Patanjali Yoga Sutras Chapter 1

Reference: Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Chapter 1: Samadhi Pada (On concentration)
Verses 1:1- 1:51

Reference: THE SANSKRIT CHANNEL
Reference: The Sun of Sanskrit Knowledge

Sutras (1-4) – What is Yoga, and Why?
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Sutras (5-11) – Five Compulsive States
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Sutras (12-16) – Means of Control
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Sutras (17-22) – Subtle States of Meditation
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Sutras (23-29) – Definition of God
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Sutras (30-39) – Calming the Mind
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Sutras (40-50) – Deeper States of Meditation
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Sutra (51) – Going Beyond

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Summary of Samadhi Pada

When a person starts on Yoga, he has his life experiences made of compulsive, cyclical actions. Yoga is essentially the stopping of the compulsive, cyclical actions. When one accomplishes that he reduces to a witness to all that is happening. Otherwise, he remains subject to compulsive, cyclical actions. 

Such compulsive, cyclical actions can be pleasant also. They result in automatic judgment, misjudgment, imagination, sleep and remembrance. The judgement may be formed from how things are perceived and inferred, or they may simply be acquired. Misjudgment is skewed or illusory perspective of what is there. Imagination is assuming to fill in an incomplete picture. Sleep is cyclical lack of consciousness. And remembrance is formed out of old retained experiences.

Such compulsions are handled through any continuous, long-term practice that brings about a controlled state, and through detachment, which means disentangling oneself from all fixations. This leads to experiencing the true self that takes one beyond even the deep-seated inherent drives.

As you look at how life functions around you, and contemplate over it deeply, there is pure state of bliss in that contemplation that is enjoyed by the sense of ‘I’. When this leads to a deep meditative state it is called the samprajnAta-samAdhi. But when, with continuous practice, one gives rest to even this refined mental activity and only the latent tendencies remain, one enters the asamprajnAta-samAdhi. Those who are not fixated on their body, and who are simply immersed in their natural self, the asamprajnAta-samAdhi is brought about as a natural consequence of simply being. In others, this state is brought through continuous practice of focus, vigour, remembrance, equanimity and pure perception.

The attainment of asamprajnAta-samAdhi may be accelerated by intense resolve, or by immersing oneself in Ishwara. Ishwara is the sense of ideal self untouched by afflictions, actions, results and intentions. From this sense of Ishwara sprouts all knowledge. It is described by the primordial sound A-U-M. It has to be chanted repeatedly, and constantly contemplated upon. From the sense of Ishwara arises the knowledge of individual consciousness and dissolution of obstacles.

The obstacles that scatter the mind are: illness, procrastination, doubt, negligence, laziness, fixation, hallucination, lack of faith in oneself and unsteadiness. The scattering of mind leads to suffering, depression, lack of control over one’s limbs, and labored breathing. The only way to overcome these obstacles is focusing the mind on a single principle.

The mind gets clear and pleasant through the feelings of friendliness, compassion, joy and neutrality towards the dualities, such as, pleasantness and unpleasantness, virtue and vice; or, through controlled inhalation and exhalation of breath. It can also be accomplished simply by being one’s own intrinsic nature.  Still one can attain that pleasant state of chitta by maintaining a bright disposition, which is free of sorrow; or by keeping the mind devoid of entanglement with the objects of the senses. The vivid recollection of what happened in the dream and how it was caused can also make the chitta pleasant. But this can be tricky. The most freeing of all actions, however, is meditating upon any object of one’s choice. 

A person, who has gained complete control over one’s compulsive, cyclical actions, gains the ability to grasp all things from the tiniest to the most enormous. His mind has become clear like a crystal, and he has become one with the receiver, the act of receiving, and the object received. The sound, its essence and the knowledge of it has become one for him. This is the state of Savitarka samAdhi. When even the imprints of memory clear up, and it feels like one’s own form is absent, such as state where only the essence shines through, is the state of Nirvitarka samAdhi. It is by these two samAdhis that the subtle concepts of ‘thoughtfulness’ and ‘thoughtlessness’ are described.

