Yoga Sutra 1.43 nir-vitarka samadhi

Sūtra I.43

When there is purification from memories, (that samādhi) apparently empty of its own nature of knowledge, with the object alone shining forth, is nir-vitarka

Purified from memories, which are mental constructs of verbal associations, or knowledge from authority or inference, the samādhi-knowledge coloured by the object as it is, having given up seemingly its own nature of pure perception, is identified with the object, the nature of the thing alone. That identification is what is described as nir-vitarka (samādhi).

When there is purification from memories of mental constructs of verbal association, authority, inference the mental construct of verbal association, the mental construct of ideas from authority, the mental construct of ideas from inference – this it is which is the memory, by which an alien quality from something else is illusorily projected (adhyāropyate). For a thing cannot in reality be projected into another thing.

(Opponent) How can what has merely been heard of or inferred be projected as a direct perception?

(Answer) It is well known that it is; what one has heard of, what one has inferred, one now sees as ‘this’.

(Opponent) One may see it, but in fact it is only something one has inferred or heard about.

(Answer) No, because of the difference between a universal and a particular. What is heard of or inferred is a universal, but the object of direct perception is a particular thing. It is well known that there is sometimes illusory projection (adhyāsa) on to a thing of a universal similar to it.

The samādhi-knowledge of the yogin coloured by the object as it is, having given up seemingly its own nature of pure perception, is identified with the object, the nature of the thing alone. This word seemingly (iva) is used to show that its essence as cognition is not destroyed. For a crystal does not lose its inherent transparency by its proximity to the object placed against it. What is being said is, that the knowing process is unnoticed, and something different from it, an object, is there.

This as described is the nir-vitarka identification. In this a true object, apprehended as a unity such as a cow or a jar, though essentially a particular aggregation of atoms, is the whole world. It is apprehended as a unity, namely determined by a single idea (buddhi). It is a true object, in that it is something whose nature it is to be known by another.

The whole world consists of such true objects, apprehended as a unity like a cow or a jar, though essentially a particular aggregation of atoms. The special arrangement, a quality in which all the subtle elements take part, appears with an existence of its own (ātma-bhūta), inferred from its visible results, manifest in accordance with the causes of its manifestation.

The object is something like a cow or a jar, for instance; the object is not (as some Buddhists hold) no more than a knowledge in the form of a cow, etc. It is essentially a particular aggregation of atoms. A cow or jar is a thing which is a particular arrangement of atoms, which are themselves made up of the subtle elements (tanmātra), and the mind rests on one such thing. The object is a particular arrangement of these subtle things so arranged. So he says, an existence of its own, as a quality in which all the subtle elements take part, not apart from them, any more than the winding coils are apart from the snake.

(Opponent) Some hold that an effect is not the cause but quite apart from it.

(Answer) But they cannot explain the dependence of the effect on its cause. A thread depends on the filaments which make it up, as a cloth depends on its threads. Where two things are absolutely separate, one does not depend on the other; neither cloth nor threads, for instance, depends on a lump of clay (as a bowl does). If there are two absolutely separate things and one is destroyed, there is no corresponding destruction of the other; when a bowl is destroyed, a cloth does not disappear along with it.

(Opponent) What is called the cause is a relation. There is a relation of the threads to the cloth, and of the filaments to the thread, which is the cause (hetu), causing (karaṇa) both the dependence (when the cause operates) and the consequent destruction (when it ceases).

(Answer) A relation would include the relation between Caitra and his field; the fact of the particular relation would mean that Caitra would depend on his field and would be destroyed with it.

(Opponent) Well then, let us confine the word cause to a relation of inherence (samavaya).

(Answer) No, because a relationship, not being a particular, is not causal (between two things). Of two things related, the relation inhering in one side would not cause dependence, etc., in the other one; so even with a relationship defined as inherent, it is not clear which one would be caused to inhere in which. Nor do inherences of action, universals or particulars, exist without a substance, because dependence and so on exist only between substances. So there too a mere relation cannot have causality. Furthermore, if inherence is to be the cause of making one of the two things related to be dependent on the other, there would have to be a new inherence of the first inherence, and of that too another, and the result would be an infinite regress. And if an inherence relation among qualities is to make substances dependent, another inherence will have to be supposed to make the abstract inherence apply to the substances and make one of them dependent, and for that another and for that another – again an infinite regress.

