PATANJALI'S YOGA APHORISMS

CHAPTER III

POWERS

We have now come to the chapter in which the Yoga powers are described.

देशबन्धश्चित्तस्य धारणा ॥१॥

1. Dhâranâ is holding the mind on to some particular object.

Dharana (concentration) is when the mind holds on to some object, either in the body, or outside the body, and keeps itself in that state.

तत्र प्रत्ययैकतानता ध्यानम् ॥२॥

2. An unbroken flow of knowledge in that object is Dhyâna.

The mind tries to think of one object, to hold itself to one particular spot, as the top of the head, the heart, etc., and if the mind succeeds in receiving the sensations only through that part of the body, and through no other part, that would be Dharana, and when the mind succeeds in keeping itself in that state for some time, it is called Dhyana (mediation).

तदेवार्थमात्रनिर्भासं स्वरूपशून्यमिव समाधिः ॥३॥

3. When that, giving up all forms, reflects only the meaning, it is Samâdhi.

That comes when in meditation the form or the external part is given up. Suppose I were meditating on a book, and that I have gradually succeeded in concentrating the mind on it, and perceiving only the internal sensations, the meaning, unexpressed in any form — that state of Dhyana is called Samadhi.

त्रयमेकत्र संयमः ॥४॥

4. (These) three (when practiced) in regard to one object is Samyama.

When a man can direct his mind to any particular object and fix it there, and then keep it there for a long time, separating the object from the internal part, this is Samyama; or Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, one following the other, and making one. The form of the thing has vanished, and only its meaning remains in the mind.

तज्जयात् प्रज्ञाऽऽलोकः ॥५॥

5. By the conquest of that comes light of knowledge.

When one has succeeded in making this Samyama, all powers come under his control. This is the great instrument of the Yogi. The objects of knowledge are infinite, and they are divided into the gross, grosser, grossest and the fine, finer, finest and so on. This Samyama should be first applied to gross things, and when you begin to get knowledge of this gross, slowly, by stages, it should be brought to finer things.

तस्य भूमिषु विनियोगः ॥६॥

6. That should be employed in stages.

This is a note of warning not to attempt to go too fast.

त्रयमन्तरङ्गं पूर्वेभ्यः ॥७॥

7. These three are more internal than those that precede.

Before these we had the Pratyâhâra, the Prânâyâma, the Âsana, the Yama and Niyama; they are external parts of the three — Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. When a man has attained to them, he may attain to omniscience and omnipotence, but that would not be salvation. These three would; not make the mind Nirvikalpa, changeless, but would leave the seeds for getting bodies again. Only when the seeds are, as the Yogi says, "fried", do they lose the possibility of producing further plants. These powers cannot fry the seed.

तदपि बहिरङ्गं निर्बीजस्य ॥८॥

8. But even they are external to the seedless (Samadhi).

Compared with that seedless Samadhi, therefore, even these are external. We have not yet reached the real Samadhi, the highest, but a lower stage, in which this universe still exists as we see it, and in which are all these powers.

व्युत्थान-निरोधसंस्कारयोरभिभव-प्रादुर्भावौ निरोधक्षणचित्तान्वयो निरोध-परिणामः ॥९॥

9. By the suppression of the disturbed impressions of the mind, and by the rise of impressions of control, the mind, which persists in that moment of control, is said to attain the controlling modifications.

That is to say, in this first state of Samadhi the modifications of the mind have been controlled, but not perfectly, because if they were, there would be no modifications. If there is a modification which impels the mind to rush out through the senses, and the Yogi tries to control it, that very control itself will be a modification. One wave will be checked by another wave, so it will not be real Samadhi in which all the waves subside, as control itself will be a wave. Yet this lower Samadhi is very much nearer to the higher Samadhi than when the mind comes bubbling out.

तस्य प्रशान्तवाहिता संस्कारात् ॥१०॥

10. Its flow becomes steady by habit.

The flow of this continuous control of the mind becomes steady when practiced day after day, and the mind obtains the faculty of constant concentration.

सर्वार्थतैकाग्रतयोः क्षयोदयौ चित्तस्य समाधि-परिणामः ॥११॥

11. Taking in all sorts of objects, and concentrating upon one object, these two powers being destroyed and manifested respectively, the Chitta gets the modification called Samadhi.

