1.43 स्मृतिपरिशुद्धौ स्वरुपशून्येवर्थमात्रनिर्भसा निर्वितर्का

smṛti pariśuddhau svarūpa-śūnyevārtha-mātra-nirbhāsā nir-vitarkā

smṛti – memory; pariśuddhau – complete purification; svarūpa-śūnya – devoid of its own form/nature; iva – as though; artha-mātra – sole purpose; nirbhāsā – illuminating; nir-vitarkā – without gross thought:

When the memory is completely cleared, the mind seems as if devoid of its own nature. Then, only the object on which it is contemplating remains illuminated. This type of engrossment is called nirvitarkā samāpatti.

1.43 smṛti pariśuddhau svarūpa-śūnyevārtha-mātra-nirbhāsā nir-vitarkā

When the memory is completely cleared, the mind seems as if devoid of its own nature. Then, only the object on which it is contemplating remains illuminated. This type of engrossment is called nirvitarkā samāpatti.

So before commenting on this verse, I would just like to mention the pariśuddhau… that this word is actually made of two words: ‘pari’ meaning completely and ‘śuddha’; śuddha – generally it means pure or clean, but it can also mean clear as it does here. So the objective of meditation or spiritual cultivation is to discover my true and eternal spiritual identity.

The practice of yoga is inseparable from the attempt to not only control, but to become free from the effect and influence of the mind, and the role that it plays in blinding me to spiritual truth. So that’s quite a heavy statement: ‘the mind blinds me to spiritual truth’. Of course, we’re reminded of the famous verse from the Bhagavad- gīta – how the mind can be considered one’s greatest friend, if it is tethered, or controlled, or bridled, and how an uncontrolled mind is one’s greatest enemy.

So the object of this engrossment is to become… or rather the objective of meditation and spiritual practice, is to become fixed in that which is transcendental. And this means, that when we are to become fixed in that which is transcendental, the mind should not be interfering by placing or overlaying any filter, or materially contaminated layer, onto the transcendental object of meditation.

This is kind of very much like if I am sitting looking at a particular object, and there is some filter in front of me – in between myself, my eyes, and the object. According to the nature of the filter, my perception of the object is going to change. If it’s different colored filters for instance, then I will see the object differently – the color will be different; if the nature of the filter is like a distorting lens, then it distorts the shape or the size of the object, and so my perception of it is very much influenced by the nature of the filter.

The desire of the transcendentalist is to be able to perceive spiritual reality, and in order to do that, the mind, which has this distorting or contaminating influence or effect, should not be doing that – should not be getting in the way. So the reality is, that the material covering of the self, or the consciousness, prevents the true self from experiencing its actual or real identity.

So what we’re speaking of here, is a problem of consciousness becoming corrupted or polluted, and thereby perpetuating material existence. In the materially conditioned state, the mind plays a prominent and very dominant role, and according to the nature of how the mind has been affected or influenced, particularly by the modes of nature – sāttva, rajas, tamas; particularly with rajas and tamas, the mind becomes filled with desires. One experiences different types of emotions and feelings, which then produce resultant decisions and actions that then perpetually bind the living being to the material world.

So the yoga process is very much about how to become free from the influence…the controlling influence of the mind. So when examining this verse, this idea will become increasingly clear, however, the method being taught here is one that is, as I mentioned in the previous verse, incredibly difficult for a common person to do. That should not be a demotivation, since Patañjali himself has provided an alternative process, as mentioned in the twenty-third sūtra.  And this is something that we will cover later, particularly in the next chapter or pāda.

So in relation to this particular verse, Vyāsa in his commentary, he states the following: “When, however, the memory of the conventional meaning of words disappears, the knowledge gained through samādhi becomes free from Vikalpa contained in the ideas formed through verbal instruction or inference.” So we’ll just take that part of things first.

