(the story of the) Hurricane

तीव्र संवेगानाम् आसन्नः

tīvra – saṁvegānām āsannaḥ

The keen (tīvra)  having intensity (saṁvegānām) find samadhi to be near (āsannaḥ).

Patanjali is using this selection of sutras to discuss the qualities of practitioners or the qualities practitioners need to be successful. In 1:19 those who are merged in matter, find their way to a type of samadhi. Next are the faithful and diligent. Here we have the intense and ferocious in their quest for enlightenment.

It is possibly indicative of its evolution from Samkhya that Patanjali’s philosophy spends much time labelling and categorising. It is also useful for practitioners to reflect on our intension, our progress.

For example; if we take the prakriti layanam of 1:19, as Shri Bramananda Sarasvati does, to be those people who find peace in the repetition of material tasks and the yogis who practice with faith, vigor, and discernment (from 1:20), to be two different levels on the route to evolution then this sutra represents the yogi who will evolve the quickest and achieve samadhi in the shortest time through their enthusiasm.

The root vij gives rise to vega which forms the stem for saṁvegānām and such words translated as; violent agitation, the desire for emancipation, vehemence, and also hurricanes, rough seas and the heaving of the ocean. I infer from this a kind of tumultuous state which I would not normally associate with yoga. It feels more like the tapas, the extreme austerities performed when trying to bargain with the Gods for a boon.  But perhaps Patanjali is reminding us to engage actively with the process of evolution, that samadhi needs effort to be put forth in order for it to manifest. Perhaps this choice of word is a reminder that the process of practice is not for the faint hearted.

Patanjali may be describing three different types of people who are all working in their own ways towards samadhi or possibly the stages of practice are being described. Maybe we all start by finding solace in Prakṛti, then we turn our attention inwards towards faith and learning to discern the real form the unreal. This sutra reminds us not to get delayed by our navel gazing but to remain focused and intense in our passion for  puruṣa.

 

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