The mind takes up various objects, runs into all sorts of things. That is the lower state. There is a higher state of the mind, when it takes up one object and excludes all others, of which Samadhi is the result.

शान्तोदितौ तुल्यप्रत्ययौ चित्तस्यैकाग्रता-परिणामः ॥१२॥

12. The one-pointedness of the Chitta is when the impression that is past and that which is present are similar.

How are we to know that the mind has become concentrated? Because the idea of time will vanish. The more time passes unnoticed the more concentrated we are. In common life we see that when we are interested in a book we do not note the time at all, and when we leave the book, we are often surprised to find how many hours have passed. All time will have the tendency to come and stand in the one present. So the definition is given: When the past and present come and stand in one, the mind is said to be concentrated.1 

एतेन भूतेन्द्रियेषु धर्मलक्षणावस्थापरिणामा व्याख्याताः ॥१३॥

13. By this is explained the threefold transformation of form, time and state, in fine or gross matter and in the organs.

By the threefold changes in the mind-stuff as to form, time and state are explained the corresponding changes in gross and subtle matter and in the organs. Suppose there is a lump of gold. It is transformed into a bracelet and again into an ear-ring. These are changes as to form. The same phenomena looked at from the standpoint of time give us change as to time. Again, the bracelet or the ear-ring may be bright or dull, thick or thin, and so on. This is change as to state. Now referring to the aphorisms 9, l1 and 12, the mind-stuff is changing into Vrittis — this is change as to form. That it passes through past, present and future moments of time is change as to time. That the impressions vary as to intensity within one particular period, say, present, is change as to state. The concentrations taught in the preceding aphorisms were to give the Yogi a voluntary control over the transformations of his mind-stuff, which alone will enable him to make the Samyama named in III. 4.

शान्तोदिताव्यपदेश्यधर्मानुपातो धर्मी ॥१४॥

14. That which is acted upon by transformations, either past, present, or yet to be manifested is the qualified.

That is to say, the qualified is the substance which is being acted upon by time and by the Samskâras, and getting changed and being manifested always.

क्रमान्यत्वं परिणामान्यत्वे हेतुः ॥१५॥

15. The succession of changes is the cause of manifold evolution.

परिणामत्रयसंयमादतीतानागतज्ञानम् ॥१६॥

16. By making Samyama on the three sorts of changes comes the knowledge of past and future.

We must not lose sight of the first definition of Samyama. When the mind has attained to that state when it identifies itself with the internal impression of the object, leaving the external, and when, by long practice, that is retained by the mind and the mind can get into that state in a moment, that is Samyama. If a man in that state wants to know the past and future, he has to make a Samyama on the changes in the Samskaras (III. 13). Some are working now at present, some have worked out, and some are waiting to work. So by making a Samyama on these he knows the past and future.

शब्दार्थप्रत्ययानामितरेतराध्यासात्सङ्करस्तत्प्रविभागसंयमात् सर्वभूतरुतज्ञानम् ॥१७॥

l7. By making Samyama on word, meaning and knowledge, which are ordinarily confused, comes the knowledge of all animal sounds.

The word represents the external cause, the meaning represents the internal vibration that travels to the brain through the channels of the Indriyas, conveying the external impression to the mind, and knowledge represents the reaction of the mind, with which comes perception. These three, confused, make our sense-objects. Suppose I hear a word; there is first the external vibration, next the internal sensation carried to the mind by the organ of hearing, then the mind reacts, and I know the word. The word I know is a mixture of the three — vibration, sensation, and reaction. Ordinarily these three are inseparable; but by practice the Yogi can separate them. When a man has attained to this, if he makes a Samyama on any sound, he understands the meaning which that sound was intended to express, whether it was made by man or be any other animal.

संस्कारसाक्षात्करणात् पूर्वजातिज्ञानम् ॥१८॥

18. By perceiving the impressions, (comes) the knowledge of past life.

Each experience that we have, comes in the form of a wave in the Chitta, and this subsides and becomes finer and finer, but is never lost. It remains there in minute form, and if we can bring this wave up again, it becomes memory. So, if the Yogi can make a Samyama on these past impressions in the mind, he will begin to remember all his past lives.

