Philosophical Basis of Yoga, in the light of caturvyuha, has been dealt comprehensively with the purpose of perceiving its utility in understanding the life phenomenon not only in tackling the psycho-physiological problems of man but also to change the entire outlook of mankind for healthy life and living.

Key words: Heya, heyahetu, hana, hanopaya, duhkha, drasta, drsya, avidya,


One of the deep impulses of human mind is craving to know. We wish to understand the world around us, its source, its meaning and its probable future. In Indian thought the term Philosophy stands for Darshana i.e. ‘vision’ as a mean for self realization through self purification which claims to end the threefold suffering of mankind forever. While minutely observing the life phenomenon, ancient Rishis & Munis have concluded that so long we do not pay any serious attention towards our day-to-day activities, as well as, the activities of the Mother Nature, we go on performing all our actions mechanically in the form of reflexes in life and therefore, life seems to be full of pain and miseries. However, they have also observed that if we add our awareness to our activities-

  • We can understand the life and phenomenon associated with it.
  • We can overcome all kinds of pain and suffering .
  • We can achieve Total Integration that can lead us to

In order to understand life phenomenon our Rishis & Munis have given us a first step known as Prayer. Significance of which is accepted in all religions.

Why do we recite prayers?

Today we shall try to find out the Philosophical basis of Yoga by understanding the purpose of reciting prayers and also try to understand why we repeat Om Shanti –________________________________________________________________

* Principal, G.S.College of Yoga and Cultural Synthesis, Kaivalyadhama S.M.Y.M. Samiti, Lonavla: 410 403.

Shanti – Shanti three times at the end of the prayer? Regarding prayer it is accepted fact that if we recite it with full awareness and with an attitude of upasana- It keeps our mind

calm and composed by reducing our all kinds of tensions and this, in turn, helps us in
understanding the activities of the Mother Nature which works by the directions of the

divine forces and thus the Universe is said to be the personification of natural forces. By reciting these prayers we learn to live in harmony with Mother Nature and thereby nature provides us Conducive atmosphere to achieve our goals in life and this is what the purpose of reciting prayers is. Therefore, it is absolutely essential on our part that we should understand the import of the prayer and should try to establish contact with divine forces while offering prayers.

Why do we recite the term Shanti thrice?

Repeating Shanti 3 times preceded by Om is also significant wherein the Om is a symbol expressive of Divine Reality, transcending the three states of consciousness viz. waking, dream and deep sleep. By repeating three times the word Shanti we wish to remain free from threefold pain or suffering (Duhkhatraya). Before we discuss the threefold pain let us understand the true import of the term Duhkha- In our day-to-day life; when the things are not happening according to our will & wish; it gives us pain and we call it duhkhaPratikoolavedaniyam Duhkham”. When the things are happening according to our will & wish it gives us pleasure and we call it Sukha “Anukoolavedaniyam Sukham”. As we perform our activities mechanically in life we use to identify ourselves with all that which actually we are not. In fact, the objective world in itself is not painful or pleasurable however, we impose our thought on the objects and thereby the objective world becomes painful or pleasurable for us.

Discussion on threefold Suffering (Duhkhatraya)

There are innumerable kinds of duhkha as one object that gives me pain may give pleasure to someone else. However, our sages have classified all kinds of pain under three heads-

  1. Adhyatmika Duhkha (Intra-organic caused by oneself due to ignorance).
  1. Adhibhautika Duhkha (Extra – organic caused by fellow beings or other creatures)
  1. Adhidaivika Duhkha ( Supernatural caused by natural calamities)
  1. Adhyatmika duhkha

 Physical Pain-

 According to the ancient medical science due to ignorance “prajna-aparadha” there is imbalance in tridoshas i.e ‘Vaata – Pitta – Kapha’ and that gives us pain however, the balance in tridoshas can be regained with the help of certain medicine but there is no guarantee that this imbalance will not be repeated again and therefore, medicine is not a permanent solution for overcoming the physical pain.

 Mental pain-

 Whenever there is a gap between our expectations and achievements it gives us mental pain e.g. what we want we may not get it, whatever we get we may not possess it, whatever we possess we may not enjoy it, whatever we enjoy we may not get permanent satisfaction. In this sense we can say that we cannot escape permanently from mental pain with the help of man made means.

