Scaling the citadel of Clarity

Series 1 Post 3

The next verse that is quoted in Vyāsabhāṣya occurs in sūtra 1.47. nirvicāra-vaiśāradye’dhyātma-prasādaḥ.

It is a well known fact that – Yoga bestows clarity by regulating our thought processes – citta-vṛtti-nirodha.

There is a constant inflow of information through our senses. In the current era of Smart phones and social media, information inflow – in the form of news – fake and real, views – good and not so good, is at its unprecedented peak. We are always bombarded by constant messages on various networks and platforms online.

There is very little time to be free from their influence and think. Also, there is very little time to assimilate what we have received. The very need to assimilate what we received itself is not felt. Simply the share button is pressed and a sense of having done some social service, albeit virtually, is achieved.

Should we not stop and reflect? Should we not take two steps away from the flow of info and develop clarity!

It is in this context that Yoga becomes Vital. Basically, our daily session of Yoga practice, apart from the health benefits, helps us also to remain with ourselves and allows to look at our own self and understand where and how we are in life. It is in Yoga sessions, so to say, we are able to think. It gives us back to ourselves.

Simple practices of āsana, prāṇāyāma and a little chanting are themselves like an oasis of freshness and clarity amidst the dry flow of never ending information.

Higher states of Yoga that are achieved by systematic progress in Yoga in the long run – promise more clarity.

When we speak about very high states of clarity, one might feel that these are not applicable to me.

But don’t we hear this phrase “aim at the start and shoot at the sky” – only when we have a higher aim, can we progress to some level. If aim is very low, then there is every possibility that we always stay where we are and miss out manifesting the high potentials as human beings.

Further, there is also a possibility that we might deceive ourselves to believing that the clarity that we currently posses is the highest possible. Hence, it is worthwhile to look into textual wisdom that speaks about higher states of clarity, though not immediately achievable, that can be scaled by human intellect through Yoga.

Of course, it is stated as a disclaimer, that this star-gazing is to be done with our feet firmly placed on the ground (i.e being regular in our daily practice of Yoga)

So much for introduction. Now – the verse that is being presented in this post is quoted by Vyāsa to the sūtra that speaks about the excellent clarity of the mind that a Yogi reaches when mastery is reached in the state of  Nirvicāra Samādhi.

One may be aware that in the first chapter of Yogasūtras – four states of Samprajñāta-samādhis are stated –

  1. Savitarka – having any gross object (made up of five elements) as focus – where there is an admixture of word,object and (associated)knowledge.
  2. Nirvitarka – having gross object as focus – where only the object shines forth – bereft of word and associated knowledge.
  3. Savicāra – having subtle objects (beginning from Tanmātras to Prakṛti) as focus where there is an admixture or word, object and (associated) knowledge
  4. Nirvicāra – having subtle object as focus – where only the object shines forth.

As can be seen from the above, in Nirvicāra state, focus is at its pinnacle and distraction is at its nadir. Sattva is very dominant and Rajas and Tamas are highly weakened. Then prajñā – clarity – emerges.

This clarity that the mind experiences is beautifully described in the verse quoted by Sage Vyāsa –

प्रज्ञाप्रासादमारुह्य अशोच्यः शोचतो जनान्।

भूमिष्ठानिव शैलस्थः सर्वान्प्राज्ञोऽनुपश्यति ॥

prajñāprāsādamāruhya aśocyaḥ śocato janān।

bhūmiṣṭhāniva śailasthaḥ sarvānprājño’nupaśyati ॥

 A blissful, enlightened person who has scaled the citadel of clarity, sees very clearly the others who are in suffering, like a person on a summit watching others down below on the ground.

Thus far a Yogin had a notional understanding of the suffering of the world. This is the expression of direct perception about that. This strengthens his resolve to move towards Kaivalya and also to help others in the path.

It can be stated that the compassion of all our Yoga Acharya’s to the students stems from this level of clarity.