Metaphysics of Patañjali Yoga Sutra
As noted, Yoga is not considered a different school from Sāṁkhya until after the Patañjali period, but rather as a different approach or method to enlightenment, although there are minor differences. Sāṁkhya provides a metaphysical or theoretical basis for the realization of Purusha and Yoga techniques or practices themselves. While some Yoga traditions disagree with Sāṁkhya’s view that the metaphysical analysis of jñāna (knowledge) is a sufficient path to inner enlightenment.
In the generic Sāṁkhya system, literally the “numbering” of the universe from living and dead entities is considered the final product of two categories that are ontologically different; hence this system is basically dvaita, or dualistic presupposition. The two categories are the Prakriti or material primordial matrix of the physical universe, and the innumerable Purusha of the conscious Self is embedded within it. As a result of the interaction between these two entities, the material universe evolved in a series of stages. The actual catalyst in this evolutionary process is three uses, literally “quality,” inherent in Prakriti. These are sattva (clarity), rajas (action) and tamas (inertia).
Given the focus of meditation from the text, gu N as especially significant for Yoga in terms of their psychological manifestations; in Yoga, mind and therefore all psychological dispositions, are prakriti, and therefore also consist of gu ṇ as – the only difference between mind and matter is that the first has a greater tendency to sattva and the last of tamas. Therefore, according to the specific mix and proportionality of gunas, living things exhibit various types of thought patterns and psychological dispositions. So, when sattva dominan in an individual, the quality of clarity, calmness, wisdom, discrimination, detachment, happiness, and peace manifests; when kings are dominant, passion, attachment, energetic effort, enthusiasm, strength, restlessness and creative activity; and when tamas, the least preferred gu for yoga, is dominant, ignorance, delusion, disinterest, lethargy, sleep, and tendency towards constructive activity.
The gunas as constantly interacting and competing with each other, one guna becomes prominent for a while and defeats the other, only to finally be dominated in turn by the rise of one guna as the other. They are compared to the wick, fire, and oil of the lamps which, despite opposing each other in their nature, gather to produce light. Just as there is an infinite variety of colors originating from a combination of three primary colors, different hues are only expressions of the specific proportionality of red, yellow and blue, so too are the unlimited psychological tendencies of living things (and physical forms) of the stem. from gunas; a particular state of mind which is a reflection of the special proportionality of mixing the three gunas.
The gu N as not only supports the philosophy of mind in Yoga, but the activation and interaction of this quality produce the overall production of physical forms which also develop from the matrix of primordial material, practice, under the same principle. Thus the physical composition of objects such as air, water, stone, fire, etc. differs due to their specific constitutional makeup as air contains more than sattva buoyancy, the stone is more than lethargy from tamas elements, and fire, from the king. The gunas allows for unlimited plasticity of practices and world objects.
The process by which the universe evolved from a practical benefit compared to milk shaking: when milk receives a catalyst of citrate, yogurt, curd, or butter appears. The direct products, in turn, can be further manipulated to produce a further series of products – dairy, cheese, etc. Similarly, according to the Samkhya classics, the first evolution arose from practice when it was turbulent by gu N as (Special sattva ) is buddhi, intelligence. This intelligence is characterized by the functions of judgment, discrimination, knowledge, certainty, willingness, virtue and detachment, and attitudes in them. This means that in the purest conditions when the potential of rajas and tamas are minimized, buddhi is basically clear, peaceful, happy, calm and discriminating, all qualities of sattva. This is the interface between the Purusha and all other Practics evolutes. From this point of view, consciousness can go out directly to the objects and embroilments of the world, or, in its highest potential, it can realize the presence of a Purusha and consequently direct itself towards the complete realization of the true source of consciousness which encompasses it.
From buddhi, aha ṁ kāra, or ego produced (aham “I” + kāra “do;” is called asmitā in this text). This is marked by the function of self-awareness and self-identity. This is a discursive aspect that processes and adjusts external reality from the standpoint of individual sense or ego – the idea of ”me” and “mine” in human consciousness. Aha ṁ kāra also limits the range of consciousness to conform and identify with the contours of certain psychophysical organisms with which he finds himself in one embodiment, as opposed to another. In other words, the aha ṁkāra of a typical bug, which is not enlightened, acts almost like a sunken screen, which accustoms the consciousness to spread and adjust the contours of the bug. If the insect dies and becomes, say, a typical dog, which is not enlightened and then becomes a unique human being in the next life, the aha ṁ kāra aspect of the citta adjusts to accommodate and absorb consciousness into this new environment. So the insect thinks it’s an insect, the dog thinks it’s a dog, and human thinks it’s a human.
When the ego is in turn “churned out” by the manas sattva attached to it, manas, thoughts, are produced. The mind is the center of emotions, likes, and dislikes, and is characterized by sensory control – filtering and processing potentially huge data that can be accessed by the senses. It mainly receives, sorts, groups, and then transmits. It functions as a link between sensory activity that transmits data from the outside world, and buddhi, intelligence. It, therefore, takes on both internal and external functions: internally, it is characterized by reflective synthesis, while simultaneously being a feeling because it acts similar to the senses. The Purusha or self is veiled in this psychic layer before it receives the gross body and senses. The Yoga School, while using the terminology (mainly) of buddhi, but also aha ṁkāra and manas, is somewhat different from Sāṁkhya in understanding the three as interacting functions of one Citta, mind, rather than as three different metaphysical layers. Citta, then, as a term used by Patañjali and commentators to refer to these three cognitive functions combined, is one of the most important terms in Yoga Sūtra.