This blog is essentially 'sleeping'.

I've deleted or returned to draft 80% of the blog, gone are most, if not all, of the videos I posted of Pattabhi Jois, gone are most of the posts regarding my own practice as well as most of my practice videos in YouTube, other than those linked to my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book).

Mostly I've just retained the 'Research' posts, those relating to Krishnamacharya in particular.

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Friday, 13 January 2017

Why Meditation? Plus Yoga's Sister philosophy, Samkhya - Full text of the Samkhy karika

Clearing out the 'draft post' drawer


1. From the Samkhya Karika
2. Why Meditation?  What is the goal for Patanjali of Yoga
3. The Complete Samkhya Karika
Appendix 1. Samkhya - Ramaswami's Newsletter
Appendix 3. On Samyama - More from Yoga Beneath the surface -
Appendix 4. Video -Yamini Murthanna ( a long time student of BNS Iyengar ) dances 'Manas'.

Yamini Murthanna, Bharatanatyam dancer (dates back 1000 years) and  a long time student of BNS Iyengar see Appendix 4 below for videos ( Dancing 'Manas') and a link to my review of her book The power of yoga.

1. from the Samkhya Karika

I find this section of the Samkhya Karika beautiful, quite marvellous...

// 58 //
Just as [in] the world actions are performed for the purpose of removing [i.e. fulfilling] a desire, so does the unmanifest perform for the purpose of the liberation of purusa.

// 59 //Just as, having displayed herself before the gaze of the audience, the dancer desists from dancing, so prakrti desists, having manifested herself to purusa.

 // 60 //
She, being endowed with the gunas, moves without any benefit [to herself] for the sake of pums (i.e. purusa), who, being without gunas, does not reciprocate.

 // 61 //
In my view there is no one more tender than prakrti, who, saying ‘I have been
seen,’ never again comes into purusa’s sight.

 // 62 //
No one, then, is bound, nor released, nor wanders; it is prakrti, in its various abodes (afraya), that wanders, and is bound and released.

 // 63 //
Prakrti binds herself by herself with the use of seven forms; and, for the sake of each purusa, liberates herself by means of one form.

 // 64 //
Thus, from the assiduous practice of that-ness, the knowledge arises that ‘I am not,’ ‘not mine,’ ‘not I’; which [knowledge], being free of delusion, is complete, pure, and singular.


NOTE: Meter (Wikipedia)
Each verse of the philosophical Samkhya-karika text is composed in a precise mathematical meter, that repeats in a musical rhythm of an Arya meter (also called the Gatha, or song, meter). Every verse is set in two half stanza with the following rule: both halves have exactly repeating total instants and repeating sub-total pattern in the manner of many ancient Sanskrit compositions. The stanza is divided into feet, each feet has four instants, with its short syllable counting as one instant (matra), while the long syllable prosodically counts are two instants.

Each verse of Karika are presented in four quarters (two quarters making one half), the first quarter has exactly three feet (12 beats), the second quarter four and half feet (18 beats), the third quarter of every verse has three feet (12 beats again), while the fourth quarter has three and a half plus an extra short syllable at its end (15 beats). Thus, metrically, the first half stanza of every verse of this philosophical text has thirty instants, the second has twenty seven.

I remembered one of the Richard Freeman's Yoga Matrix CD's is devoted to Samkhya and sure enough Richard chants a verse and it's one of my favourites, perhaps the most beautiful of all.

The link is to Amazon's sample, unfortunately it's back to frount. The sample begins with the second line but then Richard repeats it so we do get the first line.

61. Prakrteh sukumarataram na kinchidastiti me matir bhavati/
ya drstasmiti punar na darshanam upaiti purusasya

In my view there is no one more tender than prakrti, who, saying ‘I have been seen,’ never again comes into purusa’s sight.

The dancer
From Ramaswami's 'Yoga for the Three Stages of Life', the best secondary text on yoga I've come across

I remember Ramaswami telling this story on his 2010 TT, it's probably changed a little in my memory but I remember it going something like this.....

 ...the dancer dances for the king, but he seems disinterested, she puts ever more effort into her dance, leaping and spinning, at last she completes the dance looks up to the king for a sign of approval but nothing. As she leaves she mentions to the first minister that the king didn't seem to enjoy the dance. The minster smiles kindly and asks... "Did the king ask you to dance?".


2. Why Meditatation? 
What is the goal for Patanjali of Yoga  

Our understanding of what constitutes yoga shifts and changes. After ten years of practice, this seems to be my current understanding...., it may of course like much else on the blog be mistaken.

These notes are more notes (reminders) to self than to anyone else.

Patanjali's yoga is Raja yoga. In the Yoga sutras, 'yoga' is not 'union' but (the path to) concentration, focussed one pointed attention, ekagrata. The goal is (permanent) liberation, which may or may not suggest 'union'.

'It can be seen that Patanjali's definition of Yoga does not suggest the usual connotation of Yoga as union. Yoga meaning union requires at least two separate principles to come together and ultimately unite, like prana and apana in Hatayoga, but in this sutra only cittavritti is dealt with and no union with another principle is suggested. Vyasa in his commentary says Yoga is samadhi, or a state of mind and not union. Sankara in his exposition of Yogasutras refers to yoga as samadhana or unalloyed peace. He says that Patanjali has used the word not in the meaning of yoga as union (yukti) but as samadhana or peace of mind. The word Yoga can be derived from two different roots yujir meaning yoga as in union and yuja as in samadhi meaning absolute peace of mind and the sutras use Yoga in the (second) sense,that of absolute peace'. Srivatsa Ramaswami April 2012 Newsletter
Patanjli's yoga is built upon Samkhya's metaphysics/model.

These days (perhaps even for the last thousand years) Raja yoga tends to be mixed up with and perhaps confused with tantra/hatha yoga. Where, we might ask, does one end now and the other begin. Hatha seems to have become enamoured with ever more asana, complex and challenging pranayamas, techniques, strategies....., it also seems to find itself in communities.

Meditation practice too often seems to become an end in itself, an opportunity for self 'home' psychoanalysis perhaps or merely to de-stress, it's intention lost (although overcoming stress and the pattern of it's causes is highly recommended) if it was every there in the first place.

