Om Namo Bhagawate Ramakrishnaya
Antarayah & Sahabhuvah
The great Paatanjali Maharshi is the grand-father of the (Yoga) Psychology, in his contribution to the society he gave Yoga-Sastra in the form of Sutras. The goal of Yoga Sastra is to make the person /practitioner “to abide in one’s own real nature (स्वरुपेऽवस्थानम् svarupe'vasthānam)”. If not the person remains in identified with the thought waves of the mind. (वृत्तिसारूप्यमितरत्र॥ vṛttisārūpyamitaratra||1.4). Patanjali Maharshi complets his sutras in first four itself, then gives the commentry on previous sutras.
To abide in one’s own real nature, one has to restrain the vrittis of the mind (योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः॥ yogaścittavṛttinirodhaḥ||1.2). To restrain the vrittis Patanjali gives two techniques those are “Their (vrittis) restrain is attained through repeated practice and dispassion” (अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः॥ abhyāsavairāgyābhyāṁ tannirodhaḥ ||1.12) and/or “through devotion to Ishwara” (ईश्वरप्रणिधानाद्वा॥ īśvarapraṇidhānādvā ||1.23).
“The word which expresses Ishwara is pranava” [तस्य (ईश्वरस्य) वाचकः प्रणवः॥tasya( īśvarasya) vācakaḥ praṇavaḥ ||1.27], this Pranava must be repeated with meditation upon its meaning [तत् (प्रणवः) जपस्तदर्थभावनम्॥ tat (praṇavaḥ) japastadarthabhāvanam || 1.28], hence comes the realization of the inner Self and the removal of obstacles (takes place)”(ततः प्रत्यकचेतनाधिगमोऽप्यन्तरायाभावश्च॥ tataḥ pratyakacetanādhigamo'pyantarāyābhāvaśca||1.29). In this process Maharshi Patanjali explains the distractions of the mind, these are the obstacles in the yoga sadhana.
The word antarāya is derived from the root ‘aya’, which means “to go”, with the prefix antar, “between”; so antaráyá means to “get in between”, i.e. “obstacle”. In simple Antarāya means, that which comes in between the process of joining the individual self with the Supreme self.
There are nine distractions of the mind, these are the obstacles in the yoga sadhana explained in sutra 1.30 i.e., व्याधि - स्त्यान - संशय - प्रमाद - आलस्य - अविरति - भ्रान्तिदर्शन - अलब्धभूमिकत्व - अनवस्थितत्वानि चित्तविक्षेपास्तेऽन्तरायाः॥ (1.30) vyādhi - styāna - saṁśaya - pramāda - ālasya - avirati - bhrāntidarśana - alabdhabhūmikatva - anavasthitatvāni cittavikṣepāste'ntarāyāḥ ||(1.30).
1). व्याधि vyādhi = physical disease;
Ayurveda or the science of health and longevity, categorises vyaadhi or roga (disease) into four groups: Aagantuka (coming from external sources or accidents); Saariira (arising in the body due to disturbance of the balance of the three humours viz., kapha, vaata and pitta); Maanasa (of the mind, due to jealousy, anger, lust and so on); and svaabhaavika (natural due to hunger, thirst, oldage, sleep etc.). These diseases may be caused by faulty living as also by the karma of the previous lives.
2). स्त्यान styāna = mental laziness, langour;
It is a mental laziness and has to be overcome by great will power and self-effort.
3). संशय saṁśaya = doubt, indecision;
Samsaya or doubt is created when two kinds of knowledge, oppsed to each other, arise in the mind. It has to be overcome by faith in the scripture and the teacher. The Bhagavadgiita (4.40) declares that a doubting person loses this world and the next and ultimately destroys himself.
4). प्रमाद pramāda = carelessness, lack of enthusiasm, misplaced priorities;
In general, the word means heedlessness or carelessness and a blunder that arises out of it. Once the mind is allowed to slip from the path of yoga due to pramaada, it can result in a total fall (vide Vivekacuudaamani 324). The famous sage Sanatsujaata compares pramaada to mrtyu or death since it ultimately leads to samsaara or transmigratory exixtence (vide Sanatsujatiya 1.4).
