Yoga Sutra

Yoga Sutra of Sage PatanjaliPlease visit the Downloads section to Download this Book


Scribe: S. N. TAVARIA

Before we proceed with our sutra by sutra exposition, it is necessary to understand the underlying idea of Advaita in Vedanta.

Creation is, always was, and ever will be. Creation, as we understand, stands for Param Satyam; therefore, no part of it is ever dissolved and no part of it does ever get created. There is no end nor beginning in Creation. It is always the same.

Even in Creation we imagine states within Param Satyam (which is, in a way, false, but to be understandable and meaningful to the average intellect it has to be so spoken) and call such states Madhyama Satyam and Satyam.

Then Satyam in its creative aspect we denote as Divine Wholeness, or Tapah, and further come down to the level of Janah, the Divine Fragments. We also state that there is no difference between Divine Wholeness and Divine Fragments, that it is not a state of multiplicity because each Divine Fragment can merge into and re-emerge from one another, as well as merge into and re-emerge from Divine Wholeness. So the Many from the One does not imply multiplicity and from Param Satyam to Divine Fragment --each fragment also is Param Satyam -- there is no duality. The Advaita idea of Vedanta is not contradicted.

So Param Satyam is made to assume the states of Madhyama Satyam, Satyam, Tapah or Divine Wholeness, and Janah or domain of Divine Fragments. Yet the entire Creation is One -- no duality at all exists therein -- that is Advaita.

But the human mind is too small and yet not developed to hold immensity, so it desires to break down any type of immensity into fragments, for then only can it understand. To the human mind, it does not matter if thereby anartha is created of artha. For example, the one large body of water on the surface of this earth is broken into many oceans, seas, bays, gulfs, channels, straits, etc., though we know there is no break or demarcation in the world body of water anywhere. And our Earth is not even a pin-point in comparison to the vast Creation and Existence. Yet this is the only way with us!

One fact stands out large and complete (and this thought is to be kept in mind) when we talk of Creation. Creation is absence of all that we know, think, imagine, feel or experience! Because in Creation nothing that we know of or are familiar with is required. In Creation, there is no form, no shape, no texture, no light, no colour, no sound, no electricity or magnetism, no laws (for there is none to follow or disobey them), no functions, no food, no air, no water, no energy, no prana, no sleep, no waking, no sex, no earthly conditions, no suns, no galaxies; there are neither nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya or dharmakaya, for there are no universes, nor brain, manas or buddhi. Nothing! Total absence of all pluralistic thought. This is the state of Turiya -- even to say this is false! Param Satyam prevails!

Then what is Existence? In a tiny corner of Creation, a specially conditioned area is created by Divine Wholeness, which we know as Existence. Nothing is stable here, it is a constantly changing, ever in a flux, ever in suspense, unpredictable state or condition, where probabilities outweigh possibilities 1:1,000,000, and this state is brought about by the constantly changing `gunas' or `qualities', through their permutations and combinations.

But again the question arises, whence came Existence? Then how did the order of Existence arise? The answer is: there is no Existence! This answer may not one satisfy because even the present human brain (of the 21st century to come) has not the courage nor the ability to think along this line.

To make Existence understandable: in a tiny, microscopic point, Param Satyam filled it with the state of Existence, with a substance we call Infinite Mind or Chittie. From the human standpoint this cosmic mind is unimaginable, very potent, and all-knowing within Existence! We can in Existence call this mind as Divine Mind of God, but we must be clear what we mean by `God'. This cosmic mind exerts immense mind maya creative pressures on all that exists, irrespective of size or intelligence.

This tiny point filled with cosmic mind, in which all the three universes of Existence, Bhuh-Bhuvah-Svahah, are floating, we understand as Brahmanda. All that is in Brahmanda is a mere condensation of cosmic mind, Chittie. But this tiny point is virtually immeasurable -- billions of light years cannot measure or fathom even the smallest universe Bhuh, the physical universe.

It is in this tiny point, Brahmanda, that we talk of the three states, the so-called waking, dream and sleep. Here we have the infinite pairs of the opposite, here we talk of death and birth, here we have our religions, rites, ceremonies, philosophies, et al. Here we have need of light, food, air, body, mind, and all that we can feel, know and experience. Here we talk of duality!

But all that we see, feel, experience, hold, need or possess is all in questionable forms (mayarupi), all under cosmic mind maya creative pressures, though it all appears to us so real that we have never even doubted that it is so. Thus Sage Patanjali in Yoga Sutra says, "In the case of the man who has achieved yoga (union), the objective universe (Brahmanda) has ceased to be. Yet it existeth still for those who are yet not free." But after ages of repeated thought we fail to realize that it is all unreal, transitory, and not capable of making us blissful, serene and contented.

