Yoga Sutra 1.02 Yoga is inhibition of the mental processes

Sūtra I.2

Yoga is inhibition of the mental processes

(Opponent) If the sūtra has been presented to give this definition, it should have been ‘Yoga has inhibition of the mental processes’; to put them in apposition is not right, for a definition should not be simply the thing defined. Or at any rate it should have been said, ‘The definition is, inhibition of the mental processes.’

(Answer) A definition is projected (adhyas) on to the thing defined. When we say ‘This person is Devadatta’ there is a projection (adhyāsa) of the definition on to the thing defined. So there is no fault.

The omission of the word All shows that the cognitive (samādhi) too is yoga.

(Opponent) (The commentator’s previous gloss) But the ultra-cognitive is when there is inhibition of all mental processes is also a definition of it, so the sūtra should have been ‘Yoga is inhibition of all mental processes.’ This has not been said and the definition is too wide.

(Answer) As to why the word All is omitted from the sūtra, he says that if All were put in, it would be denying that the cognitive samādhi, which comes about by restricting the processes to a single point, is yoga at all. To prevent that, the word All is left out.

(Opponent) If so, the cognitive and ultra-cognitive have the same definition and are not in fact distinguished.

(Answer) The subject is yoga, as we see from the repetition of the word (in the first two sūtra-s). And unless he did intend a distinction, there would have been no point in putting into the definition the word yoga (which is well known to include meditation on objects).

(Opponent) The word yoga is of minor importance for actual exposition; it would suit the purpose of exposition if the definition just said ‘Inhibition of the mental processes’ without the word yoga at all.

(Answer) Not so, because what was introduced was an exposition of yoga, and it is exposition of yoga that has been begun, not exposition of non-yoga. The proposed definition could have too many contexts and would not be connected to the meaning of the words ‘exposition of yoga’. For the idea of an exposition of yoga does not follow from the words ‘inhibition of mental processes’.

(Opponent) Why then should the word yoga lead to a definition of the ultra-cognitive samādhi alone, and not to a definition of the cognitive, if there is no such distinction in the word itself?

(Answer) Because it applies exactly. What applies loosely is not a definition of a thing. The definition as inhibition applies exactly to the ultra-cognitive samādhi, but only loosely to the cognitive. Having horns is not the mark of cow-ness, because it applies also to buffaloes and other animals.

(Opponent) Neither is inhibition exact as a definition of the ultra-cognitive; (it is too loose) because there is inhibition in the cognitive too, namely inhibition of the undesired mental processes.

(Answer) True, but the ultra-cognitive cannot be defined by anything else except inhibition. Inhibition alone is its definition because nothing else is there, whereas the cognitive is definable in terms of special characteristics like verbal associations. As a parallel case, when tangibility is cited as a defining mark, it is the element Air alone that is defined by the fact of tangibility, which is regarded as special to it, though in fact tangibility is found also in the other elements in the descending order from Fire (to Water and then Earth).

Thus the word yoga is simply a corroboration (anuvāda), and so it is that All has not been put in the sūtra. It is settled that the ultra-cognitive is defined by the bare word ‘inhibition’, and if ‘All (the mental processes)’ were included, it would deny that the cognitive also is yoga. Therefore this is the definition of ultra-cognitive alone, and the commentator will sum up later in these words: Ultra-cognitive (a-sam-prajñāta) in the sense that in it no thing is cognized (sam-prajñāyate): this yoga is inhibition of the mental process.

What is the nature of that mind, inhibition of whose processes is called yoga? To explain mind and its processes and their inhibition, the commentator says:

Now mind always tends towards illumination, activity, or stasis (sthiti); so it consists of the three guṇa-s.

Mind is said to consist of the three guṇa-s, because it is always tending towards illumination, activity, or stasis. Illumination is making known, bringing to light, that being characteristic of sattva guṇa. Activity is motion and operation, that being characteristic of rajas. Stasis is being stationary, limitation, and resistance, such being characteristic of tamas. These are the invariable tendencies of the guṇa-s, and as mind is always tending towards one of them, it is true to say that it is continual transformation of the three guṇa-s.

To the objection that illumination and the others have not been established as causes, he says:

For mind-sattva is by nature illumination.

The word For means that this is something generally accepted; it is well known in the world and from scripture how mind makes everything manifest. So mind is sattva, and is therefore called mind-sattva, because its main transformation is that of sattva.

Or again, mind can be pointed out clearly as pure knowledge (khyāti) having other mental processes mutually combining and separating. So it is that he says For mind-sattva is by nature illumination.

