Rev. Jaganath, Integral Yoga Minister and Raja Yoga master teacher, has spent a lifetime delving into the deepest layers of meaning in Patanjali’s words within the Yoga Sutras. Our series continues with sutras: 2.9 through 2.11. In these sutras, Patanjali addresses the 5th klesa (spiritual impediment), abhinivesah (clinging to life) and pratiprasava, the restoration of the mind to its original state, undisturbed by the klesas. This goal of Yoga may be accomplished through meditation.
Sutra 2.9: svarasa-vāhī viduṣo api tathā rūdha abhiniveśaḥ
Clinging to life, flowing by its own potency [due to past experience], exists even in the wise (Swami Satchidananda translation). Clinging to life arises even in the wise and learned. It persists because it is innate (Rev. Jaganath translation).
svarasa = innate; by its own potency, own inclination, natural or peculiar flavor, instinct for self-preservation, agreeable or pleasant to one’s taste
from sva = own + rasa = inclination or taste, from ras = taste; literally, with its own juice or essence.
vāhī = persists; carried, flowing, sustained, borne
from vah = to flow, carry, sustain
Svarasa + vahi indicate that the will to live (or fear of annihilation) is carried from birth to birth by its own power. In other words, it is a fear that is considered as part of human nature.
viduṣo = learned; wise person, sage, one who knows, educated, very learned, knowing, perfectly educated, advanced in spiritual knowledge, one who knows the inconvenience of material existence, learned philosophers, scientists, politicians, those learned in Vedic knowledge, to be completely aware of a fact
from vid = to know
Let’s unpack viduso to get a better sense of the richness of this sutra. Viduso is a form of the word: vidvan or vidwan. It refers to an expert and the term has the sense of a doctoral degree. More importantly, for our studies, it refers to one who is an expert in the Vedas or who has a highly developed discriminative capacity. This drives home the point that clinging to life is impervious to book learning and philosophical prowess.
api = even; also
tathā = because; thus, so, in that way
rūdha = arises; exists, sprung up, produced from, sprouting, rooted, established
from rūh = ascend, rise, spring up
abhiniveśaḥ = clinging to life; desire for continuity, persistence, determination, application, intentness, study, affection, the determination to achieve a purpose or attain an object, tenacity, adherence to, application, intentness, study, affection, with devotion, tenacity, adherence to (see 2.3)
from abhi = to toward + ni = down, into + veśa, from viś = enter, dwell; to enter toward and then into
The abhi here is the same as the root for abhyasa, practice, which implies repetition. Abhinivesah, the desire for continuity of life, pops up repeatedly. It is the major source of existential angst.
Sutra 2.10: te pratiprasava-heyāḥ sūkṣmaḥ
In subtle form, these obstacles can be destroyed by resolving them back into their primal cause [the ego] (Swami Satchidananda translation). The root causes of suffering (klesas) are overcome in their subtle form (subconscious impressions) when the mind returns to its original, pure state. (Rev. Jaganath translation).
te = (refers to the kleśas); these
pratiprasava = return to its original state; resolving back into their cause, return to the original state, disassociation from the creation process, counter-order, inverse propagation, to resolve to a more elementary form, withdrawal from manifestation (See 2.10, 4.34)
from prati = against, back + prasava = creation, beginning, pressing out, setting or being set in motion, impulse, course, rush, flight, stimulation, pursuit, begetting, procreation, generation, conception, delivery, birth, augmentation, from pra = before, forward + sava = pressing out, from su = generate, impel
Nothing in any of the Hindu philosophies admits to nonexistence. Something that exists, that manifests, eventually returns to the unmanifest state from which it arose. Matter never becomes nonexistent. The same is true for the mind, which is subtle matter. This means that the essence of the mind can never be truly nonexistent, but it can return to its source. This returning to the source is pratiprasava.
Pratiprasava is the end game of spirituality, the mind resolving back into its source, unmanifest matter. It is again described in sutra 4.34, but in a more cosmic sense in which the entire universe — all of the gunas — return to their origin, a state of equilibrium.
