Yoga Sutras 1.41 to 1.4944 min read

Sutra 1.41

Identification-in-samadhi (samapatti) is when the mental process has dwindled and the mind rests on either the knower or the knowing process or a known object, and like a crystal apparently takes on their respective qualities.

(Opponent) He is going to speak about the objects of samadhi in the Third Part (sutra III.35): by samyama on what-is-for-its-own-sake, (distinct) from what-is-for-the sake-of-another, there comes knowledge of Purusa. There he is going to explain the nature of identification-in-samadhi, namely the nature of samyama, by the resultant effect, so the present sutra is superfluous.

(Answer) Not so, because here he wishes to show the purpose of mastering the methods that have just been described. They have been properly mastered when the mind, identified in samadhi with the knower or with the process of knowledge or with a known object, assumes the appearance of it. Sutra 1.17 has already said that samadhi is cognitive when it is accompanied with vitarka (verbal associations), vicara (subtle associations), ananda (joy), and asmita (I-am-ness), and now it has to be explained what they are. He cannot describe what they are without reference to samadhi, because they are properties of it.

When the mental process has dwindled means, when the ideas have died down.

The ideas, of right knowledge of external things and so on, have died down.

(Opponent) The ideas must have died out altogether. Only when they have all ceased does the commitment of the mind end, and there must be no dependence on anything physical or subtle.

(The answer is that Vyasa in his commentary has explained that the cognitive states, where there is still one idea remaining, are preliminary to the other samadhi which is ultra-cognitive – Tr.)

The illustration is given of a flawless jewel. As a crystal, according to the different things set near it, becomes tinged with their colours and appears in their respective forms, so the mind is coloured by the object of meditation, and in samadhi on the object appears in the form of that object. Coloured by a physical object, it appears to have the nature of a physical object; coloured by meditation on a subtle object, identified in samadhi with a subtle object, it appears to have the nature of a subtle object. Coloured by any particular thing, identified with that thing in samadhi, it appears as that particular form.

So also with the senses, which are the process of knowledge. Coloured by meditation on the process of knowledge, identified in samadhi with it, mind appears to have the nature of the process of knowledge.

So also, coloured by meditation on Purusa as knower, identified in samadhi with Purusa as knower, it appears to have the nature of Purusa as knower. And coloured by meditation on Purusa released, identified in samadhi with Purusa released, it appears to have the nature of Purusa released.

(No Vivarana comment on first two paragraphs – Tr.)

Identified with Purusa as knower means Purusa in its nature as causing buddhi to know (buddhi-bodhaka); concentrated on that, mind appears in the form of the knower; identified with Purusa released when this very knower of buddhi is no longer a knower of ideas of objects, then its state is the bare knowledge that sattva and Purusa are distinct.

When it is said that in this detachment the Purusa is released, the sense is that the mind is released from all taints. Freedom of the mind from taints is what is called ‘release’ of Purusa. This is why in the sutra it says only knower. And here Purusa released means only the knower aspect of Purusa, otherwise he would have said just Purusa. When the highest consciousness of mastery in detachment has arisen, there is never again any involvement with samsara. So it has been said: though there be still a bare connection with mind, if there is no connection with taints, ‘he is ever freed, ever the Lord’ (comm, to 1.24).

Therefore it is said coloured by meditation on Purusa released, identified in samadhi with Purusa released, it appears to have the nature of Purusa released. Here it would be wrong to think that by meditating on mere cessation of any connection with mind one will be identified in samadhi with Purusa released and will appear in the form of Purusa released, because that would mean that the mind itself would have been dissolved. Purusa is at the limit of subtlety. Pradhana is equally subtle, and mind is an effect of an effect of an effect of it. Mind, identifying itself in samadhi with Purusa or pradhana, could not maintain itself when making the identification, any more than ajar can be identified with the jar-form without giving up its previous condition of clay-form.

(Opponent) But it is said that the Great principle (mahat) and the cosmic I (aharikara) are knowablc to the mind of the yogin, even though it is an effect of them.

(Answer) As to whether they are knowable or not, there is a distinction according to how far the knowledge is to go. If they are to be knowable, there has to be some special relation involving a knower whose nature is apart (from them). They are both manifest, so a special relation is not inconceivable; they could be known by a special relation in the same way that it is known by a special mental idea that one’s own Purusa is a knower and is released. But they cannot be known as the self (atman) of all, because that would be too great to comprehend. They would be the self of the very mind which sought to know them as the self of all, and as such they could not be known as an object by it. Pradhana and Purusa, however, are essentially absolutely unmanifest, and there can be no perception of them in their own nature, or of any relation between them.

(Opponent) If pradhana and Purusa and the relation between them are not to be directly perceived, it would mean that the Lord is not omniscient.

(Answer) There is no question that everything other than pradhana and Purusa and the relation between them is capable of being perceived, for it is universally accepted that the range of direct perception is unrestricted; what is not within the range of our perception is knowable to the Lord. If there is a knowable then certainly somehow or other someone must know it; without a knower, it would not be a knowable.

Now if prakrti (= pradhana) and Purusa are to be knowable as objects in their own nature, they would be things experienced, like the mind. Then (being objects) they would exist-for-another, and that other would have to be supposed to be beyond them.

