Patanjali Yoga Sutras 1:21—1:40

Reference: Patanjali Yoga Sutras

These notes are derived from the book FOUR CHAPTERS ON FREEDOM by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, First edition 1976, Published by Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India.


Sutra 1:21 Quicker is intensity of eagerness 

Tivrasamveganamasannah II 21 II

Tivra: intense; samvega: urge; asannah: quite near 

Those who have an intense urge attain asamprajnata samadhi very soon. (21)

For those who are earnest and sincere, samadhi is quite close.


Sutra 1:22 Three degrees of eagerness

Mrdumadhyadhimatratvat tato’pi visesah II 22 II

Mrdu: mild; madhya; medium; adhimatra: extremely strong; tvat: due to; tatoapi: also, more than that; visesah: special, peculiar 

With the intensity of urge rising through the mild, medium and strong conditions, asamprajnata samadhi can be achieved sooner. (22)

Those who are earnest and sincere, follow the instructions precisely, and never give up.


Sutra 1:23 Or by devotion to Ishwara

Isvarapranidhanadva II 23 II

Isvara: Lord; pranidhanat: devotion; va: or 

Or by devotion to the Lord (asamprajnata samadhi can be attained). (23)

Ishwara does not mean some personality that lords over you.  Devotion to Ishwara means being entirely devoted to attaining some ideal that you have visualized. Please see Can God be Defined?


Sutra 1:24 Definition of Ishwara 

Klesakarmavipakasayairaparamrstah purusavisesa isvarah II 24 II

Klesa: afflictions; karmavipaka: fruits of acts; asaya: store of the traces of past karma; aparamrstah: untouched; purusavisesa: special kind of consciousness; Isvarah: God ideal

Ishwara is a special consciousness untouched by afflictions, acts, traces of acts and their fruits. (24)

Ishwara (God) is the ultimate consciousness, which is completely free of unassimilated impressions (ignorance, I-feeling, like, dislike, and fear of death). “Isvara pranidhana” (surrender to God) means putting no resistance to the laws of nature, and letting them operate. It requires an understanding of the laws of nature. 


Sutra 1:25 Attribute of Ishwara

Tatra niratisayam sarvajnabijam II 25 II

Tatra: there (in God); niratisayam, limitless; sarvajha: omniscient; bijam: principle, seed 

In Ishwara there is the seed of limitless omniscience. (25)

Consciousness is manifested in the course of evolution. The highest state of evolution includes knowledge that knows no limitation. The ultimate point of consciousness may be called Ishwara. Ishwara is not in the realm of manifestation but in the realm of the unmanifested state of things. In it there is the seed of limitless knowledge, but that knowledge is not gained from outside. An aspirant who has attained the highest state of consciousness is in touch with all knowledge. In normal working life everyone exhibits only a trace of that knowledge.


Sutra 1:26 Ishwara is the jagatguru

Purvesamapi guruh kalenanavachchhedat  II 26 II

Purvesam: of those who came before; api: even; guruh: greater, teacher; kalena: by time; anavachhedat: because unlimited by time 

Not being limited by time he is the guru of the earliest gurus. (26)

The state of consciousness, which is the highest, is timeless. It is there in each one of us, and it has always been there in everyone. It keeps on manifesting in different births, in different incarnations, taking the medium of different bodies: human, animal and so on. Therefore, Ishwara, being unconnected with birth and death, timeless and beginningless, is said to be the guru even of these past prophets and masters.


Sutra 1:27 Pranava is verily Ishwara 

Tasya vachakah pranavah II 27 II

Tasya: of it; vachakah: designator, indicator; pranavah: Aum 

Aum is the word denoting Ishwara. (27)

Ishwara is the ultimate point of supreme consciousness. It has no form. It is not possible to reach it through thinking, speeches, discourses, intellect, listening to others or the scriptures. It must be experienced directly through practices, such as, yoga. We cannot perceive supreme consciousness with the eyes or with the ears, but we may experience it with the help of a mantra. Aum is the mantra which gives an expression to the principle of supreme consciousness. ‘Aum’ has a form, which is visible to the eyes, and at the same time it has a sound. 


