Samadhi Pada: The First Chapter Of Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Samadhi Pada

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a collection of 196 verses that guide how to practice yoga to achieve knowledge and self-realization. The book is considered to be the foundation of yoga philosophy. 

Four padas, or chapters, comprise the 196 sutras meaning threads. They are, Samadhi, Sadhana, Vibhuti, and Kaivalya. The Yoga Sutras are meant to assist yogis explore the essence of yoga. The book itself is meant to be interpreted freely by the practitioner. Now let us dwell deeper into the first chapter Samadhi Pada.

Summary of Samadhi Pada

The definition of yoga is covered in the first chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The 51 sutras in this part convey a message centered around enlightenment, concentration, and meditation that is intended for people who have already incorporated yoga into their everyday lives. 

Below is a brief summary of the 1st Chapter, Samadhi Pada

Meaning of Yoga 

Yoga is defined as yogas citta vritti nirodha. It means to quieten the fluctuations of the mind.  Yoga means to achieve unity. Three elements comprise the mind, according to Patanjali are manas, buddhi, and ahamkara. The ability to record impressions from the outer world that the senses pick up is known as manas. The ability to distinguish and respond to these perceptions is known as Buddhi. The ego-sense, or ahamkara, thinks of these perceptions as its own and records them as personal knowledge.

Kinds of Thoughts 

There are five kinds of thought waves. They may be painful and not painful. A painful wave can be full of ignorance, addiction, and bondage. A wave that first looks painful can also be not painful if it pushes the mind in the direction of knowledge and freedom. However, the feeling of sympathy would be characterized as not painful, since sympathy is an altruistic feeling that helps us release the ego. Even though we may suffer much when we witness the suffering of others, our sympathy will help us gain insight and, ultimately, liberation.

Patanjali believes that in the practice of yoga discipline, the differentiation between the two types of thought waves is crucial. Because one cannot control all of the mind waves at once. So, one needs to raise pleasant thoughts to overcome the unpleasant ones. 

The five kinds of thoughts are Pramana (right knowledge), Viparyaya (indiscrimination), Vikalapa (verbal delusion), Nidra (sleep) and Smriti (memory). 

1. Right knowledge – If our logic is sound and pure, whatever we perceive from our immediate sensations is valid information. The superconscious wisdom that great spiritual teachers acquired while in the perfect yoga condition is the foundation of the scriptures. Everyone who achieves this vision can verify the truths they teach since they represent a type of direct awareness and proof. 

But the question arises of how to perceive and know what is right knowledge. It is through proof. The proof is defined as the absence of contradiction between two of our perception cons. 

There are three kinds of proof. They are Pratyaksha or direct perception. All we see and experience is evidence if there is nothing to trick our senses. For example, we can see the world, which is enough evidence that it exists. The second is Anumana or inference. This is when you observe a sign, and you come to a conclusion. Third is Aptavakya, direct proof from the yogis who have experienced the truth. 

Each of us is striving to become knowledgeable. The Yogi is the pure one. His statements are proof because he sees knowledge in himself; before his mind, the past, present, and future are all the same. He does not need to go through the tough processes that we go in order to obtain information. For example, since the sacred scriptures are written by experienced yogis, the books themselves serve as evidence.

2. Indiscrimination – Wrong knowledge is that which is false and not based upon the true nature of its object. For example, we perceive a piece of rope as a snake. In this case, wrong knowledge will cause us to fear the rope or perceive it as a threat.

3. Verbal illusion– When words don’t match reality, verbal illusion occurs. Verbal illusion tends to jump to conclusions. When we hear someone talk, we quickly and incorrectly interpret what they are saying. 

4. Sleep – We can only recall our perceptions after we wake up, and we are aware that we have been sleeping. Sleep arises when there is no remembrance of past occurrences, no mistake, no definitive knowledge, and no imagination. Sleep comes as soon as the other thought waves start to fade from the mind. The root of sleep is lethargy and a lack of mental activity. As soon as we wake up the mind again attaches itself to the ego. 

5. Memory– Memory is the ability of perceived events to stick with you and return to awareness through impressions. Direct perception, incorrect information, verbal hallucination, and sleep can all affect memory. 

We can control these thought waves by practicing non-attachment. Why? every action is like the pulse. The vibration disappears and what is left is the impressions. When these impressions are left they collide to become a habit. Our personality is the total of these samskaras. If good habits prevail then one is happy. All the bad impressions may be managed by good impressions. Pure good thoughts and doing good help to create good impressions.

Challenges Faced By A Yogi

Challenges Faced By A Yogi( samadhi yoga)

Chanting Om’s helps to dissolve all mental and physical barriers. What challenges does a Yogi face? These distractions include illness, mental lethargy, uncertainty, lack of excitement, clinging to sense pleasures, incorrect perception, lack of concentration, and retreating from the state when achieved.

This body is the vessel that will take us over the ocean of life to its opposite shore. People in poor health cannot be yogis. Mental tiredness causes us to lose all high spirits or interests, which is necessary to generate the desire and energy to practice. 

Regardless of how strong one’s intellectual judgment may be, doubts regarding the truth will always surface until one hears or sees the truth for themselves. 

Retreating from the state after achieving means, on some days when one practices, the mind will be focused, and they will discover that they are making progress quickly. Suddenly, the advancement will come to an end. But one must not worry in those days, as all process is accompanied by ups and downs.

Stages Of Concentration 

Concentration will help to relax the mind and body. The four stages of concentration are examination, discrimination, joyful peace, and awareness of individuality. The first type of concentration combines itself with a pure, undivided mind and reaches deeper. Focusing on a single item is an essential first step. It may transport the consciousness to the furthest when practiced regularly. 

When the mind is fully focused on one of the gross material aspects, it is considered to have entered the “examination” stage. Then comes the phase of discrimination, in which the consciousness enters the external layer of matter and stays within the subtle energy within. 

The next stage is called joyful peace, during which we focus on our inner faculties of observation. The last stage is called simple awareness of individuality, during which we focus on the ego-sense, which is free from desire or fear. This is a difficult process that may take a lifetime to reach.

The yogi who now can control the obstacles enters a state of meditation. At this stage, the yogi establishes himself in all the gross levels and subtle levels of meditation. He can block out all thoughts and identify with the subject of his meditation. He is like a piece of crystal while he is meditating. 

Meghna Banerjee