Raja yoga's path is perhaps clearer, more straightforward, although the path long and difficult and no doubt solitary and few if any of us will reach it's conclusion (perhaps why tantra/hatha seek 'shortcut' after shortcut), and yet perhaps the path and what we may learn concerning our nature along the way, reason enough to embark however far we may travel.

In Raja yoga, fewer and perhaps less challenging asana are no doubt sufficient (enough to keep us healthy and reduce the rajas - agitation), less challenging pranayamas (sufficient for health, mental/emotional stability and reducing tamas - lethargy).

-personally I continue to practice Ashtanga vinyasa but these days mostly half Primary or Intermediate along with finishing, practiced more slowly with longer stays, a Vinyasa Krama approach to the subroutines that make up Ashtanga-

The asana and pranayama, prepare us (make us more satvic - balanced) for the journey itself, the yama/niyama give us the will, the discipline perhaps to stay upon or return (when we inevitably stray) to the path.

Most teachers are asana teachers, intentionally or not they promote and prolong students engagement with asana.

Most of those who come to Yoga  come for the asana and have little interest in the yoga of which asana forms a  part. Getting, fitter, healthier, having some fun, being a part of a community feels perhaps sufficient (and perhaps it is), whether they move on to other elements of Yoga, to yoga as a whole may depend on the teacher.

In the past Krishnamacharya promoted Yoga through asana, these days teachers are promoting themselves through asana rather than yoga.

Jumping back is just jumping back (ignore the first four years of this blog).

Yoga history is just that (ignore the second four years of this blog).

Anatomy of yoga is also (but beneficial).

We seem to do everything we can to distract ourselves from actually practicing yoga (eg. Blogging).

Krishnamacharya, Pattabhi Jois' teacher recommended twice as long spent on pranayama as asana and twice as long spent on Dharana as pranayama. Going by this If your asana practice is twenty minutes, pranayama should be forty and perhaps two forty minute sessions a day of 'Dharana'.

Note: It might (tenuously) be argued that our sun salutations don't count as asana, the standing sequence we might argue is preparation for asana and the finishing sequence... winding down.

The path.
For Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, once achieving (a) samadhi (which may or may not take a lifetime itself) on one object ( the breath, a mantra, an image, a candle flame perhaps) we may then begin to work through/with each of the tattvas seeking to attain samyama (see appendix 3.) on each and in that state realising experientially that none correspond to the 'self', the seer, observer (purusha) each is discarded ('not that') until all that remains is Purusha. Purusha's nature is, it is said, merely to observe. Finally, with nothing left to observe purusha observes/knows itself and is supposedly liberated.
Samyama on Ishvara is considered a possible fast track option for those more religiously inclined
The yama/niyama and asana/pranayama support each other, they prepare us for and keep us in state to sit effectively.

Krishnamacharya said that asana and pranayama clean the room, why would we not then want to remain (sit) in it.

When to Sit
Being wrapped up in asana, in WHATEVER form that may take (assuming we are not injuring ourself) is perfectly fine - let nobody tell you it's not yoga (or better still just let it go) - it's part of the method. We are gaining, discipline, will, hopefully letting go of more attachments than we form. At some point, at a time in our life when this feels appropriate, we may wish to explore other elements of the method.
We may as well start the long job of working on developing concentration/one pointedness outside of asana sooner rather than later.

Srivatsa Ramaswami - Yoga for the Three Stages of life 


3. The Complete Samkhya Karika

"Sri Krishnamacharya taught the text relying on Gaudapada's commentary word by word, verse by verse along with Gaudapada's commentary The study of the text took about one year, we used to meet once or twice a week for an hour. At the end I realized why he was keen to teach this text to us. It made a lot of the yoga sutras accessible. Even though he had a degree in Samkhya called Samkhya Siromani (crest jewel) he was able to come down to the non scholarly students like us. I had read some books on sankhya karika by scholars and academicians and used to be overawed by their scholarship, but Krishnamacharya while capable of engaging scholars in an intellectual debate was able to breathe a lot of life into this rather abstruse text. I think all students of yoga who want to study or have studied yoga sutras may do well to consider having a look at all the Samkhya Karika verses. " 
Srivatsa Ramaswami Newsletter July 2014 - the full Samkhya Newsletter in Appendix 1 below.

Translation from the Appendix to Mikel Burley's excellent 'Classical Samkhya and Yoga'
The book includes includes the Sanskrit Devanagari and Roman script as well as the english translation below.

Note: the diacritical marks didn't transfer but are present in the text.

 // 1 //
Due to the affliction of threefold distress, the inquiry into its removal [arises]; [if said to be] pointless because obvious [methods exist], this is not so, for such methods are neither singularly directed nor conclusive.

// 2 //
The heard [method] is like the obvious, as it is conjoined with impurity, corruption, and excess. The superior and opposite of that [comes] from the discrimination of the manifest, the unmanifest, and the knower.

 // 3 //
Mulaprakrti is uncreated; the seven – ‘the great’ (mahat) and the others – are creative and created; the sixteen, meanwhile, are [merely] created; purusa is neither creative nor created.

 // 4 //
The attainment of knowledge is based on [certain] ways of knowing; the accepted ways are three – perceiving, inferring and reception of verbal testimony – as these cover all ways of knowing.

// 5 //
Perceiving is the discernment of particular objects; inference, which is said to be threefold, is the tracing of the mark-bearer from its indicating mark; reception of verbal testimony, meanwhile, is reception of Śruti.

 // 6 //
Inference by analogy ascertains what is beyond the sense-capacities; and what is unaccomplishable even by that is established by verbal testimony.

 // 7 //
[Something may be imperceptible] due to: remoteness, closeness, sensory impairment, instability of mind, subtlety, obscuration, suppression, similarity with something else.

 // 8 //
The non-apprehension of that [i.e. prakrti] is due to subtlety, not non-existence; it is apprehended by means of its effects. Its effects – mahat and the others – are both with and without the nature (rupa) of prakrti.

// 9 //
The [formally] existent [is] an effect due to the non-causation of non-being; the apprehension of a material cause; the non-production of everything [from everything]; the possibility of causation [only] from that which is capable; and the nature of the cause.

