1.44 एतयैव सविचारा निर्विचारा च सुक्ष्मविषया व्याख्याता
etayaiva savicārā nirvicārā ca sūkṣma-viṣayā vyākhātā
etayā – by this; eva – only; savicārā – with subtle thought; nirvicārā – without subtle thought; ca – also; sūkṣma-viṣayā – subtle sense objects; vyākhātā – explained:
In the same way that the mind becomes engrossed by meditating upon gross objects (mentioned above as savitarkā and nirvitarkā samāpatti), so also the mind’s engrossment upon subtle objects is known as savicārā and nirvicārā samapatti.
1.44 etayaiva savicārā nirvicārā ca sūkṣma-viṣayā vyākhātā
In the same way that the mind becomes engrossed by meditating upon gross objects (mentioned above as savitarkā and nirvitarkā samāpatti), so also the mind’s engrossment upon subtle objects is known as savicārā and nirvicārā samapatti.
So before commenting on this verse any further, I think it’s necessary for us to have an understanding of what is the big picture. If we don’t actually understand because of not having been exposed to these ideas or the broader Vedic philosophy, then what a person will normally do is speculate, and based upon their own limited experience and understanding they’ll try to develop an understanding of what’s being mentioned here.
So if you recall, in the seventeenth sūtra of this pāda, there was a discussion on the twenty-four tattvas or the truths found in the Sāṅkhya, and also in the broader or wider Vedas; that they were referring to these twenty-four elements which material nature consists of. And of course, amongst these twenty-four elements, we had the five gross elements – the pañca-mahābhūtas, being: the earth, water, fire, air, and ether. And we also mentioned that there were five tanmātras – these were the sense objects, meaning: aroma, taste, form (sometimes referred to as light), touch, and sound. Now it is from these five tanmātras, that the actual five sense organs and the five gross elements actually evolve.
So the tanmātras are finer or more subtle manifestations than the gross material elements, or even the knowledge acquiring and working senses. In discussing this, what were wanting to actually come to, is this point that even these very subtle elements or energies are comprised of what is referred to as the smallest non-divisible atomic particle – referred to in the Vedas as the parama-aṇuḥ. This parama-aṇuḥ does not mean an atom, but the very smallest constituent of material energy.
And of course it was the understanding of the yogīs, that the material world is largely considered a fantasy. Not in the sense that it is not real or has no substance, but the reality is that our material experience – the body, the mind, and everything that we go through in life – is temporary and comes to an end; it is not eternal, whereas I am eternal. I am an eternal, spiritual being, and the objective of the yoga process is to come to affect my self-realization – referred to as enlightenment; to understand…not just understand, but to directly perceive my spiritual existence.
However, this world in which we live is considered a phantasmagoria, and by that what I mean is, if we look at something that we may consider desirable – some, for instance, chocolate…a really nice piece of chocolate, and we look at it down on the atomic level and the subatomic level, we will see that the components that make it up are exactly the same as the components that make up dog feces. But because things are arranged in a certain way, and because we approach things with certain types of consciousness and mental understanding, then we tend to look upon certain things as desirable, and other things as undesirable. And this is all just part of this great drama known as material existence which we are caught up in, and acting and reacting, and creating an endless chain of karmic reactions that in return induce us to engage in even more activity. And of course, these actions and their concomitant reactions really shape the nature of our consciousness.
So in order to become free of this situation, this process laid out here by Patañjali, was a process of trying to really come to not just.. it’s not like visualizing or imagining; it is talking about actually going beyond even the limitations of the mind, and seeing the reality of material existence. It’s quite…you know the material energy is really a bewildering array of atomic and subatomic particles, and if we could see on that kind of level; if we could really drill down into…we had the vision to see…then for instance, if I had my hand out and on it I had a glass of water, and maybe the glass is half-filled with water, and if I was able to perceive this on an atomic level, it is practically impossible to see where the air and the top part of the glass ends, and the water begins.
