Yoga Sutra 1.26 time as a measure does not apply to the Lord

Sūtra I.26

This teacher of even the first teachers, because not particularized by time

The first teachers are particularized by time. But with the Lord, time as a measure does not apply to him who is the teacher of even the first teachers. It is to be understood that as he is proved to be in the state of perfection at the beginning of this creation, so too at the beginning of past creations.

This highest Lord who has been described is the teacher of even the first teachers, those who teach all the related means and ends for material results and for the highest bliss (niḥśreyasa). The meaning is that he creates the knowledge and instruction which they give. For all the kinds of knowledge arise from him, as sparks of fire from a blaze or drops of water from the sea.

We have mentioned that he is the first knower, since he is not particularized by time. Other teachers are so particularized; they are qualified by past or future, or by being present now. But this Lord is inferred by them, and so by us, to be the eternally freed Lord.

(Opponent) Since he is a teacher like the others, how is it that he is not particularized by time?

(Answer) time as a measure does not apply to him to whom no measure can apply. A measure with its various sub-divisions may determine the limits of all that changes, but cannot make the Lord an object of its operations.

(Opponent) The perfect sattva of the Lord is an effect of pradhāna, and any effect of pradhāna must be particularized by time. So why not the divine sattva? It is only Puruṣa, and nothing else, which is not particularized by time, and that is because Puruṣa does not change. You might, of course, suppose that the Lord has no connection with any sattva, like the Lord in some other doctrines.

(Answer) No, because it is accepted by us that he is endowed with perfect sattva.

(Opponent) You could suppose that it is only the effect produced by the Lord’s sattva which time particularizes, and not the sattva itself.

(Answer) That is not right either, because anything which is manifest can be measured, and the sattva of the Lord is manifest.

(Opponent) You might say that the divine sattva exists only in the latent state of pradhāna.

(Answer) That will not do, because then there would be no knowledge from it.

(Opponent) Well then you might say that you accept the doctrine that the effect is the cause, so that the sattva is the latent pradhāna state of knowledge.

(Answer) This is not satisfactory either, because it has to be available for ordinary life. And if it were so, it would mean that the knowledge of different people could not be distinct, because it would all be in a state of mere being, without any separate relations.

(Opponent) Or you could say that in the state of manifestation, some of the effects are distinguishable by time, and not others.

(Answer) That is contrary to reason.

(Opponent) You could meet that objection by saying that it is proved by scripture that the divine sattva transcends time.

(Answer) Not so, because scripture only makes facts clear (but does not create them).

(Opponent) You might argue that it is only the fact of the now manifesting sattva transcending time, unknown as that fact is, which scripture makes clear.

(Answer) Not that even, for it has its cause in the states of inhibition, which would be limited by time on this view; but as it is perfectly pure (in those states too) it could not be limited; so there would be a contradiction.

So the conclusion is, that in view of the perfect purity of the divine sattva, it is proper that it should transcend time.

(Opponent) The perfection of purity of other teachers transcends time because it is caused by their being endowed with yoga and dharma and so on, but this is not so with the Lord.

(Answer) The sattva of the Lord is pure sattva, and in it rajas and tamas are always subdued, so that it is independent of dharma, etc., as a cause; the knowledge which rises in it is purely illuminative and transcends time.

And the supremacy which is its effect also transcends time. As the heat and light of fire are not delimited by time in the fire, so the purity, knowledge and perfection of the divine sattva attain the state transcending time. So the commentator states with the Lord, time as a measure does not apply, and this is said just of these effects.

His role as teacher has no limits. he is proved to be in the state of perfection in knowledge and purity at the beginning of this creation, and so at the beginning of other creations as well. It is proved by inference from the fact of creation of beings, and also made known by the scriptures. so too at the beginning of past creations of the beings of those former times. In the same way inference and scripture establish it for future times as well.

The purport of the sūtra is this: Just as seen guru-s are continuously served, in their capacity as teachers of knowledge and dharma and other things, by pupils who depend on them exclusively, so this Lord who is the teacher of all teachers should be meditated upon in the worshipper’s heart, by those devoted to him alone under his various names like Nārāyana.

Just as the human teachers turn their face towards the wholly devoted pupil and give him their favour, so this supreme teacher gives his favour when there is pure contemplation on him. The holy text says:

He who has supreme devotion to the Lord, and to his teacher as to the Lord, is a mahātmā, and from him shine forth these glories which have been related

(Śvet. Up. 6.23)

and tradition says:

He who does works for me, seeing me as the supreme, devoted to me, Free from attachment, without hatred for any, he comes to me, O Pāṇḍava

(Gītā II.55)


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