Patanjali Yoga Sutras Chapter 4

Reference: Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Chapter 4: Kaivalya Pada (On liberation)
Verses 4:1—4:34

Reference: The Sun of Sanskrit Knowledge


Sutra 1: Other sources of these powers and attainments
Sutras 2-6: The nature of birth and individuality
Sutras 7-11: The nature of Karma and Vasanas
Sutras 12-24: The origin of unique personalities
Sutras 25-34: How to go beyond individual experience


Summary of Samadhi Pada

All these siddhis need not be born out of samadhi only. They can also be born out of birth, drugs, mantra, and penance. The type of birth one receives is induced by unfilled tendencies. The unfilled tendencies combined with the sense of Individual Self give rises to Individual Minds. But these “minds” are actually one. They appear to be divided because they are engaged in different activities. 

The moment we see that, we realize that the “mind” has no intention of its own. The duality of good and bad, and the variations in between, do not really exist for the enlightened mind. The fact is that karma results in tendencies, which appear to be divided by time, place and birth. These tendencies are determined by memory and Samskaras, that are basically impressions. They are essentially the primal desire to live, which is eternal in nature. We may say that these samskaras (impressions) and vasanas (tendencies) are inherent to life. They are part of a framework of cause, result, recipient and support; and this framework must cease to exist before vasanas can cease to exist.

This present moment contains within it the past and the future because one’s nature can take diverging paths. This past and future can either manifest itself or stay latent, according to the nature of one’s guNas. Due to the uniqueness of these transformations, unique personalities are manifest. Life takes different paths because of the uniqueness of personalities and individuality of minds, even when they all are the same at the core. 

Things are observed only when they can be compared to each other. Therefore, the creation must be varied, and this requires different expressions of the mind. Something is known by the mind only when it is impressed upon it; otherwise, it is not known. The cyclical actions of the mind always remain the same; therefore, they are known to the superior sense of self. 

But that sense of self is not perceived because of the nature of seeing. Mind can either be engaged in seeing; or be established within itself. It cannot be both. If the mind could face itself, it would be like a mirror facing itself. It would result in a chain of perceptions regressing infinitely. This will mix up the memory and create confusion. Because the nature of the mind is always cyclical, the intellect becomes active only when forms are perceived. The mind fulfills all of its purposes when the Seer and the Seen within it become one. This is what the mind is seeking even when countless tendencies are knocking it here and there.

For the person who perceives everything completely, the very sense of self, and the feelings born out of it, cease to exist. It is then, that the mind becomes inclined towards true discernment, and gravitates towards the unity of the Seer and the Seen. Any gap in this discernment, leads to the emergence of thoughts and intentions as projections. This is the source of creation assisted by the storehouse of impressions. We address these gaps the same way that we addressed the obstacles before. 

We then attain a state of discernment where one is not entangled even with the attainments. This realization extinguishes both the causes of suffering and the cycle of cause and effect. Once all the veils and impurities concealing truth are washed away, one’s insight becomes boundless, resulting in very little that is left to know. guNas are there to bring knowledge through transformations. 

Now that their purpose is fulfilled, guNas stop the series of transformations among themselves. One then comes to realize the process of life as consisting simply of these gaps and projections. With the state of Oneness achieved, there are qualities that have absolutely no intentions associated with them. One is simply established in one’s true self enjoying the power of Consciousness (chitishakti).


Sutra 1: Other sources of these powers and attainments

जन्मौषधिमन्त्रतपःसमाधिजाः सिद्धयः॥१॥
Janmauṣadhimantratapaḥsamādhijāḥ siddhayaḥ ||1||

siddhis=‘Attainments’ are born out of janma=‘Birth’, auShadhi=‘Medicinal Herbs’, mantra=‘Incantations’, tapa=‘Penance’, and samAdhi=‘Equanimity’. (1)

All these siddhis need not be born out of samadhi only. They can also be born out of birth, medication, mantra, and penance.


