I.5 वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टाक्लिष्टाः

vṛttayaḥ pañcatayyaḥ kliṣṭākliṣṭāḥ
vṛttayaḥ pañcatayyaḥ kliṣṭa-akliṣṭāḥ

“There are five types of imprint in the mind. They can be harmful or not-harmful.”

In sūtras I.5-11, Patañjali describes vṛtti more completely.  He declares them to be kliṣṭa-akliṣṭāḥ , which means harmful/not harmful, (the prefix a- added in front of a word means “not-“).  Kliṣṭah comes from the root kliś, to harm.  To fully appreciate the significance of this idea here, it is useful to look forward to the second chapter. In sūtra II.2, Patañjali says the purpose of yoga is to realize samādhi and to lessen the kleśas, the afflictions. (Kleśa is from the same root kliś.) Thus, the vṛtti–our thoughts, ideas, feelings, the imprints that form in our consciousness–can take us along the path of yoga or they can obstruct the way.

“A ‘painful’ wave [kliṣṭa vṛtti], according to Patañjali’s use of the term, is not necessarily a wave which seems painful when it first arises in the mind; it is a wave which brings with it an increased degree of ignorance, addiction and bondage.” –commentary by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, How to Know God: the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali, p. 22

• What do you consider an afflicting thought? Is it simply a thought that is painful?
• Are there thoughts or feelings that you try to avoid?


feminine noun, 1st case plural

manner of thinking, movement of the mind (from vṛt, “to abide, to move, to turn”)


feminine adjective, 1st case plural

five-fold (from pañca, “five”)


adjective in compound

harmful, afflicting (from kliś, “to afflict”)


feminine adjective, 1st case plural

not-harmful, not-afflicting (from a-, “not-” +  kliś, “to afflict”)

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