Yoga Sutra 1.46

Translation and Commentary

April 27, 2013    BY Pandit Rajmani Tigunait


Those [samadhis] are indeed the samadhi with seeds.

Plural of tat, that; those (referring to the different forms of samadhi described in sutras 1.42–45)
eva only; alone; indeed; precisely

sabījaḥ = sa + bīja

  • sa with; accompanied by; embedded in
  • bīja seed

Together, a state of samadhi where the mind is able to see the cause of both bondage and liberation; the state of samadhi that leaves its own impression on the mind, thus creating an environment whereby the mind is compelled to meditate.

samādhiḥ all-consuming focus; spiritual absorption; the state of meditation where the mind stands still, letting the light of the soul reflect in it without distraction.

You Reap What You Sow

All authentic sources of wisdom tell us that the mind is the source of both joy and sorrow. Intellectually we know this and intuitively we feel it. But because we don’t have a direct experience of this truth, with our disturbed, distracted, and confused mind we go on searching for the causes of our joy and sorrow in the external world. Here, Patanjali reminds us that in the deep state of samadhi all seeds of our joy and sorrow are exposed to the inner light. In this light, we discover how to attain freedom once and for all.

"There is good meditation; there is bad meditation. There is poor meditation; there is profound meditation."

It is only when the mind is clear and calm that we can comprehend the true cause of sorrow and the way of attaining freedom from it. We gain this clarity of mind by meditating on a spiritually elevating physical object or by transcending the physical realm altogether—a process of meditation described in sutra 1.42. Similarly, we gain clarity of mind either by meditating on a spiritually illuminating stream of thought or by transcending the entire realm of thought altogether—a process of meditation described in sutra 1.43. The finest state of meditation, however, leads to knowing ourselves at the deepest level, a process described in sutra 1.45.

When, as a practitioner, you move deeper in meditation, you come to know what your world of thoughts is made of—how the building blocks of your inner life motivate you to think, speak, and act. You begin to comprehend the dynamics of the subtle forces that shape your personality and determine your behaviors. In this tranquil state of mind, you begin to see how subtle, yet potent, seeds germinate in your inner world. And that same tranquil mind will allow you to see how human beings harvest the fruits in the external world that have germinated in their inner garden.

In this sutra, Patanjali is making an important point: each of the different forms of samadhi described in the preceding sutras invariably contains seeds. These seeds are quite potent—they have the capacity to sprout, mature, and reproduce. As an intelligent seeker, you must be careful in deciding which kind of seed you plant in sabija samadhi so that you do not harvest an undesirable crop. By meditating on any object, tangible or subtle, you will cultivate a one-pointed mind. The quality of the meditative object will sow its own seeds in your mind. One day that seed will bear fruit in the fertile soil of your one-pointed mind.

Remember, not all samadhis are spiritual. Only a spiritually illuminating object of meditation will give you spiritual samadhi. If you meditate on a devil, you will have a devilish samadhi. If you meditate on the divine, you will have a divine samadhi. You are what you think. This law applies in the spiritual realm just as it does in the mundane realm. That is why the masters say, “There is good meditation; there is bad meditation. There is poor meditation; there is profound meditation.”

While you work toward reclaiming a peaceful, tranquil mind, diligently gather spiritually elevating meditative objects so that in your sabija samadhi you plant only spiritual seeds. These seeds will lead to experiencing an expanded state of consciousness—the topic of the next sutra.

Stages of Samadhi

Sutra 1.42
When the mind focuses on an object in association with the word and its meaning, there arises savitarka samapatti, a narrow field of concentration that contains the word, its meaning, and the object denoted.

Sutra 1.43
Upon the complete transformation of memory, there arises nirvitarka samadhi, a mental state in which the meaning alone is illumined and which appears to be devoid of its own form.

Sutra 1.44
Accordingly, savichara samadhi and nirvichara samadhi, which have extremely subtle objects as their focal points, can be explained.

Sutra 1.45
Meditation on the most subtle object culminates in meditation on prakriti, the building blocks of our life and the life of the universe.

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>>