Sutras 2-6: The nature of birth and individuality 

जात्यन्तरपरिणामः प्रकृत्यापूरात्॥२॥
Jātyantarapariṇāmaḥ prakṛtyāpūrāt ||2||

jAti=‘Kind of Birth’ keeps transforming based on one’s unfulfilled tendencies. (2)

As one leaves one body to the next, the kind of birth that keeps transforming is based on one’s unfulfilled tendencies.


निमित्तमप्रयोजकं प्रकृतीनां वरणभेदस्तु ततः क्षेत्रिकवत्॥३॥
Nimittamaprayojakaṁ prakṛtīnāṁ varaṇabhedastu tataḥ kṣetrikavat ||3||

The path these tendencies take are nimitta=‘Inducers’ of birth, and aprayojaka=‘Not the Cause’ of it, similar to how a farmer induces cop production, but is not the cause of it. (3)

Differences in choice of birth and where one is born is determined in the process of fulfilling one’s nature. But these tendencies are not the direct cause of death and birth; instead they simply induce those processes.


Nirmāṇacittānyasmitāmātrāt ||4||

chittAni=‘Individual Minds’ are created merely by identification with asmitA=’Sense of Individual Self’. (4)

Just because of the sense of individual self, individual minds come into existence.


प्रवृत्तिभेदे प्रयोजकं चित्तमेकमनेकेषाम्॥५॥
Pravṛttibhede prayojakaṁ cittamekamanekeṣām ||5||

These individual minds of the many are in fact one, but seem divided due to being employed in different kinds of activity. (5)

The minds that are being individually put to use in different kind of actions and tendencies, are actually one.


तत्र ध्यानजमनाशयम्॥६॥
Tatra dhyānajamanāśayam ||6||

And by meditation upon this truth is born anAshaya=‘Lack of Intentions’. (6)

As soon as we identify the truth that this chitta is one, and that we have captured only a piece of it as our individual chitta, we become equanimous toward all intentions, with no specific intention of our own.


Sutras 7-11: The nature of Karma and Vasanas 

कर्माशुक्लाकृष्णं योगिनस्त्रिविधमितरेषाम्॥७॥
Karmāśuklākṛṣṇaṁ yoginastrividhamitareṣām ||7||

karma=‘Actions’ are ashukla=’Not Bright’ and akRShNa=’Not Dark’ for the yogis; but for others it is of three kinds: Bright, Dark and Gray. (7)

Bright (white) and black represent the duality of characteristics, such as, good-bad, pleasant-unpleasant etc. Such duality, with a mixture of both (gray) in between, may exist for others; but it does not exist for the yogis.


Tatastadvipākānuguṇānāmevābhivyaktirvāsanānām ||8||

In that threefold division of activity, based on the result of those actions, vAsana=‘Tendencies’ are manifest. (8)

Tendencies are manifested based on the ripening of pleasant, unpleasant, or mixed activities.


जातिदेशकालव्यवहितानामप्यानन्तर्यं स्मृतिसंस्कारयोरेकरूपत्वात्॥९॥
Jātideśakālavyavahitānāmapyānantaryaṁ smṛtisaṁskārayorekarūpatvāt ||9||

This manifestation is a continuous process, even if it seems divided by jAti=‘Birth’, desha=‘Location’, and kAla=’Time’. This is due to the unity of form between smRti=‘Memory’ and samskAra=‘Tendencies’. (9)

Both Memory and Samskara are impressions; except that memory is assimilated while samskaras are unassimilated. But both have the same form; and because of this, the various tendencies, though seemingly divided by time, place and birth, have continuity among them.


