Yoga-sutras (with Vyasa and Vachaspati Mishra)

by Rama Prasada | 1924 | 154,800 words | ISBN-10: 9381406863 | ISBN-13: 9789381406861

The Yoga-Sutra 3.40, English translation with Commentaries. The Yoga Sutras are an ancient collection of Sanskrit texts dating from 500 BCE dealing with Yoga and Meditation in four books. It deals with topics such as Samadhi (meditative absorption), Sadhana (Yoga practice), Vibhuti (powers or Siddhis), Kaivaly (isolation) and Moksha (liberation).

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration and English translation of Sūtra 3.40:

श्रोत्राकाशयोः संबन्धसंयमाद् दिव्यं श्रोत्रम् ॥ ३.४० ॥

śrotrākāśayoḥ saṃbandhasaṃyamād divyaṃ śrotram || 3.40 ||

śrotra—the power of hearing, ākāśa—Ākāśa between these two. sambandha—over the relation, saṃyamāt—by Saṃyama, divyam—higher. srotram—power of hearing.

40. By Saṃyama over the relation between Ākāśa and the power-of-hearing, comes the higher power-of-hearing.—146.

The Sankhya-pravachana commentary of Vyasa

[English translation of the 7th century commentary by Vyāsa called the Sāṅkhya-pravacana, Vyāsabhāṣya or Yogabhāṣya]

[Sanskrit text for commentary available]

In Ākāśa abide all powers of hearing and all sounds. As has been said:—‘To all those whose organs of hearing are similarly situated, the situation of hearing comes to be the same.’

And this is a reason for (the existence of Ākāsa). Absence of obstruction also has been so spoken of. The Ākāśa is also described as allpervading, seeing that there is absence of obstruction in other places also than where a form may be.

The power of hearing is the means of perceiving sound. Of a deaf and a not-deaf, one senses sound and the other does not. Therefore, the power of hearing only is the sphere for the action of sound. Whoever performs Saṃyama with reference to the relation between the power of hearing and the Ākāśa, evolves the power of higher audition.—146.

The Gloss of Vachaspati Mishra

[English translation of the 9th century Tattvavaiśāradī by Vācaspatimiśra]

It has been said that the power of higher audition comes to the Yogī who is performing Saṃyama with reference to the purpose of the self, because there yet remains something of the Pradhāna to be seen. Now the author says that the powers of higher audition and other sense powers come by the performance of Saṃyama with reference to the powers themselves:—

‘By Saṃyama on the relation between the power of hearing and Ākāśa (the soniferous ether) comes the higher power of audition.’ He describes the sphere of Saṃyama:—‘The relation between the power of hearing and Ākāśa,’ the relation being that of the thing supporting and the thing supported.

All powers of hearing, even though they have their origin in the principle of egoism, reside in the Ākāśa, placed in the hollow of the ear. It is this where the power of hearing is located. When soundness or defect is noticed therein, soundness or defect, as the case may be, is noticed in the power of hearing also.

Further, when of the sounds working in unison with the power of hearing, the sounds of solids, &c., are to be taken in, then the power of hearing located in the hollow of the ear, stands in need of the capacity of resonance residing in the substratum, the Ākāśa of the ear.

In the perception of the external smells of solids, &c., by the senses of smell, &c., working in unison with the qualities of odour, &c., the operation is seen to be that the senses of smell, taste, touch, sight and hearing are located in physical vehicles only, because the powers of smell, &c., are seen to be working soundly or defectively when the physical vehicles are sound or injured respectively.

This sense of hearing then, having its origin in the principal of egoism, acts like iron, drawn as it is by sound originating and located in the mouth of the speaker, acting as loadstone, transforms them into its own modifications in sequence of the sounds of the speaker, and thus senses them. And it is for this reason that for every living creature, the perception of sound in external space is in the absence of defects, never void of authority. So says the quotation from Pañcaśikha:—‘To all those whose organs of hearing are similarly situated, the situation of hearing is the same.’ All those are Caitras and other organs of hearing are similarly situated in space. The meaning is that the powers of hearing of all are located in Ākāśa. Further the Ākāśa in which the power of hearing is located is born out of the soniferous Tanmātra, and has therefore the quality of sound inherent in itself. It is by this sound acting in unison that it takes the sounds of external solids, &c. Hence the hearing, i.e., the sound of all is of the same class. (The class is determined by the relative situation in space).

This then establishes that the Ākāśa is the substratum of the power of hearing, and also possesses quality of sound. And this seameness of the situation of sound is an indication of the existence of Ākāśa. That which is the substratum of the auditory power (śruti) which manifests as sound of the same class, is Ākāśa. Such a manifestation of sound cannot be without such an auditory power. Nor is such an auditory power a quality of Pṛthvī, &c., because it cannot be in its own self both the manifester and manifested (vyaṇgya and vyañjaka).

Further the absence of obstruction is an indication of Ākāśa. If there were no Ākāśa, the forms would be in such close contact with one another that even a needlepoint would not find room between them. Everything would thus be obstructed by everything. It cannot be said that the absence of obstruction is the result only of the non-existence of things possessed of form, because non-existence depends upon existence, inasmuch as there can be no cessation of existence in the absence of existence. Further the power of consciousness cannot be its substratum, because it is immutable and cannot, therefore, be limited. And further space and time, &c., are nothing different from the Pṛthvī and other substances. Therefore such a kind of change can only be of the Ākāśa. Thus all is plain.

When it is shown that absence of obstruction is an indication of the existence of Ākāśa, then it is clear that wherever absence of obstruction is found, there must be Ākāśa in existence, and hence the Ākāśa is proved to be all-pervading also. For this reason, the Commentator says:—‘Therefore although having no form, &c.’

He mentions authority for the existence of the power of hearing:—‘The power of hearing is the means, &c.’ Action is found to be capable of performance by means of an instrument only. As a hole can be made by a gimlet only, so here too the action of hearing sound can only be performed by means of some instrument only. Whatever is the instrument of hearing, is the power of hearing. But then why should not the eye and other organs be the instruments of hearing also? For this reason he says:—‘A deaf and a not-deaf, &c.’ The proof is given by the canons of agreement and difference both.

Further this is suggestive of other powers. By Saṃyama over the relations between the skin and Vāyu, the eye and the light, the taste and the Apas, the nose and Pṛthvī, the attainment of the higher powers of touch, &c., is also to be understood.—40.

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