Yoga Sutra 1.16

Translation and Commentary

May 18, 2013    BY Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

Translation

The highest level of dispassion, leading to self-realization, takes place when the aspirant is free from all forms of "thirst," including the desires resulting from the interplay of sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic forces of nature.
Yoga Sutra 1.16 Recitation
Audio Recitation by D.C. Rao, Phd

tat that
paraṃ beyond
puruṣa consciousness; individual soul
khyāter dative case of khyāti: knowledge, recognition, revelation
guṇa qualities; attributes of nature

vaitṛṣṇyam = vai + tṛṣṇyam
vai devoid of
tṛṣṇyam clinging, thirst, attachment, desire

Thus, vaitṛṣṇyam equals a state of mind which is free from all forms of desire.

Crystal clarity of mind

A cloudy mind shrouds the truth. But through non-attachment truth shines with perfect clarity.

The mind is like a lake. You can see your reflection in the water provided the lake is clear and calm. Clarity and calmness are equally important in creating an undistorted reflection: The clarity of the water depends on the absence of pollutants; if the lake is calm but dirty the reflection will be vague and blurry. If the lake is clear but agitated the reflection will be distorted. Abhyasa (the methodical practice of yoga, as described by Patanjali) makes the lake of the mind calm; the practice of vairagya (dispassion) makes it clear.

Through this twofold discipline— methodical practice and dispassion— the mind eventually becomes so calm and transparent that it begins to perceive reality as it is. It no longer has room for prejudices and preoccupations. It can clearly distinguish the real from the unreal, consciousness from matter. It can clearly see which part of us is born and is subject to aging, death, decay, and destruction, and which part of us is eternal and therefore beyond birth and death. This is called direct realization, also known as purusha khyati (the realization of the Self), which literally means knowledge of purusha, the individual soul, in contradistinction to the material world and all the experiences associated with it.

This degree of understanding destroys all fears and doubts, for we are no longer attached to objects and experiences that are detrimental to our journey.

Once you know who you are, where you have come from, what the purpose of your being here is, and where you are supposed to go, then you can easily set your goal. Once your goal is set, you will be able to use your own body, mind, senses, and all worldly objects as a means for achieving that goal. That will enable you to perform your actions in a meaningful way. The self-realization brought to you by your clear and calm mind will also help you identify milestones in life’s journey. You will clearly know how much of your journey you have completed and how much farther you have to go. This degree of understanding destroys all fears and doubts, for we are no longer attached to objects and experiences that are detrimental to our journey. Now even the subtle forces of nature (the three gunas: sattva, rajas, and tamas) which govern our personality have become impotent for all practical purposes.

The sattvic and tamasic forces are the sources of liking and disliking. The sattvic energy influences our mind in a way that causes us to like virtues and dislike nonvirtues. Tamasic energy, on the other hand, influences our mind in the opposite way. Our mind is constantly tossed by the interplay of sattvic and tamasic energies, forcing us to remain caught in the whirlpool of our likes and dislikes. Self-realization gives us a realistic perspective on life. And once we have that, instead of wasting our time on likes and dislikes, we engage our entire mind and heart in attaining the purpose of life.

Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
Spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute, Pandit Tigunait is the successor of Swami Rama of the Himalayas. Lecturing and teaching worldwide for more than a quarter of a century, he is the author of fourteen books, including his recently-released The Secret of the Yoga Sutra, and his autobiography Touched by Fire: The Ongoing Journey of a Spiritual Seeker. Pandit Tigunait holds two doctorates: one in Sanskrit from the University of Allahabad in India, and another in Oriental Studies from the... Read more>>