I.20 श्रद्धावीर्यस्मृतिसमाधिप्रज्ञापूवक इतरेषाम

śraddhā-vīrya-smṛti-samādhi-prajñā-pūrvaka itareṣām
śraddhā-vīrya-smṛti-samādhi-prajñā-pūrvakaḥ itareṣām

“For others, [nirodha] is preceded by faith, strength, memory, absorption, and insight.”

Mr. Iyengar has described śraddhā-vīrya-smŗti-samādhi-prajñā as the “vitamins of yoga.” They are vital sustenance to the seeker. All these–faith, strength, memory, absorption, insight–might be considered either results of practice or indeed goals of yoga. Yet here they are not endpoints but means.  Patañjali seems to suggest that the end is the way, and the way is the end.

Neither faith nor strength, in my experience, are constants. And many commentators write that the experience of absorption, or deep, discriminating insight, may be experienced and then may pass. Patañjali prompts us to ask what sustains us.


“The attitude of the aspirant is like that of a lover ever yearning to meet the beloved but never giving way to despair. Hope should be his shield and courage his sword.” –B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga, p. 25

“Faith is surely not blind belief. It is a sensitive response to the intimations of the Unknown. It has no relevance with regard to the known. It awakens only when the whisper of the Unknown is heard. The whisper of the Unknown can be heard only when the mind is completely silent—not superficially but deeply silent.” –Rohit Mehta, Yoga, the Art of Integration, p. 42

“The word śraddhā means ‘faith in God’ and also ‘self-confidence’—in anybody else or simply in life. The loving confidence that parents create enourages a child to become confident, courageous, and full of energy to act.” –Bernard Bouanchaud, The Essence of Yoga, p. 29

• How is faith or trust active in your practice? How does practice affect your feelings of faith or trust?  Is love an element of faith?
• The English word confidence literally means “with faith.” What brings you confidence in practice? How does practice affect your self-confidence?
• Has your practice brought you strength? Courage? Has this made a difference in your life? In what ways do you consider these important qualities on your spiritual path?
• What is a non-afflicting use of the vṛtti of memory?
• Have you had an experience of absorption or insight that sustains you? Have you heard “a whisper of the Unknown”?


feminine noun in compound

trust, faith (from śraddhā, “to believe”)


neuter noun in compound

valor, heroism (from vīraḥ, “hero,” + -ya, suffix that makes abstract noun)


feminine noun in compound

memory (from smṛ, “to remember”)


masculine noun in compound

absorption (from sam-, “with,” + ā, “towards,” + dhā, “to place, to hold”)


feminine noun in compound

knowledge, wisdom (from pra-, carries with it a sense of auspiciousness, completeness, + jñā, “to know”)


masculine adjective, 1st case singular

preceded by (describes a masculine subject that is understood, could be nirodha, the “other” nirodhaasamprajñāta samādhi)


noun, 6th case plural

of the others

5 thoughts on “I.20 श्रद्धावीर्यस्मृतिसमाधिप्रज्ञापूवक इतरेषाम

  1. I think it was Anne Lamont who said “the opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.”

    This is a fascinating sutra. So much to contemplate and play with!!!

  2. Faith, confidence, strength and yoga practice

    I don’t see that yoga is helping me, I see God helping me.

    Yoga practice is making my relationship to god stronger. It helps me understand my body. It gives me a clearer picture of what’s important to me. The more layers I peel away the more honest I can behave.

    Yoga for me isn’t my savior. But yoga is the channel I’ve chosen to become closer to my savior.

    I have choices and it’s my faith in God or my belief that God cares about me that gives me my confidence to make good choices.

    If I get a simple scratch on my leg. I watch in amazement how it slowly heals each day. I can see miracles.

    When I get quiet and practice yoga, I can feel my body healing. I know the subtle movements I have to make inside my body because it feels right. I move in the direction of more space and less collapse. I move toward fluidity and less stagnation. I direct myself towards the quiet and less ripple.

    I have trust in myself because I know that God loves me and is rooting for me to heal and get better. God is the strength behind me.

    Yoga to me is a gift and I feel blessed to have found it. My desire to practice is because I’m grateful to be alive. Grateful to God. It’s that appreciation that gives me my will to work hard.

    Does this make sense to you?

  3. Hi Sari, Yes, what you write makes sense to me. Yoga can be considered a process of removal. So in a way it is not the yoga that bestows these benefits; it is the removal of blockages to the source of life, the ground of being that we spring from. What we call this will differ depending on our culture, our religious background, our experience. Rohit Mehta in the quote above speaks of “the Unknown.” You have described yoga as a “channel” to that, and, for you, the That is God. I would only add that–though I happily identify That as God–I have met many fellow yoga practitioners, students and teachers, who are not comfortable with the word “God.” Their experience of practice—the miracle of more space, fluidity, healing that you describe—is important to me. They may use different words than I do or you do to describe this experience. The different perspectives—and respect for one another—enriches us all. Thank you for this beautiful share!

Leave a Reply