(Opponent) The Purusa-s could know each other, without supposing any further knower.

(Answer) Not so; the Purusa-s being identical, there would be nothing to determine which was subject and which was object. And two lamps can not each be subordinate to the other.

Moreover if Purusa is going to be known, it implies that there is happiness and so on in his nature, and this would involve many further difficulties, such as the fact that the happiness, etc., would not be dependent on pradhana as cause.

(Opponent) But he does speak of Purusa as directly perceived (in sutra 111.35): by samyama on what-is-for-its-ownsake, (distinct) from what-is-for-the-sake-of-another, there comes knowledge of Purusa.

(Answer) Yes, and it is rightly said. This is why we said that Purusa does not become an object in its own nature. In the commentary there it says, It is not that Purusa is seen by any idea of Purusa, which – because it is an idea – would be essentially mind. It is Purusa that sees the idea resting on his own self. And so it has been said: ‘By what indeed would one know the knower?’ (Brhad. Up. II.4.13)

(Opponent) The mind coloured by resting on Purusa is an object for Purusa, so in fact Purusa is directly perceived, for when an idea coloured by resting on ajar is perceived by Purusa, that is what is called the jar’s being perceived.

(Answer) The cases are not parallel. For Purusa is not pervaded by the mind, as the jar is. A thing like ajar is external and pervaded by the mind; not so Purusa, for it is infinite.

The limited mind, which would take Purusa as its object, cannot pervade that which is the infinite subject. If it could pervade Purusa, it should be able to pervade pradhana too (which is impossible as it is only a remote effect of pradhana).

Therefore, as the face is perceived in a mirror in the form of a reflection, so it is an idea transformed into the form of a reflection of Purusa which is seen by Purusa. Thus Vyasa says, ‘As in the clearness of a mirror, one sees the self in the self’ (Mahabh. Santi Parva 204.8).

There is no possibility of the mind’s taking on the form of some other released Purusa; though it might be the form of the other one, still it would be seen as one’s own. For it is nothing else than a transformation of the mind; it is only the mind which Purusa sees transformed into his own form. The possibility of the transformation is when there is a relation to the form of Purusa its owner, of whom the mind is the property.

(Opponent) Then how can it ever be known that any other Purusa even exists, when that other would not be related as owner?

(Answer) As another face can be seen by means of another mirror, so Purusa sees his own mind transformed into the form of another mind, corresponding to the second mirror, and so knows another Purusa.

But the distinction ‘This is his self, this is mine’ is known by inference alone, by the indication of the special attributes of a mind different from one’s own, for minds being composed of the three guna-s inevitably have attributes special to themselves. But Purusa-s being attributeless cannot conceivably be different in their own nature.

In this way the mind, like a flawless jewel, rests on and is coloured by the knower, or knowing process, or object of knowledge – Purusa, senses, or thing – and when it has become established in one of them, it takes on its form. This is called identification-in-samadhi (samapatti).

It rests on the knower or on the knowing process or on an object, and it is coloured according to which one it rests on. When established there, it takes on that form.

The identification (sam-apatti) is a complete assumption (samyag-apatti) of the likeness in the form of an idea devoid of anything else. Though there are such identifications in the extravertive mind also, they are not very complete, because the mind is then predominantly under the control of rajas and tamas.

Sutra 1.42

The samadhi-identification is called sa-vitarka when it is mixed up with mental constructs of word, thing, and idea

We see for instance that the process of knowing takes place without discriminating between the word Cow and the thing Cow and the idea Cow, though they are on different levels, for there are some properties distinguished as belonging to words and others to things, and still others to ideas.

When ayogin makes the identification on a thing like a cow, if it arises in his samadhi-knowledge and manifests there full of mental constructs of word, thing, and idea, that confused identification is called sa-vitarka.

There are four of the samadhi-identifications. The sutra explains the first of them: the identification is called sa-vitarka when it is mixed up with mental constructs (vikalpa) of word, thing, and idea.

There are verbal constructs, and constructs relating to things, and constructs relating to ideas. When it is mixed up and confused with mental constructs relating to what is being meditated upon, so that the thoughts interpenetrate each other, that is a confused identification.

(Opponent) Words and things and ideas are mutually exclusive. The yogin is supposed to meditate on just one thing, so let him take either a word, or a thing, or an idea; why should there be any confusion of mental constructs of words and things and ideas?

(Answer) This is just the point; ordinary knowledge is based on not distinguishing them. So it is that the normal usage has simply ‘cow’ to represent all three, and in knowing one of the three there is memory of the other two, not realized to be distinct from it.

(Opponent) Make the meditation simply on ‘that thing as it is’.

(Answer) No, because the conventional association of the word for that thing will inevitably follow.

(Opponent) Let him choose some word which is a universal, and before he has any association (by experience of any individual of the class).

