Yoga Sutra 1.50

Translation and Commentary

April 23, 2013    BY Pandit Rajmani Tigunait


The subtle impressions born of that intuitive wisdom cancel all other samskaras.

tajjaḥ born of that; evolving from that
saskāra subtle impression, impressions of the past

anyasaskārapratibandhī = anya + saskāra + pratibandhī

  • anya other, different
  • saskāra subtle impression, mental impressions
  • pratibandhī that which blocks, cancels, neutralizes, nullifies

Together, anyasaskārapratibandhī means “that which cancels or neutralizes the karmic impressions of the past.”

Freedom from the Bondage of Karma

As explained in the preceding sutras, we refine our meditation with practice. The more refined the meditation, the greater the purity it grants the mind. The purer the mind, the greater the chance it will be illumined by the inner light. Mental purification and a meaningful meditation go hand in hand. For an impure mind, "enlightenment" is merely an empty word.

In other words, it is only in a purified mind that the light of Atman, the light of the soul, shines in its full brilliance, enabling the aspirant to experience the inner reality the way it is. This experience is so clear, crisp, and unalloyed that it does not require any validation. It is self-evident. The scriptures call this experience “intuitive wisdom.” In this intuitive wisdom, there is no impurity whatsoever. There is room neither for distortion nor for the slightest trace of doubt.

The voice of the soul becomes the guiding force in all of life’s endeavors.

Most significantly, as this sutra proclaims, the subtle impressions born of this intuitive wisdom cancels all other samskaras (subtle impressions, memories, and habitual tendencies). Upon reaching this state of meditation, a yogi is no longer affected by his previous deeds or by the fruits of those deeds. This is what is meant by “freedom from the bondage of karma.” The past becomes a history with no power to influence the present, and the yogi becomes master of himself. He or she is no longer subject to anyone’s opinions. The voice of the soul becomes the guiding force in all of life’s endeavors. In this state of meditation, revelation is so clear and so well received that the revealer, the revealed, and the recipient of the revelation have merged into one. This lofty state of realization wipes away all personal preferences, tastes, and interests.

This sutra also clarifies that regardless of how profound and bright the revelation, if it does not cancel our preoccupations and prejudices, then this is a clear indication that the mind was not purified, and therefore the flow of revelation gushing forth from the realm beyond picked up impurities from the mindfield. This contamination undermines the efficacy of revelation. A contaminated revelation not only fails to cancel the binding effects of previous karmas but it also contains seeds of bondage.

If, for example, your spiritual revelation instills your mind and heart with the feeling that you had an experience of a Hindu god, rather than an experience of God, it means the flow of revelation passed through a mind that was still filled with the “Hindu elements.” Thus the revelation of God became contaminated and turned into the revelation of a Hindu god. This revelation may grant the illusion of freedom from a Hindu hell and a Hindu heaven but will fail to cancel numberless other mental impressions that pose obstacles on the path of freedom.

Stages of Sabija 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.

Sutra 1.46
Those [samadhis] are indeed the samadhi with seeds.

Sutra 1.47
From further purification of nirvichara samadhi (meditation that transcends the realm of thought altogether) spiritual illumination ensues.

Sutra 1.48
Therein resides intuitive wisdom laden with rtam, the self-propelled law of sustainability.

Sutra 1.49
The content of intuitive wisdom is totally different from that which can be derived from scriptural sources and inference, for both its source and its intent are unique and extraordinary.

Sutra 1.50
The subtle impressions born of that intuitive wisdom cancel all other samskaras.

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>>