[Advaita-l] A Peep into the Patanjali System

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon May 24 20:35:18 CDT 2010

Srigurubhyo NamaH
Namaste Sadhakas,

[This post appeared in the Advaitin List as message No. 33420

My knowledge of the Patanjali system is perfunctory. In this post i
would like to discuss some points that crystallized in my mind as a
result of the recent discussions that went on in this List.

Maharshi Patanjali declares in the beginning that the ultimate object
of his system of Yoga that essentially centres round 'chitta-vritti-
nirodhaH' (effecting the cessation of thought currents), is the
establishment of the aspirant in his true Self, 'tadA draShTuH
svarUpe avasthAnam'.

Now, in Vedanta, the Self, Atma, (non-different from Brahman), is
a 'nitya-siddha vastu', that is, It is an ever-existing entity. It
is not something that requires to be created afresh. That
distinguishes Atma from any other effect that is brought into being
with effort. That forms the fundamental difference between 'purusha-
tantra' and 'vastu-tantra'. Let me elucidate on these two concepts,
in the sequel, in simple terms, so as to form the basis for this

Purusha/kartru tantra: Type A: Supposing I own a plot of vacant
land. Thinking of what I can do there, brings up a number of
alternatives. I can put up a residential unit. I can build a multi-
storeyed apartment complex. A commercial complex.. Or even a Temple,
if that is feasible. After considering all these alternatives, I may
very well conclude: Taking any of these alternatives will certainly
demand my time, attention, energy, etc. Now that I have very less
time left, let me concentrate on intense sadhana and leave that land
as it is. Thus, we have a situation where anything happening on that
land depends on my initiating an action. As of now there is nothing
on that land; whatever can come up there has to be a product, an
effect, a creation. It depends on me, the purusha, the kartaa.

Purusha tantra Type B: This type differs from the above only in one
respect; the above is a gross example, this one is a subtle one.
Supposing I want to meditate upon Lord Krishna. Now, there is no
unique description about Krishna. We have a host of Krishna-s : baby
Krishna, Yashodha.nandan Krishna, the Krishna, the companion of other
cowherds, then there is the Krishna, the beloved of all the Gopis,
Radha-Krishna, GitAcharya Krishna, Krishna the benefactor of the
Pandavas, Dwaraka Krishna, the consort of Rukmini and SatyabhAma,.
and so on. Now, even if I choose to meditate upon one of these,
depending on my special liking, again, there is no unique description
of the form of the chosen type. The ornaments, the dress, the facial
expression, the hair-style, etc. etc. are all not uniquely defined.
So, here we have a situation where I have to `create' an imprint of
Krishna on the screen of my mind. Thus, the imprint ultimately
depends on me, the purusha, the kartaa.

Type V: Vedanta distinguishes Atman/Brahman from the above type(s)
and says Brahman is vastu-tantra. It does not depend on the person-
purusha for its creation; it is an ever-existing entity, only
requiring to be `realized' by me, by activating an appropriate
pramANa, instrument of knowledge. Certainly, my realizing this
Brahman will not amount to my creating Brahman. Since Brahman is
extremely subtle, Vedanta advocates a meditation, practicing which
according to the method prescribed by the Shastra and guided by the
Guru, I can succeed in realizing It.

Vedanta has a number of other upasanas, meditations falling under the
type B above with a view to train the mind, making it dwell on
objects ranging from the gross to the subtle, to ultimately take up
this above vastu-tantra (Type V) meditation.

Now, with this background, let us examine the main point of this
discussion. Sri Bhaskar ji, in his recent posts, averred that
Nirvikalpa Samadhi is essentially that of Patanjali shastra (dvaita
shastra) and that NS is a kartru-tantra meditation (see Type B above)
and as such is not a valid means to realize the Vedantic Brahman.

The question that I have is this: Is the Self that Maharshi
Patanjali talks about in the sutra `tadA draShTuH svarUpe
avasthAnam'( the realization of and establishment in, is the ultimate
goal of his Yoga system,) an `effect' to be created by an effort
called some samadhi? To put the question in simple terms: Is the Atma
of Patanjali a `product' of some samadhi? Or is it an existing
Atma that is to be realized, even in the system of Patanjali? (Note:
All this is not to obliterate the essential differences that exist
between the siddhAnta of Patanjali and the Aupanishada siddhAnta.)

Now, to conclude, despite my unfamiliarity with the system of
Patanjali, based on the above lines of thinking, I think I would not
be wrong in making this statement, although in the interrogative:

It is learnt that the Patanjali system has a number of meditations
(samadhis). Are ALL the samadhis spoken of in that system
essentially only kartru-tantra (type B) samadhis? Is the pre-eminent
aspirant, uttama adhikAri, of that system engaged in `creating' an

Pranams and warm regards to all sadhakas,

Om Tat Sat

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