Mingled with rajas and tamas, mind is drawn towards power and possessions. Pervaded by tamas, it becomes subject to a-dharma, Ignorance, attachment and helplessness. That same mind, when the covering of illusion (moha) has dwindled, pervaded by a measure of rajas, is endowed with dharma, knowledge (jñāna), detachment and power. When the last trace of the stain of rajas is removed, the mind is grounded in its own nature, becoming simply the Knowledge (khyāti) that sattva and Puruṣa are different, and it is endowed with the Rain-cloud of Dharma, which the meditators call the highest prasaṅkhyāna (continuous meditation on Knowledge).

Now he explains the conflicting varieties of mental processes which arise from relative dominance or subordination of rajas and tamas. When sattva is predominant, but mingled with rajas and tamas, they being equally strong, mind becomes fond of power and possessions, and this fondness for them is passion. The meaning is, that thoughts arise concentrated on the passion for power and possessions.

When that mind, which is illumination by nature, is pervaded by tamas, with rajas subordinate in it, then tainted thoughts arise of a-dharma and the other three (Ignorance, passion, and helplessness).

That same mind, when the covering of illusion has dwindled, when tamas has been overcome, as when the rain-cloud passes away the darkness is at an end and the sun-disc illumines everything pervaded by a measure by a trace of rajas, is endowed with dharma, etc. (knowledge, detachment, and power), and pure thoughts of dharma and the others arise.

When the last stain of the trace of rajas is removed, the mind is grounded in its own nature in its own nature as illumination and that alone. It becomes simply the Knowledge that sattva and Puruṣa are different. Mind is sattva, and Puruṣa is the experiencer (bhoktṛ); discriminating them as different is Knowledge (khyāti) of them, awareness of them. The word simply indicates that it is free from taints or any other things (than Knowledge). It is endowed with the meditation called Rain-cloud of Dharma, this being the samādhi of that name.

The mind overcomes rajas and tamas by power of prasaṅkhyāna, which is meditation (dhyāna) established in the perception of the nature of Puruṣa alone, pure Knowledge itself, which the meditators the yogins call the highest prasaṅkhyāna (continuous meditation on Knowledge).

The power-of-consciousness is unchangeable, does not engage with objects, has the objects shown to it, is pure and infinite.

Having explained what the mental process is in itself, he shows how it is to be inhibited. The power-of-consciousness (citi-śakti) is unchangeable: consciousness alone is power, so it is called power-of-consciousness. Powers which blossom out only in births appropriate to the possession of those powers are not inherent power, but consciousness is inherent power, dependent on nothing else. It is therefore eternally established. The apposition of the word consciousness (citi) meaning pure consciousness (cinmātra) and the word power (śakti) is to show that the subjective consciousness is of unvarying nature. This being so, it is something unchanging. When in an abiding possessor-of-qualities (dharmin), one quality (dharma) gives way to a different one, that is called change. Since this consciousness never changes, it is unchanging. For just this reason, it does not engage with objects. For it is only things like mind, which do change, that are found to engage with objects.

So the various objects are shown to it: an object is shown to it through the mind (antaḥ-karaṇa). Therefore it is pure and therefore in space and in time it is infinite. (In this explanation which has been given) each fact is to be understood as the cause of the next one.

Opposed to pure consciousness is Knowledge-of-the-difference (viveka-khyāti), whose nature is sattva-guṇa. Therefore the mind, turning away from even that Knowledge, inhibits it.

An example of the contrary is mind and senses. Opposed to pure consciousness is Knowledge-of-the-difference, whose nature is sattva-guṇa. Sattva-guṇa means pure sattva, and its essence is that alone. To say that its nature is sattva means that its nature is essentially to illumine. Again, it is said to be essentially sattva-guṇa because this thought is not concerned with any object of the world.

Again, Knowledge is bound by the very fact of being Knowledge, just because it is essentially sattva. This Knowledge being thus distinct from, and opposed to, the characteristics of the power-of-consciousness described, does have changes and so on.

Being associated with qualities like change, it is inferior to the supreme Puruṣa which is free from them. Therefore because it sees the defect (doṣa) in its own nature, the mind, turning away from giving up even that Knowledge, inhibits it.

In this state what remains is saṃskāra-s, and it is the seedless (nirbīja) samādhi. There is no cognition of anything in it, so it is ultra-cognitive. This yoga is inhibition of the mental processes.

In this state the state of inhibition what remains is saṃskāra-s; only saṃskāra-s are left. This samādhi in this state of inhibition is the seedless. The meaning is, that here the seed is gone; in this all the seeds of taint and so on are gone.

To show this very mark of the ultra-cognitive samādhi, he quotes the sūtra, This yoga is inhibition of the mental processes.

What is Puruṣa, the cognizer of buddhi (buddhi-bodhātman), in that state when there is no object for him?


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