Yoga-sutras (Ancient and Modern Interpretations)

by Makarand Gopal Newalkar | 2017 | 82,851 words | ISBN-13: 9780893890926

Yoga-sutras 1.33-40 [Cittaprasadana—Calming and purifying the mind], English translation with modern and ancient interpretation. The Patanjali Yogasutras describe an ancient Indian tradition spanning over 5000 years old dealing with Yoga:—Meditating the mind on the Atma leading to the realization of self. This study interprets the Yogasutras in light of both ancient and modern commentaries (e.g., Vyasa and Osho) while supporting both Sankhya and Vedanta philosophies.

Sūtra 1.33-40 [Cittaprasādana—Calming and purifying the mind]

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration and English translation of sūtra 1.33-40 [cittaprasādana—calming and purifying the mind]:

मैत्रीकरुणामुदितोपेक्षाणां सुखदुःखपुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां भावनातश्चित्तप्रसादनम् ॥ १.३३ ॥
प्रच्छर्दनविधारणाभ्यां वा प्राणस्य ॥ १.३४ ॥
विषयवती वा प्रवृत्तिरुत्पन्ना मनसः स्थितिनिबन्धिनी ॥ १.३५ ॥
विशोका वा ज्योतिष्मती ॥ १.३६ ॥
वीतरागविषयं वा चित्तम् ॥ १.३७ ॥
स्वप्ननिद्राज्ञानालम्बनं वा ॥ १.३८ ॥
यथाभिमतध्यानाद्वा ॥ १.३९ ॥
परमाणु परममहत्त्वान्तोऽस्य वशीकारः ॥ १.४० ॥

maitrīkaruṇāmuditopekṣāṇāṃ sukhaduḥkhapuṇyāpuṇyaviṣayāṇāṃ
|| 1.33 ||
pracchardanavidhāraṇābhyāṃ vā prāṇasya || 1.34 ||
viṣayavatī vā pravṛttirutpannā manasaḥ sthitinibandhinī || 1.35 ||
viśokā vā jyotiṣmatī || 1.36 ||
vītarāgaviṣayaṃ vā cittam || 1.37 ||
svapnanidrājñānālambanaṃ vā || 1.38 ||
yathābhimatadhyānādvā || 1.39 ||
paramāṇu paramamahattvānto'sya vaśīkāraḥ || 1.40 ||

(33) The mind becomes purified by the cultivation of feelings of amity, compassion, goodwill and indifference respectively towards happy, miserable, virtuous and sinful creatures. (34) By exhaling and restraining the breath also (the mind is calmed). (35) The development of higher objective perceptions called viśayavatī, also brings about tranquility of mind. (36) Or by perception which is free from sorrow and is radiant (stability of mind can also be produced). (37) Or (contemplating) on a mind which is free from desires (the devotee’s mind gets stabilized). (38) Or by taking as the object of meditation the images of dreams or the state of dreamless Sleep (the mind of the Yogī gets stabilized). (39) Or by contemplating on whatsoever thing one may like (the mind becomes stable). (40) When the mind develops the power of stabilizing on the smallest size as well as on the greatest one, then the mind comes under control.

Ancient and Modern interpretation:

Through sūtras I.33 to I.40, Patañjali suggests several alternative methods of cittaprasādana (calming and purifying the mind). Let us study the analysis of these sūtras by Vyāsa.

As a first step, a spirit of friendliness should be entertained towards those who have experienced happiness, a spirit of compassion towards those who are in distress, a spirit of goodwill towards those who are walking the path of virtue and indifference towards those who are steeped in vice. Such an approach gives rise to pious thoughts, cleaner virtue and makes the mind calm and pure. Once the mind is purified, it can become one pointed and attain serenity.