But Advaita, the non-duality of Vedanta, cannot accept anything other than Param Satyam! Some details of the Advaita Vedantic thought are:

-- There is nothing prior to nor anything after Param Satyam. But Param Satyam is not void or a non-entity. It is nothingness, or emptiness, but is not nothing or empty.

-- The non-dual, unchanging reality is Turiya (even giving it a name is false understanding). Ishvara, the Gurudeva of the Yoga Sutra, is equated with Turiya. It is not a fourth state over and above the three states experienced in Existence.

-- Nothing whatsoever is born in any way; there is no origination in any way whatsoever. The concept of birth, of causation, suggests duality, a false idea. Birth and death of anything is possible only through maya and not through reality.

-- There is, in reality, no world or Universe. It is all an illusory, questionable manifestation. All is mythia, i.e. that which is wrongly imagined or of questionable origin.

But the human mind is afraid and not yet developed sufficiently to grasp this idea of Advaita. The question arises, what is then the cause of Existence appearing so real? Perhaps it is that Ishvara, Satyam -- the Lord -- diversifies the mundane things, turning its mind outward, so the shastras say. But this is only an unsatisfactory reply for those who cannot accept that Existence does not exist.

Cosmic mind, Infinite Mind, Chittie, is also known as maya, because all the condensations are of this mind and are questionable. The Self, wherever conditioned by maya as mula-prakriti, is the cause of the plural universe. Brahman, Self, when thus conditioned, is Ishvara. So maya, or Chittie, is ever a riddle to the intellect. Brahman and Atman are not different from each other.

-- Self, by Nature, is pure, independent and free. The pure Self of each individual is the Absolute, Satyam. The true Self is the core of the man.

-- Moksha, or liberation, is this realization, the rediscovery of the truth of the Self. The individual rediscovers the non-difference of the jiva (conditioned) from Atman (unconditioned), the fullness of the non-dual being. It is the final and complete end of life, realizable while in embodiment rather than after death.

-- Moksha, or Transcendence, is the eternal nature of man. It is not something that has to be accomplished or attained to, some time in the future, nor is it an intellectual concept. It is a rediscovery of what is already there. It is through "unborn knowledge" that the "unborn Self" is realized.

-- All this world and the universe is perceived through the individual mind, a creation of cosmic mind, Chittie. But when the mind ceases to play and ceases to be mind, i.e. when mind becomes of itself "no-mind", duality is no longer perceived!

Mind ceases to be mind (a) in deep sleep, (b) in samadhi (without seed). In (a) one remains ignorant, in (b) one perceives Reality and understands the questionable Universe, the world, and life.

The body/mind complex of man is the finest laboratory for analysis and rediscovery in Advaita-Vedanta -- provided we clearly understand whether one would function as (a) body/mind complex, i.e. the covering, or as (b) Atman, the Self, before we use the terms (a) maya and (b) Reality. We have all mixed up these two separate view-points. The covering is questionable and so is all that is experienced through it; our normal life and experience is therefore also questionable. If we see through a coloured glass, we see a coloured world.

But the trouble arises when we do not want to live as body/mind complex, because we have been told or have read or we have become so miserable with life that we really want to be free from it. But we are unable to throw away consciously this body/mind complex and destroy it. Suicide is no solution -- it should be set aside with care and reason.

The body/mind complex works under awareness, the quality of cosmic mind or Chittie as individual mind. The body/mind complex is always in one of the three states, the so-called waking, or dream, or sleep. It knows not any other state because the real state of Turiya belongs to Atman, and Atman is never beguiled by cosmic mind maya creative pressures. This is duality maintained by cosmic mind -- but what can we talk about in this Bubble that is Existence. Let us step out of this Bubble and we shall not ever know or dream of duality.

This is the purpose of Yoga Sutra -- to help you to step out of the kingdom of cosmic mind, Chittie. The question asked by the Upanishads is: Is there, in fact, any fundamental, single truth behind the plurality subsisting, and cognized or experienced by us? It is like being in a foreign land (Existence) and then trying to find or search for landmarks of our native land because we have forgotten that we are in a foreign land.

We belong, as Atman, to Creation. In Existence, because of the covering of the body/mind system, we must find duality abounding on all sides. There is no search or philosophy or religion needed -- we must realize we are out of our celestial home and must go back! This is the purpose of Yoga Sutra -- to help you to go back to your celestial Home, Creation.

