Vibhuti Pada – Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Chapter 3

bibhuti pada

Chapter 3 contains 56 sutras which talk about the advantages of consistent yoga practice. Here, Patanjali dwells deeply into the last two limbs of yoga, Dhyana and Samadhi, and examines the power and manifestation that arise from practicing yoga.

We have covered the first five limbs of yoga in Chapter 2 of Patanjali Sutras. The remaining three are meditation (dhyana), concentration (dharana), and absorption (samadhi). 

What is Samyama

bubhuti pada (What is Samyama)

Concentration or dharana, is the practice of directing the attention on a divine form that may be external to the body or within the body. Meditation or dhyana, is the uninterrupted flow of mind directed toward the object of attention. It involves sustained focus. Patanjali describes thinking as a mental wave (vritti). 

Typically, a wave of thoughts emerges, lingers in the mind for a little while, and then fades away, to be replaced by another wave. A series of similar waves are created in the mind during meditation practice, and they happen so swiftly that no wave is permitted to pass before another one rises to take its place. Consequently, the outcome is flawless.

Absorption or samadhi occurs when an object’s actual nature is undistorted by the perceiver’s mind. It is the perceiver’s imagination that is distorted. We have preconceived notions about what we expect to see, and they hinder our ability to observe. We observe an item in its true essence, completely free from the distortions of our imagination, only in the awareness of samadhi. Samadhi is direct knowledge, which is far greater than perception.

These three practices—concentration, meditation, and absorption—when applied to a single subject is referred to as Samyama. Samyama describes the three steps involved in determining an object’s real nature. But it needs to be implemented step-by-step. Patanjali cautions against moving too quickly. Before we learn to focus, there is no use in trying to meditate. Until we can focus on large objects, there is no use in attempting to focus on subtle ones. It is quite risky to acquire this type of information quickly.

After achieving this Samyama, all powers become within one’s control. The fields of knowledge are infinite and are further divided into categories like grosser, grossest and fine, finer, and finest. First, use this Samyama to grosser objects and as one becomes more conscious of it, one should apply it to finer objects. 

The practice of the first five limbs of yoga is a kind of training to get ready for the practice of Samyama (concentration-meditation-absorption). To enable the body to endure the experiences that lie ahead, the mind and senses must be cleansed by the practice of moral virtues, and the body as a whole must be protected. However, this is only the start. To attain Samyama’s perfection is also just the start.

The mind becomes peaceful when there is consistent suppression of thought waves. The condition known as samadhi is reached when the mind becomes focused and free of any external distractions. When comparable thought waves appear one after the other without any breaks in between, the mind gets focused.

This state covers the three categories of change—form, time, and condition—that can occur in the gross or subtle matter and in the organs.

Swami Vivekananda uses a chunk of gold as an example. A shift happens when the gold is formed into a bracelet. The gold becomes old with time.  A change in condition happens when the shiny gold fades or gets thin. Similar alterations take place in mental waves and subtle matter. The thought waves might pertain to various time periods, be of different types, and have varying intensities. However, in the samadhi condition, the mind transcends all three types of modifications.

The reason for many developments is the series of various modifications. In Chapter I, we learned how the characteristics of an item are dependent upon the functioning of the gunas and the structure of the samskaras. There is no fundamental distinction between a lump of mud and a piece of gold for the enlightened yogi. As a result, he develops total indifference to the things of the physical world.

The Powers

Bibhuti pada(The Powers)

One gains awareness of the past and the future by practicing Samyama on the three different types of changes. Occult abilities are viewed by different schools of thought including Patanjali as the worst obstacles on the path of seeking truth. But occult forces certainly exist, and Patanjali cannot overlook them. We all possess them and may cultivate them with consistent practice. 

One gains comprehension of all sounds made by living things by practicing Samyama. Typically, we don’t distinguish between the process of hearing a word, comprehending its meaning, and responding, in one way or another, to the information it conveys. 

One learns about past incarnations by doing Samyama on past thought waves. A thought wave that has weakened stays in the mind in a very small, delicate form. As a result, it is resurrected as memory. Furthermore, it is possible to use this memory to go back to earlier births.

One can learn about the nature of another man’s thinking by performing Samyama on the physical characteristics that set him apart. But one cannot access the content, as the Samyama does not aim to do that.

