The Secret of the Yoga Sutra Book Club Session 5


Summary and Key Terms

These three sutras are all descriptions of samadhi, which Vyasa tells us (sutra 1:1) is the mind’s natural state. 

In sutra 1:16 we see that higher vairagya  (para vairagya) dawns when we have acquired a fully controlled state of mind, one that is free from all forms of desire. Para vairagya is the culmination of the process of lower vairagya discussed in sutra 1:15; it is the state in which the mind and everything it contains is fully lit by the light of Pure Consciousness. Other terms used to describe this state areviveka khyati (unshakeable discernment), chitta vimukti (freedom from mind), andsamadhi (the perfectly pristine state of mind). 

In sutra 1:17, we are introduced to the process of lower (samprajnata) samadhi, which Panditji characterizes as the journey leading to higher samadhi. Lower samadhi can be divided into four categories, each of which is accompanied by a different type of object: vitarka (perceptible object), vichara (subtle object, such as a mantra), ananda (joy or bliss), and asmita (the feeling of our own self-existence). Samprajnata means “fully aware.” In each category of samprajnata samadhi, we are fully aware of three things: the object of meditation, the process of meditation, and ourselves as meditators. 

Sutra 1:18 describes the state of higher, or asamprajnata, samadhi. As the Sanskrit name implies, in this state we move beyond the three streams of awareness that define lower samadhi. Our awareness of the object of meditation, the process of meditation, and ourselves as meditators has dissolved into the awareness of Pure Consciousness. This state is also called nirbija samadhi, or samadhi without seeds, because all seeds, or subtle samskaras, have been washed away.


  1. What is the difference between para vairagya and asamprajnata samadhi (higher vairagya and higher samadhi)? 

  2. What differentiates lower samadhi from higher samadhi?

  3. What are the three streams of awareness that accompany all four categories of lower samadhi? 

  4. What determines the nature of the experience that manifests in lower samadhi?

  5. How does the process of lower samadhi lead to the dawning of the state of higher samadhi? 

  6. What is the immediate cause of higher samadhi—abhyasa, vairagya, both, or neither? Why?

  7. What role do our meditative samskaras play in the state of higher samadhi?

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