The important point is that, it becomes impossible to see things with clarity; to understand the true nature of things, if we are being influenced or experiencing what is called Vikalpa. Vikalpa is a form of delusion, and this plays a critically important part in the binding of the living being to material existence. We’ll give some examples of that a little bit later, although I could mention it here – the example of family. We build tremendous attachment to mother, father, a husband, a wife, children, friends, relatives, in this particular lifetime, and yet, at the moment of death, all of that is instantly left behind. And when the living being enters another body, they develop a new series or set of relationships, which now overwhelm them. And there is complete and utter abandonment and forgetfulness of all past relationships and connections, and the idea of family and things, that we considered being so important. Vikalpa plays a huge role in this process.

And so here, Vyāsa is speaking of how, when a yogi comes to perceive things in truth, and these filters that the mind places between the living being and the objects of focus or meditation, or perception even; when one sees things in truth, then one gains a special type of knowledge.

Now continuing: “The true nature of the object contemplated upon is then revealed and this state is called Nirvitarka Samāpatti or engrossment free from verbal thinking.” So that’s quite a… the reason I showed this to you, is because it’s quite a concise description of what this verse is actually laying out. Professor Edwin Bryant, in a commentary that he has made, he states that: “Nirvitarka means the non-conceptual or, perhaps more accurately, superconceptual.” That’s an incredibly observant statement, because this process nirvitarka, means seeing things without any material or mental constructs interfering with that perception. He says: “This occurs when the yogi’s citta has been purged of any memory awareness of what the object is and what it is called. In other words, no saṁskāric imprints pertaining to cow active on any subconscious or intuitive level whatsoever.”

So of course this is referencing this capacity to see something as it actually is, free from any of the conditioned ideas, memories, experiences, so-called knowledge, that we have gained about something from the past.

The word ‘vitarkā’, is quite interesting. It actually references the association of words and thinking, but it is most commonly used in reference to speculative thinking, and ‘nir’ means’ without’. And so ‘nir-vitarkā’ means the clear observation of something, or engrossment…the contemplation upon something free from any speculative ideas; any baggage that came from past memories or association. It means to see things with absolute clarity…the real nature of something.

So from this samādhi arises actually what’s considered a special kind of knowledge or prajñā, which is considered direct perception. But when I say direct perception, we’re not talking about sensual. It’s non-sensual perception; it’s not perception that comes from the…because of the eyes, or the ears, or the tongue, the skin, the nose. This perception is an internal perception of what is actually real – the true nature of an object. And this is a form of actual realization; it is a transcendental experience, where the living being is beginning to perceive the reality of things, free from all forms of influence of the mind and conditioning.

So Vyāsa states in this regard, in this verse, that: “This is the truest perception and it is the root of inference and testimony which is derived from it.” So you might recall that in the seventh sūtra in this pāda…in the first pāda, there was a verse: “The sources of correct understanding are direct perception, inference, and the words (written or spoken) of authorities.” So here Vyāsa is stating, that when one has this actual experience – the realization of the truth of particular subjects… or objects rather, that this direct and real perception is more important than the knowledge gained from inference, or even from the hearing of authorities. And the reason that this is stated, and why this is true, is even when somebody that has attained the highest spiritual realization, or Śāstra – what’s considered the word of God, isn’t the highest authoritative teachings.

In a state of not being self-realized, we will be placing always, that filter that is primarily the mind, and its storehouse of experience and perceptions, and different things; we will be placing that in between the truth that is being presented, and our own self, and this has a distorting effect. And so personal experience, meaning personal realization, is considered actually very important for the sincere traveler on the spiritual path, to come to have these experiences and realizations for oneself. And it makes the progress in one’s spiritual journey so much more…it accelerates the spiritual journey, the speed at which one approaches the final goal.

So through this type of meditation… I mean its purpose was that, by this process one comes to practically realize and actually experience, how these ideas – the concept of home, and family, and wealth, etc. – they are simply mental constructs whose underpinnings are simply a combination of gross material elements and subtle material energies, and that they have no factual and eternal connection to myself, the ātman.

So this was the purpose for undertaking… this was why one undertook this journey and went through these processes, was to awaken the reality of my own spiritual existence, my re-establishing a connection with Īśvara, and beginning to experience a whole other and wonderful spiritual reality. Thank you very much.