Oct 23, 2013

On “Types of Yoga”: Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga

The terms hatha-yoga, karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, bhakti-yoga, laya-yoga and others are familiar to everyone and they play an important role in positioning yoga as a system. Although they are not used in Yoga Sutras (except for the term kriya-yoga), these terms are rather old and one can find them already in Mahabharata [1]. This division of yoga into types was often mentioned in yogic Upanishads and other medieval texts. For European people this division (in some simplified version: only hatha, raja, karma, bhakti and jnana yoga) became available due to Vivekananda.

Oct 11, 2013

Sutra 1.10. Coming Back to Nidra. Can Dreams be Referred to as a Form of Vritti?

I hope the reader remembers that in one of previous posts we have considered the category of nidra and explained why nidra had been highlighted by Patanjali as a vritti. However recently I’ve been asked about whether a dream, a night fantasy, can be referred to as a form of vritti. Since I believe the question to be proper I shall answer it briefly here with parallel consideration of some additional aspects associated with this topic.

Let us start with actualization of what dreams are from the point of psychology. I think most of the readers paid attention to the fact that dreaming is related to current situations that are emotionally significant. Upon resorting to the works of Jung and Freud – and one’s own experience as well – we can specify this point in the following way: the dream in symbolic form “shows” a person some information about an actual emotionally significant situation that the person is not conscious of (or the one that he/she represses), and about the core point of this situation.

Sep 19, 2013

Sutras 1.21 - 1.22. The Rate of Development. Spiritual Flow, Personal Power, Inner Human Core

The following several sutras of Patanjali are dedicated to one’s developmental rate:

तीव्रसंवेगानामासन्नः ॥ २१॥
1.21. tīvra-saṃvegānām-āsannaḥ 

tīvra – utmost, extreme, ultimate;
saṃvegānām - intention;
āsannaḥ – near, proximate;
that is, taking into account the previous line that says that prajna is preceded by shraddha, virya, smritiand samadhi, this one can be understood and translated in the following way:

1.21. Near under ultimate intention.

That is, the distance (probably, the temporal)between enlightenment (prajna) and its preceding stages shall not be big if a person is ultimate in his totality. It is clear by intuition: comprehension mayoccur only if you are totally engaged in pondering over the problem. This very principle can be applied to any other kind of development – quality transformations may only result from efforts that are thorough enough. Spiritual practice is not something that can be done “in the course of” and “together with” etc. It’s like V.Suvorov had it in his work “Aquarium” – “You cannothave you muscles built by lifting an iron twice a day».

Sep 3, 2013

A Psychophysiological and Philosophic Commentary: the Role of Emotions in the Process of Cognition

I would like to go back for a while to the line 1.16 in which Patanjali exposes the factors that accompany the process of comprehension (samprajnya) listing among them ananda – the delight. This issue is clear from the empiric point of view and it is rather difficult to say something against it, yet here comes the question – what is the ground of this relation between the cognitive, even existential process and the emotional experience associated with it. First of all let us turn to psychology and remember the role of emotions in human life. The rule of memorizing says that the more emotionally significant and coloured the information is the better it is memorized.

Sep 2, 2013

Sutra 1.20. Prerequisites to Cognition

So, developing his idea, in the line 1.20:

श्रद्धावीर्यस्मृतिसमाधिप्रज्ञापूर्वक इतरेषाम् ॥२०॥
1.20. śraddhā-vīrya-smṛti-samādhi-prajñāpūrvaka itareṣām 

Patanjali tells that for others (itareṣām), i.e. different from those that we dealt with in the line 1.19 and whom I have referred to as the people of [spiritual] flow, the knowledge (prajna) is preceded (pūrvaka) by four factors: śraddhāvīryasmṛti and samādhi. Let us try to comment upon the essence of these factors. But first let us note that without some respective “fudging” this line shall not match the model of Vyasa since it postulates that Samadhi precedes the knowledge, this, in our opinion, being quite logic.

