Patanjali Yoga Sutras: Sutra 15-19

Published: 06.11.2015

15. परिणाम ताप संस्कार दुःखैः गुणवृत्तिविरोधाच्च दुःखमेव सर्वं विवेकिनः ॥१५॥

pariṇāma tāpa saṁskāra duḥkhaiḥ guṇa-vṛtti-virodhācca duḥkham-eva sarvaṁ vivekinaḥ ||15||

To the discriminating, all is, as it were, painful on account of everything bringing pain, either in the consequences, or in apprehension, or in attitude caused by impressions, also on account of the counter action of qualities.

The Yogis say that the man who has discriminating powers, the man of good sense, sees through all these various things, which are called pleasure and pain, and knows that they are always equally distributed, and that one follows the other, and melts into the other; he sees that men are following an ignis fatuus all their lives, and never succeed in fulfilling their desires. There was never a love in this world which did not know decay. The great king Yudisthira once said that the most wonderful thing in life is that every moment we see people dying around us, and yet we think we shall never die. Surrounded by fools on every side, we think we are the only exceptions, the only learned men. Surrounded by all sorts of experiences of fickleness, we think our love is the only lasting love. How can that be? Even love is selfish, and the Yogi says that, in the end, we shall find that even the love of husbands and wives, and children and friends, slowly decays. Decadence seizes everything in this life. It is only when everything, even love, fails, that, with a flash, man finds out how vain, how dream-like is this world. Then he catches a glimpse of Vairagyam (renunciation), catches a glimpse of the beyond. It is only by giving up this world that the other comes; never through building on to this one. Never yet was there a great soul who had not to reject sense pleasures and enjoyments to become such. The cause of misery is the clash between difference forces of nature, one dragging one way, and another dragging another, rendering permanent happiness impossible.

16. हेयं दुःखमनागतम् ॥१६॥

heyaṁ duḥkham-anāgatam ||16||

The misery which is not yet come is to be avoided.

Some Karma we have worked out already, some we are working out now in the present, and some is waiting to bear fruit in the future. That which we have worked out already is past and gone.

That which we are experiencing now we will have to work out, and it is only that which is waiting to bear fruit in the future that we can conquer and control, so all our forces should be directed towards the control of that Karma which has not yet borne fruit. That is meant in the previous aphorism, when Patanjali says that these various Samskaras are to be controlled by counteracting waves.

17. द्रष्टृदृश्ययोः संयोगो हेयहेतुः ॥१७॥

draṣṭṛ-dṛśyayoḥ saṁyogo heyahetuḥ ||17||

The cause of that which is to be avoided is the junction of the seer and the seen.

Who is the seer? The Self of Man, the Purusa. What is the seen? The whole of nature, beginning with the mind, down to gross matter. All this pleasure and pain arises from the junction between this Purusa and the mind. The Purusa, you must remember, according to this philosophy, is pure; it is when it is joined to nature, and by reflection, that it appears to feel either pleasure or pain.

18. प्रकाशक्रियास्थितिशीलं भूतेन्द्रियात्मकं भोगापवर्गार्थं दृश्यम् ॥१८॥

prakāśa-kriyā-sthiti-śīlaṁ bhūtendriya-ātmakaṁ bhoga-apavarga-arthaṁ dṛśyam ||18||

The experienced is composed of elements and organs, is of the nature of illumination, action and intertia, and is for the purpose of experience and release (of the experiencer).