तासामनादित्वं चाशिषो नित्यत्वात्॥१०॥
Tāsāmanāditvaṁ cāśiṣo nityatvāt ||10||

These tendencies are origin-less, due to the eternal nature of AshiSh=‘Primordial Desire to Live’. (10)

For these tendencies there is no beginning as such. It is not that they are born at one particular time and then go away. They are inherent in the very functioning of the creation. This is so because of the eternal nature of this primal will. This is desire at the fundamental level of two things coming together. At elemental level there is affinity for elements to come together and bond to each other, like electron to the nucleus, or earth to the sun. Life is this affinity or desire. Because of this will to exist at the very fundamental level, these vasanas and samskaras do not have any particular point of origin. They are inherent to life.


हेतुफलाश्रयालम्बनैः सङ्गृहीतत्वादेषामभावे तदभावः॥११॥
Hetuphalāśrayālambanaiḥ saṅgṛhītatvādeṣāmabhāve tadabhāvaḥ ||11||

This framework is held together through hetu=‘Cause’, phala=‘Result’, Ashraya=‘Recipient’, and Alambana=’Support’. Once these cease to exist, the tendencies too cease to exist. (11)

Such tendencies may be without origin but they can stop to exist. There is a cause, and there is an effect. There is a source, and there is a recipient. There is a whole framework of support. When the source stops to exist, the recipient  stops to exist too. If we want these innate tendencies to go away, we simply take away the whole framework made of karma, its nature of being pleasant or unpleasant, its ripening into vasanas (lack of assimilation), that leads to the formation of smriti (memory) and samskaras (latent impressions). The basis of all this is likes and dislikes.


Sutras 12-24: The origin of unique personalities

अतीतानागतं स्वरूपतोऽस्त्यध्वभेदाद्धर्माणाम्॥१२॥
Atītānāgataṁ svarūpato’styadhvabhedāddharmāṇām ||12||

The past and the future in fact exist distinctly within the present form, due to the difference in adhva=‘Path’ of their dharmas=‘Properties’. (12)

Because one’s nature can take diverging paths, this present moment contains within it the past and the future. 


ते व्यक्तसूक्ष्मा गुणात्मानः॥१३॥
Te vyaktasūkṣmā guṇātmānaḥ ||13||

They are either manifest or lay subtle, according to the nature of one’s guNas. (13)

The imprints of the past and the future can either manifest in the present moment or they can remain dormant and subtle, according to one’s characteristics. This demonstrates the control one has on this particular moment.


Pariṇāmaikatvādvastutattvam ||14||

Due to the uniqueness of these transformations, unique personalities are manifest. (14)

The transformations we go through are not the same from one individual to the next. They are unique to the person. Therefore, these transformation lead to unique personalities in individuals.


वस्तुसाम्ये चित्तभेदात्तयोर्विभक्तः पन्थाः॥१५॥
Vastusāmye cittabhedāttayorvibhaktaḥ panthāḥ ||15||

These unique personalities and differentiation in Individual minds, result in different life paths, even if they are all the same at the core. (15)

Even if two entities are same; they can take completely different paths because their chitta has different possibilities of manifesting.


न चैकचित्ततन्त्रं वस्तु तदप्रमाणकं तदा किं स्यात्॥१६॥
Na caikacittatantraṁ vastu tadapramāṇakaṁ tadā kiṁ syāt ||16||

The mechanism of creation cannot happen with a single expression of Mind. What could ever happen when there is nothing to be observed in comparison to the other. (16)

What can even happen when chitta remains undivided as just one? As there would be nothing else to compare it with.


तदुपरागापेक्षित्वाच्चित्तस्य वस्तु ज्ञाताज्ञातम्॥१७॥
Taduparāgāpekṣitvāccittasya vastu jñātājñātam ||17||

Something is only known by a Mind it has colored, or made an impression on; otherwise, it is not known. (17)

Only when the mind is impressed by something that it comes to know it.


सदा ज्ञाताश्चित्तवृत्तयस्तत्प्रभोः पुरुषस्यापरिणामित्वात्॥१८॥
Sadā jñātāścittavṛttayastatprabhoḥ puruṣasyāpariṇāmitvāt ||18||

The cyclical actions of the mind are always known to that superior sense of self, due to its nature of being un-transforming. (18)

The activities of chitta are always known by the self within, because that self is unchanging.


