Yoga Sutra Stories

Swami Nirvikalpananda Saraswati (age 17, Swedish)

Sutras 5-11

Modifications of mind are fivefold; they are painful or not painful.

The fivefold modifications of mind are right knowledge, wrong knowledge, fancy, sleep and memory.

Direct cognition, inference and testimony are the sources of right knowledge.

Wrong conception is false knowledge which is not based on its own form.

Sleep is the vritti of absence of mental contents for its support. Following upon knowledge through words but empty of an object is fancy. Not letting experienced objects escape from the mind is memory.

Story Commentary

Purusha spent some days thinking of how he could stop the vrittis from influencing him, but he found it hard to find an answer. He was always asleep when they came- he didn't even notice when they formed him, but he woke up each morning finding himself in a new form. It wasn't always a bad form - the vrittis were not evil. If they were in a good mood, they formed him very well. But good or bad, their forms made him unable to experience his true nature, so he knew he had to stop them. Even though God had told him that he was pure gold and not the forms the vrittis made him into, he was unable to realize it as long as the vrittis kept playing with him.

Finally he decided to go and see the vrittis and talk to them, to learn more about the way they worked. He hoped that by understanding them, he might be able to stop them from changing his form. So away he went, first arriving at the abode of the two vrittis called Right and Wrong Knowledge. Right Knowledge was the one he caught sight of first. Purusha greeted him and said:

- I have noticed that you and your brothers make me assume new forms each night. Could you please tell me where from you get your ideas of how to form me? Which are your sources?

Right Knowledge was flattered, and answered: - I get my ideas in three ways; firstly, from my relatives called the Senses. They come and tell me things, and then I shape the form, for example you, after their instructions. Of course I have to check that they bring me the correct ideas first. Sometimes it happens that they misconceive things or that they try to cheat me. Secondly, my cousin called Reason draws conclusions from the things the Senses tell me. If for example they tell me that there is smoke somewhere, he immediately draws the conclusion that there is also fire. He also uses laws of logic and mathematics; two and two is always four, and x can not be x and not-x at the same time. And thirdly, I trust those things to be true which people who know more than I, say are true - such as the things my guru teaches me, because he has much greater wisdom than I. These are my sources.

- Oh, said Purusha. And what about your brother - Wrong Knowledge? Which are his sources? Right Knowledge smiled.

- His sources are exactly the same as mine. But the difference between us, is that he misconceives everything and turns it upside down. It also happens that the Senses and Reason tease him and tell him things which are not true, but he always believes them. So his patterns are usually very strange.

Purusha thanked him, and went on to the next vritti, called Sleep. He didn't look like a vritti at all, and Purusha said doubtfully when he saw him:

- Are you really one of the vrittis? Sleep nodded.

- Yes, I am a vritti, even if many don't believe it. Purusha asked him about the patterns that he had made him in, and Sleep said:

- Actually, the thing I do, is to temporarily destroy the work of the other vrittis. I don't create any patterns myself.

- Oh, said Purusha. But that is exactly what I am looking for, something which can destroy their work. He told Sleep his sad story.

- Sorry, said Sleep, I can't help you. You see, when I destroy the patterns which the other vrittis make in you, I also turn off your awareness. When I make you unconscious of the other vrittis' work, you will also be unconscious of everything else. You won't be able to experience your existence as pure gold with my help either. It's not in my power to free you.

So Purusha went to the next vritti, who was called Fancy, and asked him where from he got his ideas. Fancy laughed.

- You ask funny questions. I don't get my ideas from anywhere, I just take them right from the air. I don't base my patterns on anything, I just make them. That's why they are so irregular and sometimes so beautiful.

Purusha thanked him and went on to the fifth and last vritti, Memory, and asked him about his work.

- I don't make any patterns of my own, Memory said. The thing I do, is to make the other vrittis' patterns stronger, so they don't disappear immediately. Purusha became eager. -But then, he said, maybe you could help me. What about if you didn't do that? Would I be able to experience my true nature then? Memory shook his head. -No. The vrittis go on making new patterns whether I make their first patterns persistent or not. It wouldn't be of any use just to stop me, you have to stop the others too.

- I see, said Purusha thoughtfully. So you can't help me either.

Sadly he went back, thinking that he had gained nothing. His knowledge of the vrittis couldn't help him to block them. He had to think of something else.