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).