III.5 तज्जयात् प्रज्ञालोकः

taj-jayāt prajñālokaḥ
tad-jayāt prajñā-ālokaḥ

“From the realization [of saṁyama], the light of wisdom.”

Jaya is an important Sanskrit word–used in many mantras and songs as a shout of praise and joy (an example would be the ancient Sri Rama Jaya Rama Jaya Jaya Rama). Derived from ji, “to win,” it could be translated as “victory” or “triumph,” carries with it a sense of liberation. In the context of today’s sūtra, most commentators translate it as “mastery.” Tad (which sandhi rules make taj) is a pronoun that refers back to saṁyama of sūtra III.4. Thus taj-jayāt is translated “from the mastery of saṁyama.”

I have chosen “realization” rather than “mastery,” which to me suggests a top-down control that I actually work against in myself. If it did not sound strange in English, I might prefer “victory” as a translation for jaya. It conveys a lightness, an excitement. Indeed, it conveys breakthrough.

I do not know if there are those who have a kind of complete control of saṁyama, but there is much to be known, gained, and marveled at in, simply, its practice. I may not always have a breakthrough in that practice, realization might not come, but the experiences within it are important, not to be belittled or dismissed.

The victory of saṁyama is related to the work of saṁyama, the three-fold process (see III.1-4), which is a work on ourselves. In that work, we become willing to remove the blocks, the interpretations that are a screen affecting what we see. We all have such blocks. We all have a screen: our experience forms it. In saṁyama, we observe these patterns in ourselves, we listen, with love, to our own story. Insofar as we can bring a quality of kindness and attentiveness to our selves, that is how much we will be able to integrate within, will “empty,” and our understanding and insight will grow.

The sūtra says that from saṁyama will come prajñālokaḥ. This term might most deftly be translated as “revelation.” Prajñā is wisdom, which Patañjali has described in ch. 1 as a complete knowing, a knowing of the heart, by the heart (see I.48-49). Ālokaḥ–from ā, a prefix that adds intensity, and lok, “to perceive”–is vision, but carries a sense of illumination about it. Georg Feuerstein translates it as a “flashing-forth” of insight.

Jaganath Carrera says prajñālokaḥ is “a bursting-forth of the light–the reality or essential nature–of the object of meditation.” Seeing directly, seeing through to the essence, in particular–the underlying connectedness of things, the subtle layer, is an ongoing theme of Patañjali’s (see I.44-45). The flash of bursting-forth of prajñālokaḥ uncovers the history of things, comprises the complexity and interweaving of beings. It is a kind of insight expressed by works of art, perhaps not expressible in words–irreducible. The meaning of the song is the song. The meaning of the poem is the poem.

We are living in a time of tremendous social change and political consequence. It is invaluable today to be willing and ready to free our minds and our imaginations. In many ways, we need a bigger view of what is going on around us. Rebecca Solnit, in her inspirational and helpful book Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, suggests that many of us get mired in struggling with our sense of personal virtue, whether we have done right or wrong, what guilt we bear. She urges us to look at the larger picture. For example, in considering climate policy:

Many people believe that personal virtue is what matters in this crisis. It’s a good thing, but it’s not the key thing. It’s great to bicycle rather than drive, eat plants instead of animals, put solar panels on your roof, but it can give you a false sense you’re not part of the problem. You are not just what you personally do or do not consume but part of a greater problem if you are a citizen of a country that is a major carbon emitter, as is nearly everyone in the English-speaking nations and the global north. You are part of the system, and you need, we all need, to change that system. Nothing less than systemic change will save us. –Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, p. 135

There is a form of personal depression, Solnit argues, that is reflected in the larger society. We are caught in a misery that things cannot be changed. We think society must be what we have known it to be. But, to use adrienne marie brown’s beautiful phrase, “We are in an imagination battle.” (See Emergent Strategy, p. 18.) That is why we must liberate our minds. Jaya!

…the most foundational change of all, the one from which all else issues, is hardest to track. It means that politics arises out of the spread of ideas and the shaping of imaginations. It means that symbolic and cultural acts have real political power. And it means that the changes that count take place not merely onstage as action but in the minds of those who are again and again pictured only as audience or bystanders. The revolution that counts is the one that takes place in the imagination; many kinds of change issue forth thereafter, some gradual and subtle, some dramatic and conflict-ridden—which is to say that revolution doesn’t necessarily look like revolution. — Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, p. 26


“The knowledge gained by saṁyama is direct and intuitive. It is a bursting-forth of the light–the reality or essential nature–of the object of meditation. The inception, evolution, and dissolution of any object are fully revealed.” — The Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Inside the Yoga Sutras, commentary on III.5

“The highest form of integration, in my view, would be saturated with feelings of love. This is most easily felt on an interpersonal level, and then with practice might be generalized to relationship with the world at large. …I imagine my experience of integration will advance to the intensity that Patañjali points towards when I am able to feel such interactive communion with a tree or river. I have in small pieces so far, which encourages me to wait with patience and openness. I’m sure that my path back to coherence with the living world begins with other people.” –Matthew Remski, Threads of Yoga, p. 170

“Right action is effortless and is born in the ground of communion or right perception. … It arises in the soil of Wisdom. … Wisdom is not something to be acquired. It dawns upon the consciousness silently in the timeless moments of samādhi. … It comes only as a flash–one moment it is here, the next moment it is gone.” — Rohit Mehta, Yoga, the Art of Integration, p. 286

• What flashes of insight has practice brought you?
• In what ways does practice affect your creative life? Have you begun any new artistic pursuits? Enlarged your imagination in any ways?
• Are you open to imagining different possibilities? Personally? Politically?
• How well do you listen to difficult facts?


pronoun in compound



masculine noun, 5th case singular. “owing to”

victory, triumph (from ji, “to win”)


feminine noun in compound

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)


masculine noun, 1st case singular

light, illumination, vision (from ā-, prefix suggesting intensity, + lok, “to perceive, to shine”)

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