Yoga Sutra 1.19

Translation and Commentary

May 15, 2013    BY Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

Translation

People belonging to the category of videha and prakṛtilaya are born with the capacity to attain the highest level of samadhi.
Yoga Sutra 1.19 Recitation
Audio Recitation by D.C. Rao, Phd

bhava birth
pratyayaḥ cognition; modification; thought constructs

videha = vi + deha
vi beyond; devoid of; transcended
deha body; bodyconsciousness
videha one who has transcended body consciousness; one who is not limited to the demands of the body and biological urges

prakṛtilayānām possessive of prakṛtilaya
prakṛti nature; equanimous state of sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic forces of nature
laya dissolution; absorption
prakṛilaya one whose consciousness has dissolved in prakṛti; one who has reached a state of equanimity and yet remains absorbed in nature, not in pure consciousness

Innate Capacity

There are those who live beyond attachment to body and mind. They travel through this world like waves that have crossed the ocean and now approach the distant shore.

The spiritual journey is an ongoing process. The methodical practice of self-discipline and the cultivation of dispassion are at the core of this journey. As we keep getting closer to our destination (Self-realization), worldly snares keep loosening and consequently our journey on the path becomes more spontaneous and joyful.

When we see the body as a shadow of the mind and the mind as a shadow of the soul, our priorities shift automatically. Our attachment to the body and to physical pleasure vanishes.

Some of us reach a point at which bodily concerns and biological urges no longer occupy our mind. When we see the body as a shadow of the mind and the mind as a shadow of the soul, our priorities shift automatically. Our attachment to the body and to physical pleasure vanishes. Thus, while living in this world, we attain freedom from the bondage caused by identification with the body and with worldly success and failure, gain and loss, honor and insult. This is called videha, a state in spiritual evolution at which we have transcended our body consciousness.

But we are not yet "there." If our journey is interrupted by death after we have reached this state of physical transcendence, then divine providence ensures that during the next birth we will get everything we need to start our journey from exactly where we stopped. It is about such aspirants that we hear of "miracles."

But there is a category of aspirants who have gone a step beyond videha. Through their methodical practice and cultivation of dispassion, they have not only risen above their body consciousness, they have also gained a high level of mastery over their minds. They have mastered the art of casting off the body voluntarily and suspending their mind in the domain of nature, where they remain absorbed until a suitable body (a locus for their consciousness) is available. Since the yogis of this caliber willfully and consciously allow their self-awareness to be absorbed (laya) in nature (prakriti) they are called prakritilaya.

In other words, these yogis use prakriti as a momentary locus for their consciousness. To them, nature is their mother—when disembodied, they live in her womb, and when embodied they play in her lap. It is in the case of these yogis that we hear mind-boggling stories of spiritual achievements. Undergoing sudden transformation, being blessed with spiritual revelation without any apparent effort, and exhibiting extraordinary powers without being trained in yogic disciplines are some of the signs of these souls. We call them blessed souls because their lives seem to be full of divine grace.

To those whose consciousness is not as evolved, it may appear that these blessed ones get everything without effort, but the truth is that they have undertaken and completed spiritual disciplines that have enabled them to receive and retain what now appears to be divine grace. For those who have not yet reached this level of spiritual evolution, methodical practice and the cultivation of dispassion are absolutely necessary.

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>>