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Articles by Swami Veda Bharati

Excerpts from Yoga Sutra 1.7

[Note: This exerpt was given given to the students of the HYT-TTP November 2013 retreatthe HYT-TTP November 2013 retreat at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama.]

A matter seen or inferred by accomplished persons is taught in the form of words in order to transfer their knowledge into another. The vṛitti (वृत्ति) from that word, with its matter and meaning as the object, is the listener's acquisition (āgama).

  • Vyāsa introduces the sutra with one word, tatra: 'there, among these'. Then comes the sutra proper. Some variants read tatra as part of the sutra proper.

An āptais someone who has 'received, 'accomplished' and now wishes to transfer his knowledge into another mind. The knowledge of such a spiritually realised person is conveyed in the form of words. It is therewith transferred into the listener. He does so by way of meaningful words indicating a significatum (artha). The vritti that thus arises in the listener's mind is the latter's acquisition, agama, 'that which has come' to him. This becomes a vritti in his mind.

If the teacher himself is imperfect and in error, he is not to be trusted. Otherwise, untoward situations will overwhelm the pupil. Those who are not fully āpta are deficient teachers -- they can be mistaken or mislead, but that is not the case with the original teacher, the First Guru, God, Īśhvara, who is infallible. The original teacher [see details on p. 141], who has seen and inferred the matter correctly, does not lead the disciple to such disturbance.

Āgama

Now to the third valid proof (āgama). Vyāsa says:

A matter seen or inferred by an accomplished person (āpta) is taught in the form of words to transfer his knowledge into another. The vritti from that word, with its matter and meaning as the object, is the listener's acquisition (āgama).

Some of the original words in these sentences are important to understand:

An āpta is an accomplished one, he who has attained. The word āpta is derived from the verb root √āp to attain, accomplish, find: Attainment (āpti) in this sense is more technically defined as connecting together the following: (a) the realisation of reality (tattva-darhana), (b) compassion 1 (kāruṇya), that is, the motivation to eradicate the suffering of others,and c) strength of the senses and body and expertise in the use thereof (karaṇa-pāṭava). This defines the qualifications of a realised teacher. He has to be (VB) free of weaknesses and faults such as confusion, negligence, desire for personal gain, failure in control over the senses and inability to use the senses properly. One with such an attainment is an āpta, a noble teacher.

It is also said (HA) that one is an āpta to a student when through his words that particular student is able to reach a conclusion, determination or conviction to which the student's own rational thought (vichra) had not yet led him. Vyāsa's words,

A matter seen or inferred by an >āpta>...

mean that inference alone, that is, rational or logical processes of thought, does not make one an authority (āpta). First comes the fact of dṛiṣhṭa, having seen in yogi-pratyakṣha, i.e., realised in the state of samādhi ( Cf. the discussion on pratyakṣha). It is because of such an in-sight (a realisation within) that a school of philosophy is called a darśhana: ‘vision, insight, realisation’ (from the verb root √driśh ‘to see’). The matter thus seen, says Vyāsa,

... is taught in the form of words ...

or (HA) by means of silent gestures, etc., as many yogis do. Śhabdena means ‘through words’, ‘in the form of words’ and ‘with the accompaniment of words’. All of these meanings are applicable here. The last one is especially significant because verbal guidance may often accompany an initiation in which a guru's knowledge is transferred to another - often without words. This transfusion of knowledge is not emphasised here, but merely suggested to those who have gone through the experience and can therefore read between the lines.

The matter is taught in the form of words, says Vyāsa,

… to transfer one's knowledge into another.

Not ‘to another (parasmai)’ but ‘into another (paratra)’. This means (VM, VB, NB, HA, RY) that the knowledge similar to that in the teacher's own thought waves of the mind-field (chitta-vritti) should appear in the chitta-vritti of the listener (śhrotri), that is, a student. In the tradition, the first stage of the study is listening to the teaching. This teaching should be imparted with the intention (VM) that what is beneficial to the student should accrue, and what is not beneficial should be prevented. It is all of these qualifications and processes that constitute valid proof (āgama), which literally means 'that which comes into' the student. The vritti of the words, with their (a) intended and (b) inherent meanings arising in the student's mind, is āgama. That is the noble authority, a revealed knowledge, conveyed into the student directly by the teacher into whom it was revealed, or through a lineage, or in the form of sacred texts.

Further, Vyāsa says:

That āgama overwhelms one whose teacher has not seen or inferred the matter correctly and whose presentation of the matter cannot be trusted.

On the other hand, there may be teachers who are trusted and accepted even though they have neither realised nor inferred the matter themselves, but are faithfully presenting the knowledge originally imparted by the founder of the lineage. Vyāsa says:

But the āgama is without such disturbance in the case of the original teacher.

These lines can be read both as (a) in the case of an original teacher, a human founder of the lineage, and (b)in the case of the original teacher (God), whose revealed knowledge (Veda) is conveyed through teachers who themselves may not have realised or inferred the contents thereof.1

1 For a deeper understanding of the 'original teacher', see I.26 and Rig-Veda 1.1.2.

The word āgama in general parlance is used for any scripture. For example, if one visits a library in Indonesia or Malaysia, the shelves containing the Holy Quran are marked āgama.

Thus āgama, revealed authority at many different levels is the third valid proof.

Cognitive reflexionism1

Two more important lines of argument are followed by the commentators. For full details one will need to study the extensive statements of BG, NB, RY, SS.

One line of argument, very Vedantic, can be termed cognitive reflexionism1 (vṛtti-pratibimba-vāda). ln this trend of thought, direct perception (pratyakṣha) is a form of reflexion of knowledge that is innate to the perceiver. Here the information need not come to the perceiver only through the channels of senses but may, alternatively, be the result of a direct mental contact. The vrittis are uncountable rays of consciousness arising from within. Here vritti is the uppermost point of buddhi like that of a flame whereby the mind-field may become one-pointed (ekāgra).

The entire subject of praiyaksha is explained in terms of the direct experience of knowledge in samādhi, This barest summary does not do justice to the arguments and processes presented grantha-vistara-bhayāt. It will require a detailed paper perhaps titled ‘Pratyaksha and anumāna as states of consciousness’.

1 Our neologism.


Editor's Note: The Blessing on TTP Certification Day, November 2013 by Swami Veda Bharati can be read at http://ahymsin.org/main/swami-veda-bharati/blessing-on-ttp-certification-day-november-2013.html