The Yoga Sūtra says so much about the mind……

“The Yoga Sūtra says so much about the mind,
but little about the self.
What can be shared can be expressed,
what cannot be shared cannot be expressed.”
– TKV Desikachar

Religiousness in Yoga: Study Guide Compilation Chapters One to Eighteen

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

Religiousness in Yoga

TKV Desikachar

Lectures on Theory and Practice

Chapter by Chapter Study Guide Compilation

‘Religiousness in Yoga: Lectures on Theory and Practice’, by the University Press of America, is a transcript of recordings of a one month Yoga Programme in Colgate University in 1976, published in 1980.

Unlike the later redacted edition, re-published in 1995 as the ‘Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice’, it captures the evolution of the retreat with the days lectures and Q & A dialogues as they alternated between ‘lectures on the principles and purposes of Yoga and discussions related to the practice of Yoga with special reference to the postures and the breathing techniques’.

TKV Desikachar, in his forward to the original version wrote:
“These lectures and discussions, printed words put before persons I might never meet,
are but reflections of that deeper result that grew out of a living face-to-face encounter.
Coming to learn of Yoga only through reading leaves much to be desired.
Yet, something worthwhile about Yoga might be shared through the medium of the printed word.”

Over the past five years a study guide to Religiousness in Yoga has been posted in a chapter by chapter progression. Each chapter was supported with added textual verse and word cross-references. The chapter posts were preceded with illustrative quotes reflecting the content of that particular lecture or discussion. All were offered to support a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.

All in all it has been a longish project, nevertheless one within which it has been for me, as if listening to him speaking. He had such a knack of saying something that could go ‘straight to press’. Though here my thanks also goes to the editors, especially the late Mary Louise Skelton and their efforts and priorities in preserving the essence of Desikachar’s style. This direct transmission, nurtured from within the ancient succession of oral teachers, is seemingly a dying flame within the embers of India’s old school traditions.

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Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Eighteen Theory

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

‘Religiousness in Yoga: Lectures on Theory and Practice’ by the University Press of America,
a transcript of recordings of a one month Yoga Programme in Colgate University in 1976, published in 1980.

Unlike the later redacted edition, re-published in 1995 as the ‘Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice’, it captures the evolution of the retreat with the days lectures and Q & A dialogues as they alternated between ‘lectures on the principles and purposes of Yoga and discussions related to the practice of Yoga with special reference to the postures and the breathing techniques’.

TKV Desikachar, in his forward to the original version wrote:
“These lectures and discussions, printed words put before persons I might never meet,
are but reflections of that deeper result that grew out of a living face-to-face encounter.
Coming to learn of Yoga only through reading leaves much to be desired.
Yet, something worthwhile about Yoga might be shared through the medium of the printed word.”

A chapter by chapter Study guide is offered below with added verse and word cross-references where possible to support a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.

Chapter 18 Theory: The Way the Mind Functions and the Concept of Nirodha Pages 251-254

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Who does not seek a situation where he is able to understand things clearly……

“Who does not seek a situation where he is able to
understand things clearly, discover new things,
and remove or clear away wrong perceptions?
If there is one thing that can be said about
what happens in the state of Nirodha it is this:
one sees and one knows.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘The Way the Mind Functions and the Concept of Nirodha’
Chapter Eighteen Page 254

In meditation, one must make the transition from the gross……

“In meditation,
one must make the transition
from the gross, that which has form
and which can be seen by the mind,
to the subtle, the formless.”
TKV Desikachar Madras December 19th 1988

What we try to do in Yoga is simply to create conditions so that the mind……

“What we try to do in Yoga is simply to create conditions so
that the mind becomes a most useful instrument for action.
And this can only be done gradually.
Any “short-cut method” is an illusion.
This gradual procedure may involve a number of intelligent means,
all of which come within the realm of Yoga Sādhana.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘The Way the Mind Functions and the Concept of Nirodha’
Chapter Eighteen Page 253

