Saturday, October 04, 2008


Contd. from my recent readings, Part II:

The source of all the confusion is the natural interplay of the gunas, the three 'constituents, powers, or qualities' of prakrti, namely, sattva, rajas, and tamas.

1.SATTVA is a noun built on the principle SAT (or SANT), from as, the verb 'to be'. SAT means 'being; as it should be; good, goodness, perfection, crystal purity, immaculate clarity, and utter quiet." The quality of sattva predominates in gods and heavenly beings, UNSELFISH PEOPLE, and men bent on purely spiritual pursuits.
This is the guna that facilitates enlightenment. Therefore, the first aim of the Yoga taught in Patanjali's Yoga-sutras is to increase sattva, and thus gradually purge man's nature of rajas and tamas.


2. The noun RAJAS means, literally, "impurity"; in reference to the physiology of the female body, 'menstruation' (RAJASWALA); and more generally, "dust." The word is related to RANJ, RAKTA, "redness, color," as well as to raga, "passion." The dust
referred to is that continually stirred up by wind in a land where no rain falls for about ten months a year; for in India, except in the rainy season, there is nothing but the nightly dew to quench the third of the ground. The dry soil is continually whirling into the air, dimming the serenity of the sky and coming down over everything...
Rajas dims the outlook on all things, obscuring the view not only of the universe but of oneself. Thus it produces both intellectual and moral darkness. Among mythological beings rajas predominates in the titans, those anti-gods or demonds who represent the Will for Power in its full forces, reckless in its pursuit of supremacy and splendor, puffed with ambition, vanity, and boastful egotism. Rajas is evident everywhere among men, as the motivating force of our struggle for existence. It is what inspires our desires, likes and dislikes, competition, and will for the enjoyments of the world. It compels both men and beasts to strive for the goods of life, regardless of the needs and sufferings of others.

3. TAMAS: (cf. Latin tene-brae, French tene-bres) - literally, 'darkness, black, dark-blue"; spiritually, "blindness"-- connotes the unconsciousness that predominates in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. TAMAS is the basis of all lack of feeling, dullness, ruthlessnes, insensibility, and inertia. It causes mental gloom, ignorance, error, and illusion. The stolidity of seemingly lifeless matter, the mute and merciless strife among the plants for soil, moisture and air, the insensible greed of animals in their search for food and their ruthless devouring of their prey, are among the primary manifestations of this universal principle. On the human level, tamas is made manifest in the dull stupidity of the more self-centered and self-satisfied -- those who acquiesce in whatsoever happens as long as their personal slumber, safety, or interests are not disturbed. Tamas is the power that holds the frame of the universe together, the frame of every society, and the character of the individual, counterbalancing the danger of self-explosion that perpetually attends the restless dynamism of the principle of rajas.

The first of the five impairments, AVIDYA, lack of true insight, is the main support of the unending play and interplay of these three gunas.

KLESA, a common word in everyday Indian speech, is derived from the root klis, to be tormented or afflicted, to suffer, to feel pain or distress. As an adjective KLISTA, meaning "distressed; suffering pain or misery; faded, wearied, injured, hurt; worn out, in bad condition, marred, impaired, disordered, dimmed, or made faint." And a human being, when the inborn splendor of his nature has been subdued by fatiquing business affairs and cumbersome obligations, is KLISTA.

In the usage of the YOGA-SUTRAS, KLESA denotes anything which, adhering to man's nature, restricts or impairs its manifestation of its TRUE ESSENCE. PATANJALI'S yOGA IS A TECHNIQUE to get rid of such impairmens and thereby reconstitute the INHERCENT PEFECTION of the ESSENTIAL PERSON.

What are the impairments? The answer to this question is one that is very confusing to the Occidentally mind for it reveals the breach that separates our usualy view of the INHERENT VALUES of the human personality from the Indian. Five impairments are enumerated:

Avidya, Ignorance, not=knowing=better; unaware of the truth that transcends the percetpions of the mind and senses in their normal functioning. As a consequence of this impairment we are bound by the prejudices and habits of naiive consciousness.

AVIDYA is the root of all our so-called conscious thought.

2. ASMITA = i AM, THIS OBVIOUS EGO, supporting my experience, is the real essence and foundation of my being.

3. Raga: attachment; affection of every kind.

4. Dvesa: the feeling contrary to raga; disinclination, dislike, hatred.

Raga and dvesa, sympathy and antipathy, are at the root of all the pairs of opposites (dvandva) in the sphere of human emotions, reactions and opinion. They tear the soul unremittingly this way and that, upsetting its balance and agitating the lake-like, mirrorlike surface, thus rendering it incapable of reflecting without distortion the PERFECT IMAGE OF PURUSA.

5. abhinivesa: Clinging to life as to a process that should go on without end; i.e. the will to live.

These five hindrances, or impairments, are to be regarded as so many perversions, troubling consciousness and concealing the ESSENTIAL STATE OF SERENITY OF OUR TRUE NATURE. They are generated involuntarily and continuouslyh, welling in an uninterrupted effluence from the hidden source of our phenomenal existence. They give strength to the substance of ego and ceaselessly build ujp its illusory frame.

The source of all this confusion is the natural interplay of the gunas, those three "constituents, powers, or qualities" of prakrti, namely SATTVA, RAJAS AND TAMAS...

to be continued.......



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