 Adhi-bhautika duhkha

“Bhutebhyo jayate-iti bhautikam” Pain which comes from fellow Beings (other creatures) is called bhautika such as Snake bites/ Dog bites or pain from human being. Again we temporarily overcome such pain with the help of man made means but there is no guarantee that this will not be repeated again and hence no permanent solution.

  1. Adhi-daivika duhkha

Pain which comes from Natural calamities – like earth-quake, Tsunami etc. there is no permanent solution for such suffering.Now the question arises- Is there any permanent solution to overcome threefold pain or suffering? Our sages & savants they say “YES” There is a permanent solution to overcome the threefold suffering wherein one has to understand “Who am I?” With a view to actualize “Who am I?” our sages have applied a fourfold strategy called

Chaturvyuha with the help of which one can realize one’s true nature and can over come threefold suffering permanently.

Fourfold Strategy (Chaturvyuha)

Chaturvyuha of Ancient Medical Science

Roga (Disease)

Roga ka karana (Cause of disease)

Arogya (Health)

Bhaishjya (Treatment)

Chaturvyuha of Indian Philosophy with special ref. to Maharishi Patanjali

Heya (suffering)

Heyahetu (cause of dukha)

Hana (freedom from duhkha wherein feeling of well being prevails)

Hanopaya (means to achieve Hana State)


Heya generally means that which is to be avoided. In this world no one wants duhkha (pain) therefore duhkha falls under this category. Patanjali has thrown light on the nature of duhkha in sutra “heyam duhkhamanagatam”(PYS II.16). The terms “duhkha” and “anagata” (not yet come i.e. future suffering) are note-worthy.

A man harassed by threefold suffering thinks his aim is to get rid of these through worldly means but the ‘happiness’ achieved through these means itself becomes the cause of his future suffering. Patanjali has presented very wisely the causes of the same so as to prove that the worldly things of happiness, in the final analysis, are painful

‘parinamatapasamskaraduhkhaih guna-vrtti-virodha’ etc. (P.Y.S. II/16). It is natural to have attachment towards that object through which happiness is experienced. This attachment may be towards living beings (wife, son etc.) or inanimate objects (house etc.) and to maintain these he struggles and at times becomes inhuman to safeguard his possessions. He remains always under stress `lest I may not loose them’. In this pursuit, man even forgets the real nature of worldly objects which are working like a ceaselessly revolving wheel because of ‘gunavrttivirodha’ i.e. mutual changing mode of the Gunas-sattva, rajas and tamas. However, man wants to maintain his possessions and tries to remove all obstructions by adopting any means ’foul or fair’. In doing so either he obliges or harasses others. By obliging or harassing others the karmasayas in the form of

dharma (prescribed duty) or adharma (proscribed duty) is accumulated and that becomes the cause of attachment and hatred again which, in turn, gives rise to future suffering.Therefore, Patanjali has considered these worldly pleasures in the category of heya. According to him sufferings related to the past and present do not fall under the category of heya as it is always appropriate to think antipathically only about those which can be avoided. Because it is useless to think about those suffering which are experienced in the past and that which are being experienced in the present as the samskaras which are accumulated in karmasaya are necessarily to be experienced in the form of pleasure or pain. However, if the karmasaya, in the form of dharma and adharma (right and wrong), which are likely to become the cause of pleasure or pain in future, is destroyed then only it is possible to remain free from misery in future. In this way, Patanjali has clearly brought out the avoidable type of misery by combining the term anagata with duhkha.


As fever cannot be overcome unless we know its cause similarly the duhkha cannot be avoided permanently unless one knows the hayahetu (i.e. the cause of duhkha)? In Indian philosophy avidya, aviveka or mithyajnana etc. (indiscrimination or erroneous understanding) is said to be the main cause of all these miseries. Philosophers have tried to understand these namely avidya etc. in their own ways, as Buddha has tried to understand the cause of misery on the basis of “Pratityasamutpada”. However, Patanjali (PYS II/17) has considered an association of drasta and drsya (Seer and Seen) as the cause of miseries. Drasta is the name of cetanasakti which is also known as purusa, citisakti etc. The term drsya (seen) stands for all the manifested animate and inanimate objects of the material phenomenon (prakrti) when purusa considers itself to be related to or involved with this drsya, then only the purusa is called drasta.Therefore, the apparent union in the two different elements is the main cause of heya i.e.duhkha. Let us review the terms drasta, drsya and samyoga (union) so that the cause of heya (duhkha) can be clarified.

