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ŚABDA-YOGA : The Language Of Yoga Demystified – Part 6.2


Introduction

In this series, Yogic terminologies will be taken up and their –

  • (a) Etymological analysis,
  • (b) Lexical descriptions and
  • (c) 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.

 Analysis of Yogic Term

प्रतिष्ठा– pratiṣṭhā

Etymology

प्रति+ष्ठा +अङ्+टाप् = प्रतिष्ठा

prati+ṣṭhā +aṅ+ṭāp = pratiṣṭhā

The prefix is प्रतिprati. It is used in this context to indicate the sense स्थान – to stay (avyaya kosha)[1]

The root is ष्ठाṣṭhā which means गतिनिवृत्तिgatinivṛtti – cessation of movement

The suffix is अङ्aṅ which is used to indicate the meaning the act – भाव. This suffix is added as per the grammatical rule “आतश्चोपसर्गेātaścopasarge  (aṣṭādhyāyī  3.3.106).

The suffix ṭāp is added to indicate the feminine gender of this term as per the rule

Based on the above details, derivative statement of the word is – प्रतिष्ठीयतेइतिप्रतिष्ठाpratiṣṭhīyateitipratiṣṭhā- the act of being established.

Lexicon –No Amarakośa entry for this word is found.

Textual References

Yogasūtras

There are five references to the word pratiṣṭhā in this text. It is to be noted that four references are from the second Pāda and the just one from the fourth chapter. The first four references from the second chapter can be considered as one unit.

  1. अहिंसाप्रतिष्ठायांतत्सन्निधावैरत्यागः॥२.३५॥                                                                          सत्यप्रतिष्ठायांक्रियाफलाश्रयत्वम्॥२.३६॥                                                                              अस्तेयप्रतिष्ठायांसर्वरत्नोपस्थानम्॥२.३७॥                                                                              ब्रह्मचर्यप्रतिष्ठायांवीर्यलाभः॥२.३८॥                                                                                        ahiṃsāpratiṣṭhāyāṃtatsannidhāvairatyāgaḥ .. 2.35      ..satyapratiṣṭhāyāṃkriyāphalāśrayatvam .. 2.36  ..asteyapratiṣṭhāyāṃsarvaratnopasthānam .. 2.37  ..brahmacaryapratiṣṭhāyāṃvīryalābhaḥ .. 2.38 ..

It can be noted from the above references that the word pratiṣṭhā is used along with four of the five components of Yama (restrain) with the exclusion of Aparigraha. Pratiṣṭhā  in this context has been explained  in aptly explained by Vivaraṇa commentary as – स्थैर्यम्अवितर्कप्रादुर्भावः- sthairyamavitarkaprādurbhāvaḥ – stability (indicated by) the non-rising of opposing thoughts (to Yamas) such as violence, falsehood, coveting other’s possession etc. It is to be noted that though for the fifth yamaAparigraha the word pratiṣṭhā is not used, its synonym sthairya has been used. Hence there is no significant shift in meaning there also.

  1. पुरुषार्थशून्यानांगुणानांप्रतिप्रसवःकैवल्यंस्वरूपप्रतिष्ठावाचितिशक्तिरिति॥४.३४॥puruṣārthaśūnyānāṃguṇānāṃpratiprasavaḥkaivalyaṃsvarūpapratiṣṭhāvācitiśaktiriti .. 4.34 ..

svarūpapratiṣṭhā – being established in one’s own form – is the expression found here. This very last Sūtra of the text describes the state of Kaivalya (the ultimate state reached by the consciousness) – where the consciousness is established in its own form – being not deflected or distorted by the activities of the mind as the mind itself gets dissolved (pratiprasava).

 Bhagavadgītā

There are three references to the word pratiṣṭhā in chapters 6,14 & 15 in this text. They are as follows –

  1. शुचौदेशेप्रतिष्ठाप्यस्थिरमासनमात्मनः।                                                                                    नात्युच्छ्रितंनातिनीचंचैलाजिनकुशोत्तरम्॥६.११॥                                                                    śucaudeśepratiṣṭhāpyasthiramāsanamātmanaḥ.                                                      nātyucchritaṃnātinīcaṃcailājinakuśottaram .. 6.11 ..

pratiṣṭhāpya – after having established – is the expression found here. Though the word pratiṣṭhā itself is not found, this is very closely associated expression. This expression occurs in the context of Dhyāna Yoga. It has been stated here that –  “After establishing” a seat in a clean and stable place (for meditation)… etc.