(Answer) No, because it still involves the knowledge that there are the other things.

there are some properties distinguished as belonging to words. The letter ‘g’ (in the word gau, cow), the vowels with intonation rising or falling, and short medium or long, are ways of knowing for the ear, but they are not properties of things or of ideas. The properties of things are of another kind: the dewlap of the cow, its tail, hump, hoof, horn, appearance, touch, and so on. Then the properties of ideas are of still another kind: that their nature is to be knowable to Purusa, that they are essentially appearances, that they cause samskara-s, and so on. These are not the properties of words or of things. In reality there is not the faintest possibility of confusion. Thus they are on different levels.

When a yogin makes the identification on one of them if it rises and manifests in his samadhi-know ledge full of mental constructs of word, thing, and idea, if it is thus interpenetrated by conventional associations of word and thing and memories of them, then that confused identification is called sa-vitarka (with illusory projections relating to a physical thing).

But when there is purification from memories of verbal conventions, in a samadhi-knowledge empty of mental constructs of ideas heard or inferred, the object stands out in the form of its real nature alone, and limited to just that form. This is nir-vitarka identification, and it is the higher direct perception. It is the germ of authority and inference; from it, they have their being. That perception is not associated with any knowledge from outer authority or inference. The yogic perception, unmixed with any other source of right knowledge, arises out of this nir-vitarka samadhi. It is defined in the sutra which follows.

Now he speaks of nir-vitarka identification. But when there is purification from memories of verbal conventions: a verbal convention is the general consensus ‘this is the expression for that, and that is what is expressed by this’, and the memory produced by it is the memory of the verbal convention. Purification from this memory means that it ceases, from (the recognition of) its illusoriness, when rajas and tamas have been overcome.

Knowledge from authority means scriptural (agamika) knowledge, and knowledge from inference means knowledge from indicatory marks. These two, knowledge from inference and from scripture, relate only to universals, whereas the mental construct arising from them is an illusory projection (adhyaropa) of a particular, made by a superimposition (adhyasa).

In the samadhi-knowledge of the yogin empty of the mental constructs of ideas heard of or inferred, free from illusory superimpositions (adhyasa) of inferential or conventional verbal knowledge, the object stands out in the form of its real nature alone. This is knowledge of the thing as it is; the object, free from such associations as direction and location and time and past experience, stands vividly in its own qualities alone. It manifests in the form of its real nature; the samadhi-knowledge of the yogin is limited to the real nature of that object, and does not reveal anything of place or time, etc., apart from that object.

The knowledge is not even aware of itself as a process of knowing, because of its extreme transparency. It appears as the object alone, and this as described is the nir-vitarka samadhi. Nir-vitarka means that vitarka has gone from it, vitarka being illusory projection (adhyaropa) which is not really there.

It is the higher direct perception (pratyaksa) perfect, pure. The lower perception is common to all, and must have come through a previous mental process as has been mentioned; this higher one is for a yogin alone. It is the germ of inference and authority. It is stated to be the germ of authority and inference, but these its effects may themselves sometimes be uncertain. There is however no uncertainty in what they have received from direct perception in nir-vitarka samadhi, and so he says from it authority and inference have their being. And that perception is not associated with any knowledge from outer authority or inference, because it has a different sort of object, namely a particular, whereas the knowledge they give is of universals.

Sutra 1.43

When there is purification from memories, (that samadhi) apparently empty of its own nature of knowledge, with the object alone shining forth, is nir-vitarka

Purified from memories, which are mental constructs of verbal associations, or knowledge from authority or inference, the samadhi-knowledge coloured by the object as it is, having given up seemingly its own nature of pure perception, is identified with the object, the nature of the thing alone. That identification is what is described as nir-vitarka (samadhi).

When there is purification from memories of mental constructs of verbal association, authority, inference the mental construct of verbal association, the mental construct of ideas from authority, the mental construct of ideas from inference – this it is which is the memory, by which an alien quality from something else is illusorily projected (adhyaropyate). For a thing cannot in reality be projected into another thing.

(Opponent) How can what has merely been heard of or inferred be projected as a direct perception?

(Answer) It is well known that it is; what one has heard of, what one has inferred, one now sees as ‘this’.

(Opponent) One may see it, but in fact it is only something one has inferred or heard about.

(Answer) No, because of the difference between a universal and a particular. What is heard of or inferred is a universal, but the object of direct perception

is a particular thing. It is well known that there is sometimes illusory projection (adhyasa) on to a thing of a universal similar to it.

The samadhi-knowledge of the yogin coloured by the object as it is, having given up seemingly its own nature of pure perception, is identified with the object, the nature of the thing alone. This word seemingly (iva) is used to show that its essence as cognition is not destroyed. For a crystal does not lose its inherent transparency by its proximity to the object placed against it. What is being said is, that the knowing process is unnoticed, and something different from it, an object, is there.

This as described is the nir-vitarka identification. In this a true object, apprehended as a unity such as a cow or ajar, though essentially a particular aggregation of atoms, is the whole world. It is apprehended as a unity, namely determined by a single idea (buddhi). It is a true object, in that it is something whose nature it is to be known by another.

The whole world consists of such true objects, apprehended as a unity like a cow or a jar, though essentially a particular aggregation of atoms. The special arrangement, a quality in which all the subtle elements take part, appears with an existence of its own (atma-bhuta), inferred from its visible results, manifest in accordance with the causes of its manifestation.

