Yoga-sutras (with Bhoja’s Rajamartanda)

by Rajendralala Mitra | 1883 | 103,575 words

The Yoga-Sutra 4.18, English translation with Commentaries. The Yogasutra of Patanjali represents a collection of aphorisms dealing with spiritual topics such as meditation, absorption, Siddhis (yogic powers) and final liberation (Moksha). The Raja-Martanda is officialy classified as a Vritti (gloss) which means its explanatory in nature, as opposed to being a discursive commentary.

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration and English translation of Sūtra 4.18:

न तत्स्वाभासं दृश्यत्वात् ॥ ४.१८ ॥

na tatsvābhāsaṃ dṛśyatvāt || 4.18 ||

18. It is not self-illuminative, since it is perceptible.

The Rajamartanda commentary by King Bhoja:

[English translation of the 11th century commentary by Bhoja called the Rājamārtaṇḍa]

[Sanskrit text for commentary available]

Now it may be said that since the thinking principle itself, from excess of the quality of goodness, is the illuminant, it can from its self-illumination, illuminate both itself and the object, and the act of perception can thereby be completed, what is the use of the assumption of a separate percipient? To allay this doubt, he says:

[Read Sūtra 4.18]

“It,” the thinking principle, is not “self-illuminative” (svābhāsa), expositor of itself, but it is perceptible by the soul. How so? Because it is “perceptible.” A perceptible is known by a percepient, as in the case of a water-jar or the like. The thinking principle is an object of perception, and therefore it is not self-illuminative.

Notes and Extracts

[Notes and comparative extracts from other commentaries on the Yogasūtra]

[The argument in the next preceding aphorism would suggest the idea that the thinking principle, whether directly or indirectly, was itself the perceiver, and that being the case there is no necessity for assuming a separate perceiver. Where one assumption is sufficient, two are not needed. This objection of the opponent is refuted in the aphorism under notice, by saying that the thinking principle cannot be the percipient, or self-illuminative, because it is itself an object of perception. That which is an object of perception cannot itself be percipient; and the commentator illustrates this by citing the example of a water-jar, which, as an object of perception, cannot know itself.

The Pātañjala Bhāṣya elaborates the argument by saying,

(yathetarāṇīndriyā-ṇi śabdādayaśca dṛśyatvānna svābhāsāni tathā manopi pratyetavyam. Na cāgniratra dṛṣṭāntam. Nahyagnirātmasvarūpamaprakāśam prakāśayati. Prakāśaścāyam prakāśya-prakāśaka saṃyoge dṛṣṭaḥ, na ca svarūpamātresti saṃyoyaḥ kiñca svābhāsam cittamityagrāhyameva kasyaciditi.)

“Even as the other organs and their objects, such as audition, &c., cannot be self-illuminative from the circumstance of their being perceivables, the mind should be so known. Nor can fire be an example in this instance; for even fire cannot make its own hidden identity visible. Manifestation is seen to result from the conjunction of a manifestator with a manifestable, and such conjunction cannot take place with one's own identity. Besides if the theory of self-illuminativeness of the thinking principle be admitted, it would not be perceptible to any body else.”—

The illustration of fire becomes appropriate on the assumption that it owes its luminosity to itself. But the luminosity contemplated by the term svābhāsa is knowledge, and not light. In fact, the light of the text can be understood only by substituting for it the word knowledge, throughout the discussion.]

It may be said that the argument here has accepted the proposition, (i.e., it involves a petitio principii), for the perceptibility of the thinking principle has not yet been established. Besides, in men the functions of accepting that which is good and rejecting that which is injurious are made manifest through the consciousness of one’s own intellect; and such feelings as “I am angry,” “I am afraid,” “I have no desire,” cannot be produced without the consciousness of the intellect (and since they are, the agency of the soul is not needed.) To meet this argument, he says:

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