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: 2.12 and 2.15 – 2.17. In sutra 2.12, Patanjali highlights the relationship between karma and the klesas. In sutras 2.15 – 2.17, he focuses on the relationship between duhkha (suffering) and viveka (discrimination leading to the removal of suffering).

Sutra 2.12: kleśa-mūlaḥ karma-āśayo dṛṣta-adṛṣta-janma-vedanīyah

The womb of karmas (actions and reactions) has its root in these obstacles, and the karmas bring experiences in the seen [present] or in the unseen [future] births (Swami Satchidananda translation). The residue of karma, the latent impressions produced by past actions, is rooted in the klesas. The effect of these impressions is experienced in present or future births (Rev. Jaganath translation).

kleśa = left untranslated; root obstacle  (See 1.24)

mūlaḥ = rooted; firmly fixed, lowest part or bottom of anything, basis, foundation, cause, origin, beginning, derived from, a temporary owner
from mūl = to be rooted or firm

karma = left untranslated; actions and reactions (See 1.24, 2.12, 3.23, 4.7, 4.30); Refer to 1.24 for more on karma.

By knowing that life experiences are caused by our own thoughts, words, and deeds, our struggle for happiness and fulfillment becomes an internal one, largely independent of external circumstances. This also means that we always have and have had the keys to peace, harmony, and happiness within us. In Yoga theory, the fruits of previous acts are stored in the mind in the form of subconscious seeds of merit or demerit. They remain there, inactive, until the appropriate circumstances allow them to ripen and bloom as experiences of social status, length of life, and enjoyment.  (See 2.13)

The most important lesson taught by karma is that our fate is ultimately in our own hands. This knowledge neutralizes mindsets of victimhood, resentment, and hatred.

 āśayaḥ = residue; reservoir, resting place, bed, seat, place, abode, retreat, receptacle, any vessel in the body, the seat of feelings and thoughts, the mind, heart, soul, thought, meaning, intention  (See 1.24)

dṛṣta = seen; present  (See 1.15)

adṛṣta = unseen; future  (See 1.15)

janma = births; existence, life
from jan = to beget, to be born, come into existence

vedanīyah = experienced; to be felt, to be known
from vid = to know

Sutra 2.15:  pariṇāma-tāpa-saṃskāra-dukḥair guṇa-vṛitti-vīrodhāc ca duḥkḥa eva sarvaṃ vivekinaḥ

To one of discrimination, everything is painful indeed, due to its consequences: the anxiety and fear over losing what is gained; the resulting impressions left in the mind to create renewed cravings; and the constant conflict among the three gunas, which control the mind (Swami Satchidananda translation).
Those who investigate the ways of life find that pain, sorrow, dissatisfaction, and a feeling of persistent, pervasive precariousness are surely a part of all experiences. This is duhkha. It is due to:

  • Fear over losing what is gained
  • The impermanence of all things
  • Subconscious habit patterns (samskaras) created under the influence of ignorance that sustains craving and ignorance
  • Changes of mood and mindset due to the interplay of the forces of nature (gunas) that vie for dominance in the mind (Rev. Jaganath translation)

pariṇāma = change; alteration, transformation, evolution, development, ripeness, maturity, digestion, consequence, result (See 2.15, 3.9, 3.11, 3.13, 3.15, 3.16, 4.2, 4.14, 4.32. 4.33)
from pari = around, fully, abundantly + nam = to bend or bow

As is evident by the number of cross-references for parinama, it is a central principle in the Yoga Sutras. Always associated with dynamism and energy, it is the principle of evolution or transformation, the changes in the form of an object, the passage of time, and the emergence of latent qualities in objects and beings.

The oak tree is latent in the acorn. Due to external circumstances, such as weather and the passage of time, the acorn eventually sprouts and grows. Its growth — tall and straight or crooked — are determined by its innate impulse to grow modified by external circumstances.

Parinama also applies to attaining liberation. That which we seek is already fully present within each of us. The application of Yoga theory and practice creates the optimum environment for this evolution to take place.

tāpa = sorrow, anxiety; pain, angst, hardship (See 2.1, 2.15, 2.32, 2.43, 4.1)
from tap = to burn, be hot; refer to 2.1 for more on tapa.

saṃskāra = left untranslated ; subconscious impression left by action  (See 1.18, 1.50, 2.15, 3.9, 3.10, 3.18, 4.9, 4.27); refer to 1.18 for more on samskara.

duhkḥair = left untranslated; dissatisfaction, pain  (See 1.31, 1.33, 2.5, 2.15, 2.16, 2.34); refer to 1.31 for more on duhkha.

guṇa = left untranslated; qualities of nature, strand, thread, quality; refer to 1.16 for more on guna.

vṛitti = left untranslated ; fluctuation, modification, turning, referring to the gunas  (See 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 1.10, 1.41, 2.11, 3.44, 4.18); refer to 1.2 for more on vritti.