The object is something like a cow or ajar, for instance; the object is not (as some Buddhists hold) no more than a knowledge in the form of a cow, etc. It is essentially a particular aggregation of atoms. A cow or jar is a thing which is a particular arrangement of atoms, which arc themselves made up of the subtle elements (tanmatra), and the mind rests on one such thing. The object is a particular arrangement of these subtle things so arranged. So he says, an existence of its own, as a quality in which all the subtle elements take part, not apart from them, any more than the winding coils are apart from the snake.

(Opponent) Some hold that an effect is not the cause but quite apart from it.

(Answer) But they cannot explain the dependence of the effect on its cause. A thread depends on the filaments which make it up, as a cloth depends on its threads. Where two things are absolutely separate, one does not depend on the other; neither cloth nor threads, for instance, depends on a lump of clay (as a bowl does). If there are two absolutely separate things and one is destroyed, there is no corresponding destruction of the other; when a bowl is destroyed, a cloth does not disappear along with it.

(Opponent) What is called the cause is a relation. There is a relation of the threads to the cloth, and of the filaments to the thread, which is the cause (hetu), causing (karana) both the dependence (when the cause operates) and the consequent destruction (when it ceases).

(Answer) A relation would include the relation between Caitra and his field; the fact of the particular relation would mean that Caitra would depend on his field and would be destroyed with it.

(Opponent) Well then, let us confine the word cause to a relation of inherence (samavaya).

(Answer) No, because a relationship, not being a particular, is not causal (between two things). Of two things related, the relation inhering in one side would not cause dependence, etc., in the other one; so even with a relationship defined as inherent, it is not clear which one would be caused to inhere in which. Nor do inherences of action, universals or particulars, exist without a substance, because dependence and so on exist only between substances. So there too a mere relation cannot have causality. Furthermore, if inherence is to be the cause of making one of the two things related to be dependent on the other, there would have to be a new inherence of the first inherence, and of that too another, and the result would be an infinite regress. And if an inherence relation among qualities is to make substances dependent, another inherence will have to be supposed to make the abstract inherence apply to the substances and make one of them dependent, and for that another and for that another – again an infinite regress.

If the effect does not exist before it originates, it can have no relation with the cause; there is no difference between the non-existence of hare’s horns and that of a jar. It has to be explained why there should be a causal relation with the jar (which does appear) and not with things like the horns of a hare.

What was non-existent before can not come into being, any more than a hare’s horns. What is different from threads cannot originate from threads, just because it is different from them; a jar, for example, cannot originate from threads.

(Opponent) What is existent already cannot originate either, because it already exists, like a jar present now. What is not different from something cannot originate from it, because it is already there, it is its very nature so to say.

(Answer) But to say that the existent does not come into being would mean that what does exist now never came into being, and this would be making an issue of something already established (siddha-sadhyata). Nothing would ever manifest at all, and the conclusion could never be exemplified.

(Opponent) What I said was, that what is not different from something cannot originate from it.

(Answer) That is the same fallacy, and cannot be demonstrated. A thing is manifested out of its very nature; if there were no nature to manifest, even a thousand manifesting agencies could not effect the manifestation.

Furthermore the view (that a thing previously non-existent comes into being) would be the end of ordinary life. How so? Suppose Devadatta’s cow or horse is seen early in the morning complete with ears and tail, and then wanders into the forest where someone crops its ears and tail. With the separation of its former parts, it will – on your view – have been destroyed, but a new one with cropped ears and tail will have been born, which is ownerless and can therefore be possessed by that someone. Then everywhere things would be having parts cut from them, and because there would be no settled rule as to who owned what, it would be the complete destruction of worldly life.

(Opponent) The new whole, with cropped ears and tail, comes into being from the parts it still possesses.

(Answer) Not so, for new wholes with cropped ears and tail, re-created in an instant without father and mother and so on, are not seen in life.

Moreover it should belong only to the one on whose land it was born, and not to the one who owned the previous parts, as grass and leaves belong to the owner of the land on which they grow. If seeds in one field are carried away by flood-water to another field, the corn from these seeds is reaped only by the owner of the latter field, and not by the former owner of the seeds, who cannot object on the ground that he knows the corn has grown from his seeds and so he should take it. In the same way the owner of the field would take the crop-eared animal, and could not be prevented on the grounds that the whole had arisen from parts formerly possessed by another.

Again when the crop-eared horse has been produced and the man who sees that it is in his field has then taken it, the one who did the cutting comes and says that as the cutter he has a greater claim and should therefore take it himself. To let him lawfully take it would be the end of social life, and also contrary to scripture.

So the conclusion is, that a whole is one, and not different from the parts which cause it, being their effect.

(Opponent) It is different, because the words and ideas and qualities applicable to the cause are different from those applied to the effect.

(Answer) That is not convincing; we see cases where the thing is the same in spite of differences in words and ideas and qualities. Hasta, kara and pani are different words for the same thing, namely a hand; fatherhood and son-hood are different ideas which may be about the same person; bound and freed, fixed and gone away are differences as to time; power to burn and power to cook are differences of quality. Differences such as direction and location, moreover, are inconclusive (for establishing otherness). So the commentator has said: with an existence of its own.

