Yoga-sutras (Ancient and Modern Interpretations)

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

This page relates ‘Vibhuti-pada and Vibhuti-yoga (Introduction)’ of the English translation of the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali: 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.

Vibhūti-pāda and Vibhūti-yoga (Introduction)

In the Sādhana pāda, Patañjali has given guidelines to beginners on the methods of sādhanā. Patañjali has dealt with following important topics of sādhanā. He has discussed the kriyā-yoga-sādhanā for beginners.

He has prescribed aṣṭāṅgayogasādhanā for attainment of mokṣa.

In the third chapter called Vibhūtipāda, he has discussed antaraṅgayogasādhanā, its effects on transformation of citta and siddhis. Due to observance of yama, niyama, āsana and prāṇāyāma, the mind slowly get disinterested towards outside objects and pratyāhāra starts automatically. The jñānendriyas should be disconnected from their objects and turned inwards in pratyāhāra. Normally for a common person the mind is always directed outside through sense organs. So, by pratyāhāra, awakening of inward consciousness (pratyak cetanā) is an important milestone in the yogasādhanā.

Arjuna says in Bhagavadgītā,[1]

“The mind verily is, O Kṛṣṇa, restless, turbulent, strong and unyielding; I deem it quite as difficult to control as the wind.”

It is very difficult to control mind. Generally, scientists, painters, writers, poets or great artists are always so much engrossed in their respective field, that they are aloof and away from normal exernal world. They love their hobby or skill so much that they donot wish to get dissociated from the same. When they wish to run away from normal life, they resort to drinking or other bad habits.

Here a writer or painter or scientist also concentrates on one subject, but his concentration does not stop at one thought. But in dhāraṇā we concentrate on one thought and then try to focus inside.

In dhyāna there is uninteruptted flow of mind towards object of contemplation. This is a virgin state of silence with individualized mind being there. In state of samādhi, dhāraṇā and dhyāna get dissolved and in state of saṃyama, the three-fold energies prakāśa-kriyā-sthiti (triguṇas) are dissolved along with individualized mind.

Then the potential powers contained in human biological form which are called, vibhūtis emerge. That is why this chapter is named as vibhūtipāda where Patañjali explains how the triple power of saṃyama can be focused on certain locations in the external world or certain locations in human body and arouse these potential powers / siddhis.

The word vibhūti is explained in Ṛgveda [2] as:

ekam vā idam vibhāva sarvam |

“Indeed, all this is one that has become diverse.”

This refers to diversity of creation within a unity as emphasizes in the rest of the mantra. So, concept of vibhūti in Ṛgvedic sense as ‘varieties of being’, i.e. just as one divine being manifest varieties and diversities in his/her being, so also does the yogī in his own being.

In Bhagvadgītā tenth chapter, titled vibhūtiyoga, wherein the prominent amongst certain species or class is called a ‘ vibhūti (X.6 and X.7).

Principally these vibhūtis are[3]

a) Seven ṛṣis: the personified representation of the seven seers, as found in the Purāṇas, when understood subjectively are ego, intellect and five sense stimuli, which together constitute the world experienced by each one of us and,

b) The Four ancients and manu s who formulated the laws of behaviour, private and public, for every one of us to be a decent person -as a member of the family, of the community, of the nation and of the world. It is described in the Purāṇas that Brahmā, the creator at the beginning of the universe produced out of his own mind, four eternal boys (kumāras)—Sanatkumāra, Sanaka, Sanātana and Sanandana. In essence, they are constituting the subtle body (antaḥkaraṇa) the four inner instruments viz., intellect, mind, ego and cit. Thus, the macrocosmic (samaṣṭi) and the microcosmic (vyaṣṭi) causes of creation have been indicated as vibhūti.

In further elaboration of vibhūtis, Lord Kṛṣṇa explains his emmanace and transcendence to Arjuna through various examples such as–

1) He is the beginning, the middle and also end of all beings,

2) He is Viṣṇu among the Ādityas, Marīci among the Maruts and the moon among the asteroids

3) He is Sāmaveda among the Vedas, Vāsava among the Gods, etc. Siddhis are not miracles, but should be treated as accomplishesments or attainments and are effects of manifestations of states of higher consciousness. But sādhaka should keep in mind their limitations and continue with his sādhanā without getting entangled into their trap.

There is slight difficulty in understanding these sūtras and the exact significance of words used by Patañjali. He has also given some vague expressions or blinds to prevent overambitious sādhakas from injuring themselves by dangerous / wrong practice.[4]

Footnotes and references:


Bhagavadgītā, VI.34 ca-Mcala M ih manaÁ k-RYNa pm`aaiqa balavadd-RZma\ | tsyaah-M inaga`h-M manyao vaayaaoirva saudu-Ykrma\ ||


Rigveda, VIII.58.2


Chinmayananda Swami, The Holy Geeta, Chimamaya Mission, Mumbai, p.590-591


Taimni, op.cit., p.313

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