These subtle states only remain as long as there is the perception of a form (linga), and cease to exist beyond that. They are called Sabija samAdhi. Through skill and competence in Nirvitarka samAdhi, one enters the realm of true spirituality. In that realm, one’s perception opens up to the truths of existence, and that is when you realize things. The knowledge of this reality is unique and all-encompassing. It is different from that which is normally perceived through one’s senses and logic, The impressions born out of this perception, prevents other inherent compulsive tendencies of all kinds. Thus, beyond five physical sense perceptions, and the sixth mental perception of intellect, there is the seventh cosmic perception. 

When even this seventh perception is brought under one’s conscious control, such as state is called Nirbija SamAdhi. At this level, one’s mental matrix is totally assimilated and has become one with the Universal matrix.

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Sutras (1-4) – What is Yoga, and Why?

अथ योगानुशासनम्॥१॥
Atha yogānuśāsanam ||1||

And now, the self-discipline of Yoga. (1)

Now that you have experienced all sort of things; and, have arrived at the present point in life, we shall start with the discipline of Yoga.

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योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः॥२॥
Yogaścittavṛttinirodhaḥ ||2||

Yoga is the control over the compulsive cyclical actions of one of the aspects of the mind, called chitta. (2)

Yoga is essentially the stopping of the compulsive, cyclical actions. Many such actions are a reaction to the environment due to the unassimilated impressions from past experiences.

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तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम्॥३॥
Tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe’vasthānam ||3||

It is then, that one is established in the true sense of the seer, called self. (3)

Somewhere in the background there is a sense of being a witness to all the events that are happening. With the practice of yoga one gets established in that.

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वृत्तिसारूप्यमितरत्र॥४॥
Vṛttisārūpyamitaratra ||4||

Otherwise, one is verily identified with the cyclical actions of the mind. (4)

When these compulsive, cyclical actions are there, the sense of witness gets caught up in them, much like being caught up in the emotions of a movie or a play that one is watching.

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Sutras (5-11) – Five Compulsive States

वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टा अक्लिष्टाः॥५॥
Vṛttayaḥ pañcatayyaḥ kliṣṭā akliṣṭāḥ ||5||

These cyclical actions are of five kinds, some complex and some simple. (5)

These cyclical actions need not be so complicated that lead only to suffering; they can also be simple and pleasant yet compulsive. Such compulsions are of five kinds.

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प्रमाणविपर्ययविकल्पनिद्रास्मृतयः॥६॥
Pramāṇaviparyayavikalpanidrāsmṛtayaḥ ||6||

These five are: pramANa=judgment, viparyaya=misjudgment, vikalpa=imagination, nidrA=sleep, and smRti=remembrance. (6)

The first kind of compulsive, cyclical action is the judgment, which the mind is doing all the time automatically. The second kind is mistaking one thing for another. The third kind is filling gaps in data with imagination or assumptions. The fourth kind is the state of unconsciousness, as in sleep. The fifth kind are the impressions from previous experiences that may take over one’s consciousness.

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प्रत्यक्षानुमानागमाः प्रमाणानि॥७॥
Pratyakṣānumānāgamāḥ pramāṇāni ||7||

pramANa=judgment, is through pratyakSha=direct experience, anumAna=inference, and Agama=acquisition. (7)

Judgement depends on data experienced directly, or inferred from various observations, or acquired from elsewhere, such as, from the scriptures, guru, or elders.

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विपर्ययो मिथ्याज्ञानमतद्रूपप्रतिष्ठम्॥८॥
Viparyayo mithyājñānamatadrūpapratiṣṭham ||8||

viparyaya=misjudgment, is illusory and false knowledge, which is rooted in the misidentification of truth. (8)

In viparyaya, one does not discern something exactly for what it is; but rather has a skewed perspective of it. For example, mistaking a rope for a snake. 

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शब्दज्ञानानुपाती वस्तुशून्यो विकल्पः॥९॥
Śabdajñānānupātī vastuśūnyo vikalpaḥ ||9||

vikalpa=imagination, is a result of knowing something at the surface, without a complete picture. (9)

When there are blanks in the data, one may fill it up with assumptions or imagination. For example, some people fill up up the gap about the origin of this universe with the idea of a humanlike God. This is vikalpa.