Here the term drasta, appearing first in the sutra should have been discussed first but Patanjali has discussed the term drsya first may be because of the fact that unless one understands the concept of drsya the real significance of the term drasta can not be clearly understood. According to the sutra (PYS II/18) the drsya (seen) is that which is of the nature of illumination, activity and stability, which consists of living and non-living objects of this material phenomenon (prakrti) and it has a purpose of providing experience and liberation to the drasta. In this world the drasta (seer) seems to be united with these objects. In technical language this is called the union of purusa and prakrti, but Patanjali has made it clear by using the term (union of) drasta (Seer) and drsya (Seen) i.e. the manifested world. The union of the purusa with un-manifested prakrti cannot produce any fruition activity. Therefore, the meaning of drsya should be understood as manifested objects of the prakrti (Nature) from mahabhutas (gross elements) to mahat only. The terms illumination, activity and stability appearing in the sutra are the attributes of sattva, rajas and tamas gunas respectively. Though these three gunas are alien to each other yet they are interdependent. Sattvaguna gets itself illuminated with the help of rajoguna and due to the presence of tamoguna it illuminates only the definite object. It does not illuminate all the objects in the universe simultaneously. Similarly rajoguna gets activated due to sattvaguna and due to the influence of tamoguna its activity is restricted. In this way these gunas are producing various worldly things right from mahat to mahabhutas (gross elements). As the man and woman are producers of progeny, similarly these gunas are producers of animate and inanimate worldly objects. These three gunas only serve the purpose of purusa in the form of collecting experience and finally liberation for it. As the magnet serves its owner by attracting a piece of iron similarly these three gunas serve their owner, drasta (seer), by presenting to it the worldly objects. These are called gunas because they are the means of bhoga (experience) and apavarga (liberation) of drasta (seer). When the purusa considers itself to be indistinct from it, then it gets pain or pleasure. That is called bhoga (experience) of the drasta. When it remains in its own natural form, different from the drsya (seen), that state is called liberation.

In this universe basically three fundamental actions – illumination, activity and stability are seen. The equilibrium of these three gunas is known as alinga or the mula-prakrti. It has no cause of its origin therefore, it is considered eternal. All its activities (modalities) are expressed in the form of objects for accomplishing the purpose of purusa. The state of apparent union is incidental; therefore, it is temporary (anitya). Based on this manifested state of gunas these stages are named as parva (PYS II/19), which can be understood with the help of the following table:

alinga = mulaprakrti

Purusa (Consciousness) lingamatra = viz. mahat or buddhi
asmitamatra — avisesa —-  pancatanmatra
(Nonspecific)     (Subtle elements)
Karanas aikadasa indriya visesa —- sthulabhuta = visaya
Eleven (motor-sensory) (Specific) (Gross elements)

Consciousness + Karanas + Visaya = Individual

With the help of these four parvas (distinct sections or stages of developments) the whole drsya (seen) i.e. manifested world can be understood. However, Patanjali has described the world in reverse order i.e. visesa is mentioned first and alinga at the last. This may be due to the fact that the individual first comes in contact with the gross elements. The journey from gross to subtle is always easy. The seer remains entangled with the seen world and therefore considered it as happy or unhappy.

While discussing the nature of drasta (seer) (PYS II/20) Patanjali calls it drsimatra (mere potentiality of seeing) and suddha (pure). At the same time, he considers it to be seer as it witnesses the modification of citta. According to Vyasa the meaning of drsimatra is one who is without any attributes (Vyasabhasya II/20).