Aug 31, 2013

Vyasa’s Standpoint. The Buddhist Influence upon Yoga

Having set forth my interpretation of the few latest slokas of Yoga Sutras I cannot help but consider the following issue: why and where from there occurred the opinion (that I so much subject to criticizing) about the existence of asamprajnya samadhi as the “superior” samadhi that eliminates contemplations and so on.

No matter how strange it may seem, but the roots of this position, them been deep, go back to one of the earliest “classical” commentaries to this text, the “Vyasa-Bhashya” of Vyasa that (according to Ostrovskaya and Rudoi) is dated to ca. 4th -5th cent. AD. It is this very commentary that was used as a basis by some later medieval commentators such as Vacaspati Mishra and Vijnana Bhikshu. Besides, this text has another undeniable advantage – its availability, for it has been more than once translated into English (and even into Russian – thanks to Ostrovskaya and Rudoi).

Aug 26, 2013

Sutra 1.2. Chitta, Vritti and Psychosomatics

Following the logic I should have inserted this article after those dedicated to vritti and nirodha, but since it has occurred now I shall break the linear succession in developing the ideas and place it here. There’s nothing you can do – thinking and reasoning are non-linear processes, so that when getting deep to the heart of some matter one continuously comes back to prime postulates conceiving them even deeper, or even reconsidering them J. All the more so that in one of my initial posts I promised the readers that they would witness the intellectual activity in real-time mode…

And so:
Despite its complicacy, let us remember our definition of chitta as the “inner substantial self-sentiment of a person”. It has occurred to me that this definition, just like the concept of vritti, can be well objectified and made more clear if we base this upon the track records of modern body psychotherapy and psychosomatics. 

Jul 29, 2013

The Relevance of New Translation and Commentaries on Yoga Sutra

It’s been ca. two thousand years since Yoga Sutras was written. Within this period the work has been translated into a good number of various languages, while the number of commentaries on it is countless. It was India alone – ancient and medieval – that provided for at least a dozen of very detailed (to say the least of them) and thorough commentaries on Yoga Sutras: Yoga-Bhashya of Vyasa (ca. 450 AD), Tattva-Vaisharadi of Vacaspati Mishra (ca. 850 AD), Raja-Martanda of Bhojaraja (ca. 1019-1054 AD), Yoga-Bhashya-Vivarana of Shankara Bhagavatpada (ca. 1350 AD), Yoga-Siddhanta-Candrika of Narayana Tirtha (ca. 1350 AD), Yoga-Varttika of Vijnana Bhikshu (ca. 1550 AD). And there must be a lot of other commentaries that are not known to me.
Yoga Sutras was analyzed by philosophers and systematicians of Indian philosophy, like Mueller and Radhakrishnan.
In scope of European tradition Yoga Sutras (in addition to professional Indologists) was studied by such big heads as Mircea Eliade.
Beyond the scope of scientific community they were the mystics of various European Traditions, including Annie Bezant, Alice Bailey and Aleister Crowley [1], who were trying to understand it.
I know about ca. a hundred of this text translations into English. So one would think – is it possible to add something conceptually new and do we really need a new translation and commentary? So I shall take the liberty of stating that not only it is relevant, but it is also necessary. And it is right now that it’s become feasible.

Jul 25, 2013

Sutra 1.19. Supernatural Beings vs People of Spiritual Flow. Mysterious Pratyaya

Would it occur to anyone to invite tenders for the most ambiguously understood and intricate sloka of the Yoga Sutras, the line 1.19 would be the safe winner. Sorting out this case is not an easy thing to do, so that I beforehand beg the reader’s pardon for this article to be this complicated. Now, here is the sloka:

भवप्रत्ययो विदेहप्रकृतिलयानाम् ॥१९॥ 
1.19. bhava-pratyayo videha-prakṛtilayānām 

Seems like – well, only 5 words, each of them has a translation from the dictionary. However, let us take the best know translation variants of this sloka:

Sutra 1.17. Comprehension and Emotions

In scope of discussing sloka 1.17 about samprajna and its relation to vritti-nirodhah I’ve been asked a good question about the mechanisms of such relation, that is, about the REASON of this, or rather, about the mechanism of changing one’s emotional attitude to the core of the problem within the process of its comprehension (this been what we talked about in previous posts). I believe it is reasonable to give the answer here.

