“Ashtanga Yoga” [ Eight limbs of Yoga]~ Part-5


The article is purely based on my studies, my thoughts, my concept, my beliefs, my experiences and self realization. ☆I found some link between modern science and teachings of ancient sages as mentioned in Vedanta, regarding Universe, Supreme Consciousness or the Ultimate truth , the Ultimate Reality whatever we say. ☆ The term “MAN” wherever used in this entire text is intended to consider as “HUMAN” irrespective of gender differences. ♡ Having gone through the Vedanta/ancient texts, commentaries, translated by different writers, translators, publishers on the same topic, I have tried my best to share the subject matter as I understood and convinced too. My intention is to reach to you with the topic that I found very useful for human lives. I am not good in English literature. Please give your valuable suggestions for the improvement and valuable inputs to make the text beneficial for mankind.  ☆ The Spiritual context is purely based on ancient sacred texts. Sanskrit slokas are taken from books and websites. There may be little variation in the translations and commentaries. I have shared my own views and explanations according to my concept, gathered in the subject through experience and intuitions. There is no discrimination against any religion, race, cast or creed.  Your positive feedback will be highly appreciated. I am sure that the subject matter is highly logical and does not bring any conflict. Hope you will enjoy reading. Regards. NAMASTE.

Patanjali sutra 1.40 : ” paramanu paramamahattvantosya vashikarah” means=> Meditating mind becomes un obstructed from the atomic to the infinite.

Recap: In previous blogs “Ashtanga Yoga”  part-1 to part-4 , I have written on following topics(links included):-

Ashtanga Yoga Part1  Introduction to Patanjali Yoga sutras : It presents a holistic systematic approach towards the elimination of sufferings and attainment of spiritual liberation.  Maharshi Patanjali integrated and simplified the science of Yoga concisely in his Yoga sutras. There are 196 sutras presented in four sections know as PADA. Maharshi Patanjali  divided the path of Yoga, known as “Raja Yoga” into eight levels (Eight limbs) named “Ashtanga yoga”.

Ashtanga Yoga Part-2:  Samadhi Pada ,the first section of four Sections of “Patanjali Yoga Sutras” explained briefly.

Ashtanga Yoga Part-3:  In this part we have discussed on first five limbs of Eight limbs(Ashtanga Yoga), which are : 1. Yama – Restraints, 2. Niyama – Observances, 3. Asana -Physical postures, 4. Pranayama – Control of Prana (Breathing control), 5. Pratyahara -Withdrawal of the senses.  

Ashtanga Yoga Part-4:   Last three limbs of Eight limbs are Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  In this part-4, sutras from Vibhuti Pada  ,Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi have been discussed in details. Practices of samadhi unravel the mysteries of Yogic Life and the power of siddhis are thus acquired. 


In the previous posts we have seen “Eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga”. In this post we will discuss on “Vrittis” from “Samadhi Pada”. Mind has its dynamic nature (prakriti). As such mind has the capacity to express itself with modifications, various modes, which are known as ” Vritti”Vritti ” is a Sanskrit word. Vrittis are like innumerable waves as seen in agitated ocean of “chitta” (mind). Can we see bottom of an agitated sea? No, we can not. Similarly when mind is agitated, we can not see “purusha” which is our own and very true nature. Therefore, we need to isolate those Vrittis. Vrittis are mental modifications. We need to stop those modifications. Our aim is to follow the second sutra of Samadhi Pada. This is the essence of Patanjali Yoga Sutra: Yogas citta-vritti-nirodah” which literary means “Yoga is the stilling of the modifications of the mind” Target is to achieve the state of mind which is calm, tranquil and free of distortions. It is the control of thought waves in the mind. One must not have conflicts in the mind. We have to block Vrittis. In the following paragraphs we will know about different Vrittis. Sutra 1.5 onwards tells us about Vrittis.

sutra 1.5: " Vrttayah panchatayyah klistahaklistah" means => modifications of mind are fivefold; they are painful or not painful.

There are five kinds of mental modifications, means five types of “Vrittis” , which are either painful or painless.  In the following sutras ,we will learn one after another.

sutra 1.6 "Pramana viparyaya vikalpa nidra smrtayah" means => five folds of Vrittis are right knowledge, wrong knowledge, conceptualization, sleep and memory.

Let us now concentrate over the five fold Vrittis (modifications of mind) which  are  classified  in the sutra1.6:  Maharshi Patanjali explains all these five modifications in his sutras from 1.7 to 1.11.  All that we see, hear, and experience arise in our mind through senses and constitute consciousness in mind. Every mental state can be explained through these five mental modifications and can be said as manifestation of mind

  1. Pramana:  Right Knowledge : [sutra 1.7]
  2. Viparyaya: Wrong Knowledge : [sutra 1.8]
  3. Vikalpa: Delusion, imagination : [sutra 1.9]
  4. Nidra: Sleep : [sutra 1.10]
  5. Smritayah: Memories : [sutra 1.11]
sutra 1.7: "pratyakshanumanagamah pramanani" (pratyaksha + anumana + agamaha) Direct cognition, inference and testimony are the proof and right source of knowledge.