And it is inferred from its visible results such as the capacity for carrying and holding water in the case of ajar. Something whose effect is a manifest result must certainly exist.

From different points of view it is spoken of either in terms of its common cause or else in terms of its powers. It is itself fully perceptible, but it is inferred that it has been an unmanifest, now made manifest as an effect called (for instance) a jar, by the operation of agencies such as the potter and his staff and his cord, and which existed formerly in the state of the clay, and is now manifested in accordance with the causes, the staff and other agencies.

It appears, and disappears when another quality arises. This, with such qualities, is called a whole. It is one, large or minute, tangible, with the quality of action, and not permanent. The life of the world is carried on in terms of such wholes.

It appears, and disappears when another quality (dharma) arises. This, with such qualities, is called a whole. Now as atoms are imperceptible, in relation to them appearance and disappearance are meaningless. But these two do occur. So what comes to appear, and disappears when incompatible with a different quality which arises, and what for its manifestation requires manifesting agencies, that is called a whole. Such a whole is different from atoms.

There are also these factors which make the nature of a whole: it is one, large or minute, tangible, with the quality of action, and not permanent. These are factors separate from one another.

In the expression ‘one jar’, what is expressed by the word jar refers to the same thing as the oneness. There is the common reference: what this is, is one. But in the case of many atoms, there is nothing which can refer also to oneness.

As to large or minute there is nothing associated with the tiny atom which can refer equally to the quality of being large. So also with relative smallness, for the atoms are not small in comparison with other atoms, inasmuch as they are all atomic. They are called minute not in relation to other atoms, but from their being minute in comparison with other things.

And then, that whose quality is action, which is the reading of the compound kriya-dharmaka. A whole is said to have fruitful function and activity, whereas there is no such fruitful functioning and activity in the case of atoms, for they are not utilizable by beings like us. A whole is impermanent whereas atoms are not taken to be so. Further it is visible whereas atoms are not seen, and it is tangible, for it can be left alone or acquired or held and so on. The life of the world is carried on in terms of such wholes but not in terms of atoms.

If one says that the particular aggregate is not real, and that no subtle cause is perceived for it, so that there is no whole apart from a mental construct and it is all false knowledge and not grounded in reality, then for him almost everything would turn out to be false knowledge.

If someone (like a Buddhist) says that the whole is not real – although its existence is so well demonstrated by proofs — and that no subtle causes like atoms arc perceived, Tor him almost everything would turn out to be false knowledge (milhya-jhdna), that is to say all knowledge of objects would be false.

For such a Buddhist everything is knowledge, appearing in the form of sound and other sense perceptions, in the form of happiness and other inner perceptions, and in the form of the knowledge of both of them. Sounds and so on arc imagined wholes producing the knowledge-forms, but not accepted as real. Happiness and other feelings also, being objective, come into the same category of imagined wholes. The very knowledge of them, whose essence is to produce (unreal) knowledge-forms, is therefore illusory also; so everything turns out to be illusory knowledge.

Even direct perception and inference will turn out to be only appearances (abhasa), since their objects are illusions such as sound.

And even the knowledge of the Buddhist’s Omniscient One, that all is passing, painful, void, and without a self, and so on, will end up as false knowledge, since there is no object for it. Thus the free-thinking (sva-tantra) Buddhist (tirthakara) has no credibility, and it has to be accepted that he and his doctrine would not exist (on his view), because they are no different from sound and other objects of knowledge.

Then what would be right knowledge, when there are no objects for it? Whatever is perceived is in fact taken as being a whole; the whole exists, accepted in life as large or small and so on, and becoming the object of nir-vilarka identification.

The corollary is this: what would be right knowledge, when there are no objects for it? In any case (on the Buddhist view) knowledge would be simply providing a form by itself. What itself provides the form cannot be accepted (as right knowledge of anything), so knowledge would all be of itself alone, and no more than illusion.

Then what would be the right knowledge, against which other knowledge is adjudged illusory? If one denies the existence of wholes, established though they are by all right knowledge and all proofs, no object for right knowledge can be produced, and if it cannot, then how can all knowledge be adjudged false? Illusory knowledge is only such when compared with some right knowledge; right knowledge and illusory knowledge presuppose each other.

(Opponent) Let us say that right knowledge is knowledge without an object.

(Answer) Since it could not know its own nature, its existence could not be established. If known, it would be an object, and therefore (on your view) an illusion like all wholes; it being illusion, the knowledge of it would be illusion too, and the knowledge of that fact too would be illusion. Everything would be illusion, as before.

Again, allowing that right knowledge is knowledge without an object, now since the existence of objects is not accepted (by the Buddhist), all knowledge will be without an object, and so would have to be right knowledge. In which case, all knowledge being right knowledge, it must be said what illusory knowledge would be.

(Opponent) Illusory knowledge is what appears as if it had an object, whereas right knowledge is what is absolutely without any object.

(Answer) There too it can only be said that there is no proof of its existence. So it has to be accepted inescapably that the objects of right knowledge are wholes: the whole exists, accepted in life as large or small and so on, and becoming the object of nir-vitarka identification.

