February 9 Discussion Sūtra 1.9, 1.10
Notes by Erez, edited by Ram
शब्दज्ञानानुपाती वस्तुशून्यो विकल्पः। (1.9)
(शब्द-ज्ञान-अनुपाती वस्तु-शून्यः विकल्पः।)
śabdajñānānupātī vastuśūnyo vikalpaḥ
Knowledge gained by words, but devoid of a
corresponding object is vikalpa.
Vikalpa: The noun is formed by the addition of prefix vi (many, varied, different) to the verb kḷp (to imagine, project,) and the suffix a. The word vikalpaḥ (masculine gender, singular form) can mean imagination, projection, mental construct, concepts, theories.
śabda-jñāna-anupātī: This compound (masculine gender, singular form) comprises three component words: śabda, word, jñāna, knowledge and anupātin, follows. The compound is resolved to mean knowledge that follows, that is generated by words.
vastuśūnyaḥ: This compound (masculine gender, singular form) has two component words, vastu object and śūnya, empty, devoid of.
The aphorism defines the third of the five cittavṛttis enumerated in (1.6). This is not a pramāṇa (knowledge), nor a viparyaya (misapprehension / error). The reason for this to be treated as a separate one is that the knowledge gained by listening to words, many a time does not signify a tangible object. Vyāsa, in his commentary cites as an example, ‘True nature of puruṣa is awareness’. One gains a knowledge of the nature of puruṣa but this knowledge is not centered on a concrete object. In its widest sense vikalpa thus encompasses diverse things – like concepts, theories, fancy, imagination and so on. Some translations just use the word imagination as the only meaning.
Question: Could you say the eight limbs are vikalpa?
Ram: I suppose you mean the Patañjali Yoga-sūtras. Yes, and no. It is considered to be an āgama, thus it fulfills the definition of a valid means of knowledge resulting in pramāṇa. But the core message, that you are the puruṣa, un-associated with the mind is abstract knowledge, in this sense, it can be construed as vikalpa until one owns it, or one ‘experiences’ this truth about oneself.
Note that simply because a separate category is defined does not necessarily mean it is less of a knowledge. For example, in economy money is a concept, monetary policy is a concept, macro-economics is a concept but their effects are real and tangible to us all. So concepts affects real objects. Yet another example of conceptual knowledge is the discovery of Neptune using Newton’s law and inference.
अभावप्रत्ययालम्बना वृत्तिर्निद्रा। (1.10)
(अभाव-प्रत्यय-आलम्बना वृत्तिः* निद्रा।)
abhāva-pratyaya-ālambanā vṛttiḥ nidrā.
Sleep is a mental mode supported by absence of cognition.
* Some texts have tamovṛtti
abhāva-pratyaya-ālambanā: This compound (feminine gender, singular form) is composed of three words, abhāva, pratyaya, and ālambanā. The first word, a-bhāva meamns absence of bhāva, thing. The second word pratyaya formed by adding the prefix prati to the verb i (to go, to know, to cognize) and the suffix a – pratyaya means cognition. The last word of this compound is ālambanā, formed by the addition of the prefix ā to the verb lamb and the suffix ana – ālambana means base, substratum. The meaning of the compound is: (vṛtti, the mental mode) that has the substratum of cognizing nothing.
nidrā, sleep in this sūtra refers to dreamless sleep when there is no cognition (including the cognizer, myself). Vyāsa comments that sleep is a cittavṛtti since one has memory of it on waking up. One always has memory of sleeping well, poorly, heavily, etc… so sleep is also a mental mode (or modification).
Question: Should we stop sleeping to restrict the modification of sleep?
Ram: This an interesting comment and it goes into understanding the meaning of citta-vṛtti-nirodha, the definition of yoga in Sūtra (1.2). Instead of conjuring an image of wrestling with and restraining a mental mode, the idea here is one of mastery over mental modes. The commentator Vyāsa elaborates on yoga in an independent work of his, the Bhagavadgītā, a section in his magnum opus, Mahābhārata. The sixth chapter of Bhagavadgītā is considered to be one dedicated to meditation or contemplation. From the perspective of aṣṭāṅgayoga, one can treat is as an elaboration of who is a yogin. The relevant verse follows:
नात्यश्नतस्तु योगोऽस्ति न चैकान्तमनश्नतः।
न चातिस्वप्नशीलस्य जाग्रतो नैव चार्जुन।। (6.16)
nātyaśnatastu yogo’sti na caikāntamanaśnataḥ
na cātisvapnaśīlasya jāgrato naiva cārjuna.
Arjuna, there is no yoga for one who enjoys objects too much, nor the one who stays away from all enjoyments, it is not for one who sleeps all the time, and also not for one who never sleeps.
Question: In some texts this sūtra is different, they cite tamovṛttir nidrā.
Ram: This minor difference in the text is called pāṭhabheda – different version. In a few of the sūtra-chantings in U-tube, one hears this version, while Jaya Shree’s chanting does not have this additional word ‘tamo‘. The compound tamo vṛtti is formed from tamas and vṛtti. During one of our earlier discussions we mentioned the three guṇas – sattva, rajas and tamas. The cosmos, creation which includes our minds is a mixture of all the three. In deep sleep tamas predominates.
Question: Is it possible to approach yoga in a way which will not lead to sattva?
Ram: The very objective of yoga practice is to move the citta to a higher proportion of sattva–guṇa. Practice is designed to make you conscious of your inner world. By working on the gross, meaning the tangible physical body the subtle, namely the mind is moved towards sattva. As long time yoga practitioners you all would have noticed a change in your attitudes, frienships, how you spend or use your time. This is what is meant by moving more towards sattva. Naturally, as we will see in the second chapter, this move is dependent on how one deals with kliṣṭas.