According to Vacaspati Misra the meaning of attribute (guna) is dharma (fundamental properties) (Tattva Vaisaradi (Ta.Vai.) II/20). According to Vijnanabhiksu (Y.V. II/20) all the qualities fall under the three gunassattva, rajas and tamas”. Hence, drsimatratva is that which is without any of the gunas. He considers drsi as drasta’s original nature and not its guna. He has supported the statement with the following verse:

jnanam nevatmanodharmo na guna va kathancana| jnanasvarupa evatma nityah sarvagatah sivah||(Y.V. II/20)

“Knowledge is not a quality of atman nor is it a property by any means, the atman is of nature of knowledge – eternal, omnipresent called siva”.

Here the objection is: if the purusa (drasta) is of the nature of knowledge then how it can be a basis of knowledge? Patanjali has answered this by the use of the term “suddhopi” (i.e. though pure) and pratyayanupasyah (he witnesses the content of the citta

( i.e.the modifications of the citta). He says that though it is pure as it is not the basis of knowledge by nature, yet due to its reflection in intellect gives impressions of it being the basis of knowledge, which is a quality of intellect. Hence as the purusa is imitating buddhivrtti (modification of buddhi) it is called “pratyayanupasyah”. The word “suddhopi” in the sutra suggests the two forms of purusa, the natural i.e. without attributes and with attributes. Becoming a witness of the modifications of citta is its form with attributes. To remain free from the modifications of citta is its natural form. As far as the seer (drasta) remains attached with the world it sees according to modifications of citta and considers pain and pleasure – which are the qualities of the intellect – as its own. This very union of seer and seen is really the cause of human suffering. Hence it is necessary to think on this union.

The general meaning of the word “samyoga” is – “samyujyate tadarthyena bodhyate aneneti samyoga” i.e. linking of two different things. Seer (drasta) and seen (drsya) both are two different entities but due to ahambhava ( I consciousness) are seen as united, because some part of self or ego (aham) is experienced in the form of seer

(drasta) and some is experienced in the form of seen (drsya). This ego-consciousness and the enlargement of it are the factors, which do not allow an individual to experience his own natural form. Patanjali has thrown light on the nature of “samyoga” in sutra

sva- swami saktyoh svarupopalabdhi-hetah samyogah” (II/25). Here the term “sva” represents drsya and term “swami” represents cetana or drasta. The gaining of sva-sakti i.e. the form of drsya by the drasta (seer) is experience (bhoga) and gaining of swami-sakti i.e one’s own original natural form is liberation. This union is the cause of gaining experience and liberation. This state of sva (drsya) and swami (drasta) is called svaswamibhava sambandha (relationship between drsya and drasta) or relation between experienced and experiencer. How the purusa attains this state? Patanjali has said, “tasyaheturavidya” (PYS II/24) the avidya is the cause of this state. From this it is understood that the union of drasta and drsya is with cause. Therefore, whatever is with cause that is definitely destroyable? The meaning of avidya is “the experience or understanding self as non-self etc. (II/15). There are two types of negatives in the word avidya – “prasajyapratisedha” and “paryudasa”. Among these the meaning of the first term “prasajyapratisedha” is the spurning even prior to occurrence or gain of a thing. In this respect the meaning of avidya would be absence of vidya. But this meaning is not suitable because the absence of object can never become the cause of karmasaya (accumulation of karma). Klesa in the form of avidya is the cause of karmasaya . Patanjali says “klesamulah karmasayo drastadrsta-janma-vedaniyah, (PYS II/12). The meaning of paryudasa is discrimination. At some places this discrimination is also taken as opposite viz. the meaning of adharma is opposite of dharma that which destroys dharma. In the context of paryudasa the meaning of avidya will be opposite of vidya.

Avidya is also called adarsana. The absence of this avidya or adarsana results in the absence of bondage. Vyasa and other commentators have presented eight options of “adarsana” wherein the fourth option seems acceptable to the theory of Patanjali. According to which “adarsana”, is the total collection of subliminal impressions, that remains absorbed in the prakrti along with citta at the time of pralayakala (dissolution of creation). The above-mentioned subliminal impressions of avidya or “adarsana” are the cause of “samyoga (union) of buddhi with purusa. On the basis of this the variations in experiences of each individual purusa can easily be understood.