Sutra 1.44

In the same way, when it is on subtle objects, it is called sa-vicara (with subtle associations) and nir-vicara (without subtle associations)

Of these two, the sa-vicara identification refers to subtle elements, whose qualities are manifest, with a particular location, time, cause and experience as their features.

The object of the meditation is the subtle elements, and then it is called sa-vicara and nir-vicara. The subtle elements (tan-matra) are those of sound, etc. In the Sanskrit compound desakalanimittanubhavavacchinnesu, the word for ‘particularized’ applies to each element separately, so the meaning is: featured by a particular location, a particular time, a particular cause, and a particular experience.

For purposes of ordinary life, everything is taken as having a particular location and so on, as related to the knower of that object, its subject. Such being the case, sa-vicara is when the mental-constructs (vikalpa) of location and the others are associated with the object.

It is clear that on this point there is no difference between sa-vitarka and sa-vicara, because in both there are illusory projections (adhyasa). But there is this distinction, that in sa-vitarka there are all the illusory projections of verbal convention and object and idea, as well as projections of location, time, cause and experience, whereas in this sa-vicara, since the tan-matra subtle elements have no established verbal associations, the subtle object receives illusory projections of location and the other three, but no projection of any distinctive name. This is a clear distinction from sa-vitarka.

The object of the meditation is the subtle elements, grasped as one single idea, characterized by the qualities which are now manifest, and it presents itself to knowledge in the samadhi.

A subtle object, grasped as one single idea, characterized by the qualities which are now manifest the above-mentioned location, time, cause and experience, or manifest qualities in general, is the object of the meditation, so it is not bare un-particularized knowledge; and it presents itself to knowledge in samadhi.

But what is called nir-vicara samadhi is on the subtle elements as in all ways and by all means free from particularization by any qualities dormant, manifest, or indeterminable, yet corresponding to the qualities and being the essence of all qualities.

The subtle element, in its true form alone, by being meditated upon as such, colours the knowledge in the samadhi with its true form.

Nir-vicara samadhi is on the subtle elements as in all ways in every manner and by all means everywhere free from particularization by any qualities dormant, manifest, or indeterminable.

Dormant means that having performed its function, it has ceased from it; manifest means that it has come up into function; indeterminable means that it is neither dormant nor manifest nor a visible cause producing something. The unseen powers of a lump of gold to produce many unpredictable forms would be indeterminable qualities. The subtle elements are free from particularization by qualities,^ they correspond to all qualities because there is no object separate from the subtle elements. This is called nir-vicara; all the features in the definition of nir-vitarka are applicable here to nir-vicara.

The subtle element in its true form alone as free from particularizations of location, time, cause and experience, as the essence of all and as corresponding to all qualities being meditated on as such colours the knowledge in samadhi.

It is when the samadhi-knowledge is seemingly empty of its own nature, with the object alone shining forth, that it is called nir-vicara. Sa-vitarka and nir-vitarka are concerned with physical objects and sa-vicara and nir-vicara with subtle objects. The distinction between nir-vicara and sa-vicara is made clear by what has been said about nir-vitarka.

It is when the samadhi-knowledge is seemingly empty of its own nature, with the object alone shining forth, that it is called nir-vicara in this respect nir-vicara has the same feature as nir-vitarka. He now shows where they differ: the sa-vitarka and nir-vitarka are concerned with physical objects with things of substantial size. The compound ‘thing of substantial size’ means an identity, like the compound ‘head of Rahu’ (which is all head). It is the vitarka pair which have this kind of object; the vicara pair have subtle objects. The vicara pair is to be understood after the pattern of the vitarka pair; in the second one of each pair, mental constructs disappear. The first ones of the pairs also are to be understood by their common features. And the distinction between the two pairs has also been stated.

It has been said that the sa-vicara and nir-vicara have subtle objects. Now the further point is considered: what is the limit of subtlety?

Sutra 1.45

The scale of (causal) subtlety of objects ends in pradhana

In the case of an atom of earth, the subtle element (tan-matra) of odour is a subtler (causal) object (for the vicar a meditations); in the case of water it is the subtle element of taste; in the case of fire, light; in the case of air, touch; of space, it is the subtle element of sound. Subtler than these is the cosmic I (ahankara), and subtler than that is the Great Principle (linga); more subtle than that is pradhana (a-linga — uncreated nature). There is nothing more subtle beyond pradhana. (But) surely Purusa is at the limit of subtlety? Indeed it is, but it is not a subtle cause of the Great Principle in the same way that pradhana is. Purusa is not the cause which produces it; it is only a cause which sets in motion. Hence the limit of subtlety is described as pradhana (the ultimate cause).

In the case of an atom of earth, the subtle element of odour is a subtler (causal) object. When the atom of earth is analysed, it is found that the subtle element (tan-matra) of odour alone is its very essence. And the essence of the subtle element of odour has the linga, the principle called the Great, as its subtle cause.

