From the practice of the elements of yoga comes the destruction of impurities; [therefrom] comes the shine of knowledge that stretches all the way to the domain of discernment.
Audio Recitation by D.C. Rao, Phd
yoga the science of yoga
aṅga elements; limbs; component; divisions
ānuṣṭhānād 5th case of anusthana; from the undertaking; from the practice; from the defined course of sadhana
aśuddhikṣaye = aśuddhi + kṣaye
aśuddhi impurity; contamination
kṣaye 7th case of kṣaya; destruction; deterioration; elimination
together: the destruction of impurities
jñānadīptir = jñāna + diptir
diptir shine; illumination; ignition
together: the shine of knowledge; the brightening of knowledge
āvivekakhyāteḥ = ā + vivekakhyāteḥ
ā from every direction; in every respect; in every sense
vivekakhyāti discerning knowledge
together: discerning knowledge that is complete in every sense
Attainment of knowledge is an ongoing process, not a one-time phenomenon. Knowing is one thing; abiding in knowledge is another. Constant reinforcement of knowledge strengthens our conviction. The stronger our conviction, the more spontaneously knowledge presents itself when we need it. When our knowledge is fully mature and our conviction firm, the flow of discerning power becomes incessant and effortless. In this state, knowledge pertaining to the entire chain of cause and effect is fully present in the forefront of our mind. We do not need to resort to logic to know what is right and what is wrong, what is healthy and what is unhealthy. Truth and untruth, fact and fiction, real and imaginary are brightly lit by the discerning power of knowledge. This discerning power is called viveka-khyati.
When our knowledge is fully mature and our conviction firm, the flow of discerning power becomes incessant and effortless.
Viveka-khyati is unwavering, fully mature experiential knowledge which affords no room for doubt. Such knowledge is the ultimate means of bringing our misery completely to an end. According to this sutra, we cannot achieve this level of knowledge unless we commit ourselves to systematic practice. Systematic practice is called yoga sadhana. This system of practice consists of eight elements, or limbs. Together they constitute the complete body of yoga sadhana, the ultimate goal of which is to destroy the impurities that block our vision of reality. These impurities vary in quality and content and may be physical, mental, or spiritual.
Our body is imbued with an innate wisdom that regulates our cellular respiration, guides our mitochondria, triggers our pituitary gland, and lights up our cortex. Impurities at the physical level—environmental toxins and hormonal or biochemical imbalances—block the flow of the body’s innate wisdom. The methodical practice of yoga, consisting of eight distinct elements, helps us destroy these physical impurities.
Our mind is endowed with linear and logical thinking and the power of discrimination. Its assertive power is immense. The entire realm regulated by the forces of time, space, and the laws of cause and effect lies within the reach of the mind. It can even unveil mysteries that are not part of our manifest world. Impurities at the mental level—whether they originate from the primitive urges of hunger, sleep, fear, and procreation or from emotional imbalances caused by anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, attachment, and ego— block the flow of the power of our mind. Yoga sadhana destroys these impurities, allowing our mind’s immense power to flow freely.
The subtlest of all impurities is avidya (ignorance), the strong attachment we have to our false beliefs. The main target of yoga sadhana is the destruction of our avidya. Complete knowledge (samyak-jñana) manifests from that destruction. This complete knowledge includes the knowledge of the world inside us and the world outside, the material aspect of ourselves as well as the purely spiritual.
As we progress on the path of sadhana, the impurities become thinner and weaker. As our impurities weaken, the light of knowledge becomes brighter until the brilliance of knowledge reaches its zenith—the state of viveka-khyati. Yoga sadhana, which consists of the eight integral elements, leads us to this state of viveka-khyati from which absolute freedom dawns spontaneously. The next sutra describes these eight elements of yoga sadhana.