Sutra 1:28 Sadhana for Ishwara 

Tajjapastadarthabhavanam II 28 II

Tat: that; japa: repetition of the word; tat: that; artha: meaning; bhavanam: dwelling upon mentally 

That (the word Aum) should be recited repeatedly while dwelling mentally on its meaning. (28)

The chanting of AUM provides a support for the contemplation of formless supreme consciousness. By constant repetition of the word Aum and dhyana on its meaning, meditation becomes complete. The word Aum is made of three letters, namely, A, U and M. ‘A’ refers to the objective consciousness of the world of the senses. ‘U’ refers to the subjective consciousness of the passions and emotions . ‘M’ refers to unconsciousness of intuitive knowledge. The syllables A, U and M are to be understood in relation to the state of consciousness. In this way the student transcends the three states of manifested consciousness and ultimately reaches the fourth state of the unmanifested state of the Static.


Sutra 1:29 Result of this sadhana 

Tatah pratyakchetanadhigamo’pyantarayabhavascha II 29 II

Tatah: from that (practice of meditation on Aum); pratyak: turned in, in opposite direction; chetana: consciousness; adhigama: attainment; api: also; antaraya: obstacle; abhava: absence; cha: and 

From that practice the consciousness turns inward and the obstacles are overcome. (29)

With the repetition of AUM, one’s attention goes on to the consciousness itself, and the obstacles start to appear and disappear. By practicing this, the average person  ultimately obtains higher intelligence and keenness of mind.


Sutra 1:30 Obstacles in the path of yoga

Vyadhistyanasamsayapramadalasyaviratibhrantidarsanalabdhabhumikatvanavasthitatvani chittaviksepaste’ntarayah II 30 II

Vyadhi: disease; styana: dullness; samsaya: doubt; pramada: procrastination; alasya: laziness; avirati: craving for enjoyment; bhrantidarsana: erroneous perception; alabdhabhumikatva: inability to achieve a finer state; anavasthitatva: instability; chittaviksepah: obstacle to the mind; te: they; antarayah: obstacles 

Disease, dullness, doubt, procrastination, laziness, craving, erroneous perception, inability to achieve finer stages and instability are the obstacles. (30)

The obstacles, as listed above, are the disruptive forces of consciousness. Disease, such as, head aches and stomach disorders, appear when something is not understood. One may fall asleep at times. States of delusions may arise. One may become careless about personal responsibilities. Doubts are bound to be there.


Sutra 1:31 Other obstructions 

Duhkhadaurmanasyangamejayatvasvasaprasvasa viksepasahabhuvah  II 31 II

Duhkha: pain; daurmanasya: depression; arigamejayatva: shaking of the body; svasaprasvasa: inhalations and exhalations; viksepa: distraction; sahabhuvah: accompanying symptom 

Pain, depression, shaking of the body and unrhythmic breathing are the accompanying symptoms of mental distraction. (31)

Disease may occur as a natural process or when one is going inward in the process of meditation. The sutra tells us that if there is pain, or mental depression, or shaking of the body, or unrhythmic breathing during the meditation, you may be sure that consciousness is undergoing a distracted condition. 


Sutra 1:32 (i) Removal of obstacles by one-pointedness 

Tatpratisedharthamekatattvabhyasah II 32 II

Tat: that; pratisedhartham: for removal; eka: one; tattva: principle; abhyasah: practice 

For removal of those (obstacles and accompanying symptoms) the practice of concentration on one principle (is to be done). (32)

The way involves concentration of the mind on a single tattva (axiom or principle). If you practice mantra, it should be on one mantra. If you practice dhyana, it should be on one symbol. The process of meditation is only a basis for the consciousness to go deeper and deeper. There will be confusion if the basis is changed time and again. Those who keep on changing the methods, techniques and symbols in meditation every now and then will suffer from the obstacles. The obstacles can be removed from the way of an aspirant only when he does not allow his mind to run helter-skelter, but fixes it on one single tattva, come what may.


Sutra 1:33 (ii) Or by cultivating opposite virtues

Maitrikarunamuditopeksanam sukhaduhkhapunyapunyavisayanam bhavanataschittaprasadanam II 33 II

Maitri: friendliness; karuna: compassion; mudita; gladness; upeksanam: indifference; sukha: happiness; duhkha: misery; punya: virtue; apunya: vice; visayanam: of the objects; bhavanatah: attitude; chitta: mind; prasadanam: purification, making peaceful 

In relation to happiness, misery, virtue and vice, by cultivating the attitudes of friendliness, compassion, gladness and indifference respectively, the mind becomes purified and peaceful. (33)

The unsteady mind cannot become concentrated easily. By maintaining the attitude of friendliness to the happy, compassion for the unhappy, gladness about the virtuous and indifference to those who are full of vice, the mind of the aspirant becomes free from disturbing influences and as a result it becomes peaceful and undisturbed. The mind can then look at itself with clarity and resolve its anomalies.