In this way subliminal impressions arise out of avidya proves to be the cause of that “samyoga”. Now the question arises, what is the cause of this avidya? In reply to this question, Patanjali has accepted avidya as anadi (i.e. beginningless) “tasamanaditvam casiso nityatvat” (PYS IV/10). If it is so then the samyoga arising out of avidya should also be considered as beginning less, which can’t be removed. But Patanjali has solved this problem through sutra “hetuphalasryalambanaih samgrhitatvadesamabhave tad abhavah” (PYS IV/11). He means that the impressions are beginningless but they are not endless because the cause of impressions is the existence of klesas like avidya, raga (attachment), dvesa (aversion) etc. and also the black (evil) and white (good) karmas. Their results are birth, life and experiences. Citta is the reservoir of those impressions.

The objects of sense organs such as sabda (sound) etc. are their alambana

(support). Those beginningless impressions are based on these above mentioned cause, result and reservoir. Therefore, they are beginningless in the sense of continuous flow. They are manifested due to these four causes. In absence of those causes they may also disappear and hence destroyable. Here abhava does not mean atyantabhava (total absence), but dissolution of resultant in its cause (PYS IV/12).


On arising of real knowledge or vivekjnana (knowledge of discrimination) avidya, disappears and thereby the connection between drasta and drsya (Seer and Seen)is disrupted. Citta gets dissolved in its cause i.e. alinga and purusa gets established in its own form. This is what is known as Kaivalya.

Patanjali has indicated the hanavyuha by the sutratadabhavat samyogabhavo hanam tad-drseh kaivalyam (PYS II/25). He means that due to vidya (the real knowledge), there is disappearance of subliminal impressions of avidya and consequently there is disappearance of union of drasta and drsya, which is the cause of human suffering. In this stage the gunas – sattva etc. have no purpose to serve- get dissolved in their cause and citisakti gets established in its own original form as there remains no connection in any way between drasta and drsya (Seer and Seen). Therefore, this stage is called Kaivalya (PYS IV/34).


In discussing hanavyuha, the nature of hana has been discussed. How this state is achieved? What are its means? In order to answer these questions, there is propounding of the fourth part of the caturvyuha in the form of hanopaya. Patanjali has shown “aviplava vivekakhyati” i.e. uninterrupted discriminating knowledge as practical remedy for destroying avidya through sutra – “vivekakhyatir aviplava hanopayah” (PYS II/26). According to him for abolishing avidya the uninterrupted discriminating knowledge of drasta and drsya is the most excellent remedy. The meaning of term “viveka” appearing in vivekakhyati is the discriminating knowledge of citta and purusa. Although knowledge of drasta and drsya being of different nature is also gained through agama, anumana and pramana but therein the external disturbing experiences and impressions, arising out of it, are not destroyed. There is a possibility that they may arise again. Therefore, vivekakhyati obtained through yogic methods is the only remedy for hana. What will be the nature of prajna of the sadhaka who has obtained this aviplava vivekakhyati. Patanjali says “tasya saptadha pranta bhumih prajna (PYS II/27). According to him, the best knowledge among all is that knowledge which expands and flourishes in a pure ekagracitta, wherein sattva guna predominates. When this knowledge is about to bear fruit (result) at that time seven types of prajna arise. These prajnas are the ladder to the completeness of that vivekajnana and are defined as pranta bhumayah. Vacaspati Misra analysed the word prantabhumih as “prakrsto’nto yasam bhuminamavasthanam tastathoktah”, (T.Vai. II.27). He means that the knowledge is one but the seven types of prajna are based on types of objects, “visaya bhedat prajna bhedah” i.e. due to the difference in object there is difference in knowledge e.g. knowledge of vision is different than that of touch and therefore the difference. Maharshi Vyasa (Vya.Bha.II/27) has divided these seven types of prajna into two groups

– “karyavimukti” (liberation from action) and “cittavimukti” (liberation from citta).

Karyavimukti are those prajnas, which are obtained through effort and cittavimuktis are those which are attained automatically without any efforts after attaining karyavimukti prajna. (For detail please see Vyasa bhasya II/27)

In Patanjala Yoga Sutra we find various means to attain the said vivekakhyati, such as abhyas (practice), vairagya (detachment) (PYS I/12), kriyayoga (yoga of action – PYS II/1) and astanga yoga (PYS II/29) etc. Due to the mention of various means in this way it seems that there might be the idea of the difference of eligibility and adaptability of Sadhakas although Patanjali himself has not mentioned this fact clearly anywhere in his text.