If the effect does not exist before it originates, it can have no relation with the cause; there is no difference between the non-existence of hare’s horns and that of a jar. It has to be explained why there should be a causal relation with the jar (which does appear) and not with things like the horns of a hare.

What was non-existent before can not come into being, any more than a hare’s horns. What is different from threads cannot originate from threads, just because it is different from them; a jar, for example, cannot originate from threads.

(Opponent) What is existent already cannot originate either, because it already exists, like a jar present now. What is not different from something cannot originate from it, because it is already there, it is its very nature so to say.

(Answer) But to say that the existent does not come into being would mean that what does exist now never came into being, and this would be making an issue of something already established (siddha-sādhyatā). Nothing would ever manifest at all, and the conclusion could never be exemplified.

(Opponent) What I said was, that what is not different from something cannot originate from it.

(Answer) That is the same fallacy, and cannot be demonstrated. A thing is manifested out of its very nature; if there were no nature to manifest, even a thousand manifesting agencies could not effect the manifestation.

Furthermore the view (that a thing previously non-existent comes into being) would be the end of ordinary life. How so? Suppose Devadatta’s cow or horse is seen early in the morning complete with ears and tail, and then wanders into the forest where someone crops its ears and tail. With the separation of its former parts, it will – on your view – have been destroyed, but a new one with cropped ears and tail will have been born, which is ownerless and can therefore be possessed by that someone. Then everywhere things would be having parts cut from them, and because there would be no settled rule as to who owned what, it would be the complete destruction of worldly life.

(Opponent) The new whole, with cropped ears and tail, comes into being from the parts it still possesses.

(Answer) Not so, for new wholes with cropped ears and tail, re-created in an instant without father and mother and so on, are not seen in life.

Moreover it should belong only to the one on whose land it was born, and not to the one who owned the previous parts, as grass and leaves belong to the owner of the land on which they grow. If seeds in one field are carried away by flood-water to another field, the corn from these seeds is reaped only by the owner of the latter field, and not by the former owner of the seeds, who cannot object on the ground that he knows the corn has grown from his seeds and so he should take it. In the same way the owner of the field would take the crop-eared animal, and could not be prevented on the grounds that the whole had arisen from parts formerly possessed by another.

Again when the crop-eared horse has been produced and the man who sees that it is in his field has then taken it, the one who did the cutting comes and says that as the cutter he has a greater claim and should therefore take it himself. To let him lawfully take it would be the end of social life, and also contrary to scripture.

So the conclusion is, that a whole is one, and not different from the parts which cause it, being their effect.

(Opponent) It is different, because the words and ideas and qualities applicable to the cause are different from those applied to the effect.

(Answer) That is not convincing; we see cases where the thing is the same in spite of differences in words and ideas and qualities. Hasta, kara and pāṇi are different words for the same thing, namely a hand; fatherhood and sonhood are different ideas which may be about the same person; bound and freed, fixed and gone away are differences as to time; power to burn and power to cook are differences of quality. Differences such as direction and location, moreover, are inconclusive (for establishing otherness). So the commentator has said: with an existence of its own.

And it is inferred from its visible results such as the capacity for carrying and holding water in the case of a jar. Something whose effect is a manifest result must certainly exist.

From different points of view it is spoken of either in terms of its common cause or else in terms of its powers. It is itself fully perceptible, but it is inferred that it has been an unmanifest, now made manifest as an effect called (for instance) a jar, by the operation of agencies such as the potter and his staff and his cord, and which existed formerly in the state of the clay, and is now manifested in accordance with the causes, the staff and other agencies.

It appears, and disappears when another quality arises. This, with such qualities, is called a whole. It is one, large or minute, tangible, with the quality of action, and not permanent. The life of the world is carried on in terms of such wholes.

It appears, and disappears when another quality (dharma) arises. This, with such qualities, is called a whole. Now as atoms are imperceptible, in relation to them appearance and disappearance are meaningless. But these two do occur. So what comes to appear, and disappears when incompatible with a different quality which arises, and what for its manifestation requires manifesting agencies, that is called a whole. Such a whole is different from atoms.