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अभावप्रत्ययालम्बना वृत्तिर्निद्रा॥१०॥
Abhāvapratyayālambanā vṛttirnidrā ||10||

nidrA=sleep, is a cyclical activity of rest which is supported by the state of non-being. (10)

In each of the previous cyclical activities, the consciousness is not under control and it gets altered one way or another. However, in the cyclical activity of sleep, the consciousness actually shuts down completely, and a state of unconsciousness ensues. 

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अनुभूतविषयासम्प्रमोषः स्मृतिः॥११॥
Anubhūtaviṣayāsampramoṣaḥ smṛtiḥ ||11||

smRti=remembrance, is retaining old experiences without letting them pass. (11)

The cyclical aspect of memory is the unassimilated impressions from previous experiences that take over one’s consciousness. A person then, unconsciously, acts out such impressions.

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Sutras (12-16) – Means of Control

अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः॥१२॥
Abhyāsavairāgyābhyāṁ tannirodhaḥ ||12||

These are controlled through abhyAsa=practice and vairAgya=dis-identification (12)

In next four sutras, Patanjali talks about means to stop these compulsive, cyclical actions. These means are: abhyAsa and vairAgya. Here we have dual means that are mutually complementary to each other. You do one thing, the other naturally comes along. When you are established in abhyAsa, vairAgya develops; and being in a constant state of vairAgya itself is abhyAsa. 

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तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोऽभ्यासः॥१३॥
Tatra sthitau yatno’bhyāsaḥ ||13||

abhyAsa=practice is an attempt to continuously be in such a state of control. (13)

abhyAsa is continuously putting in an effort to stay in a controlled state wherein no compulsive, cyclical actions exist. It is not some specified practice but any kind of effort that brings about such a controlled state. In abhyasa, the effort becomes a part of your nature; and firmly rooted in you.

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स तु दीर्घकालनैरन्तर्यसत्कारासेवितो दृढभूमिः॥१४॥
Sa tu dīrghakālanairantaryasatkārāsevito dṛḍhabhūmiḥ ||14||

It is strengthened by prolonged, uninterrupted and well-performed application of action. (14)

The nature of abhyAsa is that you get established in it firmly when you perform it efficiently for a long time, without breaks or interruptions.

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दृष्टानुश्रविकविषयवितृष्णस्य वशीकारसञ्ज्ञा वैराग्यम्॥१५॥
Dṛṣṭānuśravikaviṣayavitṛṣṇasya vaśīkārasañjñā vairāgyam ||15||

vairAgya=dis-identification is control over the thirst for objects of senses, which have either been perceived or just been heard about. (15)

vairAgya (not being entangled) is defined as keeping under control the craving not only for things you have already experienced, but also for the things you have only heard about. The state of vairAgya is more than just being disinterested. It is being disentangled. You can be interested, and even involved, in anything you want to, but you are not stuck in it.

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तत्परं पुरुषख्यातेर्गुणवैतृष्ण्यम्॥१६॥
Tatparaṁ puruṣakhyāterguṇavaitṛṣṇyam ||16||

It is a state of the beyond, born out of the true knowledge of the self, when one is beyond the thirst of even the guNas=qualities themselves. (16)

That vairAgya is going beyond even the primeval urges built in us and getting established in that which drives us from within. PuruSha is that which drives us from within. guNas are the inherent qualities within us. See The Static Viewpoint.

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Sutras (17-22) – Subtle States of Meditation

वितर्कविचारानन्दास्मितारूपानुगमात्सम्प्रज्ञातः॥१७॥
Vitarkavicārānandāsmitārūpānugamātsamprajñātaḥ ||17||

samprajnAta-samAdhi=’Equanimous-Mind which still discerns’, is a state which is a consequence of vitarka=spiritual reasoning, vichAra=deep thought, Ananda=pure bliss, and asmitA=being in the sense of ‘I’. (17)

Patanjali now talks about deeper and deeper states of meditativeness. One does not have to go through them in that particular order, but Patanjali covers them all. The first of those meditative states is samprajnAta-samAdhi. It is a consequence of spiritual reasoning that you do as you look at how life functions around you, and then contemplate over it deeply. There is pure state of bliss in that contemplation that is enjoyed by the sense of ‘I’. This is a good application of Jnana (knowledge) that leads to deep meditative state. Therefore, it is called samprajnAta-samAdhi. 