Here, vritti can be understood as the mind being subject to mood changes.

vīrodhāt = contradictory; conflict, opposition, hostility, adversity, strife between, hostile contact of inanimate objects (like planets), inconsistency, incompatibility, hindrance, prevention, misfortune, an apparent       contradiction or incompatibility, an impediment to the successful progress of a plot
from vi = away, asunder + rudh = to stop, obstruct

ca = (refers to the items in the list) and

duḥkḥa = pain; dissatisfaction, a persistent, pervasive feeling of precariousness  (See 1.31, 1.33, 2.5, 2.15, 2.16, 2.34); refer to 1.31 for more on duhkha.

eva = surely; indeed, thus

sarvaṃ = everything; all, entire, every, of all sorts, various, different, completely
possibly from sara = stretching out, extension, or from sa’ra = substance or essence or  marrow or heart, or the essential part of anything

vivekinaḥ = investigate; discrimination, discernment, distinguishing, right knowledge, wise, separated, kept asunder, examining, judicious, prudent (See 2.15, 2.26, 2.28, 3.53, 3.55, 4.26. 4.29)
from vi = asunder + vekin, from vic = divide, asunder, distinguish, sift + in = possessive suffix

Viveka in the context of Yoga is the mental state which is capable of discerning what is true from what is false, what is permanent from what is fleeting, what brings suffering from what does not.

In its highest state, viveka is the ability to discern the Self from the self — the power to separate the invisible Spirit (consciousness, Purusha) — from the visible world (prakriti). It is having clear, objective vision — the ability to distinguish and classify things according to their real properties.

Patanjali will tell us in sutra 2.26 that viveka is the method to remove ignorance and the pain it causes. We might think that such a vital piece of information would appear much earlier in his text. Most likely, it appears here because, to attain the necessary discernment to realize that duhkha is a pervasive persistent fact of life, is not easy. It requires that the mind:

  • Has been well informed (right knowledge, 1.7)
  • Has attained some degree of nonattachment (1.15 and 1.16)
  • Has learned to deal with obstacles (1.32, 2.3)
  • Has become grounded in attitudes that cultivate clarity of awareness in daily life (1.33)
  • Has attained a good measure of contemplative focus (1.34 – 1.39)

This approach to attaining viveka is expanded beginning with sutra 2.28, the prelude to the eight limbs of Yoga.

Sutra 2.16: heyaṃ duḥkham anāgataṃ

Pain that has not yet come is avoidable (Swami Satchidananda translation). The duhkha that has not yet come can be avoided (Rev. Jaganath translation).

heyaṃ = avoided; destroyed  (See 2.10)
from ha = to leave, desert, avoid, or abandon

duḥkha = dissatisfaction, pain; a persistent, pervasive feeling of precariousness  (See 1.31, 1.33, 2.5, 2.15, 2.16, 2.34); refer to 1.31 for more on duhkha.

anāgataṃ = not yet come; not arrived, future, not attained, not learned, unknown
from an = not + ā = unto + gam = to go

Sutra 2.17: draṣṭṛ-dṛśyayoḥ saṃYogaḥ heya-hetuh

The cause of that avoidable pain is the union of the Seer (Purusha) and the Seen (Prakriti or Nature) (Swami Satchidananda translation). The dissatisfaction and suffering (duḥkha) that can be prevented is caused by confusing the nature of the Seer with that of the seen (Rev. Jaganath translation).

draṣṭṛ = Seer  (See 1.3)

dṛśyayoḥ = seen; that which is visible
from dṛṣ = to see

 saṃYogaḥ = confusing; union, correlation, joining, combination, connection, sexual union, absorption with, a kind of alliance or peace made between two kings with a common objective
from sam = together, with, completely, absolutely + Yoga = union, junction, addition, total, partaking of, putting on, application or concentration of thoughts, wealth, team, lucky conjuncture, diligence, strategy, disposition, device, any act conducive to concentrating the mind, combination, application, work, discipline, attaching, devotion, vehicle, original  meaning of a word, contact with, from yuj = yoke (See 2.17, 2.23, 2.25)

This apparent — not real — union of Seer and seen is not a permanent, irreversible state. A coming together now means falling apart in the future. In nature, all things formed from a combination of elements, eventually return to a more fundamental state — the elements separate.

It is important to understand that the contact, union, or conjunction referred to here is like the contact of a stone with water. The water cannot pervade the stone, yet the water does obscure the stone’s nature. We can’t truly know the qualities of the stone until it is viewed out of water. Similarly, the Seer is never  polluted or changed by its conjunction with the seen, but we need to be able to experience the Seer without the distorting lens of the seen.

In Ayurveda, the traditional healing modality of India, disease is defined as duhkha-samYoga: contact with physical and mental unpleasantness.

heya = that can be avoided; to be avoided, to be ended, to be gone, to be subtracted, to be left behind, to reject  (See 2.10)

hetuh = cause; motive, reason (See 2.14)
from hi = impel, incite

Spiritual traditions such as Yoga contain the remedy that ends the confusion of Seer and seen. This ends duhkha and leads to liberation.


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.