5). आलस्य ālasya = laziness, sloth;
Aalasya or laziness is the worst enemy of person. When even material well-being is blocked by it, how can the lazy one hope for spiritual progress? That is why Patanjali, the great teacher of Yoga, has listed it as an antaraaya or obstacle in the path of Yoga. Since it is caused by an excess of tamas (dark element among the gunas), it is to be overcome by rajas (activity) and sattva (dynamic goodness).
Susruta, the great teacher of Aayurveda, considers aalasya as a condition which inclines a person more towards pleasure and less towards work, though capalbe (vide Susruta Samhita Sarirasthana, 4.51).
6). अविरति avirati = worldly-mindedness, stubborn attachment to sense objects;
Avirati or absence of the spirit of renunciation. Yoga is ‘citta-vritti-nirodha’ or controling the modifications of the mind. These modifications continue to rise as long as their couses like kaama or desire for the pleasures of the senses exist. Kaama has to be controlled by ‘virati’ or dispassion or an intense spirit of renunciation. If this virati is absent, then, that state is called ‘avirati’ which is a serious obstacle to yoga.
7). भ्रान्तिदर्शन bhrāntidarśana = false perception, mistaken notion, delusion / illusion;
It is a serious obstacle and requires greater effort as also more tactful handling to prevent it or eliminate it.
As the intellectual level, false perception can manifest itself as misunderstnding the teachings of the guru and the scriptures. This can be due to dullness or perversion of the intellect or even self-conceit. Discussions with the guru in all humility can help in solving it.
False perception is possible at the psychic level also. Wrong methods of practice can lead to hallucinations. They can be remedied by consulting spiritually advanced people.
True experience gives joy and peace whereas the false one may not have any impact or may even cause unhappiness, fear, restlessness and tension.
8). अलब्धभूमिकत्व alabdhabhūmikatva = non-attainment of firm ground, non-achievement of a state;
In spite of the fact that the aspirant is correctly practising the various steps and disciplines of yoga, he/she fails to attain any of the yogabhuumis or plances of psychic and spiritual experience mentioned in the text books of yoga. This is called ‘alabdhabhuumikatva’. This is primarily due to the evil samskaaras or impressions carried over from past lives, which drain all the energy generated by yogic practices even as rat-holes in a field drain the water with which it is irrigated. With the help of the guru and by deep introspection he can discover his weaknesses and try to eliminate them by proper practices.
9). अनवस्थितत्व anavasthitatva = instability, non-maintarnance of a firm ground;
Anavasthitatva is the last in the list and also the most formidable one to overcome. With assiduous practice, a yogi can succeed in raising his mind to certain higher states but very soon it slides back to lower ones or reverts into inordinate lust and love of lucre or mercurial irritability or crass selfishness are often responsible for this fall. By dispassionate and deep introspection, consultation with the guru and prayer to Ishwara, one can discover the root-cause and eliminate it.
This (1.30) sutra is mainly concerned with psychological problems. The next Sutra mentions the external manifestations of these problems hence they are called companions of the distractions.” They are
दुःख - दौर्मनस्य - अङ्गमेजयत्व - श्वासप्रश्वासाः विक्षेपसहभुवः॥(1.31)
duḥkha - daurmanasya - aṅgamejayatva - śvāsapraśvāsāḥ vikṣepasahabhuvaḥ ||(1.31)
दुःख duḥkha = Grief, sorrow; दौर्मनस्य daurmanasya = despair, अङ्गमेजयत्व aṅgamejayatva = trembling of the body, श्वास śvāsa & प्रश्वास praśvāsa = irregular breathing (are the) विक्षेपसहभुवः vikṣepasahabhuvaḥ = companions of these distractions.
When sorrow, disappointment and despair are not sublimated by discrimination and will-power, they cause tremendous restlessness in the mind. This affects the nerous system, getting reflected in physical restlessness. The aspirant is thus unable to sit steadily on the seat and frequently changes his position. Persisting in the practice of yoga, repetition of pranava / OM and an attitude of surrender to Ishwara will gradually lessen this disturbance. The irregular breathing can be overcome by the practice of pranayama.