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