Jul 24, 2013

To the Origin of the Word “Yoga”

Inspired by watching a nice Indian series about relations between Shiva and Sati.

This article for sure comes as the off-top in this part of the blog, but now I can’t be bothered to find some other place to speak out, thus I will take the liberty of doing this prank.

And so, the word “yoga” is well known to have originated from the verbal root “yuj” meaning “to join / unite”. The only question is – what is this united. There are traditional answers to this question, like: the body is united with the spirit, the “cart of feelings” (the metaphor from Svetasvatara Upanishad and Bhagavad-Gita) is put under control, in the context of hatha yoga they are the parts of bodies, and so on. In general, it all deals with “internal” conjugation. However, I have another one, rather unusual, hypothesis that has occurred to me. The series that I saw yesterday and the image of Shiva spelled out there has reminded me of a theory about shamanistic origin of this image that is obvious to most of culture experts.

Jul 18, 2013

Sutras 1.2 and 1.17. Nirodha and Samprajna

For those readers who in this multitude of articles might havelost the general thread and the logic of YS doctrine exposition Ishall put in remembrance the basic points.
• In the second line Patanjali gives the definition of yoga as chitta-vritti-nirodhah
• Then he draws definitions of each vritti.
• In the line 1.12 he points out at abhyasa and vairagya as the methods of nirodha accomplishment.
• He defines the core point of these methods.
• In the line 1.17 he proceeds from vairagya to samprajna that, as we have shown in our last but one post, come in logic mutual interrelation being the notions denoting disengagement from and comprehension.

Meditation Ability and the State of Traineeship

Here we shall notice that since meditation is the attempt tosearch for an answer that is not obvious to the question that is not trivial, one’s readiness to “look” beyond one’s habitual stereotypes comes as a mandatory precondition of its performance.

It is safe to say that if the answer that has come asa result of meditation process was “somehow clear” from the very beginning, it means that you’ve done something incorrectly. Either the question that you’ve taken was wrong, or you have failed to complete the meditation. The right answer always comes as conceptually new information that generates anew opinion, a new view of the problem. It astonishes the consciousness and turns it upside down. However, in order to do this, one should from the very beginning be able to accept the boundedness of his present point of view, the inefficiency of the existing behaviour pattern, imperfection of one’s forms of emotional response, and so on. And we should say that most people are not able to do this.

Jul 14, 2013

Sutra 1.17. Meditation in the Context of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

The word “meditation” is one of the brands that the mass consciousness has inseparably linked to yoga, spiritual practices and person’s development. And this opinion is justified: yoga is not yoga without psycho-practices, since it was yet in Hatha Yoga Pradipika that they wrote that “All the methods of hatha are meant for gaining success in Raja-yoga”. But what is it that we can actually refer to as meditation? There is no such word in Sanskrit, though it is actively used by Indian Schools of today. Moreover, in scope of closer investigation of the issue we see that they apply the word ‘meditation’ to a whole range of psychical activities that differ both in their essence and in their results. In addition to this we also see that the theme is evidently getting more and more “popular”. Most people who considered themselves to have been practicing meditation failed to answer my three simple questions: “What is the target?”, “What is the method?” and “What comes as the object?” The situation in some way reminds the already told story about one’s “dharana” on the carton box. Or some even more absurd “practices” similar to those used by naïve attendees of the trainings made out of thin air, like: put the picture of the car of your dream on the fridge door and spend 15 minutes of your day staring at it and hoping that one day it will “appear” in your life.

Sutras 1.12 - 1.18. Vairagya and Samprajna. The Logic of the Few Latest Slokas Arrangement

I hope the reader remembers that the lines 1.12-1.16 were dedicated to abhyasa and vairagya. In particular, the line 1.15 gave an extensive definition of vairagya:

1.15 the disengagement from emotions [related to] the seen and heard objects is the sign of mastery in vairagya, 

while the 1.16 defined the ultimate experience of vairagya through disengagement from gunas:

1.16 the utmost (vairagya) comes when Purusha is comprehended by means of disengagement from gunas.