The commentator Vyasa (Vyasa bhasya II/1), Vacaspati Misra (Ta.Vai II/1) and other commentators have classified the said means on the basis of categories of sadhakas. Abhyasa and Vairagya are the means for the sadhakas having samahita(integrated) citta ; whereas those having vyutthita (dispersed) citta (though desirous of taking up the path of yoga) kriyayoga and astangayoga can be recommended. Yoga Vartikakara  Vijnanabhiksu has considered three types of sadhakas. They are best, medium and slow, which are named as “yogarudha” (adept of Yoga), yogayunjana (interested in Yoga) and yogaruruksu (desirous of Yoga) (Yogasarasamgrah, p.37). According to him for the best category of sadhakas who have mastered bahirangyoga (external yoga) i.e, yama, niyama, asana, pranayama and pratyahara in their previous lives, means such as abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (detachment) are mentioned. In support of his statement he has cited the example of Sisupala (Y.V. II/1) who attained liberation just through abhyasa of smarana (memory) Similarly for the medium category of sahdakas, whose citta has become ekagra (concentrated) to some extent due to the practice of previous birth, the practice of kriyayoga is mentioned. In kriyayoga ‘tapa, swadhyaya and isvarapranidhana’ are mentioned.

Tapas i.e. austerity which encompasses- wholesome food, wholesome activities etc. are desirable to exhaust the body and senses but only to that extent so that there is no

disharmony in dhatus (body components), because due to disharmony in dhatus the body may become incapable for the practice of yoga.

Swadhyaya – Study of Holy Scripture and recitation of mantras e.g. recitation of OM will ultimately lead one to analyze one’s own life and it helps to take away the citta from the various temptations of worldly pleasures and too divert the flow of one’s citta towards other side.

Isvarapranidhana i.e. Surrender to God in the form of detachment towards the fruits of one’s actions leading towards minimizing one’s karttabhava (feeling of doer) which is the root cause of all sufferings.

For slow category (house-holders etc.) of sadhakas, the easy and well known path of astanga yoga is prescribed wherein Vacaspati states that all means mentioned by Patanjali in the form of abhyasa & vairagya, kriyayoga etc.are very well incorporated in astangayoga (Ta.Vai. II./29). While explaining this fact Vijnanabhiksu writes that vairagya is included in santosha and sraddha etc. are in tapas etc. and citta parikarmas

(purifying activities of citta) are under dharana, dhyana and samadhi and kriyayoga is included in niyamas under astangayoga (YV. II/24). According to them Patanjali himself accepts astanga yoga as sure mean to destroy asuddhi in the form of avidya and for attaining vivekakhyati yoganganusthanadasuddhiksaya jnana diptiravivekakhyateh P.Y.S. II/28 ) i.e. through the practice of eight-fold Yoga as there is diminution of impurities (i.e. negative thoughts, feelings emotions, attitude etc.) there arises an enlightenment culminating into vivekakhyati ( i.e discriminative insight ) which contributes towards the cultivation of positive view towards life phenomenon. The sadhaka practicing that vivekakhyati incessantly does not even desire the supernatural powers acquired as a result of attaining that vivekakhyati. On the contrary he considers them as harmful and remains unattached to them. Then and then only there is constant flow of viveka wherein the distinction between citta and purusa is maintained. The incessantness of that jnana is “aviplava vivekakhyati”, which roots out the avidya may be present even in subtle form like the burnt seeds. At last through the dissolution of the citta – the reservoir of samskaras & vasanas etc. – the liberation is attained.


From the above discussion it becomes clear that the purpose of reciting prayer contains the seed of philosophical basis of Indian thought and the analysis of which can help us in understanding and elaborating the philosophical basis of Indian philosophy in general and yoga in particular. “Who am I” can be actualized with the help of fourfold strategy popularly known as caturvyuha which is also known as Four Noble Truths of Buddha. If we apply this strategy in our day to day activities we can understand the life phenomenon and this very understanding, in turn, will help us to overcome our psycho-physiological problems and also helps us live a meaningful life.


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