प्रत्ययस्य परचित्तज्ञानम् ॥१९॥

19. By making Samyama on the signs in another's body, knowledge of his mind comes.

Each man has particular signs on his body, which differentiate him from others; when the Yogi makes a Samyama on these signs he knows the nature of the mind of that person.

न च तत् सालम्बनं तस्याविषयीभूतत्वात् ॥२०॥

20. But not its contents, that not being the object of the Samyama.

He would not know the contents of the mind by making a Samyama on the body. There would be required a twofold Samyama, first on the signs in the body, and then on the mind itself. The Yogi would then know everything that is in that mind.

कायरूपसंयमात्तद्ग्राह्यशक्ति-स्तम्भे चक्षुःप्रकाशासंप्रयोगेऽन्तर्धानम् ॥२१॥

21. By making Samyama on the form of the body, the perceptibility of the form being obstructed and the power of manifestation in the eye being separated, the Yogi's body becomes unseen.

A Yogi standing in the midst of this room can apparently vanish. He does not really vanish, but he will not be seen by anyone. The form and the body are, as it were, separated. You must remember that this can only be done when the Yogi has attained to that power of concentration when form and the thing formed have been separated. Then he makes a Samyama on that, and the power to perceive forms is obstructed, because the power of perceiving forms comes from the junction of form and the thing formed.

एतेन शब्दाद्यन्तर्धानमुक्तम् ॥२२॥

22. By this the disappearance or concealment of words which are being spoken and such other things are also explained.

सोपक्रमं निरुपक्रमं च कर्म तत्संयमादपरान्तज्ञानमरिष्टेभ्यो वा ॥२३ ॥

23. Karma is of two kinds — soon to be fructified and late to be fructified. By making Samyana on these, or by the signs called Arishta, portents, the Yogis know the exact time of separation from their bodies.

When a Yogi makes a Samyama on his own Karma, upon those impressions in his mind which are now working, and those which are just waiting to work, he knows exactly by those that are waiting when his body will fall. He knows when he will die, at what hour, even at what minute. The Hindus think very much of that knowledge or consciousness of the nearness of death, because it is taught in the Gita that the thoughts at the moment of departure are great powers in determining the next life.

मैत्र्यादिषु बलानि ॥२४

24. By making Samyama on friendship, mercy, etc. (I. 33 ), the Yogi excels in the respective qualities.

बलेषु हस्तिबलादीनि ॥२५॥

25. By making Samyama on the strength of the elephant and others, their respective strength comes to the Yogi.

When a Yogi has attained to this Samyama and wants strength, he makes a Samyama on the strength of the elephant and gets it. Infinite energy is at the disposal of everyone if he only knows how to get it. The Yogi has discovered the science of getting it.

प्रवृत्त्यालोकन्यासात् सूक्ष्म-व्यवहित-विप्रकृष्टज्ञानम् ॥२६॥

26. By making Samyama on the Effulgent Light (I. 36 ), comes the knowledge of the fine, the obstructed, and the remote.

When the Yogi makes Samyama on that Effulgent Light in the heart, he sees things which are very remote, things, for instance, that are happening in a distant place, and which are obstructed by mountain barriers, and also things which are very fine.

भुवनज्ञानं सूर्ये संयमात् ॥२७॥

27. By making Samyama on the sun, (comes) the knowledge of the world.

चन्द्रे ताराव्यूहज्ञानम् ॥२८॥

28. On the moon, (comes) the knowledge of the cluster of stars.

ध्रुवे तद्गतिज्ञानम् ॥२९॥

29. On the pole-star, (comes) the knowledge of the motions of the stars.

नाभिचक्रे कायव्यूहज्ञानम् ॥३०॥

30. On the navel circle, (comes) the knowledge of the constitution of the body.

कण्ठकूपे क्षुत्पिपासानिवृत्तिः ॥३१॥

31. On the hollow of the throat, (comes) cessation of hunger.

When a man is very hungry, if he can make Samyama on the hollow of the throat, hunger ceases.

कूर्मनाड्यां स्थैर्यम् ॥३२॥

32. On the nerve called Kurma, (comes) fixity of the body.

When he is practising, the body is not disturbed.