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विरामप्रत्ययाभ्यासपूर्वः संस्कारशेषोऽन्यः॥१८॥
Virāmapratyayābhyāsapūrvaḥ saṁskāraśeṣo’nyaḥ ||18||

The other state, asamprajnAta-samAdhi=’Equanimous-Mind beyond discernment’ is a consequence of the continuous practice of giving rest to the mental activity, where only one’s samskAras=’latent-tendencies’ remain. (18)

The state which is beyond that (samprajnAta-samAdhi) is the consequence of continuous practice where all thought processes are no longer compulsive and only one’s deepest tendencies are operative on their own. 

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भवप्रत्ययो विदेहप्रकृतिलयानाम्॥१९॥
Bhavapratyayo videhaprakṛtilayānām ||19||

For those who are videha=’without a body’ and prakRtilaya=’immersed in one’s own nature’, this state is caused by just bhava=’simply being’. (19)

Those who are without a body (not fixated on their body), and those who are totally immersed in their own self, the asamprajnAta-samAdhi is brought about as a natural consequence of simply being.

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श्रद्धावीर्यस्मृतिसमाधिप्रज्ञापूर्वक इतरेषाम्॥२०॥
Śraddhāvīryasmṛtisamādhiprajñāpūrvaka itareṣām ||20||

And for all others, this state is caused as a consequence of shraddhA=’steadfast focus’, vIrya=’high energy’, smRti=’constant remembrance’, samAdhi=’equanimity’, and prajnA=’pure perception’. (20)

Others, who have a body and who are not immersed in their own nature, attain this state (beyond samprajnAta-samAdhi), through steadfast focus, high energy, constant remembrance, equanimity and pure perception.

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तीव्रसंवेगानामासन्नः॥२१॥
Tīvrasaṁvegānāmāsannaḥ ||21||

It is easily attainable to those who approach it with a keen resolve. (21)

But those who are filled with intense resolve, can attain this state relatively easily.

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मृदुमध्याधिमात्रत्वात्ततोऽपि विशेषः॥२२॥
Mṛdumadhyādhimātratvāttato’pi viśeṣaḥ ||22||

This resolve is of three kinds again, mRdu=’mild’, madhya=’medium’, and adhimAtra=’intense’. (22)

Even here the resolve may be categorized as mild, medium and intense; though Patanjali wants people to be intense in their resolve.

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Sutras (23-29) – Definition of God

ईश्वरप्रणिधानाद्वा॥२३॥
Īśvarapraṇidhānādvā ||23||

It can also be attained through praNidhAna=’abiding in’ Ishwara. (23)

Patanjali is quite scientific in his rendition. This is the only sutra where he mentions bhakti (devotion) as an alternative—you can meditate and just immerse yourself in Ishwara. He then goes on to give a technical description to what Ishwara is. Also see Can God be Defined?

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क्लेशकर्मविपाकाशयैरपरामृष्टः पुरुषविशेष ईश्वरः॥२४॥
Kleśakarmavipākāśayairaparāmṛṣṭaḥ puruṣaviśeṣa īśvaraḥ ||24||

Ishwara is that distinguished sense of self beyond and untouched by the realms of klesha=’afflictions’, karma=’actions’, vipAka=’results’ and Ashaya=’intentions’. (24)

Ishwara is not somewhere up there; it is actually an exalted sense of self within, which is beyond and not sullied by afflictions, actions and their results, not even by the intent of performing actions. This definition may be applied to your perception of Rama, Krishna and other Gods. 

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तत्र निरतिशयं सर्वज्ञवीजम्॥२५॥
Tatra niratiśayaṁ sarvajñavījam ||25||

In that Ishwara, is contained the seed of all knowledge. (25)

That exalted sense of self (Ishwara) is within you; and there itself is the seed of all knowledge. Whatever there is to know as knowledge about life; whenever you want to understand something about a field of knowledge, you just calm yourself to that state of meditativeness and that meaning dawns upon you.

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पूर्वेषामपि गुरुः कालेनानवच्छेदात्॥२६॥
Pūrveṣāmapi guruḥ kālenānavacchedāt ||26||

That Ishwara is the guru=’illuminator’ of all who came before, due to the unending nature of time. (26)

Because of the cyclical and unending nature of time, that Ishwara, which dwells within, illuminated all those hundreds and thousands of great masters who came before. All this knowledge has originated from within us only.

