Narach Philosophy

YOGA IN THE SUTRAS


We have explained that the idea of Yoga is based on the creative energy of Buddhi. Corresponding to this we are told as follows:

"The highest form of matter is Citta. What ... the Sankhya calls Mahat (Buddhi), the Yoga calls Citta. It is the first product of Prakrti, though it is taken in a comprehensive sense, so as to include intellect, self-consciousness, and mind. Citta, as cause, is all-pervading like Akasa (Ether), and we have as many Cittas as there are Purushas (souls), since every purusha has a Citta connected with it. The Citta contracts or expands in the various kinds of abodes in the successive lives. ... This contracted or expanded Citta is called Karya-Citta (active Citta) which manifests itself in the states of consciousness. At death the Karana-Citta, always connected with the Purushas (individual souls), manifests itself as Karya-Citta, in the new body formed by the apura, or the filling in of Prakrti, on account of past merit or demerit. ... While Karana-Citta always remains all-pervading, the Karya-Citta appears contracted or expanded according to the body which it occupies. ... The Yogin acquires omniscience when the all-pervading state of Citta is restored. When it becomes as pure as the purusha itself, the latter is liberated. It is by means of Citta that the self (purusha) becomes aware of objects and enters into relation with the world. ... Citta may undergo modifications and assume the form of the objects presented to it; but it cannot perceive what it sees, since it is unconscious in its nature. It is the reflection of the self acting on it that makes it perceive what is presented to it. ... When the Citta is affected by some external object, through the sense-organs, we have a case of perception".

Purusha and Prakrti: We have pointed out that, according to our theory, Yoga gives a small place to Nature or Prakrti as a separate entity but associated with God. Their relation, as defined in the Sutras, is as follows:

"The Yoga accounts for creation by the two agencies of God and Avidya. Avidya is unintelligent. ... God is the intelligence adjusting the modifications of Prakrti to the ends of Purushas (individual souls). The jiva (individual soul) is found to be involved in matter, and this constitutes his fall from his purity and innocence. The individual, in the Yoga, is not so much at the mercy of Prakrti as in the Sankhya. He has greater freedom, and, with the help of God, he can affect his deliverance. ... God has a perfect nature. ... Patanjali proves the omniscience of God by means of the law of continuity. ... The blind tendency of non-intelligent Prakrti cannot bring forth the order and the harmony of the universe where men suffer according to their karmas (actions) God is the guide of the evolution of Prakti. He is ever solicitous that the development of Prakti may serve the interests of Purushas (individual souls) God is not, however, the creator of the world. ... He is said to be a special kind of self, untouched by the taint of imperfection and above the law of karma. ... God lives in eternal bliss, he is omniscient, the teacher of the ancient Rishis. If God is to help toiling souls on the upward way to freedom and light, he must in some degree subject himself to the experience of samsara (changing world) ... God is ever free. ... Unlike the liberated souls, who have no further connection with the world, God is everlastingly in connection with it. ... He in his mercy enters into the scene of change by assuming the quality of Sattva. ... The personal God of Yoga is very loosely connected with the rest of the system. ... God is only a particular self, and not the creator and preserver of the universe. He does not reward or punish the actions of men. But some work had to be devised for him when once he was on the scene. He is said to aid those who are devoted to him in removing the obstacles to their upward progress. ... Isvara (God) facilitates the attainment of liberation, but does not directly grant it. ... In the later Yoga, the universal needs of the human heart prove stronger, and God begins to occupy a more central place. The reality of God is seen in the purified life of man. The witness of God is the religious experience of man. The Over-soul speaks to the soul, and those who seek for truth find the answer in their hearts".

Prakrti: According to our theory, Nature or Prakrti is conceived as co-eternal with God in Yoga. Where Yoga is, for practical purposes, identified with Vedanta, Prakrti is regarded as a mere spectator of God's work; but Yoga in itself assigns a small share of creative work to Prakrti too. The idea of Prakti in Yoga is as follows:

"The universe is uncreated and eternal. It undergoes changes. In its noumenal state it is called Prakrti, which is associated with Gunas, and is always the same. Regarding the development of Prakrti, the Yoga holds that there are two parallel lines of evolution, starting from Mahat (Buddhi) which, on the one side, develops into Ahankara (Egoism), Manas (Mind), the five senses of cognition and the five of action1 and, on the other, develops into the five gross elements through the five tanmatras (subtle qualities of elements)".

The Individual Soul: The idea of the individual soul in each system corresponds to its idea of God. Yoga, based on the character of Buddhi, can understand the soul only in the light of Buddhi, and so it does not know the true character of the soul which Vedanta alone, based on the essence of the soul, can grasp. Yoga understands the individual soul as follows:

"There are countless individual souls which animate living beings and are by nature pure, eternal and immutable. But through the association with the universe, they become indirectly the experiencers of joys and sorrows, and assume innumerable embodied forms in the course of samsara. ... The jiva is found to be involved in matter, and this constitutes his fall from his purity and innocence. ... He has freedom, and with the help of God, can effect his deliverance. As in the Sankhya, so in the Yoga, the round of re-births, with its many pains, is that which is to be escaped from; the conjunction of pradhana (Prakrti) and self is the cause of this samsara; the destruction of this conjunction is the escape, and perfect insight is the means of escape. The end of liberation is the isolation of purusha (individual soul) from Prakrti, to be attained by discrimination between the two. While the Sankhya holds that knowledge is the means of liberation, the Yoga insists on the methods of concentration and active striving. ... Sankhya is the way of salvation by knowledge, while Yoga is that of active striving, of dutiful action in a spirit of disinterestedness".