According to above sutra there are three types of right knowledge. 1. Direct perception or cognition , 2. Inference and 3. Authoritative testimony are the basic source of knowledge. Perception is gained through sense evidences. It is the product of sense organs. If the sense organs are optimally functional, then these can be the sources for right knowledge. (Not always true. Example:- mirage ,an optical effect sometime seen at sea or in the desert or over a hot pavement ). However direct perception is the initial reaction of stimulus on individual mind. When the mental function starts, pure and direct experience can be varied according to the limitations of thought process of that individual. Another point is lack of focus during the act of sense organs and focus of mind on the act. Like thinking something while doing something else. Knowledge gained in this way can be incomplete and differ according to the self ego known as “ahamkara”. Experiences gathered have the imprints of biased thoughts also. Perceptions include some factors like desires, aversions , fears, greed etc. Such perceptions when recalled ,mind becomes venerable  to the false impressions and incomplete memories. Such perceptions are also one form of mis-perception. Next sutra (1.8) will explain more on it. 

Anumana means Inference:  Inference is based on experiences. It  can be another source of right knowledge. 

Agamah: Testimony: Where no sense evidence is available, and there is no solid ground for inference, then we have to depend on testimony, provided it is authoritative testimony.  We can consider teachings of Guru and Scriptures are best testimonies.

sutra 1.8: "viparyaya mithyajnanam atadroopapratishtham " This means misperception is the result of false or incomplete knowledge.

If we split the sentence , Sanskrit words of the sutra, it would be easy to understand.  viparyaya (misconception) + Mithya (false)+ jnanam (knowledge)+ atad (not on that)+ Roopa (form)+ pratishtham(established).  One example will make the sense clear.  If someone mistakes a rope for a snake, it will be a false. To see a rope as a snake is misconception( Mithya jnanam). Such false knowledge should be corrected through right knowledge. viparyaya (misconception) is nothing but ignorance (Avidya) only. Now, how ignorance can be eliminated?   To understand what ignorance is, we may refer sutra 2.3 in brief.(2.3/Sadhana Pada):    “avidyasmitaragadveshabhiniveshah kleshaah”   means ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and clinging to bodily life are five obstacles. [sutra 2.3]

sutra 1.9: "sabdajnaananupati vastushoonyo vikalpah" means=> A kind of mental modification, which arises on hearing mere words having no objective reality. It is a verbal delusion only.

Here we will learn about “vikalpa” another kind of mental modification, a type of Vritti. Vikalpa is , a conceptualization ,verbal delusion, which arises on hearing mere words having no basis. We get angry on hearing some words ,when uttered by some persons. If we reason it out, we can manage ourselves without reacting, without being angry, without being miserable. The words are not objects, have no basis. It is just a mental modification due to vague notion. This vague notion is due to knowledge gained through conceptualization. In conceptualization, mind weaves basis through combination of memory and language, which may or may not be correct. 

sutra 1.10: " abhava-pratyayalambana vrittirnidra" means=> mental modification(Vritti) based on cognition of nothingness is sleep.

Here we will discuss the fourth type of modification of mind. This modification of mind is based on the absence of content and that is known as Sleep. During sleep a person’s mind remains blank. There is a feeling of voidness. There is no cognition in the field of consciousness. We will refer to maNDukya Upanishad regarding “Deep sleep” condition to understand this sutra. According to maNDukya Upanishad ,there are four states of self.  The Deep Sleep state also known as “SuShupta” is one of the four states.  SuShupta~SU=Sundar/excellent +sUpta=Sleep~ means prajNa and antaryAmin.
In this state, waking world and dreaming world temporarily ceases. We exist here in non dual state. Most refreshing state. A state of Bliss(with ignorance). In the waking and dreaming state, we are diverted from this state of bliss, though knowledge of our true nature is absent here. All the perceived limitations are removed in this temporary state but ready to spring forth as soon as we move to waking world. In Deep sleep condition self has no desire, no dream. This is intellectual condition. Because of union with Self and his unbroken knowledge, one feels joy. He knows joy. His mind is illuminated.                                                            This state outwardly appears to be the same as  citta-vritti-nirodah, where mental modifications are suppressed. However in Deep sleep, although there is no consciousness as is present in waking state, yet mental activity is transferred to subtle condition and comes back as soon as sleep is broken. Therefore, Sleep is one condition of mind which hides the knowledge of the external world. Thoughts are there but not present before mind. 

sutra 1.11: " anubhootavishayasanpramoshah smritih"

Sutra 1.11 is about fifth Vritti which is known as “smritih” (memory).  Memory is nothing but retention of past experiences collectively. Past experiences leave impressions in mind. All experiences impact the mind as Vrittis. As time passes, these Vrittis become subtler and then it become part of SamskarasSamskaras are subconscious impressions which lie dormant. It is active in the subconscious level and influence our conscious mind in the background. 

