1.34 प्रच्छर्दनविभ्यां वा प्राणस्य

pracchardana-vidhāraṇābhyām va prāṇasya

pracchardana – exhalation; vidhāraṇābhyām – retention, restraining; va – or; prāṇasya – (of) prana:

The mind is also calmed (steadied) by expelling and restraining the breath through prāṇāyāma.


1.35 विषयवती वा प्रवृत्तिरुत्पन्ना मनसः स्थितिनिबन्धनी

viṣayavatī vā pravṛttir-utpannā manasaḥ sthiti-nibandhanī

viṣayavatī – extra-ordinary sense perceptions; vā – also, or; pravṛttiḥ – manifestation, appearance; utpannā manasaḥ – arising (produced) in the mind; sthiti – steadiness (tranquility); nibandhanī – foundation, firmly establishes:

Those forms of concentration that give rise to extra-ordinary sense perceptions called viṣayavatī, bring about steadiness (tranquility) of the mind.

1.34  pracchardana-vidhāraṇābhyām va prāṇasya

The mind is also calmed (steadied) by expelling and restraining breath through prāṇāyāma.

Here, and in the next few sūtras, Patañjali is giving various options and methods for overcoming the mental disturbances which are obstacles to yoga, as he mentioned in the thirty-second sūtra above. So it is not that these options or various methods are to be exclusively practiced. They are generally to be incorporated in the life and practice of a serious sādhaka.

Patañjali previously has presented, as an object of focused meditation, the form of the transcendental sound of AUṀ. So Patañjali clearly prioritizes an Īśvara centered form of meditation, by his placing Īśvara as the first on the list of available options, and by dedicating so many sūtras to Him…to Īśvara. However, this, and the next five sūtras, all contain the particle ‘vā’, in Sanskrit meaning ‘or’. They are therefore all considered optional alternatives for fixing the mind in order to eliminate the distractions to yoga, but they do not replace this previous sūtra mentioned above. Patañjali only briefly refers here to prāṇāyāma, in the context of it being the alternate methods… or one of the alternate methods to help the mind become one-pointed. So more detailed references to prāṇāyāma will come much later in the second pāda, in the forty-ninth to fifty-first śloka as… and it is explained in the context of being one of the eight limbs of yoga – this ashtanga yoga. And so, we won’t go any further with it here, since it will be taken up at a later time. Thank you.


1.35  viṣayavatī vā pravṛttir-utpannā manasaḥ sthiti-nibandhanī

Those forms of concentration that give rise to extra-ordinary sense perceptions called viṣayavatī, bring about steadiness (tranquility) of the mind.

Here the term utpannā manasaḥ – “arising (produced) in the mind” mentioned by Patañjali. The mind – manas, and not citta, are used here because the mind is sometimes referred to as being the sixth sense because it is a repository of all sensual experience. And this is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gīta – in the fifteenth chapter, the seventh śloka, it states that:

“All living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.”

So viṣayavatī refers to one who has acquired extraordinary sense perception. Examples that are given by Vyāsa in his commentary, would be like concentrating on the tip of the nose, and by doing that one gets a subtle perception of smell and perceives a different type of wonderful perfume. So Swami Hariharānanda says that: “Unless such contemplation is practiced continuously for a day or two, its effects will not be realized. Practicing  this by slow degrees for some time before practicing it more intensely in a state of fasting or on a meager diet at a place where there is no interruptions and with no other thought, by holding the mind concentrated on the tip of the nose, the higher sense perception is developed.” And then he goes on to give other examples of this cultivation; of this extraordinary sensual perception, and he describes that concentration on the tip of the tongue produces a supersensuous taste on the palate. It produces supersensuous color, and that’s in all likelihood because the optic nerve is situated just above the palate. Concentration on the tongue, supersensuous touch is developed. So, on the tongue, the sense of touch is considered most developed – more developed than any of the skin or the fingers. At the root of the tongue, when one concentrates on that, supersensuous sound is developed.

The root of the tongue is closely related to the ear for the purposes of articulation. So therefore, concentration on these points develops a finer power of perception of these sense organs. So I must state here, that the awakening of higher perception should not be ever mistaken as being spiritual or transcendental, because it is not. Vyāsa says that the awakening of these higher perceptions actually stabilizes the mind firmly, and it removes doubts which we’ve spoken on before…the need to not be experiencing doubt, and it forms the gateway to knowledge acquirable through concentration.

The reason he states that is, the removal of doubt and the strengthening of faith – śrāddha, due to the… happens due to the neophyte acquiring first-hand experience of something which the guru has taught. And so when one – even in these circumstances where we’re not talking of something inherently spiritual or transcendental – when the guru teaches a neophyte these methods or techniques, and then they try it and they experience the reality of it, then it really increases one’s faith and everything else that the guru may be teaching. He says… Vyāsa says, that if a practitioner can experience one of the claims pertaining to, for instance, supernormal smell as outlined in this sūtra, then the overall faith in scriptures or śāstra also becomes strengthened.

Vyāsa also states that such perception of the sun, the moon, planets, jewels, or lamps, are also regarded as objective perceptions, meaning that one can gaze intently at these things, then close one’s eyes, and continue to see these objects within the mind. And doing this for an extended period can also allow one to experience this viṣayavatī.

Of course, these examples that we’re given, are relative… of importance because, for instance, the idea of holding a very clear vision of something within the mind – one should develop simultaneously the very clear and real experience of how the mind is actually a tool separate from me, the actual perceiver, and that I am now seeing this content being projected within the mind. And that exercise was considered of relevance because in the normal conditioned state, the living being is unable to separate themselves from their mind and thoughts and emotions. As these things arise up in the mind, one is just taken for a ride – quite often on an emotional roller coaster, or even just in a state of feeling ‘blah’… like you know…nothing, all because of complete and utter absorption in the mind, which is the material condition. And in that state, one cannot experience anything of the reality of my true spiritual existence and my true spiritual nature, which is really what one aspires for in this process of self-realization. Thank you very much.