My perspectives of Patanjali Yogsutras, article 16: The types of Aspirants on the path of Yoga.

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June 13, 2018

As per sage Patanjali, aspirants on the path of Yoga seeking ‘Chitta Vrutti Nirodha’ fall in two categories.

  1. Advanced: The first is those who have made tremendous advancement in previous lives and find samadhi easy to attain as Sage Patanjali quotes in aphorism 19.
  2. Others: Most people are of the second type, which means five types of effort and commitment as stated and explained in aphorism 20.

Sage Patanjali quotes,

भवप्रत्ययो विदेहप्रकृतिलयानाम्॥१९॥

Translation: Those who have experienced higher levels of consciousness, in this life or previous, can easily come into higher states of consciousness and continue to have the same departing imprints of samskaras.

Some of us reach a point at which bodily concerns and urges do not occupy our mind & attention. When we see the body as a shadow of the mind and the mind as a shadow of the soul, our attachment to the body and to physical pleasure vanishes. Thus, while living in this world, we attain freedom from the bondage caused by identification with the body and with worldly success and failure, gain and loss, etc. This is called videha, a state in spiritual evolution at which we have transcended our body consciousness. Though having achieved Videha, we are not yet “there.”

Now comes a category of aspirants who have gone a step beyond videha. Through their dedicated practice and developing dispassion, they have risen above their body consciousness and also gained a high level of mastery over their minds. They have mastered the art of casting off the body voluntarily and remain absorbed until a suitable body is available. They are called prakritilaya.

If our journey is interrupted by death after we have reached this state of physical transcendence, then divine providence ensures that during the next birth we will get everything we need to start our journey from exactly where we stopped. It is about such aspirants that we hear of “miracles.”

Now does this mean that others who haven’t attained the videha or prakritilaya in previous births cannot reach the Asampradnyaat samadhi?

To answer this, Sage Patanjali quotes-

श्रद्धावीर्यस्मृतिसमाधिप्रज्ञापूर्वक इतरेषाम्॥२०॥

Translation: Objectless meditation (asamprajnata samadhi) is preceded by Faith, Energy, Mindfulness, meditation and Wisdom for those not born as Yogis.

This Sutra outlines the key personal commitments needed in life as well as to follow the path of yoga.

  1. FAITH: Conscious faith in the Goal and Faithful certainty on the Path of Yoga is what matters the most. Learning by direct experience will enhance trust in this Path further leading to better execution.
  2. ENERGY: Directing one’s energy towards practices of Yoga, study, meditation and determination is the second stage.  Knowing when to replenish energy, balance energy and give energy.
  1. MEMORY:Remembering the commitment to the Path of Yoga in conditions becomes important to stay away from distractions. Thinking about the fruits of the journey when the struggles and challenges are difficult helps one to stay focused. Repeatedly calming the mind, cultivating an open compassionate attitude and maintaining mindfulness at all times will finally lead to the Goal.
  1. MEDITATION:Commitment to meditation practices matters the most in this journey.  Learning the modifications of the mind, observing and deepening the journey is the entire process of self-realization.
  1. WISDOM:The real knowledge gained through experiences of meditation, study and retrospection is what converts our learnings into wisdom for journey.

What I perceive from the combination of the above 2 aphorisms is that though set 1 of people as stated in aphorism 19 have it a bit easier to reach the Asampradnyat Samadhi, others can still achieve the same level and results by following the 5 personal commitments.

To me, Sage Patanjali seems like the most practical teacher who enlightens the aspirants with the practical paths while making aware of existing miraculous paths. This makes him one of the most rational teacher whose teachings can transit easily through all ages and generations.

With the help of such priceless pearls of wisdom, let us all nourish and beautify our lives.

For any queries or discussion on above content or Yogsutras, get in touch with me at sahna@pravaahwellness.com.

 

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