I.11 अनुभूतविषयासम्प्रमोष: स्मृति:

anubhūta-viṣayāsampramoṣaḥ smṛtiḥ
anubhūta-viṣayā-asampramoṣaḥ smṛtiḥ

“Memory is not letting objects of experience be stolen away.”

Patañjali defines memory as a kind of holding-on-to experience. Memory, he says, is asampramoṣaḥ, which literally means “not-letting-be-stolen.” Life is change, as Patañjali describes in the second pada, and memory performs a powerful function in creating continuity, resisting, as it were, the thief of time. (See Shakespeare’s use of this image in his tragedy Troilus and Cressida. In Act IV,  Troilus laments his loss of Cressida: “Injurious time now with a robber’s haste/ Crams his rich thievery up, he knows not how.”)

The capacity of memory speaks to the infinitely expansive nature of citta.

“Memory is the collection of correct knowledge, perverse knowledge, illusory knowledge and sleep [the first four vṛttis]. As perception changes, memory too may alter, but correctly used, it enables us to recall experiences in their true, pristine state. This ability is the foundation of the practice of discrimination.”–B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, commentary on I.11

“Memory is basic to Patañjali’s epistemology. No thought is ever lost; rather, it is preserved as a subliminal impression or memory trace. These traces not only allow us to recall past events and perceptions, but they also actively shape future experiences in a never-ending process.” –Barbara Stoller Miller, Yoga: Discipline of Freedom, p. 32

“While memory is indispensable to progress (sūtra I.20), it can also be an obstacle, or screen, to perception, because it is linked to prejudice, cultural conditioning, and our own desires.” –Bernard Bouanchaud, The Essence of Yoga, p. 16

• What role does memory play in your yoga practice?
• Has yoga practice brought greater discrimination to your memory? Has it uncovered aspects of memory you were unaware of?
• Have you experienced memory as an obstacle?



adjective in compound

experienced, perceived (anu-,“after”+ bhū, “to be”)


masculine noun in compound

object (from viṣ, “to act”)


masculine noun, 1st case singular

not-let-be-stolen (from a-, “not,”+ sam-, “with,” + pra-, “toward,” + muṣ, “to steal”)



feminine noun, 1st case singular

memory (from smṛ, “to remember”)

One thought on “I.11 अनुभूतविषयासम्प्रमोष: स्मृति:

  1. I practice weaving memory and present sensations creating a mobile surface that reflects my thoughts and feelings.
    With every passing day I find I have more memory to stand on but always a new piece of the puzzle falls into place in my understanding.

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