On the level of atomic particles, you would not be able to distinguish clearly a boundary; nor between the water and the glass, or the glass and my hand. And the fact that we see things the way we do is a product of material consciousness, and the yogīs were attempting to try and go beyond this and to see things in a much meaningful and deep way.
And so to this end, you’ll find that in the Vedas they would refer to this world in which we live – the material world, as a world of ‘names’, because it was considered that on the tiniest atomic particle – this parama-aṇuḥ, the indivisible component of the material energy – that everything is made of exactly the same thing. It just appears to us to be differently in how it is….this material energy has come together to shape a particular object, but more especially because of the condition of our own consciousness – how we are looking at things, and how we are seeing things.
And so there’s a very famous verse in the Bhāgavat Pūraṇa, in the second canto, that states: “For this reason, the enlightened person should endeavor only for the minimum necessities of life while in the world of names. He should be intelligently fixed and never endeavor for unwanted things, being competent to perceive practically that all such endeavors merely hard labor for nothing.”
So this is quite an extraordinary verse, and it points to an extraordinary state of consciousness that the great transcendentalists existed in. And I will point out, this state of consciousness was sometimes manifest by people who became what were called avadhūtas – who completely retired from life and engagement with this world, and wandered about often naked and completely absorbed in this consciousness. They were often scorned by people and treated rather badly by children and people that had no spiritual perception of things. So that’s kind of like one end of the scale, all the way through to somebody who may be very much involved for a transcendental purpose in what would be considered worldly affairs.
And of course the example here is Arjuna – engaging in a battle, but in a state of full transcendental consciousness. So this struggle to understand or to have the right vision of things, has been compared by Professor Edwin Bryant, who has done a commentary also on the Yoga-sūtra, as like drawing a comparison between physics, as it’s known in the scientific world, and what we could refer to as Sāṅkhyan physics. In this world…you know, it’s known to physicists and chemists, but to physicists in particular, that water as ice in its frozen form, it can be seen either in that form as being solid, or more deeply, as being a liquid now in a solid state. And even water in its room-temperature form as a liquid, can be perceived as actually being a liquefied gas; meaning that when the temperature is appropriate or under the right conditions, water evaporates and becomes gaseous in nature, as it is constantly drawn, for instance, from the ocean, and forms clouds.
And then if we go on an even deeper level, and we look at water as being a combination of hydrogen and oxygen sub-molecules, and on even a more subtle level, as being different atomic particles – neutrons, protons, electrons. So while physicists can see things and comprehend things, and be intensely aware of these realities, so similarly, the yogīs also had a view, and Edwin Bryant has stated that: “One difference is that in modern science, the atomic or subatomic structure of matter can be perceived only by advanced mechanical instrumentation, or inferred as existing, whereas Patañjali and the Yoga tradition claim that the yogī can actually and personally perceive or, more accurately, experience with the mind the subtle essences of an object without any such props.”
So this was the endeavor of the yogī (the transcendentalist), to actually see the reality of material nature, and to come to learn about the reality of my own transcendental or spiritual nature. So the meditative states that have been described in this verse, are for this purpose of actually coming to know the true nature of things…that’s the only purpose that they actually serve. And what this leads to is, for the transcendentalist (the sādhaka) to come to this point of being what’s commonly referred to as ‘equipoised’ – to be completely unmoved; to be stable and not put out of balance by the existence of… by the effects of material nature and material consciousness.
So we see this reference to becoming equipoised and unaffected by the dualities commonly repeated. And I’ll just give one example from the Bhagavad-gīta – in the second chapter there is the forty-eighth verse: “Perform your duty equipoised, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga.”
So here we have a wonderful description from the Bhagavad-gīta, of what is this condition known as yoga. In another verse it states: “Those whose minds are established in sameness and equanimity have already conquered the conditions of birth and death. They are flawless like Brahman, and thus they are already situated in Brahman.”
So it lays out the reality that even while existing within this body, one can attain and achieve this transcendental platform. And then another verse: “One who is equal to friends and enemies, who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, heat and cold, happiness and distress, fame and infamy, who is always free from contaminating association, always silent and satisfied with anything, who doesn’t care for a any residence, who is fixed in knowledge and who is engaged in service to the Supreme with great devotion – such a person is very dear to Me.”
