Updated: Aug 3, 2020
" yogah cittavritti nirodhah "
yogah - of yoga
citta - personality complex
vritti - activities, fluctuations
nirodhah - control, stop
Here Patanjali is giving the definition of Yoga as per himself. The definition of Yoga has been given different angles by various authorities based on the context and their understanding of it. As per Gita, Yoga is the balanced state of Mind. An unknown rishi called it as the primary duty of the individual for knowing the self. Shri Aurobindo defined Yoga as the integration of personality at various levels. Swami Vivekananda elucidates on it by saying that human beings are evolving continuously, but we cannot leave this process of evolution to chance. Yoga is being disciplined for taking the charge of accelerating this evolution, our growth in our own hands.
#Patanjali in this sutra defines Yoga as controlling the mental fluctuations, or modifications of the Mind. The Mind, is like a TV screen, thousands of images incessantly keep getting projected on it every second. Similarly the Mind is also continuously bombarded by the thoughts every second. It is only possible to see the TV screen as it is in reality when we press the Off button on it, and after the TV is turned off, the stream of the electronic images cease to exist, we can see the real screen and its actual composition.
The definition of Yoga as given by Patanjali in this sutra is nothing but switching of the continuous projection of thoughts on the screen of our Mind, so that we can experience the real self , consciousness, hidden behind the maze created by those thoughts. Otherwise the Mind keep on taking the forms - modifications- of what ever thoughts are being projected on it , collectively known as the Vrittis. Pressing the mental screen's switch to "off" is Yoga.
The #vrittis do not come from no where, they are the result of the segregation of thoughts related to a single concept, these thoughts are in turn generated in the Mind by the sensations, or information received by various sense receptors ( sense organs) from the outside world. All these sensory receptors taken together along with their energisers ( fuelling agents) is known as #Citta ( pronounced as Chitta), or the personality complex of the individual. Two individuals can be at the same place, receiving the same sensations, but both will generate different thoughts depending on the tendencies (negative or positive) of their personality complexes or Citta. These tendencies are the result of the mental impressions ( samskaras, vasanas) we carry ( collect) from our past and present lives. Accordingly the Vrittis are also positive ( aklishta) and negative ( kalishta) in nature.
This explains two different interpretations (responses),the negative or positive, generated from the same sensation received by two different individuals. The Citta is composed of 17 components of which the individual is made of:
#Ego ( ahamkara), I sense
#Mind ( manas) the coordinator of the sense organs
Vision - Sense of perception
Taste - sense of perception
Touch - sense of perception
Hearing - sense of perception
Smell - sense of perception
Speech - sense of action
Hands - sense of action
legs - sense of action
Excretory organs - sense of action
Reproductive organs - sense of action
Samana ( digestion) - subtle bio energy
Apana ( elimination) - subtle bio energy
Udana ( upward movement) - subtle bio energy
Vyana ( all around circulation) - subtle bio energy
Citta is thus the TV Image recording camera (the literal meaning of Citta is beggar, or collector of objects)which transforms the received images( sensations) into organised scenes ( thoughts into Vrittis) as per its settings ( tendencies) and project it on the TV screen ( Mind) continuously all the time. Citta is the finest form of matter and thus can be refined with effort and practice.
Western thinking separates the Body from the Mind, but Patanjali's Citta is the entire personality complex along with its physical attributes plus cognition. The Vritiis as generated by the individual Citta are rapidly changing: Our Mind feels different at different times of the day. This constant change happening in the Vriitis is dependent on the three gunas: satva,rajas, tamas. The Gunas have their impact on the Citta, as Citta is itself composed of the evolutes of Prakriti, which is in turn composed of the three gunas.
This Yoga sutra of Patanjali tells us that we must start becoming aware of these changing vrittis in our Minds. This awareness should be developed related to their time and circumstances of accurance. Once we know why and when the Vrittis ( Modifications) are generated in our Mind we can start making an effort to stop the negative, or suffering causing Vrittis ( Kalishta) from taking hold in our Minds. Samkhya philosophy also talks about three fold sufferings which could not be relieved by any of the methods available to mankind at that time. Patanajali in this sutra is talking about controlling the negative and positive Vrittis in order to steady the Mind so that we can see our real selves. He only talks about the main 5 Vrittis to be controlled in his yoga sutras, though the Vrittis are many more.
In this sutra Patanjali is trying to divide the Yoga into two: Sampradyad and Asampradyad. Sampradyad is like a beggar, always lacking and indiscriminately collecting things in order to feel secure. Samprayad is our Mind, which is always collecting information and keeps itself engaged or confused. Instead of allowing the Mind to collect everything we must restrict the Mind to only a certain area of Samprayad . This will require control ( nirodhah) over the vrittis of the Mind, which is Yoga as per Patanjali.