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तस्य वाचकः प्रणवः॥२७॥
Tasya vācakaḥ praṇavaḥ ||27||

The descriptor of Ishwara is praNava=’the first sound’. (27)

The definition of praNava is that it is a name given to Ishwara (the exalted sense of self and the source of all knowledge within). praNava is the primordial sound whose components are A, U, and M. 

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तज्जपस्तदर्थभावनम्॥२८॥
Tajjapastadarthabhāvanam ||28||

It is that to be chanted repeatedly, and it’s essence which is to be contemplated upon. (28)

That praNava is a descriptor of Ishwara (the exalted sense of self within and the source of all knowledge), that has to be constantly contemplated, meditated. And chanted, upon. That is the practice.

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ततः प्रत्यक्चेतनाधिगमोऽप्यन्तरायाभावश्च॥२९॥
Tataḥ pratyakcetanādhigamo’pyantarāyābhāvaśca ||29||

From that arises the knowledge of individual consciousness, and the absence of antarAya=’obstacles’. (29)

By constant meditation and contemplation over the essence of praNava (primordial sound) the knowledge of individual consciousness arises and any obstacles are dissolved.

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Sutras (30-39) – Calming the Mind

व्याधिस्त्यानसंशयप्रमादालस्याविरतिभ्रान्तिदर्शनालब्धभूमिकत्वानवस्थितत्वानि चित्तविक्षेपास्तेऽन्तरायाः॥३०॥
Vyādhistyānasaṁśayapramādālasyāviratibhrāntidarśanālabdhabhūmikatvānavasthitatvāni cittavikṣepāste’ntarāyāḥ ||30||

antarAya=’obstacles’ are those which scatter the mind. They are vyAdhi=’illness’, styAna=’procrastination’, samshya=’doubt’, pramAda=’negligence’, Alasya=’laziness’, avirati=’failure to not-cling’, bhrAnti-darshana=’hallucination’, alabdha-bhUmikatva=’inability to gain grounding’, and anavasthitava=’unsteadiness’. (30)

This group of sutras lists the obstacles that scatter the chitta; but get dissolved by japa of praNava.

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दुःखदौर्मनस्याङ्गमेजयत्वश्वासप्रश्वासा विक्षेपसहभुवः॥३१॥
Duḥkhadaurmanasyāṅgamejayatvaśvāsapraśvāsā vikṣepasahabhuvaḥ ||31||

When the mind is scattered, it leads to duHkha=’suffering’, daurmanasya=’depression’, angamejayatva=’losing control over the limbs’, and shvAsaprashvAsA=’labored breathing’. (31)

This sutra talks about the symptoms that occur when the chitta is scattered. 

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तत्प्रतिषेधार्थमेकतत्त्वाभ्यासः॥३२॥
Tatpratiṣedhārthamekatattvābhyāsaḥ ||32||

The only way to overcome these, is through focused practice on attaining to one-truth. (32)

This sutra talks about how to overcome these symptoms.  This can be done by concentrating the mind on a single tattva (axiom or principle). 

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मैत्रीकरुणामुदितोपेक्षाणां सुखदुःखपुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां भावनातश्चित्तप्रसादनम्॥३३॥
Maitrīkaruṇāmuditopekṣāṇāṁ sukhaduḥkhapuṇyāpuṇyaviṣayāṇāṁ bhāvanātaścittaprasādanam ||33||

The mind gets clear and pleasant through the feelings of maitrI=’friendliness’, karuNA=’compassion’, muditA=’joy’, and upekShA=’neutrality’ towards the objects of sukha=’pleasantness’, duHkha=’unpleasantness’, puNya=’virtue’ and apuNya=’vice’. (33)

This sutra talks about the pleasant states of chitta, and how they come about. It is achieved by staying friendly, compassionate, joyful and neutral toward the dualities in life.

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प्रच्छर्दनविधारणाभ्यां वा प्राणस्य॥३४॥
Pracchardanavidhāraṇābhyāṁ vā prāṇasya ||34||

Or through the controlled inhalation and exhalation of one’s prAna=’life airs’. (34)

An alternative method of achieving the same results is through pranAyama, which is a science in itself.