The experienced, that is nature, is composed of elements and organs - the elements gross and fine which compose the whole of nature, and the organs of the senses, mind, etc., and is of the nature of illumination, action, and intertia. These are what in Sanskrit are called Sattva (illumination), Rajas (action), and Tamas (darkness); each is for the purpose of experience and relase. What is the purpose of the whole of nature? That the Purusa may gain experience. The Purusa has, as it were, forgotten its mighty, godly, nature. There is a story that the king of the gods, Indra, once became a pig, wallowing in mire; he had a she pig, and a lot of baby pigs, and was very happy. Then some other angels saw his plight, and came to him, and told him, “You are the king of the gods, you have all the gods command. Why are you here?” But Indra said, “Let me be; I am all right here; I do not care for the heavens, while I have this sow and these little pigs.” The poor gods were at their wits’ end what to do. After a time they decided to slowly come and slay one of the little pigs, and then another, until they had slain all the pigs, and the sow too. When all were dead Indra began to weep and mourn. Then the gods ripped his pig body open and he came out of it, and began to laugh when he realised what a hideous dream he had had; he, the king of the gods, to have become a pig, and to think that the pig-life was the only life! Not only so, but to have wanted the whole universe to come into the pig life! The Purusa, when it identifies itself with nature, forgets that it is pure and infinite. The Purusa does not live; it is life itself. It does not exist; it is existence itself. The Soul does not know; it is knowledge itself. It is an entire mistake to say that the Soul lives, or knows, or loves. Love and existence are not the qualities of the Purusa, but its essence. When they get reflected upon something you may call them the qualities of that something. But they are not the qualities of the Purusa, but the essence of this great Atman, this Infinite Being, without birth or death, Who is established in His own glory, but appears as if become degenerate until if you approach to tell Him, “You are not a pig,” he begins to squeal and bite.

Thus with us all in this Maya, this dream world, where it is all misery, weeping, and crying, where a few golden balls are rolled, and the world scrambles after them. You were never bound by laws, Nature never had a bond for you. That is what the Yogi tells you; have patience to learn it. And the Yogi shows how, by junction with this nature, and identifying itself with the mind and the world, the Purusa thinks itself miserable. Then the Yogi goes on to show that the way out is through experience. You have to get all this experience, but finish it quickly. We have placed ourselves in this net, and will have to get out. We have got ourselves caught in the trap, and we will have to work out our freedom. So get this experience of husbands and wives, and friends, and little loves, and you will get through them safely if you never forget what you really are. Never forget this is only a momentary state, and that we have to pass through it. Experience is the one great teacher - experiences of pleasure and pain - but know they are only experiences, and will all lead, step by step, to that state when all these things will become small, and the Purusa will be so great that this whole universe will be as a drop in the ocean, and will fall off by its own nothingness. We have to go through these experiences, but let us never forget the ideal.

19. विशेषाविशेषलिङ्गमात्रालिङ्गानि गुणपर्वाणि ॥१९॥

viśeṣa-aviśeṣa-liṅga-mātra-aliṅgāni guṇaparvāṇi ||19||

The states of the qualities are the defined, the undefined, the indicated only, and the signless.