// 10 //
The manifest is caused, temporal, spatially limited, active, non-singular, dependent, a cipher, composite, conditioned; the unmanifest is the opposite.

 // 11 //
The manifest as well as pradhana (i.e. the unmanifest) are tripartite, undiscriminated, objectual, universal, non-conscious, productive; and puman (i.e. purusa) is the opposite of these.

// 12 //
Of the nature of gladness, perturbation and stupefaction; serving to illuminate, activate and restrain; the strands (gunas) subjugate, support, generate and combine with one another.

 // 13 //
Sattva is light and illuminating; rajas is impelling and moving; tamas is
heavy and delimiting; and their purpose is to function like a lamp.

 // 14 //
Undiscriminatedness and the other [qualities] are established due to the tripartition, and to the non-existence [of the three gujas] in the opposite of that. The unmanifest is established [as having the same nature as the manifest] due to the guna-nature of the effect being also that of the cause.

 // 15 //
Due to: the finitude of differentiated [objects], homogeneity, the procession from potency, the distinction between cause and effect, and the undivided form of the world.

// 16 //
– the unmanifest is the cause, productive due to the combination of the three gunas, and transformable fluidly in accordance with the specific abode [character?] of each of the gunas.
// 17 //
Purusa exists due to composites [being] for another’s sake, the opposite of the three gunas etc., [the need for] a controller, [the need for] an enjoyer, and the process [being] for the purpose of aloneness.

 // 18 //
Due to various patterns of birth, death, and capacities, and to the disjunction of activities, purusa’s multiplicity is established; and also due to contrariety of the three gunas.

 // 19 //
And thus, due to [its being] the opposite [of prakrti], the witnessing, aloneness, equanimity, awareness and inactivity of purusa is established.

// 20 //
Due to the conjunction of those [two, i.e. purusa and prakrti] the non-conscious linga appears as though conscious, and similarly, owing to the activity of the gunas, the non-engaged appears as though active.

 // 21 //
For the purpose of perceiving pradhana, and for the purpose of purusa’s aloneness, the two [come together] like the blind and the lame; that conjunction is creation, emergence.

 // 22 //
From prakrti [comes] the great; from that, egoity; and from that, the group of sixteen; again, from five of those sixteen, [come] the five elements.

// 23 //
Buddhi is discernment, its lucid (sattvika) form [comprising] dharma, knowledge, non-attachment, [and] masterfulness, and its darkened (tamasa) form [comprising] the opposite.

24 //
The thought of self is egoity; from that, a twofold emergence proceeds, namely the group of eleven and the five tanmatras.

// 25 //
The lucid (sattvika) eleven proceed from the modified egoity; from the source of the elements, which is opaque (tamasa), the tanmatras [proceed]; from the fiery (taijasa), both [proceed].

 //26 //
Sense-capacities is the term for seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching; voice, hand, foot, anus and underparts are called action-capacities.

// 27 //
In this regard, of the essence of both is mind (manas), which is synthesis and is, due to its similarity, a capacity. Variousness and external differences are due to the specific modifications of the gujas.

//28 //
The operation (vrtti) of the five [sense-capacities] is held to be bare awareness of sound and so forth; speaking, grasping, walking, excreting and [sexual] pleasure are [the operations of] the five [action-capacities].

// 29 //
Each of the three is distinguished by its own operation, which manifests differently [from those of the other two]. Their common operation consists in the five vital currents, [namely] praja and the others.

// 30 //
The operation of the four with regard to what is present to perception is both instantaneous and progressive; while in the case of what is imperceptible, the operation of the three is preceded by that [i.e. by the perception of a present object].

 // 31 //
The respective operations are performed in co-operation with one another from a common impulse, the sole end being that of purusa; nothing else activates the instrument.

 // 32 //
The instrument, comprising thirteen parts, is grasping, holding and illuminating; and its object (karyam), which is tenfold, is grasped, held and illuminated.

 // 33 //
The inner instrument is threefold, the outer is tenfold [and] is held to be the domain of the three; the outer [operates in] the present moment [alone], the [inner] instrument in all three times.

 // 34 //
Of these, the five sense-capacities have specific and non-specific objects; the voice manifests sound-phenomena whereas the other remaining [action- capacities] have [all] five modes of phenomena.

 // 35 //
Because buddhi along with the other inner instruments is immersed in all objects, the threefold instrument is the chamber, the rest being the doorways

 // 36 //
These specifications of the gunas, distinct from one another, present the whole [world] to buddhi, illuminating it like a lamp for the sake of purusa.

// 37 //
[This is] because buddhi gives rise to every particular enjoyment of the purusa
and, furthermore, discloses the subtle [difference] between pradhana and purusa.

// 38 //
The modes of sensory content (tanmatras) are non-specific; from these five [come] the five elements; these are regarded as specific, and as tranquil, disturbing and delusive.

// 39 //
Subtle, born of mother and father, and elemental are the three specific types; of these, the subtle are permanent, [whereas those] born of mother and father are corruptible.

 // 40 //
The linga is already existent, unrestricted, permanent, comprising ‘the great’ and the rest, down to the subtle; wandering without enjoyment, endowed with dispositions (bhavas).

 // 41 //
Just as there is no picture without a support and no shadow without a post or suchlike, so the linga does not exist without the support of the specific.

 // 42 //
This linga, motivated for the sake of purusa, by means of the association of causes and effects, and due to its connection with the manifestness of prakrti, performs like a dancer.

 // 43 //
The dispositions, [namely] dharma and the rest, both natural and acquired, are perceived to abide in the instrument, and the embryo and so forth abide in the object (or effect, karya).

 // 44 //
By means of virtue (dharma) there is movement upwards, by means of non- virtue (adharma) there is movement downwards; by means of knowledge liberation is attained, and bondage is due to the opposite.

 // 45 //
Prakrti’s dissolution occurs as a result of non-attachment, wandering is due to attachment, which is impulsive; removal of obstructions is due to master- fulness, the reverse of that is due to the opposite.

t // 46 //
This is the emergence of mental phenomena (pratyaya), comprising delusion, weakness, contentment and excellence; and these are divided into fifty kinds according to the respective imbalance of the gunas.