  1. ब्रह्मणोहिप्रतिष्ठाहममृतस्याव्ययस्यच।                                                                                      शाश्वतस्यचधर्मस्यसुखस्यैकान्तिकस्यच॥१४.२७॥                                                                  brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāhamamṛtasyāvyayasyaca .                                                    śāśvatasya ca dharmasyasukhasyaikāntikasya ca .. 14.27 ..

The expression pratiṣṭhā as such is found in this context. It has been stated here that “I am the pratiṣṭhā of the Brahman”. Two fold interpretation has been accorded to the word pratiṣṭhā used by śrīśaṅkarabhagavatpāda

  • (i) ब्रह्मणःपरमात्मनः…प्रतितिष्ठतिअस्मिन्इतिप्रतिष्ठाअहंप्रत्यगात्माbrahmaṇaḥparamātmanaḥ…pratitiṣṭhatiasminitipratiṣṭhāahaṃpratyagātmā – That in which the Brahman is established is pratiṣṭhā. It is further clarified – ययाचईश्वरशक्त्याभक्तानुग्रहादिप्रयोजनायब्रह्मप्रतिष्ठतेप्रवर्तते, साशक्तिःyayā ca īśvaraśaktyābhaktānugrahādiprayojanāya brahma pratiṣṭhatepravartate, sāśaktiḥ – The governing nature/potential/power by which the (eternal, unchanging) Brahman operates for blessing its devotees etc.
  • (ii) There is an alternative interpretation provided by śrīśaṅkarabhagavatpāda – अथवा, ब्रह्मशब्दवाच्यत्वात्सविकल्पकंब्रह्म।तस्यब्रह्मणोनिर्विकल्पकःअहमेवनान्यःप्रतिष्ठाआश्रयःathavā, brahmaśabdavācyatvātsavikalpakaṃ brahma . tasyabrahmaṇonirvikalpakaḥahamevanānyaḥpratiṣṭhāāśrayaḥ – Brahman here refers to the Brahman with a vikalpa (with imagined distinctions) – the Lord Almighty. For such Brahman I (the pure consciousness) am the substratum – pratiṣṭhā

Thus it can be seen here that pratiṣṭhā has been interpreted to mean – the power/potential and also the substratum – in this context.

  1. नरूपमस्येहतथोपलभ्यतेनान्तोनचादिर्नचसम्प्रतिष्ठा।                                                  अश्वत्थमेनंसुविरूढमूलमसङ्गशस्त्रेणदृढेनछित्त्वा॥१५. ३॥narūpamasyehatathopalabhyatenāntonacādirna ca sampratiṣṭhā aśvatthamenaṃsuvirūḍhamūlamasaṅgaśastreṇadṛḍhenachittvā .. 15. 3..

sampratiṣṭhā is the expression found here. The context and meaning as per the commentary of śrīśaṅkarabhagavatpāda is as follows –

सम्प्रतिष्ठास्थितिःमध्यम् – sampratiṣṭhāsthitiḥmadhyam – sampratiṣṭhā refers to sthiti – stability, the middle portion.

The unstable tree i.e. the manifest world is described in this verse. Here it has been stated that neither the beginning, the end or the middle (sampratiṣṭhā) is perceived (clearly). Indeed the middle portion or the trunk is the one that gives stability to a tree. Hence sthiti and middle portion is connected in this context of tree.

Haṭhayogapradīpikā – No entry in this text.

Observations

It is very interesting to observe from the above references that there are three distinct meanings given to the word Pratiṣṭhā depending upon the context –

  • sthairya – steadiness, establishment
  • pravartana – commencing action
  • āśraya – substratum

These meanings emerge only on close scrutiny. This indicates the care and context-consciousness and that is required understand and interpret the term.

Unit 6 To be Continued…

Śabda yoga 6.1

[1]https://archive.org/details/avyaya-kosa-srivatsankacharya/page/264/mode/2up?view=theater. It is to be noted that this suffix attains the connotation because of its association with the root word  ṣṭhā which means cessation of  movement.

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