It should not be inferred that all of  these faculties of the mind……

“It should not be inferred that all of
these faculties of the mind, such as
observations, inference, memory, imagination,
inactivity, hyperactivity, are detrimental.
They are necessary to life, but left to itself
the mind develops its own way of movement and we
end up unable to take full advantage of these faculties.
That is why the Yoga Sūtra says that all activities
of the mind could be favourable or unfavourable.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘The Way the Mind Functions and the Concept of Nirodha’
Chapter Eighteen Page 253

The word Nirodha also means “restraint”……

“The word Nirodha also means “restraint”.
It is not by restraining the mind that it will move and
become involved in a particular direction of choice.
It is the other way round; that is,
so strongly and intensely the mind has moved toward
one area and has become absorbed in one area
that there is no “infiltration”.
Therefore Nirodha meaning “restraint”,
is just an effect of Nirodha meaning “complete absorption”.
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘The Way the Mind Functions and the Concept of Nirodha’
Chapter Eighteen Page 252

The fourth way the mind functions is called Ekāgratā……

“The fourth way the mind functions is called Ekāgratā.
Here clarity has come about
and we have direction and are able to proceed.
What we want to do is much clearer
and distractions hardly matter.
This is also called Dhāraṇā which was explained earlier.
Yoga is actually the beginning of Ekāgratā.
Yoga suggest means to create conditions that gradually
move the Kṣipta level of mind towards Ekāgratā.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘The Way the Mind Functions and the Concept of Nirodha’
Chapter Eighteen Page 251

Another way the mind functions is called Vikṣipta……

“Another way the mind functions is called Vikṣipta.
We act but we have doubts;
distractions come about,
there are obstacles.
The set direction does not look right
and we don’t know what to do about it.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘The Way the Mind Functions and the Concept of Nirodha’
Chapter Eighteen Page 251

A slightly better condition than Kṣipta is what is called Mūḍha……

“A slightly better condition than Kṣipta
is what is called Mūḍha.
Here the mind is like a dull, sleepy, heavy buffalo.
There is hardly any inclination to act, to respond, or to observe.
This could be a temporary situation or a more regular affair.
There are many reasons for this–”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘The Way the Mind Functions and the Concept of Nirodha’
Chapter Eighteen Page 251

The mind functions at five levels……

“The mind functions at five levels.
Mostly it functions in such a way that we hardly notice it.
So much happens, so many ideas, perceptions
come and go that very often we lose track.
It is like a monkey that is drunk and somebody is poking it.
It is distraught and cannot comprehend anything.
In Yoga this level of functioning is called Kṣipta.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘The Way the Mind Functions and the Concept of Nirodha’
Chapter Eighteen Page 251

People often ask me if I teach Āsana……

“People often ask me if I teach Āsana.
When I say “Yes, I do.” they say,
“Oh you are a Haṭha Yogi.”
If I talk about the Yoga Sūtra
they say, “You are a Rāja Yogi.”
If I say I am chanting the Veda,
they say, “You are a Mantra Yogi.”
If I say I just practice Yoga,
they can’t understand.
They want to put a label on me.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 247-248

In Samādhi there is an understanding……

samadhi

“In Samādhi there is an understanding.
Something not based on your memories,
something that transcends your memories.
Prajña comes only in Samādhi.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 20

It is not enough to realise that there is somewhere to go……

sraddha

“It is not enough to realise that there is somewhere to go,
you must also be really interested in taking the step.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 20

Śraddhā will give life to all the means……

Śraddhā will give life to all
the means that are in the Yoga Sūtra.”
– TKV Desikachar on Śraddhā in the Yoga Sūtra

Different people explain the cause of disease differently……

“Different people explain the cause of disease differently.
In the Yoga Sūtra disease is Vikṣepā, a mind which is unstable.
Mind loses its presence of mind before an object.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

The more you try to know Īśvara the more you come to know your self.

“The more you try to know Īśvara,
the more you come to know your self.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 29

When the mind is not very clear……

citta

“When the mind is not very clear,
you only get the message from the mind.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 4

When the mind is very clear……

drastr

“When the mind is very clear,
you get the message from deep inside.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 3

Abhyāsa means constant effort and attention in order to continue in one direction……

Abhyāsa means constant effort and attention
in order to continue in one direction.
We must never break this process because we
never really know in advance how things might change”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘A Session for Questions’
Chapter Sixteen Page 223