Sep 22, 2015

The archetypes of wholeness and “energy loss”

In the previous article dedicated to psychosomatics in Yoga Sutras I draw reader’s attention to the association between the state of “chitta-vikshepa – the scattering of chitta – and somatic responses that has been foregrounded by Patanjali. Let me remind that the word “vikshepa” in the framework of 

“Chitta-vikshepa” term is derived from the verbal root kṣip (क्षिप्) — to throw, with help of the prefix vi- (वि), that corresponds to the Russian “vy-“ and ‘ras-“ [or English “dis-“ as well as the particles“away”, “off”, “out” – transl. note]. Of the other hand I shall refer the reader to the opening articles of this blog where we were discussing in details the category of “chitta” having defined it as “substantiated self-sentiment of one’s mind” and were talking about impropriety of simplified definitions of chitta like “mental processes”, “mind/ consciousness” etc.


We could probably leave it at that and confine to the said articles yet I was eager to find out whether it was Patanjali who is the author of this idea or it had existed in esoterics even prior to him. Because in fact by juxtaposing some “scattering” with problematic personal states Patanjali in an indirect way introduces into the lexicon of esoterics the idea of Wholeness as an objective of growth!

It is also interesting to understand at what point in yoga such concepts as “loss of energy”, “energy outflow from chakra”, “bonds”, that are now familiar to us, have occurred. Is it Patanjali who was their father, or whether these ideas had existed before him. The investigation of this issue has taken me to the realm far beyond yogic primary sources, namely – into the domain of language and primary archetypes.

First of all I found out that the archetype of wholeness – non-wholeness was present in Sanskrit (and thus, most probably, in the Proto-Indo-European language that is a root-language for the whole of European ones) within the meaning of several roots. For instance, the root sad (सद्) has the central meaning of “to sit”, “to be situated”. This is where the Russian “sidet” [corresponding to English ‘to sit’ – transl. note] has derived from. Yet the attachment of suffixes “highlights” (in the terminology of Indian grammarians) other meanings of this root. For instance, the prefix “vi-“ when attached to this root forms the word “viṣāda” meaning “to be destroyed”, while the prefix “pra-“ – “prasāda” is translated as “the state of happiness, good mood”. Yet when we take the prefix “ud-“ corresponding to the Russian “u-“ (“u-hod”, “u-liot”) [this corresponds to English particles off/away in the words like “go away”, “fly away”, “move away” – transl. note] the word “utsāda” shall already mean bad mood, depression and so on. And it is from this very meaning that the English “sad” in the meaning “grievous” and “sorrowful” has derived from. Thus the root itself combines two classes of meanings: 

1) to have good – bad mood; 
2) to be whole – non-whole.

Since the system of Sanskrit roots is the most ancient and the most close to the Proto-Indo-European one, in fact coming as a root for the entirety of European culture, we may state that the idea of link between the wholeness of a person and his emotions comes as one of the basic archetypes of our culture and has the roots stretching back into the times immemorial.

By the way, upon reading this article an attentive reader must have noticed the words “to be upset” “to fall apart” “to go to pieces” that describe emotional states to be a tracing of this archetype. We also, unconsciously, associate the rate of wholeness with “positivity” of emotions. “Fallen apart”, that is, not whole – means, emotions are bad, energy is lower and so on.

This is not a solitary example. Looking through Amarakosha – Sanskrit conceptual thesaurus (6th cent. AD) - we shall find a number of interesting terms. For instance, to denote a person having strong emotional attachment to something (we should say, ”having fallen into smth/smb”) they use the word “unmanasa” consisting of the already mentioned prefix “ud-“ and the word “manas” roughly meaning “mind”. In this way “unmanasa” is “a person with flown-away mind”. In Russian/English we would say that he is “off / out of his head”, “far gone”, “in a bad skin”. The same very archetypes…

There are two more words denoting a whole and a non-whole person that are formed under the same very principle: eka-gra-chittaka and anya-manasaka, and they respectively mean a person with his consciousness (or, rather, chitta) brought together and the one with manas that has “flown away” to some other place (anya) beyond the body. A person whom we should call “absent-minded” or “distracted”.

We can find a good lot of other examples. But in general it is already clear that the archetype of wholeness is a very deep-rooted one and it is hidden within the structure of the language itself, that is, probably, within the nature of the mind. And the way of drawing this archetype into onscious level in the framework of esoteric thought evolution happened as a stage-by-stage process.

This question was raised in one of the most ancient Upanishads – Katha Upanishad. In its third section dedicated to yoga (that, in fact, gives the most ancient definition of yoga as control over one’s feelings) ancient rishis compare human body to a vessel with nine openings – khana, from that indriyas (awareness of senses) leave the person along with juice of life. Probably this comes as the source of one of the oldest concepts of spiritual practice – that of bringing indriyas back, their “detachment” from external objects and, in such a manner, prevention of prana from “going away” by “rearranging” its flow inwards. These ideas were developed in Bhagavad Gita where they started talking about distraction of not only indriyas, but of manas as well, and later on – in Yoga Sutras, in the line under consideration as well as in the second chapter, in the line dedicated to the practice of “pratyahara”. The thing is that the word “pratyahara” consists of the root “hR” — to grasp, seize, and prefixes प्रति “prati-“ and आ “aa-“ that when combined give in total the meaning of “invertedly-back-to-self-attraction/drawing”.

In general, the concept of wholeness in Yoga Sutras is much more complex than the same in Bhagavad Gita and comes as an obvious development of the latter. Scattering of chitta as attachment of sense organs to external objects represents the particular cases of vritti (nidra and smriti) while the practices designed for working with them are the subject matters of several sutras only, namely: 
on such vrittis as nidra and smriti; 
on vairagya; 
on chitta vikshepa; 
on pratyahara. 

In fact we can say that Patanjali has extended classical concepts of Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita having introduced the category of “vritti” into the discourse of yoga. While the idea of chitta scattering has found its way into modern yogic terminology, in the terms like “outflow of energy”, “chakra breach” and so on.

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