Out of sudden, in slokas 1.17 and 1.18 Patanjali dramatically (as one may think) changes the subject and starts telling about the category of Samprajna. However, if we rely upon the understanding that was offered in our previous posts, the logic and the coherence of exposition shall become obvious. The actual interrelation between vairagya and amprajna does exist. One’s disengagement from emotional experience (vairagya) naturally comes upon comprehension of its origin and character. 
Thus the line 1.17 in fact clarifies the only reasonable method of reaching vairagya – apprehension of one’s emotional and intellectual vrittis and going to meta-context in respect of them.

Jul 10, 2013

Sutra 1.17. Fundamental Meaning of the Sloka 1.17. Correlation Between the Dimensions of Human Existence

Notwithstanding the apparent simplicity of the sloka 1.17 it has a fundamental value in scope of Patanjali’s concept of Yoga and in understanding the principles of spiritual advance in general. As for its application significance, this line probably comes as the second most important after the one defining Yoga as chitta-vritti-nirodhah.

In fact, in this line Patanjali points out the fact of contiguity of the spiritual dimension and the processes happening within it (I hope to talk about Samprajna as comprehension, the act of consciousness expansion, in one of the following articles) with cognitive processes (vitarka and vichara), emotional (ananda) and existential (asmita) experiences.

Jul 8, 2013

Sutras 1.17 - 1.18. The Legend of Asamprajna Samadhi (continuation)

Let us proceed with analysis of the line 1.18.

विरामप्रत्ययाभ्यासपूर्वः संस्कारशेषोऽन्यः ॥ १८॥
1.18 virāma-pratyayābhyāsa-pūrvaḥ saṃskāra-śeṣo'nyaḥ

I shall draw several classical variants of its translation for the reader to get a better picture of what the legend is, as well as to see the difference in interpreting this sloka:

1.18 There is another Samadhi which is attained by the constant practice of cessation of all mental activity, in which the Chitta retains only the unmanifested impressions (Vivekananda).
1.18 The practice of intellection cessation, (when) only the fullness with residual impressions (Samskaras) (remains), is the other (Asamprajna Samadhi) (Rigin).
1.18 There is another possibility, when the complete cessation of any intellectual activity is used (Falkov).
1.18 The initial practice involves elimination of the available contents of consciousness; the following one [involves the elimination] of residual impressions (Danchenko).
18. The other type of Samadhi is preceded by a constant exercise of the idea-impulse (pratyaya) of Chitta’s activity suspension; in this [exercise] only samskaras remain (Zagumenov).

Jun 28, 2013

Sutras 1.17 - 1.18. Samprajna. The Legend of Asamprajna Samadhi

Let us come back to the text of Yoga Sutras. The sloka 1.17 introduces the category of Samprajna(ta).

वितर्कविचारानन्दास्मितारूपानुगमात् सम्प्रज्ञातः ॥ १७॥
1.17 vitarka-vicāra-ananda-asmita-rūpa-anugamāt samprajñātaḥ  

The exact understanding of this line on the basis of translation taken “from the dictionary” shall be difficult since in fact the whole line is drawn of psycho-technical terms (but for the word anugamat meaning “to follow”) which translation, as we remember, can hardly be grounded on the dictionary only. Probably it is due to this that translation variants of this line, commentaries upon it and their consequences are very ambiguous. And it will be these ambiguities and consequences that we shall first of all deal with.

​In the first place, let us pay attention to the fact that this line does not contain the word Samadhi!

