1.19 भवप्रत्ययो विदेहप्रकृतिलायनाम्
bhava – become (rebirth); pratyayaḥ – caused; videha – without a body; prakṛti – nature; layānām – absorbed into, merged with:
Those yogis who, having not attained the highest platform, but leave their current gross physical bodies and either; (1) attain the state of powerful celestial deities (subtle beings), or (2) those who become merged with material nature (prakriti), they will have to take birth again.
1.20 श्रद्धावीर्यस्मृतिसमाधिप्रज्ञापूर्वकः इतरेषाम्
śraddhā – reverential faith; vīrya – energy; smṛti – repeated remembrance; samādhi – concentration, complete absorption; prajñā – discernment, real knowledge; pūrvaka – by, as the means; itareṣām – for the others:
For the others, asamprajñāta samādhi is attained by reverential faith, energy (to continue on the spiritual path), repeated remembrance (of that which is transcendental), complete absorption (samādhi), and real knowledge.
1.19 bhava-pratyayo videha-prakṛti-layānām
Those yogi’s who, having not attained the highest platform, but leave their current gross physical bodies and either: (1)attain the state of powerful celestial deities (subtle beings), or (2)those who become merged with material nature (prakṛti), they will have to take birth again.
So this text seems a little esoteric, and I guess it is a little esoteric for most people. It’s dealing with something that is probably…something that most people are just not very familiar with that at all. And what is going on is, Patañjali is mentioning two types of experience which may…or some people may equate to having attained in samprajñāta samādhi, or perhaps even asamprajñāta samādhi, whereas in reality they have not. And so what he’s doing is showing examples of what’s not in this state, but may appear to be, in order that a…the practitioner may receive guidance and develop a better understanding of what the condition of samādhi really is.
So, the commentator Vyāsa, he states that these two categories, they are “as if” liberated – as if they were liberated. Vācaspati Miśra puts it a little bit differently; he states that they still have no realization of the actual true self. So, because it’s a little esoteric we won’t dwell on it, but we’ll just go over it rather quickly.
So, the first of these two entities, are referred to as videha: ‘deha’ means the body and ‘videha’ means without body or disembodied. And the second category are called ‘prakṛtilaya’: meaning to be absorbed into matter. So, I’ll just speak a little bit about that. ‘Videha’ here references certain types of celestial beings. So, within the world of yogic experience, they speak about different planes and types of existence, beyond what we are experiencing here on this particular planet upon which we live. And they are referencing a certain category of heavenly or celestial beings that have extremely subtle bodies. One of the commentators mentions that the body of these beings that have been spoken of comprised primarily of buddhi. The gross material bodies that we have on pretty much contain almost all the elements: earth is present; water; fire in the form of digestion and other forms of heat within the body; air in both in the prana and what we are breathing, and the ether or ‘ākāśa’ which is what allows for, accommodates, and transports sound.
So, we have a body that’s comprised of all those elements – quite gross elements. But they speak of other types of bodies that a living being can assume, that are far more subtle in nature and cannot be perceived for instance, by the eyes. And an example would be like ghostly entities. And so this references to a certain type of celestial being whose body is so utterly subtle, and they are not engaged in any overt material activity that one may consider that they have…that they’re in a state of actual samādhi…of liberation. But it has been pointed out that those that are in that condition are not really considered liberated at all because they have not yet experienced complete self-realization.
The second category: ‘prakṛtilaya’… there are a couple of different ways of understanding this term. It has to do with…certain types of yogi’s would become so utterly absorbed in the meditation upon these material elements and the experience of themselves as being separate from it, that they would gradually become completely associated with the more subtle elements, and having left the gross physical body, still remain in a state of being merged in some of that subtle material energy. And it’s been stated that one who engages in these type of practices – just focused on the meditations; upon the material energies…it may lead to a high state of vairāgya, or renunciation, as it were, of the material world, but it once again has not yet led to full self-realization. The other way of understanding this is, that from the Vedic perspective, the material creation…if I can put it that way…is constantly going through these cycles, and these cycles include cycles of being manifest and being unmanifest; of being created and of being destroyed, and this happens over vast amounts of time…these cycles.
When that happens the living beings – the ātmās – that are materially entangled within that material creation, are absorbed into this supple state or condition where they don’t have any gross physical covering whatsoever; it’s in this state of what’s called ‘pradhāna’. Pradhāna is the material energy in its potential form before it becomes manifest as prakrti and then begins to manifest the gross forms that come with it. And so when the living beings who have not become liberated, are in that state of dissolution, they may be freed of… for that period in a very vast amount of time… they may be without a gross material covering, or certain types of supple material coverings even, but one should not equate that condition as being the same condition as asamprajñāta samādhi, because what will happen… that living being still is holding on to the seed of material desire, and as soon as the creation cycle manifests again, that living being will be brought forward and manifest a gross and subtle material body once again.
So, it’s been you know…referenced in terms of these cycles of the life of Brahmā. Brahmā is considered the being responsible for creation. He is categorized as what we would call a demigod, meaning somebody that is a living being like you or me, but they have been invested with God-like powers. And so it states that there are two types of dissolution of the manifest cosmos: at the end of every day of Brahma…and this means at the end of every 4.32 billion solar years…that when Brahmā is said to ‘go to sleep’, then this becomes a period of dissolution or annihilation. And then also, after a much vaster period of time at what’s considered the end of the life of Lord Brahmā, that similar dissolution of a much longer period of time will take place. And this happens…by calculations of our years…to be once every 31.104 trillion years – this cycle becomes completed.