Typically, our response to others in their time of happiness, misery etc. is that of envy, jealousy, hatred, anger and malevolence. This disturbs the mind and prevent it from attaining concentration. Thus, by cultivating feelings of amity, compassion, indifference etc. the mind can be made tranquil and one pointed. Alternatively, the mind can also be calmed and purified through exhaling and restraining the breath. Exhaling is expulsion of air through the nose with special effort. Restraining or prāṇāyāma is retention of the breath. For every effort for control of breath, the mind should be made one pointed, with a particular thought with every inhalation. The breath should be attuned to a conception of the void. Exhalation with such thought calms the mind.

Alternatively,the development of higher objective perceptions called viśayavatī, also brings about the tranquility of the mind. Here the term viśayavatī or relating to objects refers to the objects of the senses. Vyas says[1] the subtle perception of smell when concentrating on the tip of the nose is a higher smell perception. Similarly, concentration on the tip of the tongue, gives super sensuous taste, on the palate, super sensuous colour on the tongue, super sensuous touch and at the root of the tongue, super sensuous sound respectively. The awakening of these higher perceptions stabilizes the mind firmly, removes doubts and forms the gateway to the knowledge acquirable through concentration.

Contemplation on innermost core of heart brings about knowledge of buddhi.If one suatains that contemplation for very long period, it develops perception of buddhi as a luminous jewel or effulgent sun, moon or planet.Also this mind engrossed in pure I-sense appears like a waveless ocean,placid and limitless, which is pure I-sense all over. This higher perception named viśokā is twofold,[2] one relating to objects and other relating to pure I-sense.They are called jyotiṣmatī (effulgent) through which mind of Yogīn attains stability.

Yogīn can get mind stabilized by meditation on a passionless (free from desires) mind or by contemplation on images of dreams or the state of dreamless sleep or by practising meditation on any selected object.[3]

Contemplating on subtle things such as tanmātra,[4] mind can attain stability on the minutest.Similarly contemplating on the quality of greatness it can stabilize on infinitely great which is limitless. By meditating on two extremes,mind acquires unimpeded power of holding on any object it desires.This way mind attains perfection and does not need any other means for gaining stability.

Osho has translated the sūtras related to cittaprasādana as -

“(33) The mind becomes tranquil by cultivating attitudes of friendliness towards the happy, compassion towards the miserable, joy towards the virtuous and indifference towards the evil.

(34) The mind also becomes tranquil by alternately expelling and retaining the breath.

(35) When meditation produces extraordinary sense perceptions, the mind gains confidence and this helps perseverance.

(36) Also meditate on the inner light which is beyond all sorrow.

(37) Also, meditate on one who has attained desirelessness.

(38) Also meditate on knowledge that comes during sleep.

(39) Also, meditate on anything that appeals to you.

(40) Thus, the Yogī becomes master of all, from the infinitesimal to the infinite.”

Osho explains the above sūtras in a very lucid way. All of us have natural attitudes. Whenever we see somebody happy, we feel jealous and miserable. A jealous or a miserable mind cannot be tranquil. When we see somebody happy, we think as if that happiness has been taken away from us. Happiness is not a competition. If somebody is happy, does not mean that you cannot be happy. Happiness exists in infinite quantity and cannot be exhausted. If we feel friendly towards somebody who is happy, in a subtle way, you start sharing that happiness. Happiness is sharable. It does not depend on sharing by the person who is happy. Like when the Sun rises, you feel happy and it has nothing to do with Sun (who cannot do anything about your being happy) Osho says being friendly about happiness is the secret of creating a heaven around you. Whenever there is misery or hell, you are the cause of it. Osho says that you become friendly with unhappy people, because it makes you feel superior to them in comparison. However, the effect is exactly the reverse. More you associate with the people lower than you, lower you fall. Therefore, seek the company of those higher than you in wisdom, happiness and tranquility and use it as a ladder for your own happiness.