Pratiprasava does not describe the end of the universe. Instead, it is a personal transcendent experience in which the mind, by ending its misidentification with prakriti, is resolved or returns to its origin — unmanifest prakriti.
Pratiprasava is the transcending of self-centered mentality. Ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion, and clinging to bodily life are overcome when the gunas (manifested as the mind) return to a state of equilibrium. This is a state in which the need to find support, comfort, guidance, and self-value through the acquisitive nature of the world is transcended. The yogi has learned that gaining worldly position and possessions are in and of themselves powerless to give the depth of meaning, fulfillment, and happiness that we seek.
This is not a rejection of the world, but a state of freedom in which both the joys and challenges of life are put into perspective. This same principle is echoed in the New Testament, Matthew 11:28, Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Rest should not be misinterpreted as a break. It is a coming home to Source, a direct experience of one’s source and essence. Self-realization is usually preceded by knowing well the weariness of the burdens that we carry, burdens born of hopes and of expectations that prakriti cannot deliver.
Our discussion of pratiprasava has focused on the recognition of the grand cycle from the source of creation to emergence or birth, to evolution and then back to source. There is also a personal dimension to pratiprasava that expresses as gratitude. As we become aware of the gifts we have been given in this life: intelligence, kindness, friends, life partners, health, prosperity, a rewarding career, etc., the only proper response is gratitude. Appreciation should not be limited to verbal thank yous, but should express as the good we can do in this world. We bless others as we have been blessed.
A life grounded in gratitude puts us in harmony with the subtle and grand cycles of creation and forms a lifetime foundation for our spiritual pursuits. Scientists who study happiness note that gratitude is one of the most important predictors of a happy life.
heyāḥ = overcome; destroyed, to be avoided, to be gone, to be left, quieted or abandoned, to be rejected, to be avoided, to be subtracted
from ha = to leave, desert, avoid, abandon, quit, forsake, shun, lay aside, give up, renounce, refrain from, to lose, escape from, to disregard, to come to an end
sūkṣmaḥ = subtle; minute, small, fine, thin, narrow, short, insignificant, unimportant, acute, keen, exact, precise, atomic, intangible matter, subtle all-pervading spirit, Supreme Soul, marrow, the Vedanta philosophy (See 1.44)
Sutra 2.11: dhyāna-heyās tad-vṛittayaḥ
In the active state, they can be destroyed by meditation (Swami Satchidananda translation). In their gross, active manifestations they can be overcome by meditation. (Rev. Jaganath translation).
dhyāna = meditation (See 1.39, 3.2, 3.11, 3.29, 4.6); refer to 1.39 for more on dhyana.
heyās = overcome; refer to 2.10 for more on heyas.
tad = they; that, those
vṛittayaḥ = active state; fluctuations of individual consciousness, the whirling excursions of the mind ; refer to 1.2 for more on vritti.
The active state referred to is the typical state of vritti activity functioning under the influence of ignorance. Meditation helps quiet the endless turning of thought. The root causes of suffering begin to lose their hold over our state of mind through meditation.
About the Author:
Reverend Jaganath Carrera is and Integral Yoga Minister and the founder/spiritual head of Yoga Life Society. He is a direct disciple of world renowned Yoga master and leader in the interfaith movement, Sri Swami Satchidananda—the founder and spiritual guide of Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville and Integral Yoga International. Rev. Jaganath has taught at universities, prisons, Yoga centers, and interfaith programs both in the USA and abroad. He was a principal instructor of both Hatha and Raja Yoga for the Integral Yoga Teacher Training Certification Programs for over twenty years and co-wrote the training manual used for that course. He established the Integral Yoga Ministry and developed the highly regarded Integral Yoga Meditation and Raja Yoga Teacher Training Certification programs. He served for eight years as chief administrator of Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville and founded the Integral Yoga Institute of New Brunswick, NJ. He is also a spiritual advisor and visiting lecturer on Hinduism for the One Spirit Seminary in New York City. Reverend Jaganath is the author of Inside the Yoga Sutras: A Sourcebook for the Study and Practice of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, published by Integral Yoga Publications. His latest book, Patanjali’s Words, is coming soon from Integral Yoga Publications.