II.13 सति मूले तद्विपाको जात्यायुर्भोगाः

sati mūle tad-vipāko jātyāyurbhogā
sati mūle tad-vipākaḥ jāti-āyuḥ-bhogāḥ

“The root existing–there is fructification from it, in place, time, and experience.”

The events of karma are in the past but the reservoir of impressions made by those events are sati mūle–a root that exists today. From that root comes vipākaḥ. Derived from vi-, intensity, plus pac, “to cook,” this means cooking thoroughly; it refers to ripening, maturing, the process of growth generally, fructification. Indeed, nature could be said to “cook.” It sprouts, spreads, flowers, decays, rots, rolls through the life-death cycle. In every death, in all rot, there is birth. What there is not, is stasis.

What are we growing in, and in what way are we cultivating, the field of ourselves? That is Patañjali’s subject. The afflictions–wrong knowledge, false identity, obsession, aversion, fear of change–do not stay the same. They progress. They fructify. They lead to more afflicted action. This is vipākaḥ, the cooking, of the consciousness. The effects, Patañjali says, are felt in jāti-āyuḥ-bhogāḥ, the circumstances of birth, length of life, and experience.

Karma,” Geeta Iyengar has said, “is what we do. Dharma is what we should do.” There is, throughout yoga philosophy, a pairing of these two concepts. The word dharma derives from dha, “to support.” It might be considered what each of us does, or is meant to do, to support the world, to support ourselves. The actions of dharma have a kind of restorative, clearing effect. It is up to us as individuals to discover what our dharma is, what right action is for each of us. This too is yoga. Like Arjuna who discovers what he must do, we each have our role to play.

There are many elements in life I have no control over. In my view, these include jāti, the circumstances of birth, good fortune, bad fortune, and ayuḥ, length of life, including the duration of bad times and perhaps the loss of people or things I love. Bhogaḥ, to me, is of another order. How do I experience fate? What is my attitude about the things I cannot control? Wendell Berry describes the development of “the careful farmer”:

Don’t worry and fret about the crops. After you have done all you can for them, let them stand in the weather on their own.
If the crop of any one year was all, a man would have to cut his throat every time it hailed.
But the real products of any year’s work are the farmer’s mind and the cropland itself.
If he raises a good crop at the cost of belittling himself and diminishing the ground, he has gained nothing. He will have to begin over again the next spring, worse off than before.
Let him receive the season’s increment into his mind. Let him work it into the soil.
The finest growth that farmland can produce is a careful farmer.
Make the human race a better head. Make the world a better piece of ground.

–Wendell Berry, “Prayers and Sayings of the Mad Farmer,” XIII, from The Mad Farmer Poems (thanks to Carrie Owerko for introducing me to this poem and for modeling how to care for the field)


“The preceding aphorism [II.12] introduced a tool for analyzing the causes of our actions. This aphorism [II.13] offers an instrument for analyzing their consequences. Using both methods helps us to become aware, to assume responsibilities, and to improve attitudes and personality. As long as thoughts and actions are rooted in disturbances, three kinds of conditioning are imposed: the form of our existence—our nature and social and cultural behavior, which reflects our values; time—both the subjective perception of passing time, and the objectively measurable duration of an experience; pleasure or the lack of it—the way we experience events. Such a tool allows us to analyze events by observing them as we live them. Afterward, it is possible to anticipate and thus avoid certain pitfalls that pertain to our personality.” —Bernard Bouanchaud,The Essence of Yoga, commentary on II.13

• Are you aware of any traits or propensities that have gotten worse over the years–worries that have grown, anxieties that have strengthened, obsessions you cannot shake?
• What approach have you taken to addressing these? Does performing an act of dharma have a healing effect?
• Do you believe your happiness is your own responsibility? In what way?
• Do you believe you determine your fate?


present active participle, 7th case singular

existing (from as, “to be”)


neuter noun, 7th case singular

root, source (from mūl, “to be rooted”)


pronoun in compound

from this


masculine noun, 1st person singular

fructification, result (from vi-, which here has an effect of intensity, + pac, “to cook”)


feminine noun in compound

birth, circumstance of birth (from jan, “to give birth”)


noun in compound

life, span-of-life (from ā + i, “to go”)


masculine noun, 1st case plural
 experience, feeling, perception of pleasure or pain (from bhuj, “to enjoy”)

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