There are also these factors which make the nature of a whole: it is one, large or minute, tangible, with the quality of action, and not permanent. These are factors separate from one another.

In the expression ‘one jar’, what is expressed by the word jar refers to the same thing as the oneness. There is the common reference: what this is, is one. But in the case of many atoms, there is nothing which can refer also to oneness.

As to large or minute there is nothing associated with the tiny atom which can refer equally to the quality of being large. So also with relative smallness, for the atoms are not small in comparison with other atoms, inasmuch as they are all atomic. They are called minute not in relation to other atoms, but from their being minute in comparison with other things.

And then, that whose quality is action, which is the reading of the compound kriyā-dharmaka. A whole is said to have fruitful function and activity, whereas there is no such fruitful functioning and activity in the case of atoms, for they are not utilizable by beings like us. A whole is impermanent whereas atoms are not taken to be so. Further it is visible whereas atoms are not seen, and it is tangible, for it can be left alone or acquired or held and so on. The life of the world is carried on in terms of such wholes but not in terms of atoms.

If one says that the particular aggregate is not real, and that no subtle cause is perceived for it, so that there is no whole apart from a mental construct and it is all false knowledge and not grounded in reality, then for him almost everything would turn out to be false knowledge.

If someone (like a Buddhist) says that the whole is not real – although its existence is so well demonstrated by proofs – and that no subtle causes like atoms are perceived, for him almost everything would turn out to be false knowledge (mithyā-jñāna), that is to say all knowledge of objects would be false.

For such a Buddhist everything is knowledge, appearing in the form of sound and other sense perceptions, in the form of happiness and other inner perceptions, and in the form of the knowledge of both of them. Sounds and so on are imagined wholes producing the knowledge-forms, but not accepted as real. Happiness and other feelings also, being objective, come into the same category of imagined wholes. The very knowledge of them, whose essence is to produce (unreal) knowledge-forms, is therefore illusory also; so everything turns out to be illusory knowledge.

Even direct perception and inference will turn out to be only appearances (ābhāsa), since their objects are illusions such as sound.

And even the knowledge of the Buddhist’s Omniscient One, that all is passing, painful, void, and without a self, and so on, will end up as false knowledge, since there is no object for it. Thus the free-thinking (sva-tantra) Buddhist (tīrthakara) has no credibility, and it has to be accepted that he and his doctrine would not exist (on his view), because they are no different from sound and other objects of knowledge.

Then what would be right knowledge, when there are no objects for it? Whatever is perceived is in fact taken as being a whole; the whole exists, accepted in life as large or small and so on, and becoming the object of nir-vitarka identification.

The corollary is this: what would be right knowledge, when there are no objects for it? In any case (on the Buddhist view) knowledge would be simply providing a form by itself. What itself provides the form cannot be accepted (as right knowledge of anything), so knowledge would all be of itself alone, and no more than illusion.

Then what would be the right knowledge, against which other knowledge is adjudged illusory? If one denies the existence of wholes, established though they are by all right knowledge and all proofs, no object for right knowledge can be produced, and if it cannot, then how can all knowledge be adjudged false? Illusory knowledge is only such when compared with some right knowledge; right knowledge and illusory knowledge presuppose each other.

(Opponent) Let us say that right knowledge is knowledge without an object.

(Answer) Since it could not know its own nature, its existence could not be established. If known, it would be an object, and therefore (on your view) an illusion like all wholes; it being illusion, the knowledge of it would be illusion too, and the knowledge of that fact too would be illusion. Everything would be illusion, as before.

Again, allowing that right knowledge is knowledge without an object, now since the existence of objects is not accepted (by the Buddhist), all knowledge will be without an object, and so would have to be right knowledge. In which case, all knowledge being right knowledge, it must be said what illusory knowledge would be.

(Opponent) Illusory knowledge is what appears as if it had an object, whereas right knowledge is what is absolutely without any object.

(Answer) There too it can only be said that there is no proof of its existence. So it has to be accepted inescapably that the objects of right knowledge are wholes: the whole exists, accepted in life as large or small and so on, and becoming the object of nir-vitarka identification.


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