In this series, Yogic terminologies will be taken up and their –
- Etymological analysis,
- Lexical descriptions and
- Textual occurrences in Yogic literature and their commentaries, as available, will be presented. And finally observations will be made on the references.
Three texts – Yogasūtra, Haṭha-yoga-pradīpikā and Bhagavad-gītā are consulted for textual occurrences portion.
Śabda-yoga is intended to help students, teachers, and professionals of Yoga to develop a sound grammatical, contextual, and thereby an authentic and immersive understanding of Yoga terminologies.
List of Words
We will take up important Yogic terms from Sūtra s 1.17 – 20 The terms that will be analyzed in this Unit are –
ली + अच् – लयः
lī + ac – layaḥ
- The root is लीङ्श्लेषणे – līṅśleṣaṇe – to adhere, to absorb, to dissolve, to unite
- The suffix is अच् ac – which is added to indicate the sense भाव bhava – the act. This is based on the grammatical rule एरच्erac (aṣṭādhyāyī 3.56)
The derivate statement based on the above etymology would then be – लीयतेइतिलयः – līyateitilayaḥ – the act of getting absorbed.
No entry in the Lexicon
bhavaprayayovidehaprakṛtilayānām .. 1.19 ..
This Sūtra describes the state of AsaṃprajñātaSamādhi of those who consider the Prakṛti – the primordial material cause of the universe. They merge into such Prakṛti and stay in that subtle state of Prakṛti till the effect of that Samādhi remains and return back to the worldly state again. This kind of AsaṃprajñātaSamādhi is not recommended by the traditional teachers. The ultimate entity to be attained is Puruṣa or consciousness and that is to be meditated upon.
The word Laya as such does not exist in this text. The word laya with a prefix ‘pra’ is found on six occasions in this text. Generally Pralaya refers to dissolution of the manifest world. As could be seen from the references the references fall under two divisions. References from the 14th chapter (3 references) and references from other chapters (4 references). The references are discussed under these two heads.
References from chapter 14:
idaṃjñānamupāśritya mama sādharmyamāgatāḥ .
sarge’pinopajāyantepralayenavyathanti ca .. 14.2 ..
tadottamavidāṃlokānamalānpratipadyate .. 14.14 ..
tathāpralīnastamasimūḍhayoniṣujāyate .. 14.15 ..
The three references with Pralaya respectively state that a) people endowed with the knowledge of the three Guṇas – are not born during the creating and the during pralaya (dissolution of the manifest world) they are afflicted. b & c) In this reference and the next – the outcome of passing away/death (pralaya) when the three Guṇas Sattva, Rajas and Tamas – are predominant in a person. On passing way when Sattva is dominant a person attains great pure, good higher realms in the subsequent birth. On passing way when Rajas is dominant – a person is born among those who are attached to restless actions. On passing way when Tamas is dominant – a person is born into those species that are bereft of clarity.
References from other Chapters
ahaṃkṛtsnasyajagataḥprabhavaḥpralayastathā .. 7.6 ..
prabhavaḥpralayaḥsthānaṃnidhānaṃbījamavyayam .. 9.18 ..
cintāmaparimeyāṃ ca pralayāntāmupāśritāḥ .
kāmopabhogaparamāetāvaditiniścitāḥ .. 16.11 ..
In verse 7.3 the lord states that I am the cause of manifestation and dissolution (Pralaya) for the entire creation. Verse 9.18 also echoes the same view as the previous reference Verse 16.11 describes people endowed with āsuric/demonic nature. Among other descriptions – they are stated as those being endowed with worry that ends with their demise/death (pralaya) – indicating that they are always worrying (about one thing or the other). (śrīmat-śāṅkarabhāṣyam for this verse reads –
There are 16 references to the word Laya in this text. One each from the first and third chapters and the rest 14 from the fourth chapter. This clearly helps us understand that Laya yoga is discussed predominantly in the 4th chapter. The references from the first and third chapters are discussed under one head and the rest of the references from the 4th chapter is discussed under the second subheading.
