(Yoga and Beyond, Chap. 5)

The Keshin Hymn of the Rig-veda (10.136)

Two groups side by side: these yogis and then worshippers of Indra, following Vedic ritual, prayers, hymns, and the soma sacrifice. Wendy Doniger believes that the drug they are taking here is not soma, because Rudra-Shiva was banned from the Vedic sacrifice. This exclusion, however, is found only in the Puranas, a very late collection of myths, so the ban may not have existed in Vedic times, when Rudra was still a Vedic god and not yet fully tied to Shiva.

Were these wandering, long-haired ascetics shamans? Magical flight, enduring fire? But sophisticated spiritual enlightenment goes beyond Shamanism.

Eliade believes the most striking similarities between Yoga and Shamanism is the production of "inner heat."

"The Brahmachari advances...clothed in the skin of the black antelope..." Proto-shiva on Indus seal surrounded by animals. Wild beasts will not harm a true yogi.

Etymology of yuj : "to bind closely" and "to bring under yoke."

1. To take on the yoke of spiritual discipline.

2. To bind one's self with God or one's true self.

Pantanjali - when did he live 1st or 2nd cent. B.C.E. or 5th cent. C.E.? Author of the Yoga-sutra - material gathered here is of great antiquity.


The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali (2nd Cent. B.C.E.)

(Source Book, Chap. 13)

Rammurti S. Mishra, Yoga Sutras (Anchor, 1963): "Deep in the tiny atom of psyche lies hidden a tremendous force which will lead psyche to the point of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence...." (p. 6) Is this Yoga Titanism? Doesn't it celebrate self-assestion, power, and hubris as much as Western Titanism?

Differences between Yoga and Sankhya.

1. God or more precisely Ishvara is added (?) to the 25 metaphysical elements. If the implication is that Ishvara is a separate metaphyscial principle, this cannot be correct. As Chap. 1.24 indicates, Ishvara's difference from us is not metaphysical, but simply due to the fact that he has never been seduced by Nature.

2. Mahat or buddhi are replaced by citta (mind-stuff). But it is still part of prakriti. Through citta purusha comes to believe that it really experiences something and is related to the world. Contrast with Sat cit ananda in Upanishads. Purusha has being (Sat), but no citta and no ananda (bliss).

Take a look at the "five afflictions" on p. 453 and see if you understand them or see if you agree with them.

The Text of the Yoga-Sutra. Please note that the text, as our previous one, contains pithy sayings (sutras) from the 3rd B.C.E. and two commentaries from the 4th C.E. (abbreviated Y.B.) and another from 850 C.E. (abbreviated T.V.).

Chap 1.1: Commentary gives preferred etymology of yoga as "contemplation" rather than "to join," which is the etymology usually given by Western scholars. As with the Vedas, Indian etymologies are sometimes rather fanciful and unscientific. If yoga is contemplation then we definitely have an emphasis on Dhyana Yoga, viz., a Yoga of Meditation.

Chap. 1.2: In the commentary there is mention of the three gunas of Sankhya. The practice of yoga restrains the effect of the mental sattvaguna.

Chap. 1.4: the purusha is affected by the mind? The mind is like a magnet and becomes the purusha's possession? But these are illusions? The pure purusha looks into the dirty mirror of the mind and wrongly concludes that it is dirty. These mirror images will have echoes down through the centuries, especially in Buddhism and particularly in Zen.

Please note the use of the term atman for purusha. The true self is a pure spectator: does not enjoy, nor does it suffer; does not even have knowledge, except its own final self-knowledge of its purity. The true self is beyond pleasure and pain; beyond good and evil.

Chap 1.15: non-attachment to women, foods, drinks, power, and scripture. We must stay away from divine objects as well as material objects. How could this document ever be considered as Vedic and orthodox?

Chap. 1.16: The goal of the yogi is desirelessness and absolute independence (kaivalya), not unity with Brahman as in Upanishads. See 2.18 and "the will-to-be-alone."

Chap. 1.17,18 : the importance of the yogic trance (samadhi). The ultra-cognitive trance is the highest form of desirelessness.

Chap. 1.19: the videhas--the disembodied ones. They move "along the line marked by habit" enjoying absolute freedom. But they aren't pure purushas? No. These disincarnate gods have no bodies, so they don't have experiences, and they can't be liberated then. (See Eliade, pp. 53-54). But the liberated purusha will have no body either. The disembodied gods, however, are not completely rid of their desire.

Chap. 1.23,24: Ishvara as a distinct purusha, having never been entangled in prakriti. Any free purusha can be called Ishvara. And Ishvaras are divine, true divinities, not like the poor videhas mentioned in 1.19.

We can never come face-to-face with Ishvara. We are all totally isolated in our own liberation. But as Eliade prints out, we are in "metaphysical sympathy with the Lord (p. 86).

Question: How can Ishvara be omnipresent and omniscient (1:25)?

Chap. 1.27: the sacred workd AUM connotes Ishvara.

Chap. 1.33: The mind becomes pure by developing indifference towards happiness, misery, virtue, and vice. The yogi goes beyond good and evil.

Chap. 1.34: Breath control is only optional?

