1.3 तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपे ‘वस्थानम्
tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe ‘vasthānam
tadā – then; draṣṭuḥ – the seer (individual self); svarūpe – one’s own form, essential nature, form; avasthānam – stands, abides, situated, resides
Upon achieving the condition of yoga (samādhi), the seer (individual self) abides in his own spiritual form/nature.
1.3 tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe ‘vasthānam
Upon achieving the condition of yoga (samādhi), the seer (individual self) abides in his own spiritual form, or nature”
In the previous verse Patañjali spoke about the cessation of all the activities that constitute material consciousness – the activities that generally take place within the mind. It’s very interesting that, in the commentary style of Vyāsa, he generally puts a question before the śloka, or the sutra. And in putting a question, what he is doing is using it as a device to then allow Patañjali to answer the question that he poses.
And the question that Vyāsa puts here is fundamentally that, when the mind and consciousness are no longer absorbed in that which is material, what will be the nature of the puruṣa? So we then have the answer provided by Patañjali. And what we will do is go through each of the English synonyms for the Sanskrit words:
‘tadā’ – meaning of course, ‘then’; then this ‘draṣṭuḥ’ is another form of this word that’s been used by Patañjali already – the ‘seer’, the individual ‘self’. When Patañjali uses this term…and I’ll just use the English…the ‘seer’, or ‘draṣṭuḥ’ in its form here, Patañjali is not actually intending that it mean the power of physical sight through one of the sense organs – the organs of sight. It’s actually used in a more metaphorical way.
If we observe closely how central perception takes place – and the yogis would engage in these activities as part of the journey towards self-discovery. Like for instance, let’s take the physical sight or seeing something. What happens is, light strikes an object and then bouncing off that object, it enters the lens in the eye and it stimulates photosensitive cells in the back of the eyeball, which are then agitated to produce electrical impulses and those electrical impulses travel down the optic nerve and stimulate the visual cortex of the brain. When you look at the mechanism of seeing (physical sight), the mechanism does not explain how we actually see. I mean, the common person, if you ask them how is it that you can see, most people say, “Well it’s because I’ve got eyes.” But actually, the eyes don’t truly ‘see’. They just allow light and images from the transformations of light to enter, and to stimulate the back of the eye – the photosensitive cells that create electrical impulses. So how is seeing actually taking place?
This is a very big subject, and of course in modern times – the interest in quantum physics – they also really examine this phenomenon, and begin to question where is perception actually taking place? And of course, for the yogi’s, they understood that the mind becomes the repository, or like a movie screen, upon which all the different sensual perceptions are projected. But who is it that’s sitting in that movie house (if I can use that analogy) and looking at the screen? Who is the one that’s actually observing? And this entity that’s doing the actual observing was called by Patanjali, ‘the seer’. And so here in this verse, we begin to look at the nature of that seer.
So in the next word, ‘svarūpe’: ‘sva’ means ‘one’s own’ – It’s inherently part of you, and the word ‘rūpa’ literally means ‘form’. So ‘svarūpe’, means one’s own form or essential nature, and then ‘avasthānam’ is the means that one stands, or abides, or resides, or is situated, in that condition or state.
So when we look at this verse – this sutra, and the previous one together, then we have an interesting reading, looking at these ideas together. “When the endless mental fluctuations and modifications (vṛtti), which characterize material consciousness, are suspended or arrested, that is Yoga. Upon achieving the condition of yoga ( samādhi), the seer (individual self) abides in his own spiritual form or nature.” So, this is a pretty amazing and wonderful idea that’s been presented here by Patañjali.
I would just like to bring your attention to three of the words from the second sutra and the first pāda. And that is ‘yogaś citta’ and ‘nirodhaḥ’. The reason I’m asking you to look at this, is because it is amazingly similar to one verse in the Bhagavad- gīta. In the sixth chapter Bhagavad-gīta which… its title is ‘Dhyāna’… ‘Dhyāna-yoga’ – where the process of meditation and the end result of meditation are explained. We have this verse, the twentieth śloka, where we have these three words – ‘cittaṁ niruddhaṁ yoga’. Now while the term ‘yoga’ here is going to be used a little bit differently – it has to do with the performance, or the activities, the engagement in the process of yoga – we can see that there are very clear similarities, and if we look at the English translation of this verse, it literally could be used to further expound upon, or even replace these two – the second and third sutras – of Patañjali. So, “In the state of perfection called samādhi, one’s mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by the practice of yoga. This perfection is characterized by one’s ability to see the self by the pure mind, and to relish and rejoice in the self.”
So, as always, I very much appreciated the great similarity between this verse from the Bhagavad-gīta and these two sutras from Patañjali’s work. Now a big question arises. When Patañjali speaks of the ‘svarūpe’ – the essential form or nature of the seer – he does not expand on this. If you ask, “Well what does that mean?”- he has chosen not to speak to this subject. And we can see that the focus of Patañjali is primarily – at least at this point, and through much of the Yoga sutra – on the process, the contemplative process of meditation to attain samādhi, and the very nature of the mind that needs to be overcome or dealt with by the practitioner or aspirant – the sādhaka, or the yogi.
Of course, we can ask, “Well why doesn’t he say anything about the actual nature of the living being?” We cannot actually say, and nor do I think it is appropriate to speculate on such a subject, but I find it of great interest myself, primarily because of the way in which I have also been instructed and taught by my guru – one of my spiritual teachers. My guru, he taught that self-realization can be experienced differently by different spiritual sādhakas.
Full self-realization means the realization of one’s actual essence, position, and natural function. So, my Guru Maharaj told me that, anything that you want to examine and know the truth about, it’s essential to know what is its essence. And if we can translate that to something maybe simpler for many people, like: What constitutes it? What’s it made from? What is the essence of this object we’re seeking to understand? Position relates to: Where does it fit in the scope of things? What is the nature of my connection or relationship with other living beings – with other spiritual beings? What is my connection or relationship with the material world in which I find myself in this embodied state? And so that explains where the object will fit within a …not exactly a hierarchy, but within its environment.
And the third part of knowing something in truth, is to understand its natural function. In its pure and uncontaminated state, what is the natural function of this object? And here we’re speaking of the atma, or the spiritual being, or the self. So the process of self-realization can be experienced in a realization of one’s essence, it can be experienced in a realization of my position – which also includes my essence, and on the furthest end of that spectrum of realization, is the realization of the natural function of, in this case, the living being, the ātma, or the self. And there are going to be a correlation between these realizations and what we can broadly term as God-realization, or realization of the highest Truth, or the Ultimate Truth.
So in relation to these three types of spiritual realization, one way that this was being presented is that, all self-realization is considered perfection, and it is truly perfection – the perfection of human existence, of spiritual experience. But the realization of one’s position is considered to be even more perfect. When I have a broader understanding and realization of my position, realization of the natural function of the eternal being has been categorized as most perfect, but on this subject, we will talk a little bit more about that as we go forward. Thank you very much.