Chapter 1 – Concentration/Samadhi Pada – Part 17
Gaining Knowledge of Higher Truths – Yoga Sutras (1.47-1.48)
Overview: When the modifications of the mind are weakened, the mind is purified and takes on a crystal-like quality, as was previously explained (Sutra 1.41). However, Sutra 1.47 is explaining that after there is mastery of the nirvichara (subtle) engrossment (Sutra 1.44), there comes an even greater level of purity and luminosity.
Along with the purity and luminosity mentioned in Sutra 1.47, there also comes a wisdom that is filled with the higher truth – Sutra 1.48.
The Sutras …
Yoga Sutra (1.47) – nirvichara vaisharadye adhyatma prasadah. Nirvichara means beyond reflection or devoid of subtle thoughts (nir = without, vichara = subtle thoughts). Vaisharadye is experience, skill (with undisturbed flow). Adhyatma is the absolute, superior or spiritual (regarding the Atman or true Self). Prasadah means clarity, purity or illumination.
Translated this means – As one gains proficiency in the undisturbed flow in nirvichara, a purity and luminosity of the inner instrument of mind is developed. If you regularly experience the clearest of the four states known as nirvichara samapatti, then you are about to experience a state of absolute clarity.
Commentary: Nirvichara Samadhi is not the final goal. Instead it is a moment like taking a deep breath before jumping into an abyss. Traditional commentators attest to what a brief glimpse of the true inner-Self may instantly shows us. Claiming that all the world we thought we knew was only a shadow realm constructed of our own hopes and fears. This experience of true Self-awareness, even if it is fleeting, gives us something more real than all that we previously believed was reality.
The goal of Yoga practice is not to seek out and hold onto any understanding of the deepest Self. Patanjali and other sages say this hard-won treasure, is so rare that few will experience it. But it must also be relinquished to realize something even bigger. Even clinging to the most “pure and luminous” understanding we have of ourselves still maintains a separation from all others. The Bhagavad Gita says that this “inner shining” or sattva, as true and pure and deep as it seems, still binds us and separates us from the Divine Absolute.
Yoga Sutra (1.48) – ritambhara tatra prajna. Ritambhara means filled with higher truth (ritam = truth, bhara = full, pregnant. Tatra is there or then. Prajna means true knowledge, wisdom or insight.
Translation – Then consciousness will be filled with only the truth. Along with the purity and luminosity mentioned in the last sutra there also comes a wisdom that is filled with the higher truth.
This sutra implies that we are to understand that there are a variety of types of knowledge or wisdom. We must also realize that the wisdom of nirvichara samadhi the not the only valid form. Veda Vyasa says that insight is gained from three valid sources: scripture, logic, and meditation. Other sages go on to say that the “eager practice” of all three paths of knowledge is needed. But most commentators agree that all types are not of equal value, although the different ways of knowing each have their place.
As we progress, in our minds or our hearts, this is the kind of wisdom that will helps us changes with each stage.
Next, Patanjali will emphasize the differences between the insight of deep Samadhi and the other ways of knowing or understanding.
We will conclude this series with Part 18 – the last 3 Sutras in Chapter 1.