Chap. 1.35: developing supersensation, especially super-smell. The other four senses and portions of the tongue.

Chap. 1.41: The mind is like a transparent crystal, taking on the shape of any object it cognizes.

Chap. 1.45: thought transformations reach up to the "noumenal" as opposed to the phenomenal sensible realm? Does this mean the purusha realm or simply pure thought, i.e., still part of prakriti? Most likely the latter. See Chap. 2:19. The word "noumenal" is derived from Greek is means objects of mind, rather than objects of sense.

Chap.2:1: Three goals of the yogi: purification, study, and making Ishvara the motive of action, i.e., using our knowledge of this one pure soul as the goal of our spiritual efforts. This is completely one-sided, for Ishvara doesn't know anything about us.

Chap. 2:10: Burning up karma and afflictions, the yogi literally loses his mind (i.e., higher levels of prakriti).. The yogi must burn up unconscious desires as well.

Chap. 2:18: The knowable is all part of Nature, so if spirit is separate from Nature, it knows nothing except its own pure existence.

Chap. 2.19: the noumenal is just higher mental stages of prakriti.

Chap. 2.27: "four-fold freedom of conscious discrimination from external phenomena" parallels the Buddha's 4-noble truths: (1) suffering exists; (2) craving is the cause of suffering; (3) the end of craving is nirvana; and (4) the eight-fold path of enlightenment. Main difference between Yoga Sutra and the Buddha: ordinary desires for things that can be attained are OK for the Buddha. Craving, a desire whose objects cannot be obtained, is the source of suffering. The Buddha saw in the yogis a craving for a separate existence that could not possibly obtained, especially in the state of an eternal soul substance.

The "adept" stage appears to correspond to Buddhism's Nirvana with substrate, i.e., while still in this life in a body.

Chap. 2.29: Eight accessories of Yoga - restraint (yama), observance (niyama), regulation of breath (pranayama), abstraction [of the senses], concentration (samadhi), meditation (dharana), and trance (dhyana). Again this parallels the Buddha’s eight-fold path.

Chap. 2.30: restraints (yama): ahimsa (non-injury), veracity, no stealing, continence, and no greed. Jaina and Buddhist precepts, too.

Chap. 2.31: Commentary seems to say that the fisherman is exempted from injurying fish. Likewise with the deer hunter? Soldiers are exempted in battle? But Patanjali appears to say that they are not exempted?

Chap. 2.32: Niyama--observances: cleanliness, contentment, purificatory action, study, and making Ishvara the motive of all action (using him as a model), desiring no more than life's necessities, and reciting AUM.

Chap. 2.35: the yogi practicing ahimsa pacifies all those in his presence.

Chap. 2.39: By not being greedy, the yogi gains knowledge of previous births; nay, more--omniscience itself.

Chap. 2.47: when the mind is transformed into the infinite. Titanism?

Chap. 2.52: the yogi's karma becomes weak and is destroyed by breath control.

3.1 - Dharana - concentration on the navel, heart, brain, nosetip, tip of tongue, etc.

3.4 - Samyama (inner discipline) is dharana, dhyana, and samadhi together.

Concentration in the 7 Chakras:

1. Lower abdomen and genitals - Muladhara - Kundilini yoga - hormonal energy is controlled for spiritual purposes.

2. Lower abdomen and legs - supporting power. Svadhisthama.

3. Minipura - all abdominal organs. Control over all physiological forces.

4. Anahata - organs of the chest - centered in the heart. Union of consciousness and cosmic forces.

5. Vishuddha - neck chakra - consciousness and breath.

6. Ajna - nervious system (except cerebral cortex) - union with Atman (Vedantist interpretation).

7. Sahasraram - highest brain levels. Liberation of purusa - Vedantist: union with Brahman.


Eliade, 36-38: defense of the arguments for purusha - prakriti must be for something - purusha souls are the principle of individuation. For Aristotle, matter played this role. Pleasure and pain have no meaning by themselves - defined in terms of an experiencer. But purusha doesn't exp.

Eliade, 40. Buddhi - the highest manifestation of prakriti would be nothing without purusha reflecting its perfection in it. It can know because purusha is a pure knower. Only a "sympathetic correspondence" (yogyata) between purusha and buddhi. But it is still a strict external relation, which actually means no relation.

  • A > B   and B > A                  A        B
  • Internal relation               External relation (actually no relation)
  • Interdependence vs. complete independence

    Logically, Advaita Vedanta does seem to win the argument. Leibniz's principle of indiscernibles. If two things have the same qualities, then they are identical. Plurality of purushas becomes one Atman = Brahman.

    Eliade 41: Purusha is stripped of all value and meaning. Quote bottom 41, top 42.

    Eliade, 46 - S-Y response to Vedanta on plurality of selves. If all souls are one, then the first yogi to be liberated would have liberated all of us. Can't have enslaved spirits and liberated ones existing side by side unless there is one purusha for every person.

    Eliade 54: - Proto-Freudian insights latent vasana tendencies - unconscious desires which must be brought to the surface and burned up as Karma. Passed on from generation to generation. Collective Karma? Collective unconscious - more like Jung than Freud. Not simply unconscious sexual desires.