Feel compassionate towards the miserable. There is difference between compassion and friendly. In being friendly, you would like to be the same as the other person. Compassion is the quality, where you would like to give helping hand to the miserable, without you being wanting to be miserable yourself. Compassion and sympathy are also two different things. When you are sympathetic, you start loving the misery and not the miserable. Help the person come out of his misery but don’t love misery. Because once you love misery, sooner or later you will be miserable too.

Whenever you feel somebody is virtuous, feel joyful. Normally opposite happens. We immediately start criticizing a virtuous man and start finding faults with him. Whenever you criticize a virtuous man, you are criticizing the virtue. This happens because the ego does not allow us to consider other person to be more virtuous than self. It is easier to believe in the negatives quickly compared to positives. A very apt example of this trait is given by Osho. Christianity could not prove that Jesus is the son of God for over two thousand years but within seconds it was proved that he was as sinner, a vagabond and was killed. Negative is always believed easily because it helps the ego. By not cultivating the attitude of joy for the virtuous, a belief is created that the virtue is impossible. There is no need to attempt to prove it. You then fall, and growth becomes impossible.

The next is Indifference towards evil. Patañjali has used the word upekṣā. Don’t condemn evil. Osho says[5], as per the inner dynamics of the mind, if you pay too much attention to evil, you become attuned to it. Best way is to be not judgmental, be indifferent. Judge ye not … as Jesus said.[6] Osho cites[7] the law of Hypnosis by great Hypnotist, Emile Coue.

It is also called the law of reverse effect. It states that,

‘If you are much against something, you will become a victim of it.’

When a new person is learning to ride a bicycle, he will always crash his cycle against a milestone despite that the road was wide and empty. This behavior is explained by the fear point that the new learner holds with the milestone. He perceives the milestone to be a danger, immediately his mind stuff becomes engulfed with this idea and develops affinity towards it.

Another example Osho gives, is that of the monks living in monasteries and their hypnosis for Sex. Therefore, the best policy is to cultivate the quality of indifference to anything that is wrong. Indifference does not mean apathy. It means ‘no attitude’ or ‘it does not exist’. The method of being friendly with the happy, compassionate with the miserable, joyous with the virtuous and indifferent towards the evil are about the transformative aspects of the mind towards the super mind. However, if it does not suit a seeker, Patañjali gives other alternatives too.

‘The mind also becomes tranquil by alternatively expelling and retaining the breath’, this is the physiological approach. Breathing and thinking is interconnected deeply. Two sides of the same coin. When breathing changes, thinking changes. This is very easily explained that when one is angry the breathing becomes non-rhythmic. Similarly, when one is happy and contented, the breathing is regular, steady and rhythmic. Therefore, as much as mind controls the breath, vice versa is equally true. Breathing makes the mind. Breathing forces the endocrine glands secrete and release chemicals in the blood that either aids or suppresses the emotions. This is the fight or flight mechanism of the body. Osho explains that make a rhythm out of exhaling, inhaling and retaining of breath. Exhale totally and inhale totally. Create a rhythm out of it so that the mind is completely diverted from the mental activity of anger, hate or any other such negative emotions as it gets engrossed in the activity of breathing.Thus, breathing is the key and with rhythmic breathing one can create any climate that one wishes.

Osho says[8] Once the breathing pattern is worked out, the sādhaka can find the secret keys for changing the climate of the mind and the way to change the moods. Further if one tries to be friendly towards the happy and indifferent towards the evil and continue to change the breathing patterns, there will be change in the extraordinary perceptions. He cites an example of a Poet. Where one sees an ordinary tree or a cloud, a poet sees something extraordinarily beautiful. This happens due to the changes in the composition of body chemicals in a poet’s body. It is an inbuilt mechanism for him. Likewise, when a Yogī changes his attitude and his breathing pattern is altered, goes through a chemical transformation and then he is bestowed with extraordinary sense perceptions. His clarity of perception changes. The Yogī becomes confident on the right path chosen by him.