References from chapters one and three:
nakhecarīsamāmudrānanādasadṛśolayaḥ .. 1.43 ..
tatonajāyatemṛtyuḥjarārogādikaṃtathā .. 3.75 ..
Verse 1.43 glorifies that no other practice of Laya (complete absorption of the mind in the object of focus) is greater than the method of Nādānusandhāna.
Verse 3.75 – states that – by the practice of three Bandhas the Prāṇa/breath gets absorbed into the SuṣumnāNāḍī and becomes steady there. Laya of Prāṇa refers to stillness of Prāṇa that has entered into the Brahmarandhara (SuṣumnāNāḍī). The Jyotsnā commentary in that regard is as follow –
प्राणोलयंस्थैर्यंप्रयाति ।गत्यभावपूर्वकंब्रह्मरन्ध्रेस्थितिःप्राणस्यलयः –
prāṇolayaṃsthairyaṃprayāti . gatyabhāvapūrvakaṃbrahmarandhresthitiḥprāṇasyalayaḥ.
References from Chapter 4:
As there are numerous references (14) the gist of the references are given herewith. The full verses are not given for fear of elongation of the article.
- In verse 4.3 Laya is presented as a synonym for Samādhi.
- In verse 4.15 – it is stated that Moksha is attained only by the person who takes both his breath and mind to the state of Laya (absorption and stillness).
- Verse 4.29 glorifies Nāda as the best among the methods to attain the state of Laya.
- Verse 4.30 and 4.78 state that the bliss that is attained by the Laya of breath and the mind is ultimate and it can be equated to the state of liberation.
- Verse 4.31 hails the state of Laya of a Yogin where his breath and mind have become absolutely still. Verse 4.32 also continues glorifying the still state of Laya which is beyond verbal descriptions.
- Verse 4.33 describes the state of Laya attained through the ŚāmbhavīMudrā.
- Verse 4.34 defines Laya as the state of forgetting of the objects of the senses due to non-arousal of Vāsanas.
- Verse 4.38 states that though the method of practice of śāmbhavī and khecarīmudrā may not be the same, the bliss attained by reaching the state of Laya is one and the same through both the practies.
- Verse 4.62 states that Laya of the mind is attained by transcending the need to connect with the objects of the senses.
- Verse 4.66 states that from among a lakh and quarter types of practices of Laya stated by śrīĀdinatha – Nādānusandhāna is the best. Verse 4.80 also celebrates that greatness and also the easiness of the practice of the Nādānusandhāna.
- Verse 4.100 clarifies that Nādānusandhāna gradually leads to the ultimate state of Yoga – i.e to the highest abode of Lord Viṣṇu.
- Verse 4.103 clarifies that all the practices of Haṭha and Laya that have been describes in the text thus far have the goal of reaching the state of Rājayoga (complete citta-vṛtti-nirodha – total cessation of the activities of the mind).
Tabulation of Textual References 10.4
The following aspects of Laya can be noted from the three Yoga texts surveyed.
1) Yogasūtra uses the term Laya just for once to present the total absorption of the mind in the Prakṛti attained by reaching the state of AsaṃprajñātaSamādhi – meditating upon Prakṛti as the ultimate entity.
2) Bhagavadgītā does not use the word Laya as such. The usage Pralaya is found. Even in the text – Pralaya is seen in two meanings
- the dissolution of the manifest universe
- the death of a person
The role of Paramātman, Prakṛti and Guṇas in the attainment of the Pralayas of these two types are discussed in detail in the references found in this text.
3) In the Haṭhayogapradīpikā the term Laya is used in an entirely technical sense. In this text – it points to the stillness of the mind and the breath. The definition of Laya is found in this text. Laya is presented as the next step to Haṭha in the text. The practices of Śāmbhavīmudrā, khecharimudrā and most importantly Nādānusandhāna are presented to reach the state of Laya. It has also been clarified that Laya itself is a means to reach the state of complete Citta-vṛtti-nirodha.
Thus this śabdayoga analysis brings out the various interesting shades of intra-text, inter-text meanings of the word Laya, which will not be otherwise evident.
Unit 10 To be Continued…
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