Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.15

drsta anushravita visaya vitrshnasya vasikara samjna vairagyam
दृष्टानुश्रविकविषयवितृष्णस्य वशीकारसंज्णा वैराग्यम्

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.15

drsta = seen
anushravita = heard
visaya = objects
vitrshnasya = who has control over desires
vasikara = mastery
samjna = consciousness
vairagyam = aligning with what is

I feel that this isn’t just about asceticism and renouncing things we want, and could also be something we naturally grow into or already are without realising it. Similar to the unconditional love that a parent has for a child that is just giving, doesn’t need anything in return and just flows out without any effort.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.14

Over time continued earnest practice becomes firmly grounded

sa tu dirgha kala nairantarya satkara sevito drdha bhumih
स तु दीर्घकाल नैरन्तर्य सत्कारा असेवितो दृढभूमिः

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.14

sa = this
tu = and
dirgha = long
kala = time
nairantarya = continuous
satkara = earnestness
asevito = well attended to
drdha = firm
bhumih = ground

I drew the tree roots to represent firm grounded-ness and the people are doing a balance pose, to represent continued earnest practice.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.13

Practice is efforts to settle your thoughts

tatra sthitau yatnobhyasa
तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोऽभ्यासः

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.13

tatra = there
sthitau = situate, settle
yatna = effort
abhyasa = practice, repetition

This is much easier said than done!
As well as yoga and exercise, I find drawing seems to help..
What helps you settle your thoughts?

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.11

Memories are things we’ve experienced that are not completely gone

anubhuta visaya asampramosah smrtih
अनुभूतविषयासंप्रमोषः स्मृतिः

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.11

smrtih = memories

anubhuta = experienced
visaya = objects of sense perception
asampramosah = not fully lost

I drew the photo to represent memory triggered by a place where it was taken, even though the person in it isn’t around.

Even when we aren’t with someone because they’ve died or because they just aren’t around, I feel that we aren’t completely separated.

At the very least we’re connected to them through memory.

John Donne points to it in his poem “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”: –

Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.10

Deep sleep is the non existent impression rooted in still thoughts

abhava pratyaya alambana tamo vrttir nidra
अभावप्रत्ययाअलम्बना तमोवृत्तिर्निद्र

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.10

nidra = sleep

abhava = non-existent
pratyaya = impression
alambana = based (on)
tamo (tamas) = void, inertia, darkness
vrttir = thought

I love sleeping people – they look so calm and at peace.
The translations I read described this as being about deep, dreamless sleep.
It’s interesting that it gets included as a “thought”. I find sleep fascinating – it’s almost as mysterious as infinity and thinking about the edge of the cosmos.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.9

Imagination is knowledge arising before it becomes a reality
(like a sandbox for creation 😊)

sabda jnana anupati vastu sunyo vikalpah
शब्दज्ञानानुपाती वस्तुशून्यो विकल्पः

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.9

vikalpah = imagination

sabda = word, sound
jnana = knowledge
anupati = arises
sunyo = without any
vastu = reality

Vikapla seems to be interpreted quite a lot as delusion, manifesting in ways such as the results of misinformation, propaganda and unconscious bias.

But I thought I’d celebrate the wonderfulness of imagination so I drew a sandbox to represent it, thinking how lucky we are to be able to imagine things and the unlimited freedom we have in what we can create there.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.8

Misconception is mistaken perception of the true form

viparyayo mithya jnanam a tad rupa pratistham
विपर्ययो मिथ्याज्ञानमतद्रूप प्रतिष्ठम्

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.8

viparyayo = misconception
mithya = (is) mistaken
jnanam = knowledge
a tad rupa = not that form
pratistham = (of the true) form

I often mistake things for other things and it’s so weird when you actually see what you think is there until you realise what it really is. In this one he is freaked out when he thinks the rope is a snake, but then he finds out that it‘s just a rope and can bring him joy in the form of a swing 💖

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.7

Direct perception, inference and learning are the sources of knowledge

pratyaksanumanagamah pramanani
प्रत्यक्षानुमानाअगमाः प्रमाणानि

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.7

pratyaksa = perception
anumana = inference
agamah = received knowledge
pramanani = are the sources of knowledge

For sensory sources of direct perception, the scenery is for sight, the bird song is for hearing, the flowers for smell, the apple for taste and the feeling of being connected to the ground for touch.

The book represents received knowledge and she is looking up thinking, to represent inference.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.6

They are knowledge, misconception, imagination, sleep and memory

pramana viparyaya vikalpa nidra smrtayah
प्रमाण विपर्यय विकल्प निद्रा स्मृतयः

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.6

pramana = knowledge
viparyaya = misconception
vikalpa = imagination
nidra = sleep
smrtayah = memory

This one is naming the 5 kind of thoughts mentioned in the previous sutra. The following sutras will go into more detail about what each one is.

If you want to get out of compelling thoughts, throughout the day (or during meditation) you can notice which one your thoughts fall into.

Today I noticed I was thinking about making a retreat centre in the country side and thinking about where it should be and imagining all these little huts with different colour umbrella shaped roofs like those paper umbrellas that you get in cocktails and actually open and shut (I really love them!).

So this one is mainly imagination but the umbrella part is memory and maybe about longing for a time in childhood when I was so happy playing with those umbrellas.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.5

There are 5 kinds of thought waves, some bring suffering and some don’t

vrttayah pancatayyah klistaklistah
वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टाक्लिष्टाः

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.5

vrttayah = whirlpools, waves (thoughts)
pancatayyah = 5 kinds
klistaklistah = suffering and not suffering

Think this one is placing thoughts into 5 states (they will be named in the following sutras) and saying that some of them bring suffering and some of them don’t.

I tried to draw thoughts as a metaphor with how the sea is at different times, sometimes completely calm, sometimes gentle waves, sometimes big waves, sometimes violent and stormy and sometimes a tsunami.

It doesn’t really matter what state the sea is in and won’t affect you too much if you are a bird flying above it or a fish deep down. In the same way if you observe your thoughts or meditate you can stop being reactive, get out of negative thinking and not get carried away by obsessive thoughts.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.4

Otherwise you will be carried by waves

vrtti sarupyam itaratra
वृत्ति सारूप्यमितरत्र

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.4

vrtti = whirlpool, waves
sa = similar
rupyam = form
itaratra = otherwise

When I showed this to my son, he said “That looks like something in Zelda, when you come down from heaven and there is a monster in the middle!”. I thought what he said was apt as this sutra is often interpreted in this way – that being lost or carried away in your thoughts is equivalent to suffering.

Though I like to think that this state is just as valid as enlightenment in the previous sutra, and being like this is OK too 🙂

I tried to draw the way thoughts draw us in like a whirlpool and how they are hard to let go of, like swimming upstream.

Also, if you can move your perspective to look at them from the outside, they aren’t so compelling.

Yoga Sutra Illustration 1.3

Then you will settle into yourself

tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam
तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम्

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.3

tada = then (at the time of meditation)
drashtuh = the self
svarupe = own form
avasthanam = settling, resting

Intellectually I’m not really sure what this one means, which is why the picture is a bit undefined and abstract! Though deep down I’m sure we all know what it means because it points to truth…

I drew a reflection in a lake because this sutra seems to be describing a state of enlightenment and seeing things as they really are and I’ve often heard this state described as a metaphor of a perfectly clear reflection, with our ‘usual’ state of everyday being more like a rippled water surface. Where our thoughts and emotions are the waves on the water surface and vary with intensity and magnitude. Still, lakes are beautiful whatever the weather ❤️