So we won’t talk in any length on these verses, and perhaps you can refer to them; pause the video and actually contemplate upon them, because they are incredibly profound and of great significance. And what they are doing is speaking to what is the goal of this meditative practice that has been laid out here by Patañjali.
There’s some other wonderful verses from the Bhāgavat Pūraṇa that speak to this transcendental condition, which I would like to read for you, because we can always…we will all benefit greatly from hearing or reading and being reminded of these truths.
So it’s speaking of a great sage – his name was Kardama Muni – and it describes: “The sage Kardama Muni accepted silence as a vow in order to think of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and to take shelter of Him exclusively. Without association, he traveled over the surface of the globe as a sannyāsī, devoid of any relationship with fire or shelter.”
So the reference was to how such wandering sannyāsīs did not light a fire, meaning either a sacrificial fire and often not even to cook food. “He fixed his mind upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Parabrahman, who is beyond cause and effect, who manifests the three modes of material nature, who is beyond those three modes, and who is perceived only through unfailing and devoted service. Thus he gradually became unaffected by the false ego of material identity and became free from material affection. Undisturbed, equal to everyone and without duality, he could indeed see himself also. His mind was turned inward and he was perfectly calm, like an ocean uneducated by waves. He thus became liberated from conditioned life and became self-situated in transcendental devotional service to the Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva, the omniscient Supreme Soul (Paramātmā) within everyone. He began to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead is (Īśvāra) is seated in everyone’s heart, and that everyone is existing on Him, because He is the Supersoul of everyone.”
So this was the transcendental state that the yogīs aspired for. In this regard, the most well-known modern yogī was the great personality Krishnamacarya.
Krishnamacarya, before his departure when he was in his late 90s, he actually dictated a commentary on the Yoga-sūtra in Tamil. And in explaining the actual purpose behind, and the reality of what it is that we’ve been speaking about here, he made a number of comments, which I’ll just refer to briefly here, within that commentary. One, was that: Īśvāra is the only way to attain samādhi. That is a very profound idea, and requires very clear consideration. He spoke about a couple of groups of three. One was the dhyāta, or the seer or the meditator which is referred to in the first pāda, the third sūtra. Then he referred to dhyeyam, or the subject of meditation, as being īśvāra, which was…he quoted the corresponding verse from the Yoga-sūtra.
And then he referred to dhyānam or meditation, as being the process referred to in the third pāda, the second verse. And he described how the result of dhyānam or meditation, is actually the attainment of samādhi. And this process of meditation, he said, also had three components: the meditator, who is the actual puruṣa referred to in the first pāda, twenty-ninth sūtra, and meditation is something performed on the praṇava or the auṁ, or another suitable mantra bestowed by a self-realized guru. And the reference he quoted was the first pāda, twenty-seventh sutra.
Then the method of practicing meditation is primarily japa with bhāvana, the supporting verse being the twenty-eighth sutra of the first pāda. This japa is the uttering of the name he said, of Īśvāra, with very careful attention. And it means the development of a relationship with the divine. So meditation upon Īśvāra reveals the true nature of Īśvāra and of the self.
This Sanskrit word ‘bhavana’, can mean to become fixed or absorbed…deeply absorbed, but it can also speak on a deeper level to the arising transcendental experience of coming into contact with with Īśvara. So when Krishnamacarya spoke of nirvitarkā samāpatti, he says that this clearing or the purification of the memory, actually makes it so that the name and form of Īśvāra alone, should remain in the mind devoid of all other thoughts.
This is the actual essence of his teachings put forward by Patañjali. And of course in order to be able to do that, he spoke about the fact that it requires very long-term practice of prāṇāyāma, pratyāhāra and dhāraṇā. So these three items we see are three of the eight limbs of the yoga process—the Ashtanga Yoga process.