Jun 26, 2013

Samadhi, Assemblage Point and Gestalt Psychology

There is an interesting point of view that was published on the vKontakte page [a social network that is popular is CIS states – translator’s note] dedicated to Yoga Sutras that I mentioned in one of my winter posts, by the author of the said public who calls himself Igor Aleksandrovitch. I quote:

“Here is an interesting interpretation of the term "samādhi":

By the way, the most felicitous and accurate variant of translating the Yoga term samaadhi is by using Castaneda’s phrase “the assemblage point”, since Samadhi does mean the “assemblage” (this term in this very meaning can be found in texts dedicated to manufacture of chariots). From etymological point it looks the following way: the prefix sam- means “co-“, "jointly-", the prefix aa- means "to-", "at-" (i.e. it reveals the idea of attaching, fixing, bringing in correspondence), while the root dhaa- (with –i as a suffix) means "to put down”, “to place/make stand”. Thus “Samadhi” literally means putting together and attaching to each other some odd parts that were previously independent, uncoordinated or disharmonious.
Igor Aleksandrovitch”.

As one may easily see, the drawn clarification of the Samadhi term comes in perfect line with my explanation of Samadhi as the act of cognition (see here). Indeed, even in English there are such phrases as “I have FIXED the problem”,“I have PUT two and two TOGETHER” And they as if reflect that very experience of instantaneous comprehension of the problem that comes after long preliminary considerations (Dharana and Dhyana). However, the equivalence between the term Samadhi and Castaneda’s ‘assemblage point’ is not that obvious, despite the similarity between the words. Let us sort this issue out.

May 29, 2013

YOGA: Physiology, Psychosomatics, Bioenergetics by Andrey G. Safronov

This book is available for download on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iBooks and on your computer with iTunes. Books must be read on an iOS device.
This book is based on 19 years of yoga practice and 14 years of teaching yoga and healing. It contains over 300 pictures of asanas — how to come into them and how to go out, energy flows and possible mistakes while practicing hatha. Structurally, the book is divided into several levels so that it can be useful to all readers with different experience in yoga — from beginners to experienced practitioners. In this book you will learn how to assemble your own yoga complex, depending on your health. You will learn about inward criteria of doing asanas right and how to get practical results from your meditation.

May 22, 2013

Sutra 3.1. Conceptual Mistakes in Understanding the Category of “Dharana” by Yogis of Today. A Psychologist’s Opinion

Instead of drawing an epigraph I shall cite an anecdote.

A man is walking along the city streets and sees a queer picture: two workmen with spades are walking one by one. One is digging a pit, the second one is filling the pit up. This makes our man astonished, and so he asks them: “why do you do it this way – one of you digs a pit and the second one fills it up?” And receives the answer from the second one: “I am not the second one, I am the third one. The second one has fallen ill. He was supposed to plant trees”.

In the would-be yogic environment of today the understanding of the category of “Dharana” (just like of many other basic categories as well) in many aspects resembles the situation described in this anecdote. If one small detail is missing, the entire activity becomes totally meaningless. I shall further expand my idea.

As I have already mentioned in one of the previous articles, Patanjali has given a fairly precise definition of Dharana category:

Apr 23, 2013

Sutras 3.1 - 3.3. Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi: Basic Considerations

Since the next lines of the Yoga Sutras text already contain the category of Samadhi used by Patanjali, at this stage it becomes fairly appropriate to start figuring out the meaning of this term, let alone that this notion probably comes as the most mystified one of all (well, maybe, except for the Chitta J). In order to understand the scale of its misunderstanding let us use the definition given in the Wikipedia [the Russian version of the Wiki – trans. note]. 

Samadhi (Sanskrit: समाधि, samādhi IAST, “wholeness, unity; implementation, performance; composure”) – in scope of the Hinduism and Buddhism meditative practices – it is the state when the very idea of personal individuality (but not the consciousness) disappears and there emerges the integrity of the perceiving subject and the perceived object. The Samadhi is the state of (spiritual) enlightenment achieved by means of meditation when the mind becomes very still and all contradictions between the internal and the external world (the subject and the object) vanish, when the individual consciousness as a microcosm merges with the cosmic absolute as a macrocosm. The Samadhi is the last stage of the Noble Eightfold Path that brings the person most close to the state of Nirvana.