मूर्धज्योतिषि सिद्धदर्शनम् ॥३३॥

33. On the light emanating from the top of the head, sight of the Siddhas.

The Siddhas are beings who are a little above ghosts. When the Yogi concentrates his mind on the top of his head, he will see these Siddhas. The word Siddha does not refer to those men who have become free — a sense in which it is often used.

प्रातिभाद्वा सर्वम् ॥३४॥

34. Or by the power of Prâtibha, all knowledge.

All these can come without any Samyama to the man who has the power of Pratibha (spontaneous enlightenment from purity). When a man has risen to a high state of Pratibha, he has that great light. All things are apparent to him. Everything comes to him naturally without making Samyama.

ह्रदये चित्त-संवित् ॥३५॥

35. In the heart, knowledge of minds.

सत्त्वपुरुषयोरत्यन्तासंकीर्णयोः प्रत्ययाविशेषाद् भोगः परार्थत्वात् स्वार्थसंयमात् पुरुषज्ञानम् ॥३६॥

36. Enjoyment comes from the non-discrimination of the soul and Sattva which are totally different because the latter's actions are for another. Samyama on the self-centred one gives knowledge of the Purusha.

All action of Sattva, a modification of Prakriti characterised by light and happiness, is for the soul. When Sattva is free from egoism and illuminated with the pure intelligence of Purusha, it is called the self-centred one, because in that state it becomes independent of all relations.

ततः प्रातिभश्रावणवेदनादर्शास्वादवार्ता जायन्ते ॥३७॥

37. From that arises the knowledge belonging to Pratibha and (supernatural) hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling.

ते समाधावुपसर्गा व्युत्थाने सिद्धयः ॥३८॥

38. These are obstacles to Samadhi; but they are powers in the worldly state.

To the Yogi knowledge of the enjoyments of the world comes by the junction of the Purusha and the mind. If he wants to make Samyama on the knowledge that they are two different things, nature and soul, he gets knowledge of the Purusha. From that arises discrimination. When he has got that discrimination, he gets the Pratibha, the light of supreme genius. These powers, however, are obstructions to the attainment of the highest goal, the knowledge of the pure Self, and freedom. These are, as it were, to be met in the way; and if the Yogi rejects them, he attains the highest. If he is tempted to acquire these, his further progress is barred.

बन्धकारणशैथिल्यात् प्रचारसंवेदनाच्च चित्तस्य परशरीरावेशः ॥३९ ॥

39. When the cause of bondage of the Chitta has become loosened, the Yogi, by his knowledge of its channels of activity (the nerves), enters another's body.

The Yogi can enter a dead body and make it get up and move, even while he himself is working in another body. Or he can enter a living body and hold that man's mind and organs in check, and for the time being act through the body of that man. That is done by the Yogi coming to this discrimination of Purusha and nature. If he wants to enter another's body, he makes a Samyama on that body and enters it, because, not only is his soul omnipresent, but his mind also, as the Yogi teaches. It is one bit of the universal mind. Now, however, it can only work; through the nerve currents in this body, but when the Yogi has loosened himself from these nerve currents, he can work through other things.

उदानजयाज्जलपङ्ककण्टकादिष्वसङ्ग उत्क्रान्तिश्च ॥४०॥

40. By conquering the current called Udâna the Yogi does not sink in water or in swamps, he can walk on thorns etc., and can, die at will.

Udana is the name of the nerve current that governs the lungs and all the upper parts of the body, and when he is master of it, he becomes light in weight. He does not sink in water; he can walk on thorns and sword blades, and stand in fire, and can depart this life whenever he likes.

समानजयात् प्रज्वलनम् ॥४१॥

41. By the conquest of the current Samâna he is surrounded by a blaze of light.

Whenever he likes, light flashes from his body.

श्रोत्राकाशयोः सम्बन्धसंयमाद्दिव्यं श्रोत्रम् ॥४२॥

42. By making Samyama on the relation between the ear and the Akâsha comes divine hearing.

There is the Akasha, the ether, and the instrument, the ear. By making Samyama on them the Yogi gets supernormal hearing; he hears everything. Anything spoken or sounded miles away he can hear.

कायाकाशयोः सम्बन्धसंयमाल्लघुतूलसमापत्तेश्चाकाशगमनम् ॥४३॥

43. By making Samyama on the relation between the Akasha and the body and becoming light as cotton-wool etc., through meditation on them, the yogi goes through the skies.

