My perspectives of Sage Patanjali’s Yogsutras, article 4: Mind’s nature, states and fluctuations.

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In our previous article of the series, we have learnt about the nature of modifications of mind. We saw how the modifications are like a coin with 2 sides and how each side follows the other in a circle.

The eternal or never-ending modifications of mind (Vrutti) and the associated philosophical or practical transformation (Parinama) form the very basic of Nature (Prakriti).

Any action carried out consciously is just the occurrence of the flow of life, thoughts and incidents. It is a herculean task for a Yoga aspirant (Sadhak) to change/stop the flow of this constant changing nature (prakriti) but what he can achieve through Yoga is to control this ever-changing flow for a better mastery over himself. To master this, one first needs to understand what these modifications are and what they are based on.

In his 6th aphorism, Sage Patanjali quotes,



pramana=right knowledge;

viparyaya=wrong/confused knowledge; vikalpa=imaginary knowledge;

nidra=deep sleep;


Translation: “They are right knowledge, misconception, verbal delusion, sleep and memory.”

To understand this aphorism better we need to understand the nature of our Mind and five qualitative types of intelligence.

Our Mind is just a manifestation of Prakriti and is composed of the three Gunas of Prakriti i.e., the qualities of human nature– sattva (purity), rajas (activity) and tamas (dullness). The fluctuations in the mind are caused due to imbalance of the three Gunas.

The five types of state of mind as stated by Maharshi Vyasa are:

  • Kshipta (agitated/scattered)
  • Mudha (dull/lethargic)
  • Vikshipta (partially focused)
  • Ekagra (fully focused)
  • Niruddha (fully restrained from distractions in concentration)

Here is a brief explanation of the five states of the mind:

  1. Kshipta (agitated/scattered): It is the most usual state of the mind of humans. Most of us are in this state during the day. This state is characterized by the Guna ‘Rajas’. In this state, the mind is actively restless where-in it flowing with thoughts one thought to another, from one emotion to the next and happiness to sorrow. Mind behaves like a car being driven without a map running in between good & bad emotions, love and hate, etc.
  2. Mudha (dull): The mudha state is dominated by the guna ‘tamas’ in which the mind is dull, sleepy, lethargic and mentally not alert. In the mudha state no productive work can be achieved and human efficiency is least. Its basically the low fuel state of human mind & mechanism.
  3. Vikshipta (partially focused): In our journey of life, be it material or spiritual, there are instances when the Sattva Guna begins to dominate and the mind finds few moments of focus and concentration.

At the same time an aspirant’s old habits keep pull his mind away from sattva back to rajas or tamas. It’s like our car following a peculiar direction via map gets distracted by a wrong turn and moves away again in wrong direction.

  1. Ekagra (Fully focused): In this state the mind is fully focused on the object of meditation and the the aspirant becomes fully illuminated by knowledge and realizes itself. The car has finally found its clear direction and path towards the destination.
  2. Niruddha (fully restrained from distractions in concentration): This state of mind is one that doesn’t get distracted from its path and is eternally placed in a phase of full concentration. It leads to liberation of aspirant. It is similar to Samadhi state of aspirant who achieves the ultimate solitary peace. It is like the car going by its realised direction doesn’t take the wrong turns and stays smoothly on chosen path.

If we see deeper, in this state the mind doesn’t get affected with new impressions and the old impressions are in dormant stage and hence cause no modifications.

Thus, the all the vrittis (fluctuations) stated in the aphorism (pramana, viparyaya, vikalpa, nidra & smrutayah) are under the control of the pure, sattvic buddhi (intellect) as opposed to being controlled by the ego. If sustained for a long time, the mind gets finally dissolved into a state of balance of the Gunas which leads to final liberation/Samadhi.

Love, Light and Peace to all.

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