 // 47 //
There are five kinds of delusion, and twenty-eight kinds of weakness due to
defects in the instrument; contentment is ninefold, excellence eightfold.

 // 48 //
There are eight kinds of dullness, and also of perplexity, ten kinds of great perplexity; depression is eighteenfold, as is intense depression.

 // 49 //
Impairments to the eleven capacities along with buddhi are said to constitute weakness; impairments to buddhi are seventeen, due to the opposites of contentment and excellence.

 // 50 //
Nine modes of contentment are distinguished; four are internal, concerning respectively disposition (or natural constitution, prakrti), acquisition, time and fortune; five are external, due to abstinence from [sensory] objects.

 // 51 //
The eight ways of attaining excellence are: reasoning, [reception of] verbal instruction, study, eradication of the threefold distress, friendliness, and generosity; the previous three are hindrances to excellence.

 // 52 //
Without the dispositions (bhavas) the linga cannot operate, and without the linga the dispositions cannot operate; therefore a dual emergence proceeds, distinguishable as linga and disposition.

 // 53 //
There are eight varieties of divine beings and five of [non-human] natural beings; mankind is singular; such, in brief, is the elemental realm (sarga).

 // 54 //
The upper realm is pervaded by luminosity (sattva), and the base is pervaded by opacity (tamas); the middle is pervaded by activity (rajas); [such is the case] from Brahma down to a blade of grass.

 // 55 //
Purusa, consciousness, acquires there the suffering created by decay and death until its deliverance from the likga; hence one’s own nature is associated with distress.

// 56 //
This prakrti-creation, from the great down to the specific elements, is for the sake of the liberation of each purusa, for the other’s benefit as though for its own.

 // 57 //
Just as the profusion of unknowing (ajña) milk brings about the nourishment of the calf, so the profusion of pradhana brings about the liberation of purusa.

// 58 //
Just as [in] the world actions are performed for the purpose of removing [i.e. fulfilling] a desire, so does the unmanifest perform for the purpose of the liberation of purusa.

// 59 //Just as, having displayed herself before the gaze of the audience, the dancer desists from dancing, so prakrti desists, having manifested herself to purusa.

 // 60 //
She, being endowed with the gunas, moves without any benefit [to herself] for the sake of pums (i.e. purusa), who, being without gunas, does not reciprocate.

 // 61 //
In my view there is no one more tender than prakrti, who, saying ‘I have been
seen,’ never again comes into purusa’s sight.

 // 62 //
No one, then, is bound, nor released, nor wanders; it is prakrti, in its various abodes (afraya), that wanders, and is bound and released.

 // 63 //
Prakrti binds herself by herself with the use of seven forms; and, for the sake of each purusa, liberates herself by means of one form.

 // 64 //
Thus, from the assiduous practice of that-ness, the knowledge arises that ‘I am not,’ ‘not mine,’ ‘not I’; which [knowledge], being free of delusion, is complete, pure, and singular.

 // 65 //
Then purusa, abiding [in itself] like a spectator, sees prakrti, who has returned to inactivity and retreated from the seven forms due to her purpose being complete.

 // 66 //
‘I have seen her,’ says the spectating one; ‘I have been seen,’ says the other, desisting; although the two remain in conjunction, there is no initiation of [further] emergence.

 // 67 //
Due to the attainment of perfect knowledge, virtue (dharma) and the rest have no impelling cause; [nevertheless,] the endowed body persists owing to the momentum of impressions, like a potter’s wheel.

// 68 //
Pradhana being inactive, her purpose having been fulfilled, [purusa], upon separating from the body, attains aloneness (kaivalya), which is both singular and conclusive.

 // 69 //
This esoteric knowledge of purusa’s goal, examining the existence, arising and dissolution of entities, has been expounded by the highest sage.

 // 70 //
The quiet monk first passed on this supreme means of purification, compassionately, to Asuri; Asuri, again, to Pañcasikha, and by him the teaching was widely distributed.

 // 71 //
Communicated along a lineage of disciples, this has been thoroughly expounded in arya metre by the noble-minded Isvarakrsja, attainer of ultimate knowledge.
 // 72 //
The topics of the seventy [verses] are indeed those of the entire ‘sixty doctrines’ (sastitantra), though excluding illustrative stories and the consideration of opposing views.


Appendix 1.


I have mentioned earlier that in the 1970s Sri Krishnamacharya stopped teaching for a short while and asked his long standing students to study under his sons. I was asked to study yogasanas with Desikachar, whom as we all know was an excellent teacher. One day at the end of the class he said that he was going to start studying Samkhya Karika under his father. We had just completed studying Yoga Sutras with our teacher. My mind was already highly charged with the unusual thought process contained in the Sutras. I demurred. Desikachar continued and said “Father said that I should find out if Ramaswami would be interested” I said immediately yes and then joined the class the next day with Desikachar. Since I did not have time to get a book (Sankhya Karika books were not easily available and one has to order from a few publishers in the north to get a copy). Desikachar was kind enough to gift a copy of the text with Gaudapada's commentary in Sanskrit with no translation in Tamil or English. I still have that copy.

Sri Krishnamacharya taught the text relying on Gaudapada's commentary word by word, verse by verse along with Gaudapada's commentary. The study of the text took about one year, we used to meet once or twice a week for an hour. At the end I realized why he was keen to teach this text to us. It made a lot of the yoga sutras accessible. Even though he had a degree in Samkhya called Samkhya Siromani (crest jewel) he was able to come down to the non scholarly students like us. I had read some books on sankhya karika by scholars and academicians and used to be overawed by their scholarship, but Krishnamacharya while capable of engaging scholars in an intellectual debate was able to breathe a lot of life into this rather abstruse text. I think all students of yoga who want to study or have studied yoga sutras may do well to consider having a look at all the Samkhya Karika verses. The author Isvarakrishna is considered to be an avatara of Kalidasa an outstanding Sanskrit poet. Many people who study Ayurveda, vedanta philosophy find it necessary to study Samkhya. I do not know Buddhism but I have heard that HH Dalai Lama once mentioned that Samkhya would be a very useful text.