Apr 15, 2013

Ukrainian Federation of Yoga

The all-Ukrainian public organization “Ukrainian Federation of Yoga” is an association of independent yoga-centers, yoga instructors, people who practice yoga and those who have just started mastering this ancient system, united through the School and Tradition, linked by their interest to Yoga and to approaches of its study, as well as by friendly relations and mutual respect. 

The task of the Ukrainian Federation of Yoga is the humanitarian and educational activity aimed at conscious improvement of the person’s physical and psychological conditions realized through a system of methods and practices.

Mar 26, 2013

Sutra 1.16. The Gunas: Psychological Interpretation

So, as we have already mentioned earlier, the shloka 1.16 of the Yoga Sutras links the practice of vairagya to the category of gunas.

तत्परं पुरुषख्यातेर्गुणवैतृष्णयम् ॥१६॥
1.16 tatparaṃ puruṣakhyāterguṇavaitṛṣṇayam

First of all let us outline the translation of the shloka.

tat - that. In this case this word denotes the vairagya from the previous line
paraṃ – highest, at the utmost
puruṣa - Purusha, a man, Me
khyāteh - knowledge, comprehension
guṇa - guna
vai-tṛṣṇayam – this word contains the root trishna already known to us and the prefix vai that the Monier-Williams dictionary translates as “to be deprived of”.

Let us draw the initial variant of the translation:

1.16 the utmost (vairagya) comes when Purusha is comprehended by means of disengagement from gunas.

Such variant of translation comes in line with the text logic. Indeed, if we assume that Patanjali has determined vairagya as dis-trishning/disengagement (sorry for this self citation J) from emotions in relation to the observed objects, the utmost vairagya shall be the one that comes to disengagement from some primary experiences that are the gunas. In such translation version the gunas should be correlated with some psychological states. Let us do this and in such a way UNDERSTAND the meaning of this phrase and the hence ensuing psycho-practices.

The Modern Scientific Methods of Describing Psyche and Psychologic Experience

In order to proceed further with interpreting the Yoga Sutra text we need to take a look at different methods of describing the psyche and the object-matter of psycho-practices. I have already analyzed this issue in my monographs thus I shall not draw a new article but shall cite an excerpt from my last monograph 
“Psycho-practices in Mystical Traditions from the Antiquity to the Present”. 

I insist that the reader who wants to understand the meaning of the next article about psychological interpretation of Gunas reads this text. And so:

The energetic paradigm describes psyche as a system of energetic objects. 

Mar 6, 2013

Sutras1.12 - 1.15. The Methods Abhyasa and Vairagya and Ajna Chakra Petals

Let us step back from our reflections on gunas and return to abhyasa and vairagya. Having taken another thought about these methods I have noticed an apparent analogy with the way the right and left petals of ajna chakra are unctioning. 

And after this I recalled my concept of right- and left-petal meditations that I set forth in my first book - “The Psychology of Spiritual Advance” published in 1995.

Despite the simplicity of its presentment I still believe the idea itself to be true and accurate, that’s why I shall draw an excerpt and some explanatory illustrations from the book completing them with my commentaries of today that I will highlight in italics.

Mar 4, 2013

Sutra 1.16. The Gunas: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas

The line 1.16 of Yoga Sutras refers to the category of “gunas”, thus in order to understand this line we need first to study out the meaning of this category, so let us proceed to this.

Normally each one who is somehow related to yoga even in its most “pop” variants has heard the terms that denote each of the three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas. However the paradox here is that though using these terms in various applied aspects – starting from “Vedic” culinary art and up to Hatha-yoga – the majority of people don’t make any attempt to understand the definition: WHAT are the gunas in their general meaning. Moreover, they are not only pseudo-esoterics who are far from this understanding, but the experts in Indian culture and philosophy as well. It seems like everyone has so much got used to the category that they have all ceased “losing their sleep” over its core point. In most cases they introduce the three gunas through “pure Vishuddha”, i.e. by means of different metaphors. For instance, the Krishnaites prefer emotional metaphors: sattva is the loftiness and nobleness, rajas is the passion while tamas is the ignorance; the followers of Ayurveda are prone to describing it in physiological manner, for instance tamas is the sleepiness. Even the Indology experts use the metaphors, though their metaphors come close to notions of humanities. For instance, Max Mueller, the outstanding scientist, has correlated the three gunas with Hegel’s triad thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