न तत्स्वाभासं दृश्यत्वात्॥१९॥
Na tatsvābhāsaṁ dṛśyatvāt ||19||

That is not perceived to one’s own self, due to the nature of external sight. (19)

Because of the nature of seeing, Self cannot perceive itself.


एकसमये चोभयानवधारणम्॥२०॥
Ekasamaye cobhayānavadhāraṇam ||20||

And since, both these perceptions can not be held at once. (20)

Both of these perceptions cannot be held at the same time. Self can either be engaged in the constant activity, or it can be established within itself.


चित्तान्तरदृश्ये बुद्धिबुद्धेरतिप्रसङ्गः स्मृतिसङ्करश्च॥२१॥
Cittāntaradṛśye buddhibuddheratiprasaṅgaḥ smṛtisaṅkaraśca ||21||

If chitta=‘Mind’ which is like a mirror, were possible to be seen by itself, the chain of such perceptions would regress infinitely, mixing up and confusing smRti=‘Memory’. (21)

A perceiving instrument cannot perceive itself because such an attempt would lead to infinite regression that would jumble up all the memory.


चितेरप्रतिसङ्क्रमायास्तदाकारापत्तौ स्वबुद्धिसंवेदनम्॥२२॥
Citerapratisaṅkramāyāstadākārāpattau svabuddhisaṁvedanam ||22||

Due to the apratisankrama=‘Unchanging Nature’ of chitta=‘Mind’ when the perception of forms is born, that is when one feels the activity of buddhi=‘Faculty of Intellect’. (22)

When the activity of chitta comes to a standstill only then its form is perceived. Once that happens one gets to know the form, or even the presence, of one’s intellect.


द्रष्टृदृश्योपरक्तं चित्तं सर्वार्थम्॥२३॥
Draṣṭṛdṛśyoparaktaṁ cittaṁ sarvārtham ||23||

The mind on which both the draShTR=’Seer’ and dRshyam=‘That which is seen’ are imprinted upon, fulfills all of its purposes. (23)

A chitta, which has now come to a standstill, and is colored by both the seer and the seen, fulfills all its purposes. In other words, it reaches its full potential under these circumstances.


तदसङ्ख्येयवासनाभिश्चित्रमपि परार्थं संहत्यकारित्वात्॥२४॥
Tadasaṅkhyeyavāsanābhiścitramapi parārthaṁ saṁhatyakāritvāt ||24||

Even after being imprinted upon by countless latent tendencies, its purpose is something else, due to the nature of being employed by it. (24)

Even when this chitta is being constantly bombarded by innumerable tendencies on a daily basis, it has some other purpose.


Sutras 25-34: How to go beyond individual experience

विशेषदर्शिन आत्मभावभावनाविनिवृत्तिः॥२५॥
Viśeṣadarśina ātmabhāvabhāvanāvinivṛttiḥ ||25||

For the one who perceives everything completely, the very sense of self, and the feelings born out of it, cease to exist. (25)

For one who has this specialized sense of perception, the very sense of individual self (that I am separate from things in my surroundings) ceases to exist.


तदा विवेकनिम्नङ्कैवल्यप्राग्भारञ्चित्तम्॥२६॥
Tadā vivekanimnaṅkaivalyaprāgbhārañcittam ||26||

It is then, that chitta=‘Mind’ becomes inclined towards true discernment, and gravitates towards kaivalya=‘Unity’. (26)

And then by employing that discernment, one’s chitta gravitates towards kaivalyam.


तच्छिद्रेषु प्रत्ययान्तराणि संस्कारेभ्यः॥२७॥
Tacchidreṣu pratyayāntarāṇi saṁskārebhyaḥ ||27||

Any gap in this discernment, lead to the emergence of various thoughts and intentions, from the storehouse of latent impressions. (27)

When chitta is gravitating toward kaivalyam, and there are gaps in that discernment, those latent impressions start to act up again. These obstacles are the very framework of creation itself, and one has to break through them.