Each verse in Samkhya Karika is important as every sutra in Yoga sutra is. It is perhaps the first vedic philosophy to proclaim the immutability of the Atman or Self which is considered to be pure consciousness. It clearly distinguished between the ego which is commonly but erroneously considered to be the Self and the Atman or Purusha which should be called the Self. Even though there are differences among the three nivritti sastras, Samkhya, yoga and vedanata, in the nature of the Self they are in agreement even as they agree on the need to find a way to terminate the vicious cycle of repeated transmigration but differ on the unity or multiplicity of the selfs.

One of the outstanding features of Samkhya is the clear enunciation of the steps of creation of the Universe from the primordial mula prakriti. It is very interesting to see that according to them evolution took place in two streams from the mulaprakriti, the subjective and the objective streams, the microcosmic and the macro cosmic evolution. Life force is considered a vritti or activity of such a subtle body created in the microcosmic stream. It differs distinctly from the commonly held view that the first living organism, a single cell bacterium evolved after a long time of the original blast. Samkhya is the forerunner of the thesis that consciousness is distinct and different from and not a product of matter as is normally presumed.. It also lays down the framework of the powerful, even the contentious theory of transmigration, a corner stone of the vedic teachings. Its thesis is that a creature is made of several layers, a subtle body-- primordial body-- called the linga sarira, then the genetic body made from the parents called the matru-pitruja sarira (the embryonic Body) and then the physical or bhuta sarira made from the five gross elements. It also postulates the theory of the difference in the experiences of different beings due to the karma/dharma which gets accumulated, the bundle of karmas being responsible for ceaseless transmigration. It is perhaps the most logical explanation to the theory of transmigration.

As the name indicates Samkhya (samyak khyapayati) attempts to throw light on all one should know to transcend the otherwise endless migratory nature of the mundane painful existence . Correct knowledge of the 25 tatwas that make up the evolved universe and the distinctly different purusha the pure consciousness with which one should identify oneself as the real self is the means of overcoming permanently and definitively the threefold dukkha or pain/sorrow most creatures experience most of the time in the innumerable lives. Thus it is known as a nivritti-sastra or a body of knowledge that removes (nivritti)  dukkha or pain/sorrow. While Samkhya lays down the theoretical framework for duhkh nivritti, Yoga details the steps one has to take for such achievement. Vedanta harmonizes the few inconsistencies and the three vedic sibling philosophies are thus known as nivriti satras by old timers. 

Samkhya also details the need to develop a right attitude or pratyaya to take the path of nivritti. It recognize these pratyayas in the context of permanent release from duhkha, the goal of Samkhya and the other nivritti sastras. The first pratyaya referred to is viparyaya or the wrong convictions is an unhelpful state of mind. Patanjali refers to as the conviction which is not based on truth (a-tad-rupa-patishtam). Holding on to wrong conclusions or dogma even in the face of overriding considerations against one's beliefs is viparyaya, like the earth is flat or the body is the self . The second pratyaya that is not conducive to the permanent relief of duhkha or pain and sorrow is tripti or complacence. Taking no corrective action but hoping everything will be ok in course of time, or nature will take care of everything, luck and chance will do it or resigning to fate completely will come under this category of pratyaya. According to Samkhyas it will only perpetuate avidya and so will not deliver from the three fold pain of samsara.

The other unhelpful pratyaya is asakti or infirmity. Physical, physiological and mental weaknesses impede the aspirant in the spiritual progress. Then what is the helpful pratyaya? Samkhyas call it Siddhi pratyaya. How can one attain the spiritual goal? Dana or dispassion and purity of mind is one. Then svadhyaya or study of the appropriate texts is another helpful aspect of siddhi pratyaya. Sabda or study with a competent teacher is another helpful aspect of siddhi and then suhrit prapti or association with others who are also spiritually inclined and of course analysis and deep contemplation (uha). Then constant vigilance to avoid and overpower the basic causes of the threefold misery. In a similar vein. Patanjali talks about helpful and unhelpful cittavrittis which includes pramana or correct knowledge and viparyaya or wrong conviction, two opposite citta vrittis. Patanjali divides all the chittavrittis as helpful (aklishta) and unhelpful/harmful crittis (klishta )

Samkhya is said to be a vedic philosophy. How so?

The Mahanarayana Upanishad is the last chapter of Yajur veda. There is this beautiful mantra which succinctly describes the essential tenets of Samkhya. It is a colorful narration

ajamekam lohita suka krishnam

Bahvim prajam janayantim sarupam

ajohyeko jushamanonusete

jahaatyenam bhuktabhogamajonyah

There is one without birth (beginning) made of three colors (gunas) of red (lohita/rajas), white (sukla/satva) and black (krishna/tamas). It produces numerable objects similar in nature (consisting of the three gunas). There is a second one again without birth (a beginning) which interacts with and experiences the various products of the first (and is in bondage). Then there is the third one again without a beginning which keeps aloof from all the products of the first (prakriti) and hence is in Freedom.

This explains the nature of prakriti of three gunas, the individual self in bondage and the third an individual self completely free or in kaivalya. The whole purpose of samkhya is to help the innumerable individual selfs in bondage to attain freedom from the endless involvement with prakriti.

The Bhagavat Gita explains the basic tenets of Samkhya in the beginning itself if you consider the first chapter as just the preamble. According to several acharyas the main purpose of the Gits is to emphasize that the real self is consciousness immutable and all the concerns about oneself is misplaced.

Srivatsa Ramaswami


Appendix 2

Srivatsa Ramaswami  & David Hurwitz 

DAVID: (YR I, 20) Can we practice dhyana? Or is this, again, something that may or may not happen after practice? Is mantra japa a way to practice meditation? We may repeat the mantra, but whether the mind quiets down and stays focused on the mantra, isn't this a siddhi, something we can't control?

RAMASWAMI: Dhyana, or what is translated as "meditation;' is, according to Patanjali, an aspect of antaranga sadhana (inter­ na! practice). So it is to be considered a practice. Dhyana comes  om the root word dhyai, "to think deeply:' The word dhyana is not used  r ali involved thinking. It is used to signify deep think­ ing of a sublime object, that meditation which will uplift the practitioner. According to my    and s era! experts on Bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion), the word dhyana can be used only with respect to thinking of the Lord, when it is also known as Bhaga­ vat dhyana. In fact, so e of the Bhakti yogis do not at ali recog­ nize  e higher stage of yoga, s adhi. Tuey would say that the ultimate goal ofthe individual is to be in dhyana ofthe Lord until death. Deep or obsessive thinking ofwordly objects or actions will normally be considered chinta, and not dhyana.