This Akasha is the material of this body; it is only Akasha in a certain form that has become the body. If the Yogi makes a Sanyama on this Akasha material of his body, it acquires the lightness of Akasha, and he can go anywhere through the air. So in the other case also.

बहिरकल्पिता वृत्तिर्महाविदेहा ततः प्रकाशावरणक्षयः ॥४४॥

44. By making Samyama on the "real modifications" of the mind, outside of the body, called great disembodiedness, comes disappearance of the covering to light.

The mind in its foolishness thinks that it is working in this body. Why should I be bound by one system of nerves, and put the Ego only in one body, if the mind is omnipresent? There is no reason why I should. The Yogi wants to feel the Ego wherever he likes. The mental waves which arise in the absence of egoism in the body are called "real modifications" or "great disembodiedness". When he has succeeded in making Samyama on these modifications, all covering to light goes away, and all darkness and ignorance vanish. Everything appears to him to be full of knowledge.

स्थूल-स्वरूप-सूक्ष्मान्वयार्थवत्त्वसंयमाद्भूतजयः ॥४५॥

45. By making Samyama on the gross and fine forms of the elements, their essential traits, the inherence of the Gunas in them and on their contributing to the experience of the soul, comes mastery of the elements.

The Yogi makes Samyama on the elements, first on the gross, and then on the finer states. This Samyama is taken up more by a sect of the Buddhists. They take a lump of clay and make Samyama on that, and gradually they begin to see the fine materials of which it is composed, and when they have known all the fine materials in it, they get power over that element. So with all the elements. The Yogi can conquer them all.

ततोऽणिमादिप्रादुर्भावः कायसम्पत्तद्धर्मानभिघातश्च ॥४६॥

46. From that comes minuteness and the rest of the powers, "glorification of the body," and indestructibleness of the bodily qualities.

This means that the Yogi has attained the eight powers. He can make himself as minute as a particle, or as huge as a mountain, as heavy as the earth, or as light as the air; he can reach anything he likes, he can rule everything he wants, he can conquer everything he wants, and so on. A lion will sit at his feet like a lamb, and all his desires will be fulfilled at will.

रूप-लावण्य-बल-वज्रसंहननत्वानि कायसम्पत् ॥४७॥

47. The "glorification of the body" is beauty, complexion, strength, adamantine hardness.

The body becomes indestructible. Nothing can injure it. Nothing can destroy it until the Yogi wishes. "Breaking the rod of time he lives in this universe with his body." In the Vedas it is written that for that man there is no more disease, death or pain.

ग्रहण-स्वरूपास्मितान्वयार्थवत्त्वसंयमादिन्द्रियजयः ॥४८॥

48. By making Samyama on the objectivity and power of illumination of the organs, on egoism, the inherence of the Gunas in them and on their contributing to the experience of the soul, comes the conquest of the organs.

In the perception of external objects the organs leave their place in the mind and go towards the object; this is followed by knowledge. Egoism also is present in the act. When the Yogi makes Samyama on these and the other two by gradation, he conquers the organs. Take up anything that you see or feel, a book for instance; first concentrate the mind on it, then on the knowledge that is in the form of a book, and then on the Ego that sees the book, and so on. By that practice all the organs will be conquered.

ततो मनोजवित्वं विकरणभावः प्रधानजयश्च ॥४९॥

49. From that comes to the body the power of rapid movement like the mind, power of the organs independently of the body, and conquest of nature.

Just as by the conquest of the elements comes glorified body, so from the conquest of the organs will come the above-mentioned powers.

सत्त्वपुरुषान्यताख्यातिमात्रस्य सर्वभावाधिष्ठातृत्वं सर्वज्ञातृत्वञ्च ॥५०॥

50. By making Samyama on the discrimination between the Sattva and the Purusha come omnipotence and omniscience.

When nature has been conquered, and the difference between the Purusha and nature realised — that the Purusha is indestructible, pure and perfect — then come omnipotence and omniscience.