Pratyāhāra refers to the withdrawal of the senses from the sense objects, and this is also spoken about throughout the Vedas. It’s very clearly and specifically mentioned within the Bhagavad-gīta, and is very much tied to the objective or purpose of the meditation that is practiced in the sūtra that we’re speaking about here, and we’re referencing. This withdrawal of the senses from the sense objects becomes increasingly easy, the more one is able to see the reality of material existence in the material energy—its actual real nature, and the more one is able to discover what is the actual nature of my own spiritual identity.
And then dhāraṇā… Krishnamacarya said that dhāraṇā is best practiced…dhāraṇā means bringing the mind into a very singular focus, and it is best practiced by the establishment of a vigraha or Deity form of the Lord for the purpose of meditation. And to this end, this is also mentioned in many places in the Bhāgavat Pūraṇa.
In support of these statements of Krishnamacharya, there is a beautiful verse in the Bhāgavat Pūraṇa that also confirms this. It’s describing the practitioner – the yogī, the transcendentalist: “Performing his prescribed duties, one should worship the Deity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead until one realizes My presence in his own heart and in the hearts of other living entities as well.”
Then there is this very beautiful account of Dhruva Maharaja and his encounter with the Ṛṣi Nārada. Dhruva Maharaja was a very young boy; he was only five years of age; he was the son of an incredibly powerful king, and he had suffered a great insult at the hands of his father, and desired to seek vengeance or help in attaining justice. And so what he did was to run off to the forest to seek out Īśvāra, so that he could gain justice. And in this journey, staying out there alone in the depths of the forest with great determination…a very passionate little guy, Nārada Muni came upon him and told him fundamentally to go home… you know, “You’re too young and inexperienced, and perhaps when you’re…later, you can try to engage in this path or process.”
Of course Dhruva Maharaja said that he was not able to hear these instructions because of his passionate nature, and was going to stay there anyway. So Nārada Muni, seeing that he was so determined, decided to give him spiritual initiation with a transcendental mantra, and advised him then how to undertake this process. And he states: “My dear boy, I therefore wish all good fortune for you. You should go to the banks of the Yamunā, where there is a virtuous forest named Madhuvana, and there be purified. Just by going there one draws nearer to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who always lives there,” Nārada Muni instructed: ” My dear boy, in the waters of the Yamunā River, which is known as Kālindī, one should take three baths daily because the water is very auspicious, sacred and clear. After bathing, you should perform the necessary regulative principles for aṣṭāṅga-yoga and then sit down on your āsana [sitting place] in a calm and quiet position. After sitting on your seat, practice the three kinds of breathing exercises, and thus gradually control the life air, the mind and the senses. Completely free yourself from all material contamination, and with great patience begin to meditate upon the Supreme Guru (Īśvāra). [The form of the Lord is described herein] The Lord’s face is perpetually very beautiful and pleasing in attitude. To the devotees who see Him, He appears never to be displeased, and He is always prepared to award benedictions to them. His eyes, His nicely decorated eyebrows, His raised nose and His broad forehead are all very beautiful. He is more beautiful than all the demigods.
Nārada Muni continued: “The Lord’s form is always youthful. Every limb and every part of His body is properly formed, free from defect. His eyes and lips are pinkish like the rising sun. He is always prepared to give shelter to the surrendered soul, and anyone so fortunate as to look upon Him feels all satisfaction. The Lord is always worthy to be the master of the surrendered soul, for He is the ocean of mercy. The Lord is further described as having the mark of Śrīvatsa, or the sitting place of the goddess of fortune, and his bodily hue is deep bluish (like a monsoon cloud). The Lord is a person, He wears a garland of flowers, and He is eternally manifest with four hands, which hold a conch shell, wheel, club and lotus flower. The entire body of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva, is decorated. He wears a valuable jeweled helmet, necklaces and bracelets. His neck is adorned with the Kaustubha jewel, and He is dressed in yellow silk garments. The Lord is decorated with small golden bells around His waist, and His lotus feet are decorated with golden ankle bells. All His bodily features are very attractive and pleasing to the eyes. He is always peaceful, calm and quiet and very pleasing to the eyes and to the mind.