The word linga (literally, having origination, and therefore destruction) carries the meaning that the subtle elements, which together with the cosmic I (ahankara) have come forth from the pure linga, the Great, go (ga) to dissolution (li) in it, and again that they come back from dissolution, from the pradhana. Pradhana, on the contrary, being a-linga (without linga or origination) neither goes to dissolution in anything else nor comes back. Of the Great, the pure linga, the subtle cause is pradhana, the a-linga.

(Opponent) Surely Purusa is at the limit of subtlety too, so where does it come in this progression of ever more subtle causes?

(Answer) This objection is raised on the basis of a certain theory that Purusa too is a cause, but our position is not touched by it. The subtlety of the a-linga lies in the fact that it has no linga or origin but is the cause of the origin of the linga or Great principle. The point is that whatever is the cause of some effect is relatively more subtle than that effect. The objection raised is, that Purusa too is essentially without linga or origin. This is true, but Purusa is not more subtle than the linga in this special sense of being the cause of it. Purusa, though it is indeed without linga, is not the material cause of the linga principle, the Great, which is thus not its effect. Pure consciousness (caitanya) cannot be correlated with any effect.

If it could be so correlated, Purusa would necessarily also be something experienced, and would thus be for-the-sake-of-another, and would be essentially pleasure and pain and delusion. Moreover pradhana would no longer be the cause of everything. This would go against all the evidence, and so he says that Purusa is only a cause (hetu) in the sense that its presence as experiencer sets pradhana in motion. This is the meaning of the statement that subtlety reaches the limit with pradhana.

Sutra 1.46

These are samadhi from-a-seed

These four samadhi-identificalions have external things as their seed, so the samadhi is from-a-seed (sa-hija). When it is a physical object, the samadhi is sa-vitarka or nir-vilarka; when a subtle object, it is sa-vicara or nir-vicara. So the four categories of samadhi have been described.

They are from-a-seed because their objects are external things. The samadhi is from-a-seed, namely cognitive, as was explained under sutra 1.17: ‘cognitive because accompanied with verbal associations (vitarka), subtle associations (vicara), joy (ananda), and the form of I-am-ness (asmita)’. When it is a physical object, the samadhi is sa-vitarka or nir-vitarka: when a subtle object, it is sa-vicara or nir-vicara. So the four categories of samadhi have been described.

Sutra 1.47

From skill in nir-vicara, a clearness in the self

When the mind-sattva whose nature is light, is freed from rajas and lamas, and has a clear steady flow, without any veiling contamination of impurity, that is the skill in nir-vicara. When this skill in nir-vicara appears, there is an inner clearness in the self of the yogin, which is a progressively (anurodhi) clearer and brighter light of knowledge of the object as it really is.

The veiling impurity is a sort of contamination, consisting of the taints, etc. clearness in the self is the knowledge which can distinguish such things as the self (atman). It is of this that it is now said that it is knowledge of the thing as it really is (bhutartha); it is a progressively clearer stage by stage corresponding to the progressive destruction of the taints and brighter very distinct light of knowledge the nature of samadhi-knowledge being extreme purity. The light is the knowledge, for by it one knows the thing as it is (yathavastu).

So it is said:

As a man on a crag sees those in the plain, so the man of knowledge,

High on the palace of knowledge beyond sorrow, looks on all the beings in their pain.

Sutra 1.48

In this, the knowledge is Truth-bearing

The knowledge which appears in that clearness of the mind in samadhi has the special name of Truth-bearing, in the literal sense that it brings truth alone, and there is no trace of erroneous knowledge in it. So it is said:

By scriptural authority, by inference, and by zest for meditation practice -In these three ways perfecting his knowledge, he attains the highest yoga.

In this in the light of knowledge, the inner clearness of the mind in samadhi, the knowledge which appears born of discrimination (viveka) has the special name of Truth-bearing, in the literal sense that it brings truth alone and there is no trace of erroneous knowledge in this, which is born of discrimination. For it appears in the one in whom all taint of error has been destroyed, and being born, it dispels the obscurities associated with the object of knowledge.

So it is said:

By scriptural authority, by inference, and by zest for meditation practice -In these three ways perfecting his knowledge, he attains the highest yoga.

Knowledge is a component part of yoga, and it has three degrees. The first is, to follow the instructions of the scriptures and the teachers; the second is mainly concerned with removing, by reason (yukti) and inference, objections to the authoritative teaching which is being studied, and so rightly establishing it; but the third is eagerness for constant practice of meditation on what has thus been established by the scriptures and by inferences from them. Perfecting his knowledge in these three ways, the yogin attains yoga.

Sutra 1.49

This knowledge is of a particular thing, unlike knowledge from authority or from inference

Authority means the scripture, and that deals only with universals – scripture cannot point to individual things. Why not? Because an individual does not have the conventional association with a word. Inference too has only universals for its object. The example of inference has been given, that where there is getting to another place, there is motion, and where there is no such getting to another place, there is no motion. And the conclusion is reached by inference by means of a universal. So the object of authority or inference is never a particular thing.

Ordinary perception gives no knowledge at all of some subtle or remote or hidden thing, but we cannot assert that the latter is not demonstrable and has no existence.

A particular relating to subtle elements or to Purusa is perceptible by samadhi-knowledge alone.