Sutra 1:34 (iii) Or by controlling prana 

Prachchhardanavidharanabhyam va pranasya II 34 II

Prachchhardana: expiration (rechaka); vidharanabhyam: holding (kumbhaka); va: or; pranasya: of breath 

Or by expiration and retention of breath (one can control the mind). (34)

There is a whole science of pranayama (breath control). The subtle prana is in the form of energy, and the gross prana has the form of breath. It is said that consciousness has two supports: prana (vital energy) and vasana (impressions). These are the supports on which the mind rests and consciousness works. If one of them is removed, the other goes automatically. The kumbhaka (breath retention)  involved in this sutra is of the outer type, in which the breath is held outside after rechaka (prolonged exhalation).


Sutra 1:35 (iv) Or by observing sense experience

Visayavati va pravfttirutpanna manasah sthitinibandhani II 35 II

Visayavati: sensuous; va: or; pravrttih: functioning; utpanna: arisen; manasah: of the mind; sthiti: steadiness; nibandhani: which binds 

Or else the mind can be made steady by bringing it into activity of sense experience. (35)

The mind can be brought under control through arousing an activity of sense perception. Here the mind is made to observe itself in sense perception; that is, perception through the senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. For example, the mind can be controlled by making it “form conscious”through trataka (concentration on a particular form); or by making it “sound conscious” by repetition of mantras, bhajan, kirtan, etc.; and similarly, in the case of touch consciousness and taste consciousness. There is a whole science about it in Hatha Yoga. In due course the mind transcends the sense perceptions and goes deeper into dharana and dhyana.


Sutra 1:36 (v) Or by inner illumination

Visoka va jyotismati II 36 II

Visoka: without sorrow; va: or; jyotismati: luminous, full of light 

Or the luminous state which is beyond sorrow (can control the mind). (36)

The mind can be brought under control by experiencing that serene light. There are many methods through which the light can be seen. One of them is concentration on the centre of the eyebrows; another one is concentration on nada (sound).


Sutra 1:37 (vi) Or by detachment from matter

Vitaragavisayam va chittam II 37 II

Vitaraga: passionless person who has transcended raga; visayam: object; va: or, also; chittam: mind 

Or else the mind can be brought under control by making passionless persons the object for concentrating the mind. (37)

Vitaraga (वीतराग) is a person who has renounced raga, that is, human passion. By concentrating the mind on such persons, it can be made steady and controlled. Therefore, in the ancient meditative traditions it has been advised to use symbols of ishta devata (इष्ट देवता personal deity) and guru, as they represent an idea of some power transcending the human passions or of someone who has achieved this state by sadhana. 


Sutra 1:38 (vii) Or by knowledge of dream and sleep

Svapnanidrajnanalambanam va II 38 II

Svapna: dream; nidra: sleep; jnana: knowledge; alambana: support; va: or, also 

Or else (the mind can be made steady) by giving it the knowledge of dream and sleep for support. (38)

Awareness of these two states can be made the support on which the mind can be concentrated. It is meant only for people who are psychic.


Sutra 1:39 (viii) Or by meditation as desired

Yathabhimatadhyanadva  II 39 II

Yatha: as; abhimata: desired; dhyanat: by meditation; va: or 

Or else by meditation as desired (mind can be steadied). (39)

Dhyana on an object that one likes, such as the object of devotion, is the surest way of making the mind steady, controlled and peaceful. An aspirant should choose for himself that object on which he can concentrate his mind.


Sutra 1:40 Fruits of meditation

Paramanuparamamahattvanto’sya vasikarah II 40 II

Paramanu: ultimate atom; paramamahattva: ultimate largeness; antah: ending; asya: of his; vasikarah: mastery 

So the yogi is given mastery over all objects for meditation ranging from the smallest atom to the infinitely large. (40)

The above-mentioned concentration practices can make the consciousness very refined. Through these practices the aspirant becomes capable of practicing concentration over the smallest as well as the largest forces. This skill is necessary, in the finer stages of samadhi, to be able to differentiate among the name, the form, and the object meant by the name. One has to be able to practice meditation on the object without the intervention of word or form. Therefore, the first psychic power in yoga is the achievement of this mastery. Then the mind can be fixed on any object, gross or subtle. 


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