Knowledge and Action: Yoga, as we have explained, admits the supreme necessity of action, but gives almost an equal, if not a greater, importance to knowledge. Corresponding to this we are told as follows:

"The body is the instrument for the expression of spiritual life. So, instead of renouncing the material basis, the Yoga accepts it as part of the spiritual problem. To overcome the hindrances, the Yoga gives us the eightfold method, consisting of yama (abstention), niyama (observance), Asana (posture), pranayama (regulation of breath), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dhyana (fixed attention), dharana (contemplation), and samadhi (concentration) ... The first two, yama and niyama, (abstention and observances), lay stress on the ethical preparation necessary for the practice of Yoga. We should practise ahimsa or non-violence, truthfulness, honesty, continence, and non-acceptance of gifts. ... The yamas are of universal validity, regardless of differences of caste and country, age and condition. ... The observances (niyamas) are purification, external and internal, contentment, austerity (tapas), and devotion to God".

"Freedom in the Yoga is kaivalya, or absolute independence. It is not a mere negation, but is the eternal life of the purusha, when it is freed from the fetters of Prakrti. ... So long as avidya (ignorance) remains, the individual does not shake off his burden. Avidya can be removed by discriminative knowledge. ... The goal of jiva is detachment and independence. ... Salvation is the realization of the true nature of the self which is obscured by so many impurities. We can get rid of them by effort and discipline. The Yoga is much more emphatic than many other systems in holding that philosophy cannot save us. What we stand, in need of is not subtleties of disquisition but control of will. We must subdue the inner turmoil of emotion and passion. The Yoga recognises that all men are not capable of the discipline it insists on. ... For them the Yoga of Action (kriya-yoga), consisting of austerities (tapas), study, and devotion to God (Isvara-pranidhana) is prescribed".

Conclusion: We see that the general line of thought, as indicated in these quotations, agrees with what we have observed in regard to the character of the Yoga system of Philosophy. The highest form of energy is Citta which is identified with Buddhi. It is associated with the individual soul and makes itself manifest in different states of consciousness. Then God and Prakti are conceived as existing side by side, and God is not the creator of Prakrti. He is everlastingly in connection with Prakrti and guides its evolution; and it is he who helps the individual soul to escape from the trammels of Prakrti. Then we are told that action (karma) is necessary, but it should be performed in a spirit of disinterestedness (sacrifice); but the ultimate goal of freedom can be attained only by means of discriminative knowledge.

A Criticism: But the idea of God as an actor is not so clearly defined by Sir S. Radhakrishnan as it should be in the light of our theory and the Sutras in the original. We are told that Citta is "taken in a comprehensive sense, so as to include intellect, self-consciousness and mind", and that the Karya-Citta "manifests itself in the states of consciousness"; but this is followed by the statement that, "it cannot perceive what it sees, since it is unconscious in its nature". It is difficult to reconcile the two if they correctly interpret the original Sutras. Further, the author emphasizes the aspect of God as a Teacher or Guru as being the most important of all; but that can be accepted only if the idea of a Teacher is understood in its widest sense, as one who teaches by precept and example both.

An Examination of the Sutras: Indeed, if we examine the Sutras in the original we find that one of the principal means of attaining to the highest point of Yoga is by "Isvara-pranidhana"; and this expression is usually rendered as "devotion to God". But it may also be taken to mean "acting or exerting like God". This expression is repeated a number of times in the Sutras, and may be said to form the central idea of the Yoga system. We have observed that it may be said to mean "acting or exerting like God"; and Vyasa in his commentary on the Yoga Sutras defines it as tasmin param gurau sarva karmarpanam or "assigning all actions to the Supreme Guru". Indeed, this "Isvara-pranidhana" is said to constitute one of the chief niyamas (observances or actions) or kriyas (actions) according to Yoga; and the whole idea would appear to be that we are required to regard God as the chief actor in the universe, and assign our own actions to him. Indeed, as God is free from all effects of actions, even so should we be, by acting in the spirit of sacrifice.

Further, we have observed that, according to our theory, Buddhi is an active energy of creation, and it expresses itself in Tapas (heat, austerities) and makes itself manifest in different forms of life. Corresponding to this we find that Tapas is referred to as the principal kriya (action) according to Yoga as well as one of the chief niyamas or actions. Further, we are told that Citta (Buddhi) is associated with other objects and acts for their sake, and that all objects are dependent on it. Then it is said that the knowledge of Citta is possible only in the light of the Heart or Soul dwelling in it. Finally, we notice that there is no contradiction in the text in regard to the character of Citta as being described as self-conscious and unconscious in different places. The literal meaning of the Sutra under reference is that the "Citta is not self-illuminated because it is manifest"; and here is compared to the Soul, which in its true conception refers to the energy of the Heart and is unmanifest. The Soul is unmanifest, and self-illuminated; while Buddhi is not, being manifest. In this connection we have already explained that Buddhi is the first manifest state of the unmanifest energy of the Soul and the two are, for practical purposes, identified; and it is for this reason that the correct idea of Buddhi can be gained only in the light of the character of the Soul.

Thus we may conclude that the idea of Yoga is based on the creative energy of Buddhi, which is closely allied to that of the Soul and can be understood fully only in its light; and it is this that transforms itself into the different phenomena of life. Further, we see that Purusha and Prakrti (God and Nature) exist side by side, and both of them are uncreated and eternal; and Purusha is in everlasting connection with Prakrti, and guides its course of evolution, and is an active creator though free from the effects of action. The individual (soul) too is associated with Prakrti, and acts through it in various ways. He can make himself free when he understands his true nature as different from Prakrti, and this he can do by means of discriminative knowledge. But he must act, only in such a manner as to be free from its effects; and this can be achieved if his actions are performed in a spirit of disinterested sacrifice, in the manner of God himself.