हानमेषां क्लेशवदुक्तम्॥२८॥
Hānameṣāṁ kleśavaduktam ||28||

The process to overcome these is similar to the process of overcoming kleshas=‘Obstacles’ as mentioned before. (28)

When Samskaras become kleshas, quelling them is very similar to how we put aside kleshas before.


प्रसङ्ख्यानेऽप्यकुसीदस्य सर्वथा विवेकख्यातेर्धर्ममेघः समाधिः॥२९॥
Prasaṅkhyāne’pyakusīdasya sarvathā vivekakhyāterdharmameghaḥ samādhiḥ ||29||

When one is not entangled with even the highest states of attainment, such distinguished discernment is called as dharma-megha-samAdhi=‘State of Equanimity that Liberates from One’s Very Own Nature.’ (29)

This sutra describes a specialized state of samadhi, which is even beyond the Nirbija samadhi. This is called dharma-megha-samAdhi. In this state one doesn’t feel attached to these exalted states of being, even after attaining them, and is able to put them aside. Then the illumination of the mind happens in all possible ways. One is liberated even from one’s very own nature. One is not human any more.


ततः क्लेशकर्मनिवृत्तिः॥३०॥
Tataḥ kleśakarmanivṛttiḥ ||30||

This realization extinguishes both the causes of suffering and the cycle of cause and effect. (30)

One is now free from all the shackles of klesha, karma and compulsive activities.


तदा सर्वावरणमलापेतस्य ज्ञानस्यानन्त्याज्ज्ञेयमल्पम्॥३१॥
Tadā sarvāvaraṇamalāpetasya jñānasyānantyājjñeyamalpam ||31||

Once all the veils and impurities concealing truth are washed away, one’s insight becomes boundless, resulting in very little that is left to know. (31)

Then all the veils of impurity that surround the self have gone away, resulting in limitless knowing, and hardly anything left to be known. 


ततः कृतार्थानां परिणामक्रमसमाप्तिर्गुणानाम्॥३२॥
Tataḥ kṛtārthānāṁ pariṇāmakramasamāptirguṇānām ||32||

Then, once their purpose is fulfilled, guNas=‘Qualities’ stop the series of transformations among themselves. (32)

Gunas are there to bring knowledge through transformations. Their purpose is now fulfilled with this unbounded awareness. So, their transformations that lead to the performance of activities is now finished.


क्षणप्रतियोगी परिणामापरान्तनिर्ग्राह्यः क्रमः॥३३॥
Kṣaṇapratiyogī pariṇāmāparāntanirgrāhyaḥ kramaḥ ||33||

At the end of these transformations this continuous flow can be grasped as actually being a collection of discrete moments. (33)

This life as we experience it is a continuous process. But when the transformation of gunas stops happening, one realizes that this continuous flow actually comprises of discrete moments. It could be that the discreteness was hidden under automatic mental projections covering the gaps. Now one comes to recognize these projections and the gaps.


पुरुषार्थशून्यानां गुणानां प्रतिप्रसवः कैवल्यं स्वरूपप्रतिष्ठा वा चितिशक्तिरिति॥३४॥
Puruṣārthaśūnyānāṁ guṇānāṁ pratiprasavaḥ kaivalyaṁ svarūpapratiṣṭhā vā citiśaktiriti ||34||

The outcome of qualities that have absolutely no intentions associated with them, is called as kaivalya, and establishment in one’s true self, is called as chitishakti=‘The Power of Consciousness’. (34)

Gunas, which no longer have any purpose, and have no pursuit left, come from the state of oneness with the power of creation. Such a state of being established in oneself is called chiti-shakti. The divinity within oneself finds its fullest expression in this state of kaivalya.


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