The system of Yoga is built entirely on the philosophy of the Sankhyas, as I told you in some of the previous lectures, and here again I will remind you of the cosmology of the Sankhya philosophy. According to the Sankhyas, nature is both the material and efficient cause of this universe. In this nature there are three sorts of materials, the Sattva, the Rajas, and the Tamas. The Tamas material is all that is dark, all that is ignorant and heavy; and the Rajas is activity. The Sattvas is calmness, light. When nature is in the state before creation, it is called by them Avyaktam, undefined, or indiscrete; that is, in which there is no distinction of form or name, a state in which these three materials are held in perfect balance. Then the balance is disturbed, these different materials begin to mingle in various fashions, and the result is this universe. In every man, also, these three materials exist. When the Sattva material prevails knowledge comes. When the Rajas material prevails activity comes, and when the Tamas material prevails darkness comes and lassitude, idleness, ignorance. According to the Sankhya theory, the highest manifestation of this nature, consisting of these three materials, is what they call Mahat, or intelligence, universal intelligence, and each human mind is a part of that cosmic intelligence. Then out of Mahat comes the mind. In the Sankhya Psychology there is a sharp distinction between Manas, the mind function, and the function of the Buddhi intellect. The mind function is simply to collect and carry impressions and present them to the Buddhi, the individual Mahat, and the Buddhi determined upon it. So, out of Mahat comes mind, and out of mind comes fine material, and this fine material combines and becomes the gross material outside - the external universe. The claim of the Sankhya philosophy is that beginning with the intellect, and coming down to a block of stone, all has come out of the same thing, only as finer or grosser states of existence. The Buddhi is the finest state of existence of the materials, and then comes Ahamkara, egoism, and next to the mind comes fine material, which they call Tanmatras, which cannot be seen, but which are inferred. These Tanmatras combine and become grosser, and finally produce this universe. The finer is the cause, and the grosser is the effect. It begins with the Buddhi, which is the finest material, and goes on becoming grosser and grosser, until it becomes this universe. According to the Sankhya philosophy, beyond the whole of this nature is the Purusa, which is not material at all. Purusa is not at all similar to anything else, either Buddhi, or mind, or the Tanmatras, or the gross material; it is not akin to any one of these, it is entirely separate, entirely different in its nature, and from this they argue that the Purusa must be immortal, because it is not the result of combination. That which is not the result of combination cannot die, these Purusas or Souls are infinite in number. Now we shall understand the Aphorism, that the states of the qualities are defined, undefined, and signless. By the defined is meant the gross elements, which we can sense. By the undefined is meant the very fine materials, the Tanmatras, which cannot be sensed by ordinary men. If you practice Yoga, however, says Patanjali, after a while your perception will become so fine that you will actually see the Tanmatras. For instance, you have heard how every man has a certain light about him; every living being is emanating a certain light, and this, he says, can be seen by the Yogi. We do not all see it, but we are all throwing out these Tanmatras, just as a flower is continuously emanating these Tanmatras, which enable us to smell it. Every day of our lives we are throwing out a mass of good or evil, and everywhere we go the atmosphere is full of these materials, and that is how there came to the human mind, even unconsciously, the idea of building temples and churches? Why should man build churches in which to worship God? Why not worship Him anywhere? Even if he did not know the reason, man found that that place where people worshipped God became full of good Tanmatras. Every day people go there, and the more they go the holier they get, and the holier that place becomes. If any man who has not much Sattva in him goes there the place will influence him, and arouse his Sattva quality. Here, therefore, is the significance of all temples and holy places, but you must remember that their holiness depends on holy people congregating there. The difficulty with mankind is that they forget the original meaning, and put the cart before the horse. It was men who made these places holy, and then the effect became the cause and made men holy. If the wicked only were to go there it would become as bad as any other place. It is not the building, but the people, that make a church, and that is what we always forget. That is why sages and holy persons, who have so much of this Sattva quality, are emanating so much of it around them, and exerting a tremendous influence day and night on their surroundings. A man may become so pure that his purity will become tangible, as it were. The body has become pure, and in an intensely physical sense, no figurative idea, no poetical language, it emanates that purity wherever it goes. Whosoever comes in contact with that man becomes pure. Next “the indicated only” means the Buddhi, the intellect. “The indicated only” is the first manifestation of nature; from it all other manifestations proceed. The last is “the signless.” Here there seems to be a great fight between modern science and all religion. Every religion has this idea that this universe comes out of intelligence. Only some religions were more philosophical, and used scientific language. The very theory of God, taking it in its psychological significance, and apart from all ideas of personal God, is that intelligence is first in the order of creation, and that out of intelligence comes what we call gross matter. Modern philosophers say that intelligence is the last to come. They say that unintelligent things slowly evolve into animals, and from animals slowly evolve into men. They claim that instead of everything coming out of intelligence, intelligence is itself the last to come. Both the religious and the scientific statement, though seemingly directly opposed to each other, are true. Take an infinite series A - B - A - B - A - B, etc. The question is which is first, A or B. If you take the series as A -, you will say that A is first, but if you take it as B - A you will say that B is first. It depends on the way you are looking at it. Intelligence evolves, and becomes the gross material, and this again evolves as intelligence, and again evolves as matter once more. The Sankhyas, and all religionists, put intelligence first, and the series becomes intelligence then matter, intelligence then matter. The scientific man puts his finger on matter, and say matter then intelligence, matter then intelligence. But they are both indicating the same chain. Indian philosophy, however, goes beyond both intelligence and matter, and finds a Purusa, or Self, which is beyond all intelligence, and of which intelligence is but the borrowed light.

Patanjali Yoga Sutras Edition: 1896

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Ahamkara
  2. Atman
  3. Body
  4. Buddhi
  5. Indra
  6. Karma
  7. Maya
  8. Pariṇāma
  9. Patanjali
  10. Purusa
  11. Rajas
  12. Samskaras
  13. Sankhya
  14. Sanskrit
  15. Sattva
  16. Science
  17. Soul
  18. Tamas
  19. Yoga
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