Yoga Sutra Stories

Swami Nirvikalpananda Saraswati

- What is yoga?
- To block the patterns of consciousness is yoga.
- What is the culmination of yoga?
- When the seer is established in his own essential nature.
- What happens otherwise to purusha?
- There is identification with the modifications of chitta.

Yogasutras 1:2-4

At the time when God created the world, after he had finished the plants and the animals, he took material from his own body and created a piece of pure gold.

- I name you Purusha, he said, and I mean you to be the crown of creation, the image of me. Are you clear about who you are?

And Purusha answered willingly: - I am Purusha, pure gold, created in the image of God.

God was pleased, and left Purusha alone for the night, as everything was so recently created, and God Was very busy with the animals and plants coming to ask him for things.

Purusha lay resting silently at the place where God had created him, experiencing the wonderful feeling of being pure gold, the image of God. And his joy was so great that he could think of nothing but this.

But night soon came, and in the darkness hobbits called vrittis were tiptoeing, eager to do something to destroy the work of God. One of them caught sight of Purusha lying motionless on the ground, contemplating God, and called his four brothers to the place. Together they cast a spell over him, formed the piece of gold into a sheep, and then disappeared into the darkness again.

In the morning a bird came flying to Purusha, woke him and told him that God was calling him. Purusha felt a bit strange this morning; he didn't know what had happened to him during the night, but he felt that something was wrong. He seemed suddenly to have forgotten everything. Anyhow, he hurried away to see God.

God had been busy all morning, he had been calling all the plants and animals to check that they remembered the names he had given them. All answered correctly, and God was pleased. Now he turned to the last one, Purusha, and said: - Tell me who you are!

Purusha was confused and didn't know what to answer, but then he looked at his form and answered: - I am a sheep, Lord.

God sighed, and told him to go and think, and return the next morning to answer the question again. So Purusha went, thinking deeply about the mystery of his identity, but he could only think that he was really a sheep.

The night came, and again the five hobbits came tiptoeing in the darkness. They found Purusha in a deep sleep, and this time they formed him into a camel.

Purusha woke up next morning and went to God, who asked him again:

- Do you know who you are?

And Purusha looked at his form and answered: - I am a camel, Lord.

God asked him again to go back and think, and return next morning.

That night, the hobbits formed Purusha into an elephant.

When God called him and asked the same question again, Purusha answered that he was an elephant.

This went on for seven days more, the hobbits each night forming the piece of gold into something new, and Purusha every day identifying himself with the new patterns the hobbits had made him in. Then God saw that this couldn't go on any longer, so he called Purusha and said:

- So you have forgotten your true nature, Purusha. Don't you remember that I created you as gold, in my image and likeness?

Purusha was silent, for he had forgotten all about it. - But you are still gold, Purusha, God said. That's your true nature. Your mistake is that you identify yourself with the patterns the hobbits, called vrittis, keep giving you. You must do your best to stop them from influencing you, to block them. Always remember that you are pure gold and nothing else. So go back and think this over again. Try to realize that there is no difference between you and me. You are not a sheep, a camel, or an elephant; you are just pure gold.

So God said, and Purusha went back again, thinking of how he was to realize this truth.

Purusha is the soul of man. The five vrittis are the five modifications of mind: right knowledge, wrong knowledge, fancy, sleep and memory. These modifications carve patterns in the pure consciousness, and man identifies himself with these patterns. To experience yoga these patterns must be blocked.