I.35 विषयवती वा प्रवृत्तिरुत्पन्ना मनस: सथितिनिबन्धनी

viṣayavatī vā pravṛttir utpannā manasaḥ sthiti-nibandhanī
viṣaya-vatī vā pravṛttiḥ utpannā manasaḥ sthiti-nibandhanī
“Or, a direct perception (pravṛtti) of an object that has arisen and that fastens the steadiness of the mind.”

The next method for clarifying citta and preventing obstacles is pravṛtti, which I translate above as “direct perception.” The word comes from vṛtti, “pattern of the mind, movement, thought” (see I.5), plus the prefix pra-, which generally means “forward” and carries with it a sense of excellence, auspiciousness. Thus a pravṛtti is a favorable activity of the consciousness–direct, truthful. Indeed, the accurate observation of an object (viṣaya)–and the full use of the senses–is fundamental to the practice of yoga.

Patañjali says here that the pravṛtti that will be helpful in holding the mind steady and bringing calm and clarity is that which has “arisen” (utpannā). This is important. Citta has its own quality of flow and movement. Some perceptions arise seemingly of their own volition;  it is counterproductive, perhaps even an act of violence, to force a thought on the mind.

In his discussion of sūtra III. 1, which concerns dhāraṇa, Rohit Mehta describes the process of learning to place focus. He says, one, that the chosen point must be of interest. Two, we must have a marginal area of diffuseness around the focal point. Otherwise, we will create strain, “for the more one resists the marginal thoughts and images the more they cause disturbance.” He describes will-power as exacerbating the problem:

An exercise of will-power is nothing but the use of force in attaining to some so-called spiritual height. We fail to realize that spiritual experience is not to be found through violent means. In fact, it comes in a manner in which nature opens a flower.  –Rohit Mehta, Yoga, the Art of Integration, p. 244

How do we relate to the movements of our mind? Patañjali suggests that the thought that “rises” has a special function, a particular value for the consciousness. We can be tender and gentle in following the flow of the mind, attentive to objects that interest us, that naturally take hold of our curiosity.

—–

“One may equally attain an exalted state of consciousness by becoming totally engrossed, with dedication and devotion, in an object of interest. The practice of contemplating upon an object is the foundation of mental stability. Total absorption in the object brings about direct perception of its essence. This sūtra shows how to develop awareness and sensitivity in intelligence. In so doing, one may gain insight into the phenomena of nature (prakṛti) as well as into the nature of the seer (purusa).” –B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on the Yoga Sūtras, commentary on I.35

“For purposes of conviction, what is learnt from Scriptures, Inference and instructions of Teachers, has to be rendered directly perceptible to one’s own self. When a part of what has been learnt from those sources has been confirmed by one’s own direct experience, one becomes fully convinced of the reality of the subtlest things, right up to Beatitude.” – Vyāsa, commentary on I.35, translated by Gangānātha Jha, in The Yoga-Darshana

“This sūtra clearly states that a sense object can be used as ālambana, support for the mind.” –Edwin Bryant, The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, commentary on I.35

Questions:
• What object have you found to be helpful as a focus of contemplation?
• Has yoga led to a finer attunement of your senses? To greater perceptiveness?
• How do you relate to the movement of your mind?
• What do you consider to be steadiness of the mind?

viṣaya-vatī

feminine adjective, 1st case singular

having a sense object (from viṣ, “to be active,” + aya, “going,” + –vatī, “having”)


indeclinable

or

pravṛttiḥ

feminine noun, 1st case singular

cognition, direct perception, flow (from pra, “forward,” + vṛt, “to move”)

utpannā

feminine adjective, 1st case singular

that has arisen (from ut-, “up,” + pad, “to go”)

manasaḥ

neuter noun, 6th case singular, “of”

the mind (from man, “to think”)

sthiti-

feminine noun, 1st case singular

steadiness (from sthā, “to stand”)

nibandhanī

feminine adjective, 1st case singular

fastening, fixing (from ni-, “down,” + bandh, “to bind”)

2 thoughts on “I.35 विषयवती वा प्रवृत्तिरुत्पन्ना मनस: सथितिनिबन्धनी

  1. I found this Sutra very profound and especially felt moved by Mehta’s take on it. He describes that the mind takes over the senses and so in this process we get drawn to what the mind says (he calls it sensual) rather than seeing and perceiving what is really there (pravritti) which he says is a sensuous experience. I practice with this view both in meditation and my asana practice. In both cases it gave me the push or intention to really focus on this Sutra and it truly did steady my mind to really “see” what is there!

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  2. Hi Henriet, Thanks for sharing this! “What is really there” — this informs so much of practice for me. And, interpersonal matters. Can I calm myself enough to be present to what is going on with the other…even in conflict!

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