Feb 22, 2013

Sutras 1.12 - 1.15. Abhyasa and Vairagya. Is There a Third Way? Some Words about Samskaras and Tantra

The method of keeping control over one’s states (abhyasa) and the method of disengaging with them (vairagya) are the two interrelated and complementary branches on the tree of spiritual practices. 

Still I would say that Patanjali misses the third method – the technique of total experience of the states that is described in tantra. 

Of course it would not be quite correct to speak about tantra as a unified tradition; nevertheless from practical point there are a number of universals that are appropriate of the systems correlated with tantric ones despite their original religious affiliation, be it the Song of Saraha and techniques practiced by Mahasiddhas or Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. 

Feb 18, 2013

Sutras 1.12 - 1.15. Abhyasa and Vairagya. Two Fundamental Approaches in Yoga

I am writing this article on board the plane on my way to India where I shall visit Kumbh Mela. I am here without my favourite and probably unique library, yet it’s been already for three weeks that I’ve been nourishing the article about abhyasa and vairagya in my mind. So I shall rely on my memory now and double check the details upon my arrival home.

Patanjali has used the following 5 lines (1.12 to 1.16) to introduce and define the notions of abhyasa and vairagya that in his view come as methods of reaching the state of chitta-vritti-nirodha. This is directly stated in the line 1.12 that contains words the reader is already familiar with:

अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः ॥१२॥
1.12 abhyāsa-vairāgyābhyāṃ tan-nirodhaḥ 

tan is translated as these, and thus in consideration of the context of the previous lines that enlist the types of vritti the following translation variant may occur:

1.12 Their (of vrittis) nirodha is achieved through abhyasa and vairagya.

Feb 11, 2013

Sutra 1.6. PRAMANA: the Methods of “Valid” Cognition. Gnoseology and Ajna Development in Yoga

As we have said earlier, Patanjali has singled out pramana, or “valid”, “true” knowledge, as the first vritti. However it strikes the eye here that, unlike with all other vrittis, when speaking about pramana the Yoga Sutras author has not only provided its definition but has also listed the main concepts of traditional Indian gnoseology. That is, he has listed the "right" sources of knowledge: the direct (own) perception, the authoritative evidence and the logical inference. In general such view is inherent in many theories of gnoseology of Indian philosophical systems (see, for instance, the "Indian Philosophy"of S. Radhakrishnan). Moreover, in some systems they used to single out not three sources of knowledge, as Patanjali did, but four of them, adding the mystical knowledge as an additional "valid" means. Thus there come two questions:
1. Why was Patanjali that specific in distinguishing pramana if it is just the same vritti?
2. Why did Patanjali, being a mystic, ignore singling out mystical knowledge as a “valid” means of obtaining the true knowledge?

Feb 3, 2013

Sutras 1.10 - 1.11. Vrittis: Nidra and Smriti

Let us proceed to discussing the two latter Vrittis mentioned by Patanjali: smriti and nidra

In one of the previous sections of our forum we have already considered and slammed the traditional interpretation of these two words as memory and sleep. I shall remind here that in order to preserve the text consistency in terms of understanding vrittis as the states that the Inner Observer merges with we have translated the respective words as memories and dreams. Let us now verify the validity of our ideas basing upon the definitions of these categories contained directly within Yoga Sutra.

अभावप्रत्ययालम्बना वृत्तिर्निद्रा ॥ १०॥
1.10. abhāva-pratyayālambanā vṛttir nidrā

Jan 25, 2013

Sutras 1.5 - 1.9. Vritti: Pramana, Viparyaya and Vikalpa

Having made sense of “Drashtar” category we can come back to analyzing the category of “vritti”. Let us remember that vritti is something that a person identifies himself with, letting his Inner Observer (Drashtar) get dissolved in this something and thus lose its essence. 

