Sūtra 1-19

भवप्रत्ययो विदेहप्रकृतिलयानाम्। (१-१९)

Bhavapratyayo videhaprakṛtilayānām. (1-19)
(Bhava-pratyayaḥ videha-prakṛti-layānām)

Those without physical body and those absorbed
in prakṛti achieve (asaṁprajñātasamādhi) by bhavapratyaya.


Commentator Vyāsa introduces this sūtra and the next one by mentioning two ways of achieving asaṁprajñatasamādhi (indicated by the word ‘other’ in the previous aphorism). The first one is bhava and the second being upāya. The current sūtra pertains to those who achieve this by bhava.

Analysis of the words of the aphorism

This sūtra has two compounds, bhava-pratyaya and videha-prakṛti-laya.

The first compound,  bhava-pratyaya has two component words, bhava and pratyaya. Both words, though formed similarly from the verbs bhū and ī respectively by the addition of the suffix a, the meanings are different in context of this aphorism. Bhava, etymologically meaning ‘becoming’ is commonly used to indicate prakṛti as well as its evolute avidyā, ignorance of true nature of puruṣa, and samsāra or transmigration (reincarnation in this or other worlds).

Though the word pratyaya is used in earlier aphorisms to mean cognition or knowledge, here it means caused or achieved by (this is based on the resolution of the word – pratīyate anena iti pratyayaḥŚaṅkara’s gloss to Vyāsa’s commentary).

The compound bhava-pratyaya is interpreted in several ways by sub-commentators and translators. One translation gives the meaning “absorption in prakṛti in its subtle aspects”. Another gives the meaning “by birth”. According to this meaning, they have the status of videha or prakṛtilaya by birth, not by any yoga practice. That is, these yogins achieve the other samādhi mentioned in 1-18 by not going beyond prakṛti on their effort. Because of this reason, they are born again. According to commentator Vyāsa, they are in a pseudo-state of Kaivalya, and they return to earth and thus are not-fully accomplished yogins. In the Bhagavadgīta he mentions that these yogabhraṣṭas, unfulfilled yogins are born again to pursue yoga from where they left off in their previous lives. The subsequent aphorism will describe another method that is intended for yogins to continue in their efforts in this life.

The second compound, videha-prakṛti-layānām is a word in sixth case plural. This compound mentions two types of souls, videha and prakṛtilaya. Videha means one who does not have a physical body – vi without, deha body. This is said to mean celestial beings inhabiting one of the seven heavens mentioned in Indian mythologies. The belief is that those who have not been able to accomplish the final goal of yoga-practice here reach these higher worlds and reside there only to return back to earth to continue their yogic practice. Prakṛti-laya, resolved or absorbed in prakṛti, is the second type.

One independent commentator, Bhoja, in contrast to Vyāsa connects this to 1-17, that is they gain only saṁprajñātasamādhi. This view can be traced to the fact that the word  Prakṛtilaya is mentioned in connection with vairāgya in Sāṅkhyakārikā (45).

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