Normally we do not observe the movements of mind , the fluctuations of mind, carefully. But if we observe the movements of mind carefully, then we can stop its fluctuations. Mental modifications can be stopped ,if we concentrate on our thoughts appearing in mind. What ever we think in waking condition are included in five types of Vritti as mentioned above. Most of the time, the thoughts are found to be baseless and they are originated due to ignorance only. This ignorance is due to absence of knowledge of our real nature, true nature which is “purusha”.  Ignorance is removed by regular and persistent practice of Yoga. Ignorance is removed by gaining more insight into the nature of our mind and going beyond mind.

sutra 1.12: " abhyasavairagyabhyan tannirodhah"

” abhyasa (continuous practice) + vairagya (detachment) + abhyam ( by both) + tannirodhah ( modification of mind are stopped)”.

All mental modifications means five types of Vritti can be restrained by practice and non attachment. According to sutras of Maharshi Patanjali, combination of uninterrupted practice and non-attachment stop fluctuations and mental modifications in mind. In this respect we may refer four means of Salvation as stated in Vedanta. According to Vedanta, the study of scriptures helps in realization of truth, when one is equipped with necessary fourfold discipline:
1. Discrimination between real (Nithya নিত্য~ eternal) and unreal (anitya অনিত্য~transitory).
2. Renunciation of the unreal (Viraga~বৈরাগ্য)
3. Six fold qualities.
4. Longing for liberation (Moksha ~মোক্ষ প্রাপ্তি to escape from the cycle of births and deaths)

Sravana, Manana, Nididhyasana leads us to intuition (aparoksha anubhuti). In this way, “Brahma Kara Vritti ” is generated from ” Sattvic anta Karana ” after following four means of Salvation and teachings of Guru( Teacher). This ” Brahma Kara Vritti” destroys the mula-Avidya or primitive ignorance which is the root cause of all bondage, births and deaths. 


In this part we have discussed five Vrittis, means mental modifications as mentioned by Maharshi Patanjali. Five Vrittis are 1)Right Knowledge. 2) Wrong Knowledge. 3) Imaginary Knowledge. 4) No Knowledge. 5) Past Knowledge. Next post  will cover first part of Sadhana Pada to know about “Kriya Yoga” 

Notes:-  Having gone through all the books listed below, I have composed this blog as a concise text for Ashtanga Yoga.  

Recommended readings:

  1. Patanjali Yoga Sutras: commentary By Swami Vivekananda.
  2. FOUR YOGAS OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA :Condensed and retold by Swami Tapasyananda.
  3. Patanjal Yogasutra : Commentary , by Swami Premeshananda.
  4. Inside the Yoga Sutras- By Reverend Jaganath Carrera.
  5. Four Chapters on Freedom- By Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
  6. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Commentary on the Raja Yoga Sutras by Swami Satchitananda.

My sincere request to the esteemed readers to share their opinion or queries if any. Suggestions to make the site attractive will be highly helpful for me.  Readers are requested to read all the posts to have continuation of the topic from the beginning. My mail ID is :   arun7663@gmail.com 





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Arun Singha

Retired from AIRPORTS AUTHORITY OF INDIA as Dy. General Manager (CNS).BSc(Mathematics Honors). Age 60years. Studying ancient Indian Philosophy along with modern physics and modern Biology. Follow Dr. Bruce H Lipton, Dr. JOE DISPENJA , Gregg Braden and Swami Sarvapriyananda among others. Writing consolidated articles on Upanishads, Advaita Vedanta and other ancient Indian Texts. Wish to work for the society to help people through personal guidance, motivation. Self has work experience of 36 years in the field of Air Navigation Service at different Airports in India. Gained vast experience in handling man and machine. Would like to reach to the people to share my life experiences, how I had overcome great challenges and difficulties at different times and positions.

3 thoughts on ““Ashtanga Yoga” [ Eight limbs of Yoga]~ Part-5”

  1. Sadhana Pada is the second chapter of Patanjali Yoga Sutra, where Patanjali comes down to the level of those who are not spiritually evolved. It is in this chapter that Maharshi Patanjali explains ways to aspire for the absolute freedom. In Sadhana Pada, he also elucidates the concept of Kriya Yoga. Kriya meaning action and Kriya Yoga, the yoga of action, has three tiers, namely tapas, svadhyaya and Isvarapranidhana. Tapas means burning desire, Savadhyaya means self study and Isvarapranidhana that means surrender to God. When these three aspects of Kriya Yoga are followed with generosity, life’s sufferings are overcome and Samadhi is experienced.

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