तद्वैराग्यादपि दोषबीजक्षये कैवल्यम् ॥५१॥

51. By giving up even these powers comes the destruction of the very seed of evil, which leads to Kaivalya.

He attains aloneness, independence, and becomes free. When one gives up even the ideas of omnipotence and omniscience, there comes entire rejection of enjoyment, of the temptations from celestial beings. When the Yogi has seen all these wonderful powers, and rejected them, he reaches the goal. What are all these powers? Simply manifestations. They are no better than dreams. Even omnipotence is a dream. It depends on the mind. So long as there is a mind it can be understood, but the goal is beyond even the mind.

स्थान्युपनिमन्त्रणे सङ्गस्मयाकरणं पुनरनिष्टप्रसङ्गात् ॥५२॥

52. The Yogi should not feel allured or flattered by the overtures of celestial beings for fear of evil again.

There are other dangers too; gods and other beings come to tempt the Yogi. They do not want anyone to be perfectly free. They are jealous, just as we are, and worse than us sometimes. They are very much afraid of losing their places. Those Yogis who do not reach perfection die and become gods; leaving the direct road they go into one of the side streets, and get these powers. Then, again, they have to be born. But he who is strong enough to withstand these temptations and go straight to the goal, becomes free.

क्षण-तत्क्रमयोः संयमाद्विवेकजं ज्ञानम् ॥५३॥

53. By making Samyama on a particle of time and its precession and succession comes discrimination.

How are we to avoid all these things, these Devas, and heavens, and powers? By discrimination, by knowing good from evil. Therefore a Samyama is given by which the power of discrimination can be strengthened. This by making a Samyama on a particle of time, and the time preceding and following it.

जाति-लक्षण-देशैरन्यताऽनवच्छेदात्तुल्ययोस्ततः प्रतिपत्तिः ॥५४॥

54. Those things which cannot be differentiated by species, sign, and place, even they will be discriminated by the above Samyama.

The misery that we suffer comes from ignorance, from non-discrimination between the real and the unreal. We all take the bad for the good, the dream for the reality. Soul is the only reality, and we have forgotten it. Body is an unreal dream, and we think we are all bodies. This non-discrimination is the cause of misery. It is caused by ignorance. When discrimination comes, it brings strength, and then alone can we avoid all these various ideas of body, heavens, and gods. This ignorance arises through differentiating by species, sign, and place. For instance, take a cow. The cow is differentiated from the dog by species. Even with the cows alone how do we make the distinction between one cow and another? By signs. If two objects are exactly similar, they can be distinguished if they are in different places. When objects are so mixed up that even these differential will not help us, the power of discrimination acquired by the above-mentioned practice will give us the ability to distinguish them. The highest philosophy of the Yogi is based upon this fact, that the Purusha is pure and perfect, and is the only "simple" that exists in this universe. The body and mind are compounds, and yet we are ever identifying ourselves with them This is the great mistake that the distinction has been lost. When this power of discrimination has been attained, man sees that everything in this world, mental and physical, is a compound, and, as such, cannot be the Purusha.

तारकं सर्वविषयं सर्वथाविषयमक्रमञ्चेति विवेकजं ज्ञानम् ॥५५॥

55. The saving knowledge is that knowledge of discrimination which simultaneously covers all objects, in all their variations.

Saving, because the knowledge takes the Yogi across the ocean of birth and death. The whole of Prakriti in all its states, subtle and gross, is within the grasp of this knowledge. There is no succession in perception by this knowledge; it takes in all things simultaneously, at a glance.

सत्त्वपुरुषयोः शुद्धिसाम्ये कैवल्यमिति ॥५६॥

56. By the similarity of purity between the Sattva and the Purusha comes Kaivalya.

When the soul realises that it depends on nothing in the universe, from gods to the lowest atom, that is called Kaivalya (isolation) and perfection. It is attained when this mixture of purity and impurity called Sattva (intellect) has been made as pure as the Purusha itself; then the Sattva reflects only the unqualified essence of purity, which is the Purusha.

  1. ^The distinction among the three kinds of concentration mentioned in aphorisms 9, 11 and 12 is as follows: In the first, the disturbed impressions are merely held back, but not altogether obliterated by the impressions of control which just come in; in the second, the former are completely suppressed by the latter which stand in bold relief, while in the third, which is the highest, there is no question of suppressing, but only similar impressions succeed each other in a stream. — Ed.