Dec 15, 2015

Sutra 1.32. Methods of chitta stabilization. Part one. Totalness

Having laid down the criteria of chitta scattering (chitta-vikshepa) in shloka 31, Patanjali dedicated further 8 shlokas (32 to 39) to methods aimed at withstanding this state, while another 2 shlokas that follow (40 and 41) speak about the results of “bringing” chitta together. So far as these methods are quite applicable and highly topical, I shall be giving a consequent review of each of them in the next few articles.

Now, sutra 32 goes as follows:

तत्प्रतिषेधार्थमेकतत्त्वाभ्यासः ॥ ३२॥
1.32 tat pratiṣedha-artham eka-tattva-abhyāsaḥ

There are no grammatical difficulties arising from this line. Let us consider every word on a separate basis.

tat - ‘that’;
pratiṣedha - (m.) consists of the prefix prati- “in opposition to”, and the word stem sedha that derives from the verbal root sidh “to yield, attain”. Having summed them up, we shall get something like “opposite attainment”. Or – if we bring it in a literary style - “counteraction”. 
artham - (n. nom. sg.) - “aim”. This word is used as a part of a composite word instead of using a dative case ending, and all together it shall make “aiming to/at…”, or, to make it simple, “for…”;
eka (m.) – “one / single”;
tattva (n.) – this word consists of the aforementioned pronoun tat and suffix - tva that generates a neuter abstract noun (like, for instance, a well-known word sattva). Its English equivalent shall be the suffix -ness. Thus tattva shall mean something like “thatness”, or, to make it simple, the essence of a thing/item. Of the other hand in the context of Indian philosophy the word “tattva” was often used to denote a notion that in Western tradition we would refer to as “primary elements”.
abhyāsaḥ (m. nom. sg.) – “drill, exercise” – this word and its etymology are already familiar to us. 

Thus the translation of the sutra shall be:

1.32. For withstanding this (scattering of mind) the exercise of one-essenceness.

The term “one-essenceness” can be understood as the ability to focus on one single item or activity. In fact this line comes as development of the key idea of Bhagavad Gita second chapter that in my opinion is expressed in the line 2.41.

Here (in the state of yoga) the mind (buddhi) is resolute and one-pointed; the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched and not limited (scattered)…

This state that in the framework of modern yoga is usually referred to as “totalness” has been praised in Hindu styles of “Kshatriya” yoga and their relevant culture. Here is, for instance, a nice story of King Vikramaditya who when hunting came across an ashram in that a hermit Brahman was doing a ritual by throwing fruits into fire. It arouse the King’s curiosity and he inquired what was it that the ascetic was doing. 

- I am calling for God Agni by throwing fruits supported by dedicated mantras into the fire of sacrifice. I’ve been doing this for three days already. 
Vikrama grew interested and asked “May I also throw one fruit and call the god in?”
- No way! I am a ritually purified Brahman and I’ve been doing it for such a long time, and you shall only mess the ritual up. And what shall your single fruit do after I have already offered a pile of them? 
Nevertheless Vikrama did manage to have his own way and he threw a fruit into the fire with a relevant mantra that followed. And … Agni emerged at once.
- How does it come? - the ascetic asked. – Why have you immediately succeeded when I have failed?
- Because I made a decision that unless Agni accepts my first sacrifice and turn up, my head shall be the next, - the King answered. – While you were not total in your desire.

In his speaking about totality or “one-essenceness” (wholeness) Patanjali is as insightful as possible, pointing out clearly that it is the skill that is to be mastered, that one has to “drill”. Mere calling for wholeness and totality in one’s thoughts and opposing it to “many-branchness” and scattered character shall not suffice. The genre of sutras does not make room for description of concrete drills yet we can formulate them on our own.

We can refer to simplest exercises those based on usage of volition resource, namely, enforced cutoff of procedures that are not related to the main activity. For instance, when communicating one can limit one’s peeping into phone and following social networks. While working with PC one should keep open only the windows that are relevant to current activities, and so on. Such approach shall entail a more responsible consideration in choosing the activity that one shall set as the main one, since such engagement requires sacrificing the rest of the deeds.

Another practice may involve precise and unambiguous attachment of priorities to all aspects of one’s life. This is not a simple task since one shall have to admit one’s genuine desires that come as a basis in laying down priorities and worldview values.

More complicated practices shall be associated with formation of self-consistent worldview and elimination of “chakras implants”, or embedded elements of somebody else’s attitudes and mindsets.

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