The object of the Truth-bearing knowledge is a particular, and not any universal conceived by man, as the sutra says. Its object is a particular; there is an infinity of particular objects, and there cannot be a separate word for each one, so the conventional association with a word is only for a universal. Even where there is a word for a particular (e.g. an individual name), that word cannot identify or communicate that particular to one who does not already know it.

Inference too has only universals for its objects. As said before (comm, to 1.7), it is mainly concerned with determining universals. The example of inference has been given, that where there is getting to another place, there is motion, and where there is no such getting to another place, there is no motion. And the conclusion is reached by inference by means of a universal, and that is all that inference can give. So the object of authority or inference is never a particular.

(Opponent) But this particular, relating to subtle elements or to Purusa, cannot be known by ordinary perception either, and apart from the three accepted means of right knowledge there is no other means by which we could know it.

(Answer) Ordinary perception gives no knowledge of some subtle or remote or hidden thing, but we cannot assert that the latter is not demonstrable and has no existence. For what is proved by experience does exist – it rides on the king’s highway, as it were. A particular relating to subtle elements or to Purusa is perceptible by samadhi-knowledge alone.

(Opponent) You claim that these particulars relating to subtle things are known by direct perception (only in samadhi). But everything is made known by the Lord (in scripture). You may say that as they are facts, they must be known (or they could not be spoken of); then they are known from scripture and inference, but only in the sense that we can say ‘they exist’. There is no rule that all particulars must be knowable by direct perception. Not all the particulars are known even of something held out on the hand.

(Answer) Not so, because we infer that particulars related to anything at all are in principle knowable by direct perception. How so? The idea is this: a particular is something which is an effect, and as such the particulars, even those relating to subtle elements, must be directly perceptible to someone, like the particulars of what is held on one’s own hand. Therefore this knowledge has an object other than the knowledge deriving from authority or from inference, because its object is a particular.

When the yogin has attained samadhi-knowledge, a fresh samskara made by the knowledge is produced.


Trevor Leggett’s meditation instructions on the Yoga Sutras:

He says “you have to know enough theory for a working basis” and referring to his book  ‘Sankara on the Yoga Sutras’, he says ” there is no need immediately to read the subtleties of the intellectual background”.

His instructions are:


(1)    Read the Introduction for the General Reader.

Then read the following passages of the sutra and commentaries from part 1 only:-

(2)    1.2 – 1.6 then jump to

(3)    1.12 – 1.22

(4)    1.23 – 26, God. Sutra-s only – pass over the elaborate proofs. Take it as a working hypothesis to be confirmed by experiment.

(5)    1.27 -1.32

(6)    1.33 – 1.40

(7)    1.41 – 1.49. Note the conditions for inspiration given in 1.43 and 1.47. Not all Samadhi-s are Truth-bearing.

(8)    1.50 and 1.51, and refer back to 1.18.

Re-read these passages till you have a good idea of the basic pattern of the Yoga.


(1)    If you are cut off (say in solitary confinement) and the need is great, devote several hours a day to the basic practice of disentangling Seer from Seen (e.g. 11.35). When this is established and comes of its own accord sometimes, practise giving up thoughts (1.18) in meditation. The yoga then takes over (1.50).

(2)    If you are relatively free from obligations, with basic needs at hand, practise at least three hours a day. Patanjali hardly mentions a guru, but without some senior adviser few can keep going without changing the rules to suit themselves. This causes many failures. Capacity for devotion to God arises naturally in anyone who meditates with serious enquiry. When developed it gives direct vision (11.44) and perfection in Samadhi (11.45).

(3)    If you have commitments, you must establish a do-or-die resolution to practise Yoga of Action (11.1,2). It requires some heroism. Evenness of mind in all concerns of daily life is the main tapas. Then there must be determination to set aside at least an hour-and-a-half every single day to the two other elements; self-study includes holy reading. The Gita is a summary of the Upanishads in verse ( Sir Edwin Arnold’s Song Celestial is also in easily memorable verse.) Teachers today give meditations on avatars such as Rama and Jesus; they culminate in a vision which changes the whole life. It is essential to practise hard at the Yogic action, which must be energetic but free from a claim on results; it is given in detail in the early chapters of the Gita.

Nearly all Yogis support themselves with the OM (1.28) and Maitri (1.33) practices. These also bring out hidden natural potentialities from the mind (1.29; 111.33). But the so- called Glories are the delusive manipulations of the world-illusion and are mires of attachment.

When enthusiasm flags, read 11.15 – 17; look around you and see how anxiety, pain and death are rushing towards us like an express train. Yoga is a way to escape them.

The hyperlinks open in a new tab for navigation purposes.

(1)  Introduction for the General Reader.

(2)    I.2 – I.6

(3)    I.12 – I.22

(4)    I.23 – I.26, God. Sutra-s only – pass over the elaborate proofs. Take it as a working hypothesis to be confirmed by experiment.

(5)    I.27 -I.32

(6)    I.33 – I.40

(7)    I.41 – I.49. Note the conditions for inspiration given in I.43 and I.47. Not all Samadhi-s are Truth-bearing.

(8)    I.50 and I.51, and refer back to I.18.