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विषयवती वा प्रवृत्तिरुत्पन्ना मनसः स्थितिनिबन्धिनी॥३५॥
Viṣayavatī vā pravṛttirutpannā manasaḥ sthitinibandhinī ||35||

Or the states of the mind are also steadied by sensations caused by one’s own intrinsic nature. (35)

The same can be accomplished through in one’s intrinsic nature (simply by being oneself); even when the mind is involved in all these dualities.

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विशोका वा ज्योतिष्मती॥३६॥
Viśokā vā jyotiṣmatī ||36||

Or by a bright state of mind, free of sorrow. (36)

Still one can attain that pleasant state of chitta by maintaining a bright disposition, which is free of sorrow.

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वीतरागविषयं वा चित्तम्॥३७॥
Vītarāgaviṣayaṁ vā cittam ||37||

Or by keeping the mind devoid of entanglement with the objects of the senses. (37)

Another way is to keep the mind free of entanglements with the objects of the senses. 

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स्वप्ननिद्राज्ञानालम्बनं वा॥३८॥
Svapnanidrājñānālambanaṁ vā ||38||

Or by seeking support in the knowledge of dream and sleep-states. (38)

The vivid recollection of what happened in the dream and how it was caused can also make the chitta pleasant. But this can be tricky.

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यथाभिमतध्यानाद्वा॥३९॥
Yathābhimatadhyānādvā ||39||

Or through meditation upon any object of one’s choice. (39)

This is the most freeing of all the sutras. Pick something, anything that interests you and meditate upon that.

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Sutras (40-50) – Deeper States of Meditation

परमाणुपरममहत्त्वान्तोऽस्य वशीकारः॥४०॥
Paramāṇuparamamahattvānto’sya vaśīkāraḥ ||40||

Even the tiniest and the most enormous, are within the grasp of such a person. (40)

Patanjali now talks about the states one may achieve once the chitta has been pacified and one has gained complete control over one’s compulsive, cyclical action. Such a person gains the ability to grasp all things from the tiniest to the most enormous.

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क्षीणवृत्तेरभिजातस्येव मणेर्ग्रहीतृग्रहणग्राह्येषु तत्स्थतदञ्जनता समापत्तिः॥४१॥
Kṣīṇavṛtterabhijātasyeva maṇergrahītṛgrahaṇagrāhyeṣu tatsthatadañjanatā samāpattiḥ ||41||

The one whose compulsive cyclical activities are subdued, and the mind is clearing up like a crystal, attains to the capability of being established as one with all the activities of being the grahItR=’the consumer’, grahaNa=’the act of consumption’, and grAhya=’the consumed’. (41)

Such a person also gains the state of samApatti (coming together to the original form) where the receiver, the act of receiving and what is received become one. 

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शब्दार्थज्ञानविकल्पैः सङ्कीर्णा सवितर्का समापत्तिः॥४२॥
Śabdārthajñānavikalpaiḥ saṅkīrṇā savitarkā samāpattiḥ ||42||

There comes the capability of savitarka-samAdhi, which unites the three factors of shabda=’the sound’, artha=’its essence’ and jnAna=’the knowledge of it’. (42)

There comes about savitarka-samAdhi in which the three factors of shabda, artha and jnAna are united. These factors are actually three different manifestations of the same thing.

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स्मृतिपरिशुद्धौ स्वरूपशून्येवार्थमात्रनिर्भासा निर्वितर्का॥४३॥
Smṛtipariśuddhau svarūpaśūnyevārthamātranirbhāsā nirvitarkā ||43||

When even the imprints of memory clear up, and it feels like one’s own form is absent, such a state where only artha=’the essence’ shines through is called as nirvitarka-samAdhi. (43)

One step deeper is the nirvitarka-samAdhi in which the sound and any specific knowledge dissolve and only the essence remains. There is no longer any identify with any form, which was the consequence of memory. Memory clears up and so does the form. These deeper states are experiential states. The only way to know them is to be in them. 

