I.48 ऋतम्भरा तत्र प्रज्ञा

ṛtam-bharā tatra prajñā
“In that place, there is wisdom, the knowledge that carries truth within it.”

The word sūtra means “thread” (cognate with our English word suture), and as fibers intertwine to create the length and strength of the thread and as the thread interweaves to create the fabric, so does Patañjali’s text thread back and through itself.

Tatra, “in that place,” refers back to I.47–to the maturation, the calm, the kindness of prasāda. It is there, as that develops, Patañjali says, that one will realize prajñā, wisdom.

Like the word jñanam, prajñā is derived from jñā, “to know.” They both could be translated as knowledge; the prefix pra- brings a sense of completion, forwardness (as in prasāda, also pramāṇa, “right perception,” see I.6).

Prajñā is extraordinary knowledge; the word is often used to refer to ultimate spiritual understanding. Patañjali here gives it the beautiful epithet ṛtam-bharā, “truth-bearing.” Prajña is a feminine noun, and it is associated with Sarasvatī, the goddess of learning, music, and the arts. Sarasvatī is also called Vac, “the word”; she is described as the creator of Sanskrit itself, and it is said she gave Gaṇeśa the gift of pen and ink.

The knowledge that “carries truth in it”–the wisdom associated with the gift-giving goddess–comes by means of the blessings of friendliness, compassion, joy, presence (the prasāda of I.33). This is a knowledge that comes by way of the heart. The heart carries the truth.

Sarasvati2._Chromolithograph_by_R._Wellcome_V0045121

Sarasvatī, chromolithograph by R. Varma, Wellcome Images

—–

“The validity of truth can be discovered only in the movement of relationships. If the truths do not stand valid or stand the test of living them in the actual movement of relationship, then the truths are nothing but theories gathered intellectually, stored in memory, and repeated like philosophies.” — Vimala Thakar, Glimpses of Raja Yoga: An Introduction to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, p. 2

“To fulfill itself, knowledge must find expression in the body. More than that, it must transmute the body by the power of its truth. And it is truth, not knowledge, which is replete with power. The power associated with knowledge is manipulative power, such as political leverage or overpowering influence. The power inherent in truth, however, is transformative in the deepest sense. It is capable of remaking the person in the light of truth.” — Georg Feuerstein, The Deeper Dimension of Yoga, p. 30

“That which exists in time and space belongs to the province of mind’s knowledge. So it would be known by the normal processes of gathering knowledge indulged in by the mind. … By Truth is meant an experience which cannot be put in the straight-jacket of time and space. That which exists in time and space is subject to decay. To speak of decay with reference to Truth is to indulge in words that have no meaning. Truth is the intrinsic existence of things—not dependent existence. It is the original nature of things, and to see things as they intrinsically are is Wisdom in its purest form. … Wisdom is not a continuation of knowledge.” –Rohit Mehta, Yoga, the Art of Integration, commentary on I.48

Questions:
•How is your yoga practice active in your relationships?
•Has practice helped you trust your sense of what truth is? How is this a body knowledge?
• Do you hold ideas that “do not carry truth” but that are difficult to let go of? Specifically, what are they? What helps you release them?
•What do you think wisdom is? Does it differ from an accumulation of knowledge? Is it sudden or slow?

ṛtam-

neuter noun in compound

truth, the right way (from , “to go”)

bharā

feminine participle, 1st case singular

bearing, carrying, bestowing (from bhṛ, “to carry”)
tatra

indeclinable

in that place, there

prajñā

feminine noun, 1st case singular

wisdom, knowledge (from pra- , “forth,” can suggest completion, fullness, perfection + jñā, “to know”; the verb prajñā means to discern, especially in reference to required action)

2 thoughts on “I.48 ऋतम्भरा तत्र प्रज्ञा

  1. Thanks again Julia for another rich and heart nourishing contemplation on knowledge that can lead to truth. All human experience, when met with the clarity and care where mind and heart are no longer separate, the ultimate reveals… Still, the task of living continues, and that is where the challenges of relativity has my fibers in small knots at times……. kien

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