Before I start with my interpretation of sutras (aphorisms) in yoga sutras (originally in Sanskrit), let me point to the meaning of self or “I” that we associate with ourselves.
WHAT IS SELF? OR WHO ARE WE?
We are not our bodies, we are not the mind, neither the intelligence associated with it. We are the one that controls the intellect, working behind mind. Now, the question arises that if we are the one that is controlling our mind then why can’t we perceive or understand that controller? We can’t perceive it because of our engagement with the universe that we have created around us. Chapter one of the Yoga Sutras begins with subtle concepts of Chitta (mind-stuff or an aspect of mind) and Vrittis (mind’s manifestations).
So, let’s start. I start with my expression of gratitude to the great sage Patanjali whose observations passed down through ages are still helping many who are trying to understand the real nature of this world.
Sutra 1. Atha Yogaanushasanam
Translation: Here are the rules for Yoga
Sutra 2: Yogashchittavrittinirodhah
Translation: Yoga restrains the aspects of the mind from indulging in manifestations.
Explanation: Yoga (with the literal meaning “union”) is a tool for controlling one’s mind-stuff or Chitta (Sanskrit). Before we move forward, let’s discuss two Sanskrit words “Chitta” and “Vritti” from the above aphorism.
Chitta is the aspect of the mind that helps in manifesting everything that we perceive in this material world. First, we use our sense organs which send signals to the brain, where it is received by the mind and interpreted by the intellect. The intellect then transfers the interpretation to the true self or soul or the governor of intellect which then manifests or creates the universe that we see or perceive around us. Vritti is all the things we call our world, the illusion that has been created by our own selves with help of Chitta or mind-stuff.
So, the purpose of yoga is to restrain our mind-stuff (Chitta) from engaging in manifestations (Vrittis) so that in the absence of those manifestations we can see, perceive or realize our true self, the ultimate being who’s running all the shows or movies that we are watching and calling them our world/life.