (Yoga) with the Self (Puruṣa) infuses an endless bliss. At this stage, Concentration rests spontaneously on Puruṣa without any effort, even during the daily activities, and it is no longer necessary to take postures (asanas), or to establish times for meditation and modes (Vitarka or Vicara) in order to achieve a fruitful absorption in the Self. This state is called a-samprajñāta-samādhi, the absorption “beyond any cognitive process of discrimination” (a-samprajñāta).
Like the “I”-consciousness of Puruṣa pierces Buddhi, Ahamkara and Manas in all living entities, the pure bliss of a-samprajñāta-samādhi pierces the Materiality (Prakrti), filling the people and the atmosphere around with Peace and Happiness. Ordinary people are relieved of all sufferings and worries, while yogins easily reach savikalpa-samādhi by the mere presence of such a Yogiraj who has attained the mastery of Nirvikalpa-samādhi. Since long ago, he ceased to be enveloped by the “I”-thought (Ahamkara) and the whole chain of false identification with Prakṛti; in fact, such a yogin no longer falls into the illusion of non-discrimination that is perfect in him. Nothing is capable, in this state, of separating the yogin from his oneness with the Puruṣa. He is definitely free from non-discrimination between Puruṣa and Prakṛti, and for this, he is what is called a Jivanmukta, ‘Liberated while still alive”.
ऋतम्भरा तत्र प्रज्ञा॥४८॥
Ṛtambharā tatra prajñā||48||
The spiritual knowledge (prajñā) that comes from it (tatra) (It’s called) Ṛtambharā (ṛtambharā, contains in itself the Truth) ||48||
The spiritual knowledge that comes from Nirvikalpa-samādhi, whether in the stage of samprajñāta or a-samprajñāta, is Ṛtambharā — full of Truth — because it is not the fruit of the imagination, dreamed utopias, religious theories, ideologies, nor is it colored by the cultural values of any group or nation. Unlike our other cognitive faculties (buddhi, ahamkara, manas), which are all individual, the intuitive faculty — vijñana — is not sustained in our subjectivity or personal interpretation; Therefore, the knowledge emanating from it is universal and presents no trace of misunderstanding, deformation or imagination.
श्रुतानुमानप्रज्ञाभ्यामन्यविषया विशेषार्थत्वात् ॥४९॥
Such Knowledge (Prajñā) is different (anyaviṣayā) from the knowledge (prajñābhyām) gained through oral transmission (scriptural sources) or through inference (anumāna), because this has an object (arthatvāt) that is different (viśeṣa) from the subject ||49||
The knowledge attained through oral transmission (śruta) or through inference (anumāna) presupposes the figure of a subject who interacts with an object (arthatvāt) different from him, while spiritual knowledge is immediate and direct knowledge. The scriptures are descriptions of the intuitive experiences of the saints and gurus (evidently within the limitations imposed by human language); these descriptions and the knowledge gained through them are not the intuitive experience itself. Similarly, the intuitive experience is one thing, but being able to infer or conceptualizing the experience is something else. The intellectual, verbal or emotional perception is within the mind (manas); being a byproduct of Prakrti, any knowledge learned or produced by the mind will always be a by-product of Materiality (Prakṛti), while the intuitive or spiritual perception is produced by the light of the Puruṣa himself on a buddhi free from all impurities of rajas and tamas.
तज्जस्संस्कारोऽन्यसंस्कार प्रतिबन्धी ॥५०॥
The latent impression (saṁskāraḥ) born (jaḥ) of this (special Prajñā arising in Nirvicāra or Nirvitarka samādhi) (tad) obstructs (pratibandhī) the other (anya) latent impressions. ||50||
With the experience of the Nirvicāra or Nirvitarka samādhi, the intuitive perception of non-duality with Self (Puruṣa) becomes manifested in buddhi (the Intellect) through the overflow of sensation, feeling or inner certainty translated by sentences such as “I am the Puruṣa, the transcendental Monad”, “I am Spirit”, “I am the Brahman of the upaniṣads”. This impression (saṁskāra) — that is not vṛtti or thought — is nothing other than the bhāva of Knowledge itself (jnana), considered by the Sankhya and Vedanta the only instrument of Liberation (mokṣa) from the cycle of transmigration (saṃsāra).
When the impression (saṁskāra) of the real experience of oneness with Puruṣa enlightens buddhi, this impression becomes, from now on, the method for Nirvikalpa-samadhi, the safe direction that will greatly facilitate the mastery of this state. Until the advent of this bhāva of Knowledge, there may be times of bliss, silence, and peace resulting from communion with Puruṣa through Savitarka / Savicāra samādhi, but not the legitimate experience of Nirvikalpa Samadhi sustained by meditation. The process of meditation on this bhāva is very different from the methods of Savitarka and Savicara, which when compared are only preliminary steps. The impression “I am the Purusa” (or “I am Brahman” of the Vedantins) extinguishes all samsaric impressions (Vāsanās) based on non-discrimination between Puruṣa and Prakṛti and previously deposited in citta (consciousness); and even the karmic residues of past actions are consumed through this meditation.
तस्यापि निरोधे सर्वनिरोधान्निर्वीजः समाधिः॥५१॥
Tasyāpi nirodhe sarvanirodhānnirvījaḥ samādhiḥ||51||
When there is the cessation (nirodhe) even (api) of this (tasya) (saṁskāraḥ) that causes the cessation (nirodhāt) of all others (sarva) (saṁskāras) occurs samādhi “seedless” (nirvījaḥ samādhiḥ).||51||
The impression (saṁskāra) left by the experience of oneness with Puruṣa (samādhi) must be continually enlivened by meditation until it flows with natural spontaneity. When the yogin reaches perfection in the discernment between Puruṣa and Prakṛti, that is, when he becomes able to perceive himself as Spirit (Puruṣa) completely distinct from Materiality (Prakṛti), then even the saṁskāra that served as support for Nirvikalpa-samādhi is reabsorbed and what remains in consciousness is the Self (Puruṣa). This is the asamprajñāta-samādhi also called samādhi “without support” (nirālambana), Nirbīja Samādhi – “seedless“ or “empty of object”.