When a person practices Samyama on their body, they block their own perceptibility, separating their point of manifestation from the viewer’s, making their body invisible. The yogi has the ability to block their body’s external manifestation while they are in a room, making it impossible for others to see them. 

A yogi may determine the precise moment of his separation from the body by doing Samyama on two types of karma—that which will produce fruit shortly and that which will not bear fruit until later—or even by identifying death.

A number of psychological and physical occurrences, as well as glimpses of supernatural beings, are considered signs of death. Hindus hold the belief that knowing one’s precise death hour ahead of time is crucial because the kind of afterlife a person has will, partly, depend on the thoughts they are having at the time.

One can cultivate the energies of kindness, and compassion, by practicing Samyama. When a yogi achieves this Samyama, he may release himself from suffering and take care of others.

One acquires any type of strength, like the elephant’s, by practicing Samyama on it. One can learn about things that are subtle, concealed, or far away by practicing Samyama on the Inner Light. Knowledge of the cosmic voids is obtained via performing Samyama on the sun. One can learn about the starry configuration by doing Samyama on the moon. One can learn about the movements of the stars by doing Samyama on the polestar.

Knowing the composition of the body appears on the navel circle. If someone can create Samyama in the hollow of the throat when really hungry, the hunger will diminish. The body becomes fixated on the Kurma nerve. Yogis gain sight of the Siddhas by the light arising from the crown of the head. The Yogi will see these Siddhas if he focuses his concentration on the top of his head. 

One whose mind is enlightened by purity on its own may acquire all these capacities of knowing. Upon reaching an extremely high level of purification, psychic abilities may manifest in the mind spontaneously without the need for any Samyama.

One learns about the contents of the mind by practicing Samayama on the heart. A failure to distinguish between the Atman and the sattva guna, which are entirely distinct, results in the power of enjoyment. The Atman is autonomous and exists for its own purpose; the sattva guna is only its agent. Knowledge of the Atman is obtained by Samyama on the independence of the Atman.

The guna of sattva is the highest enjoyment we may experience in the ordinary state of awareness. In our ignorance, we believe that it is the same as the bliss of the pure Atman, but it is not. Even in its most pure form, sattva is still a Guna and sattvic bliss retains certain egotistical elements. We must realize that the Gunas are the only vehicles for the Atman. Through observing this Samyama and differentiating between Atman and sattva, the yogi transcends material pleasure and enters the bliss of the Atman. That gives rise to the Purusha knowledge as well as the supernatural senses of taste, smell, hearing, and touch. 

These are strengths in the worldly state, but they are also barriers to Samadhi. The Yogi understands that the intellect and Purusha come together at this point to get knowledge of the pleasures of this world. He gains knowledge of the Purusha if he attains Samyama on the understanding that nature and soul are two distinct entities. This gives birth to discrimination.

Upon understanding the distinction, he is presented with Pratibha, the illumination of ultimate brilliance. However, these abilities stand in the way of achieving freedom and the awareness of the pure Self, which is the ultimate objective. The Yogi must meet these along the journey; if he rejects them, he attains the greatest. He cannot advance forward if he is tempted to obtain these.

Once the chitta’s bondage has been released, the yogi enters another body using his understanding of the channels—the nerves. Even when he is dead, the Yogi may enter a corpse and cause it to come to life. 

After overcoming the Udâna stream, the Yogi is able to float above water and can pass away at any time and can walk on thorns. He becomes light in weight when he masters the nerve current known as udana, which controls the lungs and all other upper body organs. He can walk on thorns and sword blades, stand in fire, and leave this existence whenever he pleases. He also does not sink in water.

The yogi ascends to the heavens by meditating on the relationship between the Akasha and the body and becoming as light as cotton or wool. This body is made of Akasha. When the Yogi performs a Sanyama on the Akasha substance, it gains the Akasha’s lightness allowing him to travel wherever in the air. 

The yogi can soar into the air by practicing Samyama on the relationship between the body and the ether. All coverings can be lifted from the light of wisdom by making Samyama on the thought waves of the mind and when it is divorced from the body—the state called the Great Disincarnation. This refers to the practice of withholding the mind from one’s own body and allowing it to enter another person’s body. The mental layers made up of tamas and rajas begin to peel away during this period of withdrawal revealing the light of sattva. 