It is all very reasonable to say, to philosophize, and give scholarly arguments why we should not accept this dualistic state when it is mithya, but one who has experienced Turiya will not argue -- with whom will he argue for there is no duality for him! Only those will argue who accept Advaita on hearsay. And only experience can remove all arguments.Pure consciousness -- this is Turiya, Atman, the Home -- is Creation, not Existence. In Existence, Atman finds itself in a polluted atmosphere of duality (though it does not itself experience duality). It has a mask, an outer covering, and this covering accepts and does experience duality. Atman is never `enmeshed' or `deceived' by Existence, by cosmic mind or maya creative pressures -- because it is Satyam. It is witness to the other three states.

The state we are talking about is not really the dissolution of the subject/object complex, but only a dissociation.Turiya, by definition, is a negation of sense perception, the world of thoughts and ideas through the instruments of mind and intellect and other limited modes. All other states alternate and pass away but Turiya ever remains constant. It is changeless amidst change -- it remains always unaffected by and unattached to this world play.

Scriptures say man is spirit within matter but this is not Advaita. In Existence we cannot talk without being accused of duality. Scriptures talk about the five sheaths -- annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vijnanamaya and anandamaya -- but this is not Advaita! Scriptures talk about organs of perception, organs of action, mind, intellect, and ego -- but all that is also not Advaita!

Knowledge is supposed to be non-dual, yet perceptual knowledge functions within the dualistic sphere of subject/object relationship. Mind-object contact is necessary for knowledge to arise. The Upanishads say, "The Self perceives the external world through the instrumentality of the mind." Does the Self need the mind to understand, or the eyes to see, etc.? This is our trouble in Existence.

There can be no pure non-dual mind -- even the cosmic mind or Chittie! If non-dual, it ceases to be mind. Mind and maya are not two separate objects; no other magician called maya is there to beguile the mind. Mind is the only magician that makes us perceive what is not real and believe it as real. The shastras use the words "unborn mind" or "no-mind". No such thing exists. Only cosmic mind in its myriad modes exist -- moving, oscillating, vibrating, and misguiding us.

The truth of non-duality will always remain beyond intellectual comprehension, for intellectual comprehension is mind and mind is dual and many-faceted. With its help we can never approach the idea of Advaita or Turiya. So this is the purpose of Yoga Sutra -- to help you cross this ocean of confusion and reach the other shore.

The scriptures say, "When the individual has direct intuitive apprehension of Atman he transcends the limits of empirical knowledge." Mind is maya -- cosmic mind is cosmic maya. So to experience even for a fraction of a moment the Reality, Atman, Satyam, that I and Reality, Atman, Satyam are one -- during life and waking, setting aside mind, is the supreme moment! One is then never the same person again! One has been Turiya -- not, one has experienced the state of Turiya.

If senses and mind are used, then only this world and this universe are seen and experienced, and life is lived accordingly for there is no other way. How to delink the senses and the mind and yet not be unconscious! If it is possible, we should be taught! So we turn to Yoga Sutra for guidance.

With understanding and experience, the meaning of moksha changes. At first it means freedom from suffering, bondage, and all the negative aspects of life. Later, it means to be authentic and to live life fully and completely without delusion or restrictions, and that too here and now. And it is not the redemption of an after-death state, because there is no death as we normally understand.

With this dualistic mantra-japa, `Radhe-Kishan, Radhe-e-Shyam', repeated constantly with normal three-step rhythmic breathing (3SRB) for all 24 hours while carrying out the normal day-to-day duties outwardly, finally leads one to Advaita, Turiya. Do it and experience!

But suddenly becoming enthusiastic, do not run away from sansara -- you cannot run away from this world, this Universe, with a dualistic mind. Be sober, be rational, and try to understand how the sutras wish one to go about. You have lived in the dualistic world your dualistic life for millions of years -- you cannot undo that in a hurry.

Nevertheless remember that it is not the disappearance of the world and the universe per se, but only the disappearance of a false outlook. It is a rediscovery. It is nothing but being established in one's real Self. But it is also good to remember that Self never really was or is bound, so there is no real question of its bondage and the need to attain release at any particular point in time. "When ignorance is brought to an end through non-association with the things perceived, this is the great liberation." -- Book II(25).

Om Satyam Param Dhimahi!

Having accepted a few deserving disciples, Sage Patanjali, with love and care, started to expound the inner meaning of the sutras and explained the details of the practices. This guru to disciple succession (parampara) has ever continued, myself having been fortunate to learn at the feet of my transcendental Master. Whatever I have remembered I have put in his name. I may be forgiven for whatever mistakes found or for omissions.

S. N. Tavaria