Dec 22, 2012

Sutra 1.2. Vritti (continuation)

So let us come back to reflections about the category of vritti. We have finished at trying to figure out what was that common between the categories of vritti listed by Patanjali and what was the purpose of the phase about vritti being of klesha and non-klesha type.

Let us try to answer the first question. Patanjali lists and defines 5 vrittis: pramanna, viparyaya, vikalpa, nidra and smriti. The translation of the first two words is sound and beyond exception since these terms are used in numerous Indian systems, but what is more important, their definition given by Patanjali corresponds to their dictionary translation [1]. According to the Russian-Sanskrit dictionary the term vikalpa has the following meanings: mistake, delusion, doubt, choice. However, it is the first meaning – the mistake - that Patanjali focuses attention on, pointing out that this is a certain type of mistake related to a definite misuse of words. That is why Vivekananda translated vikalpa not merely as "delusion" but prior to it he added the word "verbal". I intend to discuss the profundity of this shloka in the next post and here I will confine myself to a comment regarding the phrase “verbal delusion”: this term is a little bit out of date while there is an excellent term "mental speculation" that describes the same class of problems. So I will be explaining vikalpa in this very mode.

Yet the terms nidra and smriti despite their apparent simplicity have confused the interpreters who almost unanimously translate them respectively as sleep and memory. And these translations come in obvious contradiction with the definitions of these very terms given in lines 1.10 and 1.11. However, if we translate these terms as dreams and memories, this being quite acceptable in terms of vocabulary, everything will click into place. A dream is perception of something inexistent (of something empty - Sunya), and memories are the vrittis of previously perceived objects that [memories] have not vanished.

But then all vrittis do have a common feature. They all define something that chitta is “busy” with. Vivekananda has translated it as “(chitta) taking various forms”, and however strange this interpretation may appear it brings one the most close to understanding of the inner feelings of a person whose "chitta is identified with vritti" (line 1.4). A person indeed may lose the feeling of his substantial “Self” in his going down the memory lane or dreaming, as well as while getting lost in philosophizing and intellectualizing. And in all these cases he will not be staying in his svaroope (his own unmodified nature) (line 1.3) but somewhere else.

So far I will stop here. We will be extending the notion of vritti in the following posts.

[1] We will speak about underlying meaning of these terms in our next posts.

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