Once the perceptions are extraordinarily clear, one can close the eyes and can see a beautiful flame near the heart. It was always there but one could not see it before due to unclear perceptions. This inner light has been captured by Kirlian, a Russian photographer, during the death of a person.[9] This is akin to a person entering from sunny afternoon outside, into a room and is unable to see anything initially. Once the eyes get accustomed to the darkness, everything is clear to him.

In the explanations of the above sūtras I.33 to I.36, Osho indicates that these means of cittaprasādana and its effects are to be considered serially rather than parallelly, as indicated by word va which most other commentators have analyzed as ‘optional’ or ‘alternatives’.

A vītarāga is one who has gone beyond all desires. Mahāvīra, Buddha or such persons who have gone beyond all desires are vītarāgas. Meditation on such people also helps in making the mind tranquil because they become a magnetic force for the meditator. Constant meditation on such a person, can convert a meditator into the object of meditation. As you think, so you become. It is therefore essential to always think positive, pay attention to what is right lest any negativity will make you negative.

Also, meditate on knowledge that comes during sleep. Mind has three dimensions. Conscious, unconscious and superconscious. Sleep and dreams belong to the unconscious mind. As per Osho,[10] sleep is an activity with its own positivity and when you meditate on it, mysteries of sleep are revealed. Dreaming during the sleep is also a tremendous activity. Sleep can bring about much knowledge because it is the repository of past many lives.

There are five types of dream. The first type is ‘Rubbish’ and 90% of the dreams are rubbish. Just like the body gathers dust and rubbish in wakeful state, the conscious mind accumulates a lot of rubbish during the wakeful day. The mechanism of the conscious mind to remove this dust is through rubbish dreams. The second type of dreams is ‘wish fulfillment’. These types of dreams are in fulfillment of our basic needs and hunger, which cannot be fulfilled during the wakeful state due to societal taboos, pressures etc. by the unconscious mind. The third type of dreams is the communication from the superconscious mind. This type is rare and can be experienced only with heightened state of alertness. These dreams become guidance to lead to the master. The fourth type of dream comes from the past lives. It is through these dreams one becomes aware of the past lives. Through these dreams the theory of reincarnation came about. In this dream one moves backwards in time. The fifth type of dream is going forward in time -into the future. Through meditation on sleep, one becomes aware of the inner being.

Also meditate on anything that appeals to you. It could be a flower, a moon or anything that fancies the meditator. Meditation should not be a forced effort. If it is forced, it is doomed from the very beginning. The difference between Concentration and meditation is that concentration is a forced effort whereas meditation is natural. Once the meditator starts meditating on the object of his choice, his whole being starts flowing. The mind calms down.

Thus, the Yogī becomes master of all, from the infinitesimal to the infinite. Osho says[11] From the smallest to the grossest, he becomes master of all. Meditation is the door to the infinite power. Meditation is the door to the superconscious. Osho advocates to move into the depths of the unconscious by becoming more and more aware during waking hours and gradually gather more awareness to move into superconscious. He likens this process to ‘heating of water’ from ice. The ice upon heating first melts into water. It becomes warm. After continued heating, the water starts boiling and eventually evaporates. There is a qualitative change from quantitative change. The dimension also changes from horizontal to vertical. In the similar manner, the more one increases the awareness in the waking state, a certain degree of heat/energy is generated. This energy makes one move to the unconscious. With further deepening of awareness during unconscious state, more effort is required, and more energy is created. Suddenly, one enters in the state of superconscious, against the gravity and becomes weightless. Superconscious is of the nature of omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. This is that stage where a Yogī becomes master of all as per Patañjali.

Footnotes and references:


Araṇya, op.cit, p.80


Ibid., p.83


Ibid., p.85-87, sūtra I.37-39


Ibid., p.87


Osho, op. cit., p.259.


Bible,Matthew 7.1


Osho, op. cit, p.259.


Ibid., p.270


Ibid., p.272


Osho, Yoga Moving to the Center, Fusion Books, New Delhi, 2003, p.5


Ibid., p.22

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