During that time… during both of these periods…the material energy, which is called the ‘maha- tattva’ and the marginal energy – the jīva (the puruṣaḥs)…they merge into what is described as the body of Māhāviṣṇu. And the living beings remain in a state of…it’s considered like being asleep within the body of the Lord…until the next cycle of creation. And so this is also another way of understanding the prakṛtilaya, and that even though someone may have become free at least temporarily, of that material covering, because they have not attained full self-realization, they will be forced to take birth again.
1.20 śraddhā-vīrya-smṛti-samādhi-prajñā–pūrvaka itareṣām
For the others, asamprajñāta samādhi is attained by reverential faith, vigor (to continue on the spiritual path), repeated remembrance (of that which is transcendental), complete absorption (or samādhi), and real knowledge.
So, this is like one of the very important sutra for any sincere practitioner. In the previous sutra, Vyāsa says the state where only subconscious impressions remain, can be attained by what he has called ‘bhava-pratyayaḥ,’ meaning it can have prakṛti as its cause. And this condition, or samprajñāta samādhi, is not considered full self-realization. Vyāsa now uses another term…he introduced it to contrast that…and this is called ‘upāya-pratyaya’, meaning that one can attain asamprajñāta samādhi through ‘upāya’ or practice – to be drawn towards spiritual practice; to be drawn towards or to move towards that which is spiritual.
So, the real yogi’s, they must employ a proper means for self-realization, and here Patañjali has described that what’s required is faith, vigor, memory, samādhi absorption and discernment. So now dealing with these words… ‘śraddhā’ or faith…faith is the right word, but it has to be understood correctly. We are not speaking here of blind acceptance or belief. The Sanskrit word…the root for this word is, ‘śrat ‘ which means truth. So Vyāsa in his commentary, he takes faith to be clarity of the mind, and that’s quite an interesting and really unusual way to put things. But when we consider it carefully, clarity necessitates knowledge, and freedom from being biased or conditioned by corrupt ideas or beliefs. So, you know the element or the foundation of truth is essential. When one sees things actually clearly, then you understand which kind of endeavor is going to best produce the best results and merit my trust. So we can understand from this that this reference to faith (śraddhā), is…we’re speaking of a rational faith or trust that is actually based on experience.
In my life’s journey I have learned that…I can recall when I first met my spiritual master and began reading a lot of these texts and scriptural texts and things, I was presented with so much information the vast majority of which I could not fully comprehend and understand. There was some appreciation, but not a really deep and full appreciation and understanding. And in addition to all of this information, I was given a process to follow…this became my sādhanā. Then what happens is that when you apply yourself to a bona fide process under the guidance of a self-realized spiritual teacher, you will gradually grow in your understanding and realization will occur incrementally. And so over the course of time…I mean from the first couple of years that I began down this path, perhaps I received you know something like well this much information…from here to here, and then after a few years on the path, perhaps this much of it…I had come to experience myself as being true and real. And what that does is then make it so that, “Okay, up to this point, if everything that I’ve come to understand and experience myself is exactly in line with what I’ve been told, that portion out here that I have not yet come to realize, it is rational for me to accept it as being truthful and to continue on my path in pursuit”. And so, this is what has been spoken of when we speak of a rational faith.
In all yogic teaching and in the Vedas in general, they will…they have clearly stated that this ‘śraddhā’ is a prerequisite for self-realization. And it really…what happens when a person is able to experience this condition of faith, it gives rise to a very firm conviction; it makes it so that one can progress continuously upon this path. Vācaspati Miśra – one of the well-known commentators of the Yoga Sutra, he states that in fact yoga is based upon śraddhā. There’s a wonderful verse in the Bhagavad-gīta that speaks to this: “A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge, and having achieved it he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace”. So, there is much reference to the need for this.
The next item that Patañjali lays out – ‘vīrya’ or… it’s a difficult word to translate into English. We’re using ‘vigor’, which I think is a good choice, but it’s very difficult to find an exact equivalent in English because the Sanskrit word actually denotes a combination of energy, but also fortitude and stamina that one has…the staying power and the stamina to continue on this journey.
The next item that he lists is ‘smṛti,’ which I’ve translated as repeated remembrance. It is not just memory in general, but it is…it’s not like remembrance of just anything, but it is a remembrance of that which is transcendental, or the knowledge… the remembrance of that knowledge which leads to transcendence. There will be some different references at different points to focusing upon that which is suitable for meditation or samādhi, but we should understand that in saying that, it’s not like you can just grab out and choose anything that you wish. One needs to recognize that we are on the quest for spiritual realization, and so whatever it is that we are choosing to remember or focus upon or meditate upon, must be transcendental. If it is not, then it simply means that we are continuing or furthering our entanglement in the material world.
The next item here is ‘samādhi’, which you know is referencing both concentration and complete absorption.
Then you have got ‘prajñā’, which means discernment and real knowledge – transcendental or spiritual knowledge. So, in relation to this sutra, Vyāsa establishes the connection between these items, and as we’ve previously stated Patañjali is showing us that these things must be embraced by anyone that is seeking true and full self-realization.
So, the first item – śraddhā, is the conviction that arises from experience, which in turn nurtures the practice of the sādhaka or the practitioner, and it also provides the vigor to continue with focus. And this in turn leads to constant remembrance which then establishes samādhi. Samādhi leads to prajña, which is the steady realization of transcendental truth (that I am ātmā); which in turn supports the practitioner in a constant state of realized detachment (vairāgya) which leads to asamprajñāta samādhi. So this is how these elements are interwoven together, and how they play really important parts for the individual who is humbly and sincerely seeking to follow this path towards self-realization. Thank you.