Does it happen to ordinary people? Mostly not, but  the causes of that nonaccomplishment are dealt with clearly by yoga texts. If one c  work it out correctly, dhyana practice and accom- plishments are possible. The mind, or chilla, being an aspee! of prakriti, is also made up of the three gunas: satwa, rajas, and lamas. Yogic dhyana is not possible until the mind becomes satwic. This is where many people  nd they are not able to do dhyana, basically because their minds are predominantly rajasic or tamasic. In the Gita, also, the Lord says that ifyou are tamasic, become rajasic; ifyou are rajasic, become satwic; and ifyou are satwic, go beyond the three gunas (nistrigunya). He does not give the procedures to be adopted to achieve this. But yoga sadhana clearly tells us how to proceed.
Basically our chitta is nothing but the remainder of our s ­ skaras, our past actions/habits: Samskara sesham hi chittam. So, unless the individual takes steps to replace the old, bad sam­ skaras with newer, wholesome samskaras, he/she will continue to operate on the path driven by the old samskaras. Yoga is the process or practice by which this transformation (pminama) is achieved. Since there are individuals and individu s, the set of practices that one can do may not work far another because he/she may not be    r that kind ofpractice. For instance, ifa person is tamasic, he/she tends to be disorderly, ignorant, sense­ pleasure oriented (aviraga), and usually is slavish. Most people  ll into this category. Rajasic people tend to be  ckle-minded, power hungry, possessive, and uneven tempered. Satwic ones are orderly (in their thinking and actions), knowledge oriented, and dis­ criminative (especially between selfand nonself), and become moral and spiritual leaders of mankind. People fall into these categories (this is only a gross generalization) mainly because tbe  past actions tended to develop tose samskaras.

In dhyana, we are concerned witb the chitta. Per definition, dhyana is the practice or activity of focusing easily on an object, gross or subtle, for any lengtb of time, without other thoughts inter­ vening in the flow of attention during the period of concentration. So e are able to do it easily, and for so e it is impossible. Yoga tries to help tbose whose minds get easily distracted to become ones    minds able to concentrate easily  r a length of time.

So it reduces to the question of mental transformation: a mind  at gets easily distracted is to be made into one that habitually is able to concentrate. How is this done?
Classical Ashtanga yoga does it. We have seen that dhyana becomes possible if tbe mind is satwic. lt is not possible if it is raja­ sic or tamasic. So tbe practice should be to make tbe mind pre­ dominantly satwic.

The yama niyamas help to reduce the rajas and tamas consid­ erably. That is why tbey are very important. Then asana practice helps to reduce tbe rajas (asanena rajo hanti). So, regular, classi­ cal vinyasa and asana (with breathing) practice  ll reduce  e rajas. When rajas is reduced, tbe space vacated in tbe mind can be occupied by eitber tamas or satwa. But we want only satwa to arise in tbe mind. So immediately after tbe practice of asana, Patanjali and otber classical yoga practitioners have prescribed practice of pranayama. According to Patanjali, pranayama destroys tamas (tatah kshiyate prakasa avarana [avarana = blinding, or tamas]). Therefore, by tbe practice of asana and pranayama, one is better prepared for the interna! practice. Traditionally, in India, you will  nd tbat tbe meditator, or one who does mantra japa or puja (worship) or tbe morning ablutions, will sit in a classic posture and do pranayamas befare embarking on any mantra japa such as the Gayatri. When one starts doing japa or meditation  thout object to  e exclusion of all o er , during  e  e period.    s requires practice, one starts with a mantra or an icon or a point inside the body. The  rst step is to repeatedly bring the mind to the object every time the mind wanders because of the previous samskaras. Here, so e willpower is needed, but you are not forc­ ing your mind. You have only to co  the mind back to your object every time you realize that your mind has gone off it. This aspect is called dharana, the anga (part) before dhyana or that leads to dhyana. Eve  time someone mediatates with a mantra, at the end of the meditation, he/she should r iewthe meditation practice: Did my mind wander too often? Was the time duration of my way rd mental activity predominant? With time, the mind will be with the object for a longer span of concentration and the frequency of the distracted state will go  own. Then the practitioner knows that he/she is making progress. There may be day-to-day variations. But what is to be seen is whether the qual­ ity of dharana is improving. Eventually, the practi oner will be with the object almost the entire duration of the meditation ses­ sion. Then he/she can conclude that he/she has achieved dhyana. So dhayana is the result of dharana practice. Furthermore, the advice of Patanjali in japa is very important. He says that the mantra japa should be as follows: First chant  e mantra and immediately think of the meaning or import of the mantra. Chant the mantra again and then think of the import (Tat japah tadarthabhavanam). In this manner, the involvement of the med­ itator with the mantra is more intense and the chances of the mind wandering are less. Un rtunately, many people chant the man as mechanically. reducing the tamas and rajas (that is, without doing  e asana and pranay a preliminaries), then during the time of dhyana , the mind either wanders because of rajas or goes to sleep because of t as (and so e mistake those petite episodes of sleep as trance).
Dhyana is there re the ef rt to keep the mind focused on one

When you continue with dhyana practice, the intensity of con· centration improves, and you reach the stage where only the object alone is remembered. You even farget yourself in the o ect, which is the state of samadhi. In essence, dhyana, preceded by dharana and fal!owed by samadhi, is a continuous practice, resulting in the trans rma on of  e mind. Born yo s do not need the preliminaries, but most do.


DAVID: A  friend writes: I have to teach a class on yoga and meditation. What is your advice far a class emphasising the meditative process?

RAMASWAMI: I suggest the following agenda far meditation class:

l. Begin with a short prayer.

2. Do a tadasan group: Choose about sixteen vinyasas. Do
each vinyasa about three times and rest at the end. It may
take about 10 minutes.

