Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

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Yoga Sutras 4.13-4.14: 
Objects and the Three Gunas
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Click here to return to the main page of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.All impressions manifest from the three gunas: All of the subconscious mental impressions discussed in the last section (4.9-4.12) are made of the same stuff. There is no more straightforward, simple English way to say it. All of these subconscious mental impressions manifest from the three primal elements or gunas. (4.13)

Characteristics appear as one unit: The three gunas (4.13) all manifest together, and the result is the appearance of a single object, rather than seeing the parts which make up the whole. Only the composite is seen, not the components. (4.14)

Little to know, as the gunas recede: The subconscious impressions (which are all constructed from these three gunas) are all witnessed by pure consciousness or purusha (4.18). In these extremely subtle experiences or realizations, one comes to see that there is really very little to know (4.31), and gradually the three gunas recede back into the prakriti from which they arose, along with the realization of liberation or kaivalya (4.34).

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4.13 Whether these ever-present characteristics or forms are manifest or subtle, they are composed of the primary elements called the three gunas.
(te vyakta suksmah guna atmanah)

  • te = they, these
  • vyakta = manifest
  • suksmah = subtle
  • guna = elements, prime qualities, constituents, attributes; (three gunas of sattvas, rajas, tamas)
  • atmanah = the nature of, composed of

The photos are all made of ink: In the last section (4.9-4.12), the nature of the subconscious impressions was described, including a statement that past and future exist in the present reality, although appearing to be different because of having different characteristics or forms. The metaphor of a photo album (4.12) was used to describe how both past and future were like the photos all being in the here and now photo album. However, in this current sutra (4.13), a new comment is being added. That is, all of these different photos, whether appearing to be past or future, and regardless of characteristics or form, are all made entirely of ink, and nothing but ink (Remember, this is a metaphor, and we are ignoring the fact that the ink is on paper). In addition, the ink in all of the photos is only of three primary colors (blue, yellow, red) and these create the appearance of different photos by virtue of the different shapes in which the ink is formed.

All mental impressions are made of gunas: In the case of the mental impressions, all of the thought patterns (4.9-4.12) in the chitta (1.2) are made of the same stuff, just as the photos are all made of ink. The nature of the stuff of which the thought impressions are made, are called gunas, and are metaphorically like the three primary colors (blue, yellow, red), which make up all of the photos. The three gunas are sattvas, rajas, and tamas.

Three gunas: The three aspects or elements (gunas) of prakriti (the subtlest primordial matter or primary constituent) are rajas, sattvas, and tamas:

Sattvas: The aspect of the subtlest primordial matter (prakriti), which has the nature of existence, light, illumination, sentience, harmony, or clearing.

Rajas: The aspect of prakriti, which has the nature of activity, motion, energy, movement, or changing.

Tamas: The aspect of prakriti, which has the nature of stability, stasis, darkness, dullness, heaviness, insentience, obstructing, and veiling.

Equilibrium between the gunas: When there is perfect equilibrium between the three gunas, there is no manifestation of the universe. It is only when there are fluctuations or modifications (vikaras or vikritis) among them that there begins to be manifestation.

Gunas are at all levels, including the subtlest: The principle of the three gunas operate at all levels. For example, one might eat sattvic (light) food, rajasic (spicy) food, or tamasic (heavy) food, which will lead to a sattvic (clear) state of mind, a rajasic (restless) state of mind, or a tamasic (lethargic) state of mind. However, this sutra (4.13) relates mostly to the subtlest operation of the three gunas, which is to say that the subtlest, subconscious impressions are all entirely constituted of only these three gunas.

The same core process of discrimination: Because of the veiling process of ignorance or avidya (2.5), we do not usually see things as they are. We see only the composite, which is a combination of the underlying parts, like the photo metaphor above. This principle was also described in relation to gross thoughts and how impressions, words, and meaning combined to form the appearance of a whole (1.42). At both that grosser level and the subtlest level (the subject of these current sutras) the core process is the same, and that is discrimination (2.26-2.29). We separate this from that so that the underlying truth or reality can be seen. Ultimately comes the discrimination between the seer and all forms of seen objects. (1.3, 4.26)

Little to know, as the gunas recede: The subconscious impressions are made of the three gunas of prakriti, and are all witnessed by pure consciousness or purusha (4.18). In these extremely subtle experiences or realizations, one comes to see that there is really very little to know (4.31), and gradually the three gunas recede back into the prakriti from which they arose, along with the realization of liberation or kaivalya (4.34).

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4.14 The characteristics of an object appear as a single unit, as they manifested uniformly from the underlying elements.
(parinama ekatvat vastu tattvam)

  • parinama = of change, transformation, result, consequence, mutative effect, alteration
  • ekatvat = due to oneness, uniformity, sameness, coordinated
  • vastu = a reality, real object, existent
  • tattvam = essence, reality, that-ness

Characteristics appear as one unit: The three gunas (4.13) all manifest together, and the result is the appearance of a single object, rather than seeing the parts which make up the whole. Only the composite is seen, not the three components.

The inks appear as one picture: In the metaphor of a photo being a combination of three colors of ink (4.13), this sutra is making note of the fact that when they combine, there appears to our awareness only the one photo. The object in the photo is taken to be a single object, while the underlying nature of the components is obscured or not seen.

Seeing past the subtlest veil: When we come to see that one hundred percent of the objects blocking the realization of the Self (1.4) are constructed only through the interplay of the gunas, a very deep simplicity is seen in the process of Self-realization. To become free from identity with the three gunas brings freedom from all of their manifestations. Here, in this final chapter we are not just talking about non-attachment of the grosser objects, such as food, money, or relationships, or even subtle realm objects (1.15), but of the very finest forms of non-attachment and transcendence of the subtlest building blocks of the mind and reality (1.16). 

 

The next sutra is 4.15 

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This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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