Mastery of the elements is attained by making Samyama on the gross and subtle forms of the elements, on their basic qualities and the gunas inborn in them, and on the experiences they provide the person. As a result, one can shrink down to the size of an atom and all other powers like it. They also get the perfection of their body, which is free from the influence of the elements. The yogi can become as big as a mountain, as heavy as lead, as light as air, and as little as an atom.

The body turns indestructible. Nothing can harm it. Nothing can break it or negate the Yogi’s desires. The Vedas state that there would be no more illness, death, or suffering for that person. The conquering of the organs results from a Samyama on the objectivity and illumination capacity of the organs, on egoism, the Guna’s inherent presence in them, and their contribution to the soul’s experience.

An example of a book is used in the sutras. Focus your mind on it first, then on the wisdom it contains, then on your ego as it perceives the book, and so on. All the organs will be controlled by that practice. That gives the body the ability to move quickly like the mind, the organs’ ability to function independently of the body, and the ability to conquer the natural world. The above-mentioned powers will arise by conquering the organs, just as the glorified body arises from the conquest of the elements.

Omnipotence and omniscience are gained once the distinction between the Purusha and nature—i.e., the Purusha is unchangeable, pure, and perfect—has been realized.

The Seed Of Evil 

The Seed Of Evil 

Error is considered the seed of evil. Ignorance causes man to forget that he is the Atman and to imagine that he is a distinct ego-personality. This ego-personality is determined to get what it wants, including possessions and control over the outside world. From the perspective of the ego, mental powers are the mostly desired of all capacities. Of these powers, omnipotence and omniscience—which Patanjali mentioned are undoubtedly the greatest. The yogi who has rejected the greatest temptation of the ego by rejecting even these abilities that were within his grasp is no longer a slave. The invisible beings in high places are the fallen yogis who either merged with the forces of nature or attained the status of disembodied gods. The reason these beings have not succeeded in achieving liberation is that they have fallen to the attraction of psychic abilities. 

Discriminative Knowledge 

Discriminative knowledge is obtained by forming Samyama on individual moments in their chronological order. A moment is defined as the smallest instant. Patanjali views a moment as an object. It is a part of the natural order, just like a diamond, or a tree. However, a series of moments—what we refer to as time—is only a notion and a structure that our minds have constructed; it is not an actual reality. Through Samyama on individual moments and their sequence, the yogi discovers that the cosmos undergoes change at every instant. He thus realizes that the cosmos is temporary in nature.

What is meant by discriminative knowledge is this comprehension. The yogi’s intellect is free from the delusion of “time,” and therefore he is able to comprehend the true nature of his experiences. The rest of us, thinking in terms of time sequences, mentally carry over the sensation of one moment into the next and the next, continually generalizing our experiences. We sometimes say, “That year was very bad” although in reality, a part of that year was bad. We thereby fool ourselves and experience a great deal of imagined suffering. Breaking up the time sequence and focusing just on what is happening in each instant of the immediate present is a Zen Buddhist strategy for enduring pain.

It is possible to break the cycle of pain and make it far more bearable. Because suffering is mostly made up of the same pain again in the future and our memories of previous painful experiences, both of which depend on our awareness of a time-sequence. A yogi who has mastered Samayama can differentiate between to identical items from one another even when their species, distinguishing features, or spatial locations are indistinguishable. The spiritual significance of this discriminating skill is in the capacity to consistently detect between the Atman and the non-Atman, or the external appearance, regardless of how misleading the latter may be.

We discover one fact, then another, and so on. However, a yogi with discriminative knowledge comprehends items completely and instantly. When a yogi meets a person he is avle to know all his past and future modifications. 

Our suffering stems from ignorance and a failure to distinguish between what is real and what is not. The reality is the soul which has been forgotten. Since we believe that we are all bodies. The source of suffering is this lack of discrimination. Ignorance is the root of it. Discrimination gives us power, and only then can we see clearly all these different conceptions of the body, the skies, and the gods. This ignorance results from variations in species, signs, and location. 

When two things are identical, their locations can be used to distinguish them. In situations where items are so unlike that not even these distinctions can aid us, the capacity to discriminate gained via the above-mentioned practice will enable us to identify them.

The soul experiences Kaivalya or liberation and perfection when it realizes that it is independent of everything in the cosmos, even gods and the smallest atom. When the sattva (intellect), which is a mixture of purity and impurity, turns pure, kaivalya is attained.

Meghna Banerjee