Real yogīs meditate upon the transcendental form of the Lord as He stands on the whorl of the lotus of their hearts, the jewellike nails of His lotus feet glittering. The Lord is always smiling, and the devotee should constantly see the Lord in this form, as He looks very mercifully towards the devotee. In this way, the meditator should look upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the bestower of all benedictions. One who meditates in this way, concentrating his mind upon the always auspicious form of the Lord, is very soon freed from all material contamination, and he does not come down from meditation upon the Lord. O son of the King, now I shall speak unto you the mantra which is to be chanted with the process of meditation. One who carefully chants this mantra for seven nights can see the perfect human beings flying in the sky. Oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya.
This is the twelve-syllable mantra for worship of Lord Kṛṣṇa. One should install the physical forms of the Lord (arcā-vigraha), and with the chanting of mantra one should offer flowers and fruits and other varieties of foodstuffs exactly according to the rules and regulations prescribed by authorities. But this should be done in consideration of place, time, and attendant conveniences and inconveniences. One should worship the Lord by offering pure water, pure flower garlands, fruits, flowers and vegetables, which are available in the forest, or by collecting newly grown grasses, small buds of flowers or even the skins of trees, and if possible, by offering tulasī leaves, which are very dear to the Lord. It is possible to worship a form of the Lord made of physical elements such as earth, water, pulp, wood and metal. In the forest one can make a form with no more than earth and water and worship Him according to the above principles. A devotee who has full control of his self should be very sober and peaceful and must be satisfied simply with eating whatever fruits and vegetables are available in the forest.”
So these passages contain profoundly important transcendental instruction. In relation to the Yoga-sūtra verse that we are studying, This particular passage that we have read…meaning the verse that we have read…can also be understood in terms of a technical application of the different states of samādhi being outlined by Patañjali. Edwin Bryant quotes from an academic work by Howard Coward written in 1985, where he states the following in relation to applying these meditative states (samāpatti) and the use of the chanting of the pranava (the omkara), as laid out by Patañjali. And it states: “In the savitarka stage of chanting, oṁ is mixed up with the conventional meanings and the ideas that we now know define vitarka meditation— perhaps a mental image of Īśvara derived from the deity in one’s local temple, or from some painting, or sectarian tradition in which one has been raised or to which one has dedicated oneself. One’s mental notions of Īśvara will be molded by one’s saṁsāric background and saṁskāric makeup. Therefore, at the savitarka stage of samādhi, one’s chanting is obscured by these conventional notions of conceiving Īśvara. At the nirvitarka stage, these are eliminated and Īśvara begins to manifest from the sound oṁ in His own pure nature, unobstructed by the concocted images and associations that the yogī has fostered. At the third stage of savicāra, as the citta’s focus on the recitation of the mantra deepens, one penetrates into the inner experience of the sound and gradually begins to experience, that is, directly perceive, Īśvara in His pure sāttvic body. The yogī’s mind is now so completely absorbed in this vision of Īśvara that he or she has lost all self-awareness. One forgets one’s own self in the rapture of this divine vision (but, it is imperative to note, that contrary to Advaita Vedānta, one nonetheless always remains a distinct individual). In the final stage, one’s absorption in this vision of Īśvara is extracted from a notion of Time and Space, and Īśvara (and the sound of oṁ of which Īśvara is the seed) is experienced as the infinite and eternal Supreme Being.”
So this particular description is actually incredibly insightful, and I was quite surprised when I first came across this, because it accurately portrays the deeper spiritual teachings regarding the performance of japa, or meditation upon this transcendental sound, where one will become increasingly purified by this transcendental sound itself as a purifying agent.
And as one becomes increasingly purified, and the false concepts of the self and the material consciousness begin to fall away, then one will be able to actually begin to experience through revelation, the transcendental nature and transcendental form of the Īśvara. And this is something that we’ve referenced partially in the past, and we will go into deeper explanations of this going forward. Thank you very much.