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Read full post: Yoga: Path to Stillness & Samadhi

Yoga: Path to Stillness & Samadhi

This blog explores the sutra "yogaḥ citta vṛtti nirodhaḥ," defining yoga as the cessation of mental fluctuations to achieve samadhi. It emphasizes quieting the mind to reveal the true Self and experience bliss.



Yoga: Path to Stillness and Samadhi 

This essay aims to explore the meaning of yoga by delving into the essence of the sūtra: yogaḥ citta vṛtti nirodhaḥ (YS 1.2). By examining the key terms within this sutra- yoga, citta, vṛtti, and nirodha, we will gain a deeper understanding of the foundational concepts that reveal the profound significance of yoga as a practice. This exploration will highlight the essential goal of yoga: to still the fluctuations of the mind to experience the bliss of samādhi.

This sūtra gives us the definition of yoga. It explains the meaning of yoga and translates as follows: Yoga is the cessation of mental sensations.

Meaning of Yoga:

Yoga is the integration of the body and mind with the supreme consciousness. According to Mahaṛṣi Vyāsa, Yoga is samādhi.

yoga: samādhiḥ saḥ ca sārvabhaumaḥ cittasya dharmaḥ[1].

bhūmi means ground, state, situation.

sārvabhaumaḥ means, in all states.

He elaborates that samādhi is an inherent aspect present in all states of the mind. Vyāsa associates the term yoga with samādhi. The word yoga originates from the Sanskrit root word yujir, signifying "to join." The concept of yoga's connection with contemplation, focus, absorption, or a state of union is derived from the term "yujir samādhau."

Building upon the above mentioned sūtra, yoga is defined as the cessation of fluctuations or modifications of the mind. It is attained when the mental and emotional oscillations come to a halt. Another term used to elucidate yoga is "yuj saṁyamāne," suggesting that yoga involves self-control or the practice of restraint. Yoga entails the control of mental and emotional fluctuations, which, through consistent practice (abhyāsa), can naturally lead to the cessation of vibrations, resulting in the experience of samādhi. Vyāsa explains that there are five states of mind: kṣiptaṃ, mūḍhaṃ, vikṣiptam, ekāgraṃ, niruddham.

In the kśiptam state of mind, individuals are characterized by high levels of disturbance, and restlessness and are predominantly influenced by the rajas guṇa. In mūḍham, individuals are distracted because they are primarily under the influence of tamas guna. They lack energy and motivation and exhibit critical and resentful tendencies. The majority of us fall into the category of vikśiptam state of mind, experiencing disturbances to a moderate extent due to the interplay of rajas and tamas guṇas. In contrast, those in an ekāgra state of mind are focused, have clarity and are primarily influenced by the sattvic guṇa. Ekāgram or a focused state of mind is absorbed in one object. In the niruddham state, individuals possess a mind that is completely still, free from any mental sensations or distractions.

Among these, the vikśiptam state of mind is deemed ineligible for samādhi because in this state mental afflictions overpower the potential for samadhi rendering the mind unsuitable to experience the true goal of yoga and the fundamental, inherent state of the mind. In states of ekāgra and niruddham, mental activities and resultant vibrations come to a halt. Sabīja samadhi occurs when the mind is wholly engrossed in a single object, a state achieved through complete focus or ekāgra. Nirbīja samādhi on the other hand, is characterized by total tranquility, with the mind devoid of any content except for an intense awareness of the self. This profound experience arises when the mind reaches the niruddham state.

Only in such serene conditions does one truly grasp the mind's intrinsic nature, experiencing the profound bliss known as saccidānanada. Individuals recognize their true essence and integrate with the supreme consciousness, characterized by eternal bliss. Hence, it is accurate to assert that yoga entails quieting the mind's fluctuations, as it is in this state of samādhi, the innate nature of beings, that ānanda or bliss is revealed which is the ultimate aim and purpose of yoga. The endeavor is to gather and unify the scattered mind, aligning it with the path towards integration and self-realization.

Meaning of citta:

The term citta refers to the mind in yoga philosophy, adopting the epistemology of Sāṃkhya where both citta and manas denote the same thing. In Vedānta, citta is viewed as the repository of memories and impressions, while manas processes information and facilitates deliberation. However, in Sāṃkhya and Yoga, the mind, encompassing both citta and manas serves as the storage facility for all experiences and also carries out processing functions as a unified entity. Citta forms a component of the internal organ, or antaḥkaraṇa in Vedāntic Sāṃkhya, which also includes "buddhi" responsible for decision-making and "ahaṃkāra" generating the sense of 'I-ness'. Together, citta, buddhi, and ahaṃkāra constitute the internal sense organ known as antaḥkaraṇa.

It's essential to recognize that the mind doesn't solely process external information. It also engages in making resolutions (saṅkalpa) and exploring various options (vikalpa). This perpetual seeking and desiring different things explains why the mind is rarely content with just one thing for an extended period.

Meaning of Vṛtti:

Vṛttis involve the fluctuations or sensations arising from the diverse array of thoughts and emotions triggered by the activity of the citta, or the mind. The state of the mind is influenced by the three guṇas – sattva, rajas, and tamas which give rise to various vṛttis or vibrations. While it may initially seem that addressing vṛttis involves solely quieting negative thoughts and emotions, yoga aims for the complete cessation of all mental activity and modifications, encompassing both pleasant and unpleasant perceptions.

Perceptions prompt a whirlwind of mental activities, ranging from distressing or bothersome to non-painful or even pleasing. Vṛttis represent the patterns of the mind associated with its cognitive processes in understanding and processing information. The ultimate aim of yoga is to gain mastery over all types of mental fluctuations, regardless of their nature, thereby achieving control over the mind's incessant movements.

Meaning of Nirodhaḥ

The term ‘nirodhaḥ’ has a few connotations such as control, the absence or cessation of mental fluctuations. It refers to the process that begins with the effort to manage or regulate the modifications of the mind or ‘citta vṛttis’ and culminates in the complete cessation of the mental activities.


As per the teachings of Sage Patanjali, the objective of yoga is to eliminate the vṛ̣ttis, to pacify the restless nature of the mind or to quiet the incessant chatter of the monkey mind. The ultimate aim is to reach the pure substratum of consciousness to become aware of the true nature or essence of the Self or Brahman, which is bliss. This true and inherent nature of the Self is revealed to us only when the disturbances in consciousness cease, that is when the citta vrttis cease (nirodhaḥ) thus paving the way for a serene, tranquil state of mind. In the vikśiptam state, although the mind has heightened awareness and is able to discern, it continues to be impacted by vṛttis and continues to be influenced by rajas guṇa. In the ekāgra and niruddham states, the citta vṛttis have completely ceased, the mind of a person is no longer affected or impacted by his guṇas, the person experiences freedom despite the presence of the guṇas. It is in these states that the goal of yoga, samādhi, can be realized.  

[1] Kuldip Dhiman, The Yogasutram of Patanjali, 6.

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