By the way, this category has been invented by theosophs in order to denominate the said mystic experience. Other Schools of mysticism and philosophy denoted the respective experience as the sense of “I am” (Ramana Maharshi), crystallization of the consciousness (Gurdjieff), calm (Sufism), Dasein (Heidegger), “existential Me”, “existential identity” (D. Bugental) etc. Of course at first sight these terms don’t seem to be similar for they have emerged in scope of different discourses. The calm, for instance, verbatim means heart (under reservation “spiritual”), while Dasein literally is translated as “this-being”, “here-being”. However the detailed descriptions of the experience underlying each of these words are very similar.

The identification of Drashtar with vritti is the loss of self-identity, or to be more precise, it is the identification of self as cognizing subject with viewpoints, roles and concepts about the Self.

Jan 24, 2013

Sutras 1.3 - 1.4. Drashtar. The Inner Observer

Now that we have accumulated sufficient resource we can come closer to understanding Patanjali’s definition of Yoga as chitta-vritti-nirodha. However, for complete comprehension of this line we should pay attention to the explanation the author gives to his definition in lines 1.3 and 1.4. Especially that it is in these lines that Patanjali introduces another category that is fundamental for esoteric knowledge and that I will so far refer to as the Inner Observer.

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः ॥२॥
1.2. yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ

तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम् ॥३॥
1.3. tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe'vasthānam

वृत्तिसारुप्यमितरत्र ॥४॥
1.4. vṛtti-sārupyam itaratra

I have drawn the line 1.2 to bring back the context, while the lines 1.3. and 1.4 need to be translated.
So 1.3:

Jan 21, 2013

Raga and Dvesa. The Issue of Emotions in Yoga

In our previous article we have discussed the general aspects of the category of "klesha”. However I think that two of the said categories - raga and dvesa – require a more thorough analysis. And as a matter of fact, given the name of the blog it is time we proceed from the text analysis to it actual commenting upon J.

Based upon the literal translation of Patanjali’s text we have defined raga and dvesa as “holding up to…" (attachment to) something pleasant and unpleasant respectively. First we should note that such understanding of these terms differs much from the understanding that occurs in terms of traditional translations. 

Jan 18, 2013

Sutras 1.5, 2.3. - 2.9. Klesha. A very conceptual article:)

वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टाऽक्लिष्टाः ॥५॥
1.5. vṛttayaḥ pañcatayyaḥ kliṣṭā'kliṣṭāḥ

The category of "klesha" by no means refers to the group of words that should be rather explained than translated. Moreover, the situation with this category translation is just as confusing as it is with other key psycho-technical terms.

The Russian-Sanskrit dictionary offers the following translation variants: 1) torment, suffering, 2) malady, disease; 3) difficulty 4) inconvenience. As we see the semantic field is originally wide enough to make the translation no longer obvious. Other common Russian translations only aggravate the situation by further expanding the field and introducing there the terms of obviously contradictive meaning: love for life, attachment to existence, almost the same as Kama (seems like someone was much affected by neuroses - A. S.), grief, pollutions, destructive emotions, disturbing emotions, negative emotions, mind poisons, etc.

Jan 15, 2013

Sutra 1.2. Nirodha. The Problem of the Practice Boundedness

So the word nirodha that at first glance seemed to be so easy to understand has turned out to come with many surprises. Let us consider another one that despite its apparent irrelevance once cost the great Buddhist teaching its split followed by numerous inter-school debates. In terms of its application to Yoga Sutra this issue can be formulated as follows: 

If Yoga is liberation (in this case any other translation of the word nirodha will suit) of chitta from vritti, does the state reached in scope of it come as a stable and permanent that the subject will continuously remain in, or is it only a glimpse, an instant and transient breakthrough when "the drashtar rests in his own svaroope (his genuine nature)" (line 3), and then the vrittis will once again obfuscate the chitta?