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एतयैव सविचारा निर्विचारा च सूक्ष्मविषया व्याख्याता॥४४॥
Etayaiva savicārā nirvicārā ca sūkṣmaviṣayā vyākhyātā ||44||

It is by these two samAdhis that the subtle concepts of savichAra=’thoughtfulness’ and nirvichAra=’thoughtlessness’ are described. (44)

These two states—savitarka and nirvitarka—are the subtle states of being. These subtle states were talked about in Patanjali’s time. They are also referred to as savichArA and nirvichArA samAdhi in this sutra. These two states are much subtler compared to the samprajnAta and asamprajnAta samAdhis. 

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सूक्ष्मविषयत्वं चालिङ्गपर्यवसानम्॥४५॥
Sūkṣmaviṣayatvaṁ cāliṅgaparyavasānam ||45||

These subtle states only remain as long as there is the perception of a form, and cease to exist beyond that. (45)

The literal meaning of linga (लिङ्ग) is ‘form’. It is because the essence of this form still remains in nirvitarka samAdhi (though its sound and knowledge are dissolved) we call it a subtle state.

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ता एव सवीजः समाधिः॥४६॥
Tā eva savījaḥ samādhiḥ ||46||

It is these states, which are called as sabIja-samAdhi=’states of causal equanimity’. (46)

In these subtle states, the cause (seed) of the compulsive, cyclical actions is still alive; therefore, they are categorized as sabIja-samAdhi.

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निर्विचारवैशारद्येऽध्यात्मप्रसादः॥४७॥
Nirvicāravaiśāradye’dhyātmaprasādaḥ ||47||

Through skill and competence in nirvichArA=’thoughtless states of meditation’, one enters the realm of adhyAtma=’spirituality’. (47)

By continuously staying in the state of nirvitarka or nirvichArA samAdhi, you become skilled and competent in it, and you enter the realm of adhyAtma (spirituality). Before that point ‘spirituality’ is rather unreal.  ‘adhyAtma’, which means “own, belonging to self, Supreme Spirit“ is the best word to describe the realm of spirituality. 

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ऋतम्भरा तत्र प्रज्ञा॥४८॥
Ṛtambharā tatra prajñā ||48||

In that realm, one’s perception is filled with Rta=’the true reality of existence’. (48)

Once you enter the realm of spirituality, there the state of perception is filled with the truth of cosmos. The universe has two aspects—satyam  (सत्यम् relative) is the reality as we experience it in the physical world; and rtam (ऋतम् absolute, cosmic) is the cosmic truth, which is unchanging. One’s perception opens up to the truths of the cosmos, and that is when you realize things. 

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श्रुतानुमानप्रज्ञाभ्यामन्यविषया विशेषार्थत्वात्॥४९॥
Śrutānumānaprajñābhyāmanyaviṣayā viśeṣārthatvāt ||49||

The knowledge of this reality is unique, and different from that which is normally perceived through one’s senses and logic, due to its nature of being all-encompassing. (49)

The reality of the physical world (satyam सत्यम् ) can be known by contemplating over it, but when you perceive truth which is not known, that is the true reality of existence (rtam ऋतम्). The knowledge through rtam is enormously empowering, so that you do not have to rely on books or inferred knowledge anymore. You just perceive the truth there is, for what it is

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तज्जः संस्कारोऽन्यसंस्कारप्रतिबन्धी॥५०॥
Tajjaḥ saṁskāro’nyasaṁskārapratibandhī ||50||

The impressions born out of this perception, prevents other inherent compulsive tendencies of all kinds. (50)

The impressions that are born from the realization through rtam take precedence over impressions born from all other sense perceptions. One then becomes truly cultured. Thus, there are five physical sense perceptions, the sixth is the logical, or intellectual perception, and now seventh is the rtam (cosmic) perception. 

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Sutra (51) – Going Beyond

तस्यापि निरोधे सर्वनिरोधान्निर्वीजः समाधिः॥५१॥
Tasyāpi nirodhe sarvanirodhānnirvījaḥ samādhiḥ ||51||

When even this perception and everything else is stopped under one’s control, such a state is called nirbIja-samAdhi=’a state of causeless equanimity’. (51)

When even this deepest impression through rtam is also brought under control (meaning it is no longer automatic), one enters the state of nirbIja-samAdhi. Here even the seed (in the form ritambhara prajna) is dissolved. Ritambhara means “bearing the truth in itself”. It refers to the cosmic harmony, or to the mental matrix in which all impressions are assimilated. Now there is complete absence of any compulsive, cyclical actions.

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