3. Do vajrasana or paschimatanasana vinyasas and rest at
the end. It may take about 8 to 10 minutes far this.

4. Do kapalabhati 108 times (36 times in each of the  three
positions of the hands).

5. Do ujjayi pranayama sixteen times using the ratio
5:5:10:5 with the bandhas in bhaya kumbhaka (about 10

6. Do shanmukhi mudra far 5 minutes.

7. Do trataka (external gazing at a picture of sunrise or
flame of a candle or an oiil lamp) for 5 minutes. Gaze until the eyes start watering, and then close the eyes. Repeat for a total duration of 5 minutes.

8. Meditate on rising sun or flame. Image the object between the eyebrows or in the heart region. Then image the light dispelling the darkness/depression  from the heart or the mind--imagine the light dispelling the darkness or depres­sion like the dew disappearing in the morning with sunrise. Do  this alternately for 5 minutes. Open  the eyes  and review the quality of the meditation. How often the mind wan­dered from the object of meditation, how long were the dis­tractions? Repeat the exercise for the reminder of the time.

9. At the end, have a short review. Ask a few students to describe the quality of their meditation. Ask them to fol­low the routine for four weeks. They may change the asana routine, but the other aspects of the regimen may remain the same.

10. End the class with a short prayer.

I hope these ideas are useful. (Por the asanas and pranayama, you may refer to The Complete Book ofViny a Yoga and Yoga far the Three Stages of Life.)


DAVID: As we acquire deeper and deeper habits of ahimsa (nonviolence) and santosha (contentment), anger will diminish. Let me ask about another approach. 1 often think of anger and hatred and similar things as a kind of d kness in the heart. In YS !, 36, one of the suggestions Patanjali offers for dealing with an unsteady mind is jyotismati, meditation on a radiant light. So, 1 wonder if this could be helpful: to meditate on the Sun in the heart, a bright, radiant light in our heart, as a way of dispelling the darkness and reducing our anger.

RAMASWAMI: Yes, meditating in the heartwith a bright object like the sun is recommended in the Vedas. I have dealt with this subject in some detail in my book  ga for the Three Stages of Life, pages 58-59. But again, the question is: how well can a person meditate when his/her mind is distracted? (Please refer to my answer to the question on dhyana.) Again, the jyotishmati  itti practice is mentioned in the first chapter, which is for the highest adhikarai (  person). So unless one is basically highly satwic, this meditation may not work or may not be possible to do as the mind will always be wandering or showing signs of tamas. So in the scheme of things, we should say that the ability to do any high degree of meditation such as the jyotishmati has a prerequisite of reduced rajas and lamas. This can be achieved by the  ma, niya- mas, asana, and pranayama, as I have explained in an earlier answer. If a person is predominantly satwic, then he/she can do jyotishmati visualization easily, and possibly he/she need not prac- tice yama niyamas, as he/she was probably born as an ahimsaite, possessing ali the other traits as well. I would say for the general populace, yama niyama comes  rst; and then, adding asana and pranayama will enable a yogi to successfully meditate and visualize.
DAVID:   I using the word meditate correctly? Would it be more correet to say the bhavana (visualization) of bringing the sun into the heart?

RAMASWAMI: Yes, bhavana will be a better term for abstract­ object meditation. In fact, my    would say, "Image the rising sun between eyebrows" (the area known as bhrumadhya). He would use the English word "imagine."

DAVID: Is the breath considered an uplifting object to focus on?
RAMASWAMI: Yes, sir.

Patanja/i's Suggestions

DAVID: You've mentioned a few times that chapter 1 of the Yoga Su as is meant for the more advanced yogi, the one who is already capable of samadhi, a  cused and steady mind. Does this mean (as in your answer on jyotismati) that the su estions Patanjali gives for steadying an unsteady mind (YS !, 32-39) are really not of much practica! use for the average or beginning yoga student?

RAMASWAMI: Since we seem to be coming back to this ques­ tion, !et us try another approach. One who wants to meditate but  oes not care for all the preliminaries should start doing medita­ tion of jyotis in one's heart or middle of the eyebrows, focusing on the light principie  r, say, 15 minutes, both mo ing and evening,  r  ur weeks. As 1 mention in my answer to the question on dhyana, one should review one's experience of meditation peri­ odically. At the end of this four-week exercise, one should look back on the experience to see   the quality of one's meditation has improved. Is one's attention span greater? Are the distractions fewer? Does one feel refreshed at the end of the meditation? Or fall asleep during meditation? Do other thoughts intervene at reg­ ular inter s? If it is yes, and emphatic s for   answer, then this meditation is really good for the person. If there are no improve­ ments, if the student becomes less and less enthusiastic about the practice, if the student forces him/herself to do this in the hope that somehow it will work in the course of time, as if by a mira­ cle, then perhaps he/she can conclude that he/she still has to prepare himself be re practicing meditation.
In the preamble to his commentaryto the second chapter ofYS, Sadhana Pada (the chapter on practice), Vyasa is quite clear in helping to demarcate the levels of yoga. He says, "The yoga attained by a yogi with engrossed mind (samahita chitta) has been stated. This sutra (the first of the second chapter) starts to indicate how a devotee (yogabhyasi) with a restless mind can
also attain yoga."

So it is a question ofwhether the beginner or average yogi has the capabili  to be engrossed-s ahita chitta is the character­ istic of the yogi of  e highest order, described in the first chap­ ter. For such a yogi the means are abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (dispassion). The yogi who has the capability to remain engrossed in an object transforms himself into a yogi whose mind is com- pletely in a state of nirodha. This presupposes that unless a yogi has the capability to be completely in samadhi, he/she will not be able to progress to the leve! of kaivalya attained by vair a prac- tice. Such a yogi, even as he/she practices to trans rm his/her mind, may occasionally slip into a state of distraction due to so e remaining past karmas or carelessness. To prevent such slippage developing into a fall, the  rst chapter suggests a few well established yoga practices in YS !, 32-39, as you mention. It is vir- tually a safety net. In this is included the jyotishmati practice as well. O iously, a beginner-level practitioner will not be able to practice correctly and successfully. Conversely, if a beginning student is able to successfully practice these yoga meditations, one can conclude that he/she is actually a high-level yogi   for samadhi yoga as described in the  rst chapter.
Others should go through the sadhana detailed in the second chapter. Then  ey will see that, after ali these extemal (bahiranga) practices, the yoga practitioner is ab]e to be more focused, prac­ tice dharana and dhyana,  d then achieve samadhi. These are again described in the third chapter.
You will see that the s e jyotishmati practice men oned as a corrective device in the first chapter is described as a siddhi in the third chapter. In YS lll, 31, it is said that by doing s y a or jyotishi in the middle of   eyebrows,   yogi is able to see the siddhas (those who have attained extraordinary achievements).

