the point of it all?

तत्परं पुरुष​-ख्यातेर् + गुन​-वैतृष्ण्यम्

tatparaṃ puruṣa-kyhāter + guṇa-vaitṛṣṇyam


tat = that paraṃ = highest (the highest vairāgyā/dispassion)
puruṣa = the soul
kyhāter =  knowledge of/ perceiving

guṇa = the substances which make up the world, rajas, tamas, sattva.
vaitṛṣṇyam = indifference

The highest dispassion is born from perceiving Puruṣa, this leads to indifference towards the guṇas (and therefore prakṛti).


vairāgyā can be achieved through a committed, sustained, firmly established practice of focusing the mind and thus stilling the citta vṛttis. In the previous sutra Patanjali describes that this is a dispassion towards objects in the material world and objects we have heard about and may desire. In this sutra Patanjali goes further in saying that it is possible to find indifference towards everything in prakṛti (which is everything in existence apart form Puruṣa). This includes matter not only in the physical world but also the psychological one. Thoughts and feelings are also composed of the guṇas. Emotions can be rajasic (firey), tamasic (lethargic) or clear (sattvic).  Once we have knowledge of puruṣa we can become indifferent towards everything. Only puruṣa is not subject to guṇas and therefore puruṣa is the only constant thing in existence. Thus once we have perceived this what purpose does attachment to Prakṛti serve?

Once again there is the potential for nihilism to creep in. If everything is irrelevant except for puruṣa, what’s the point of it all? Now we need to apply śraddhā (faith) remember that the mind, the thoughts are coloured by the experiences, the saṃskāras, patterns and by the guṇas. Therefore the little voice which is the nagging doubt is no more real than the sky flowers or unicorns of vikalpaḥ. The part that questions and fears is not the seer seeing itself. Once the seer has seen itself and there is kyhāti of puruṣa then indifference towards the world naturally follows.

But indifference is not distain, nor is it careless, it is a security rooted in knowledge that beyond all this suffering and chaos is quietude, beatitude. Once the vṛttis cease and the mind is not seesawing between rajas and tamas with glimpses of sattva, like the sun through the clouds, once the clouds clear and we are illuminated by seeing the seer, then we become most effective, efficient and discerning, because we act without fear.


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