Similarly samyama in hradaya (heart) (YS III, 33) will lead to understanding one's own mind. Likewise other practices men­ tioned in YS !, 32; maitri karuna (friendliness, compassion) and others mentioned as practices for siddhi in the third chapter, YS III, 23, Maitriyadisu (yogic contemplation on friendliness).

So I may summarize by saying that if a yo  does not have the capabilityto be engrossed or totally focused, then he/she has to do practices that will enable him/her to get the necessary capability. The entire second chapter with ali the externa! practice is to pre­ pare the yoga practitioner to become a yogi.


Appendix 3

More from Yoga Beneath the surface on Smayama and the  tattvas


The 25 tattvas

from HERE 

The Tattvas

In the Samkhya doctrine there are 25 Tattvas:

1. Purusha (Transcendental Self)

2. The uncreated (unmanifest) Prakriti (primordial nature)

3. Mahat/Buddhi (intellect)

4. Ahamkara (ego, consciousness of self)

5. Manas (mind)

6-10. The five sense-organs
11-15. The five motor-organs
16-20. The five subtle elements
21-25. The five gross elements

Tattvas 3-25 evolve from primordial nature. 

All of the Tattvas account for the totality of the unverse as a whole, and each individual human being.

Appendix 4

“Vinyasa means ‘art form,’ such as in music or dance,” he said. “Certain parameters are there, and it allows certain variations.” Ramaswami.

I wanted a blog post photo to represent the dancer image in the Samkhya passage at the top of the blog. I remembered Yamini, a Bharatanatyam dancer and yoga teacher (also a long time student of BNS Iyengar) and couldn't resist sharing a couple of videos of one of her performances, especially as Bharatanatyam is as old if not (considerably) older than the Samkhya Karika itself,it may well have been a Bharatanatyam dancer that the writer of the samkhya Karika had in mind when he constructed the passage. 

There are other connections, Ramaswami's first experience teaching yoga was at a dance school, the sflexible students caught on so quickly that Ramaswami had to go back to his teacher Krishnamacharya and ask for ever more asana to teach the dancers.

"How is it that the system I teach is different from other schools of the same lineage. I started studying Yoga with Sri Krishnamacahraya when I was about 15 years old . I studied several asanas, vinyasas, pranayama and after several years he stared teaching vedic chanting and the study of the texts like Yoga Sutras and the Upanishads. One day after about 20 years I had been his student, he said that I could teach Yoga if I wished. I had absolutely no such plan, but after a few days, I was asked by Sri Desikachar if I would be interested in teaching at Kalakshetra an institution considered to be of national importance by the Government of India. I met the director, the well known dancer and administrator Smt Rukmini Devi. From then on I taught yoga to the students of Kalakshetra for about 20 years. When I started teaching I was asked to teach yoga for the first two years of the under graduate program. I was very enthusiastic and taught them whatever I had learnt from my Guru. Since they were young, very agile and talented, many of them could do asanas beautifully. You could feel that Yoga is really an art when you see them do asanas slowly gracefully with the breath. In fact I have some videos of them doing yoga way back in the 1980s uploaded on my channel in YouTube". Srivatsa Ramaswami June 2014

Krishnamacharya would explain Vinyasa by reference to other indian arts, to dance and music, formal yet allowing for creativity.

“Vinyasa means ‘art form,’ such as in music or dance,” he said. “Certain parameters are there, and it allows certain variations.” Ramaswami.

Yamini Murthanna is a Bharatanatyam dancer (Dating back to 1000 BC) and teacher 
and a long time student of BNS Iyengar

My review of her book, The power of Yoga 

Yamini Muthanna 


Yamini Muthanna presents her dance production Manas at Bangalore on January 26th. Manas is set to selected hymns and verses from the Bhagavad Gita, The Upanishads and the Vedas. Breaking the choreography into 5 sections, inspired by the hymns in the Taittiriya Upanishad where it is said that the human organism has 5 layers (Annamaya Kosha, Pranamaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, Vigyanamaya Kosha, Anandamaya Kosha).  She has explored this concept in the production ‘Manas.’ The slokas were selected by Dr. Girija Khanna and Prof. Balaji, English Professor and Sanskrit Pundit from the Mysore University. The music composition is combined with classical ragas rendering slokas, swaras and jathis".

See also perhaps this article by Navtej Johar

Why Yoga is Important to Me as a Dancer, as a Person

"I am firmly of the belief, that suggestion through imagery, poetry, music, are all secondary, what is integral is the clearance that my bones and joints open within the body and freely allow it to submit to a new experience. Abhinaya is then neither an idea nor a projection, as it is often considered, it is actually a real emanation that comes forth out of my body, a revelation of the body. It is precisely here that yoga has not only helped me but I would say made me a dancer. By letting me realise that emotion, heart, soul, spirit, inspiration, all of these are not foreign elements that are introduced into my body from above, a chance gift of another dimension or a muse, but are all contiguous extensions of the material body. Actually this idea is neither novel nor original, though it seems radical in our times, but a direct import of the Samkhya philosophy which is purely “materialist” and does not entertain the idea of God, and upon which the yoga of Patanjali is based. And interestingly this same idea gets further elaborated in the tantra of Abhinavagupta (10th century CE), who further adds into it the magical dimension of poetry and resonance".

Navtej Johar is a dancer and a yoga practitioner in the tradition of Sri T Krishnamacharya and Sri TKV Desikachar. He is the founder and director of Studio Abhyas, New Delhi, a space dedicated to yoga, dance, urban activism and the care of stray animals.

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta


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