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Indebtedness of Yogaśāstra to Purāṇas

1. Introduction & focus of the paper 

Purāṇas are encyclopedic in nature. They have contributed to many fields. Yoga is one such field that is indebted to Purāṇas. This becomes evident when we study traditional Saṃskṛta commentaries to Yogasūtras. The purpose of the paper is to present the indebtedness of the Yogasūtra commentary literature to the Purāṇic lore. Though Sage Vyāsa’s commentary (4th CE), the oldest available to the Yogasūtras,  quotes Purāṇas in just one occasion (Sūtra 1.28) – still there are indirect references to Purāṇic anecdotes as that of Agastya drinking the ocean and Śukrācārya decimating the whole Daṇḍakāraṇya (Sūtra 4.10). In contrast to the limited references in the primary commentary, the sub commentaries to Sage Vyāsa’s commentary like the one’s by Vacaspatimiśra, Vijñānabhikṣu and many other independent commentaries have utilized Purāṇic quotations profusely to elucidate yogic principles and practices.

For the purpose of this paper, as a representation from about two dozen traditional Saṃskṛta commentaries, two respected Sub-commentaries (to Sage Vyāsa’s commentary) Tattvavaiśāradī of Vacaspatimiśra (9-10th Century CE) and Yogavārttika of Vijñānabhikṣu (15th CenturyCE)  are analyzed. The two commentaries were searched for the occurrence of the term Purāṇa in them. Though there may be references from Purāṇas without using the term Purāṇa, as in kaurmavākyācca – yogavārttika 2.19 – where quotes from  Kūrma Purāṇa is given by using the expression kaurmavākya – still as can be seen from the paper below, as the mere usage of the term Purāṇa itself is found in numerous places – the study was  limited to study and analysis of the expression Purāṇa alone in the two commentaries towards the objective of bring out the indebtedness of Yogaśāstra  to Purāṇas.

2. Purāṇas as portrayed in Tattvavaiśāradī & Yogavārttika

In Tattvavaiśāradī in 18 Sūtras[1] the term Purāṇa has been used one or many times. In Yogavārttika in 27 Sūtras[2] the term Purāṇa has been used for one or many times. It is obvious that Vijñānabhikṣu has relied upon the Purāṇas more than Vacaspatimiśra. It can be noted that while commenting upon five sūtras both the commentators have mentioned the term Purāṇa in their commentary (1.24, 2.32,54, 4.13,33).  This indicates absence of major overlap on referring to Purāṇas in the two commentaries and shows the independence in approach of both the texts with regard to using Purāṇas.

The analysis of the occurrence of the term Purāṇas in the two commentaries reveals three types of usage of the term Purāṇas.

Type 1 – The term Purāṇa is merely used to indicate something old.

Type 2 – Merely the term Purāṇa with śruti and Smṛti  is taken to indicate that in these sources of authentic knowledge – a concept is stated in a particular manner.

Type 3 – Specific Purāṇa is mentioned and the quotation of relevant verses from them for a specific purpose is done.

The three types of occurrences are analyzed elaborately below.

2.1 Type-1 Mention of Purāṇas 

Under this category we see that the term Purāṇa is merely used to indicate something old. It does not point to the Purāṇic literature.

In this sense the word Purāṇa has been used

  • in Tattvavaiśāradī for 3 times to indicate old (3.17 (1 time), 4.33 (2 times))
  • In Yogavārttika it is used in this sense 16 times (1.24 (2 times), 1.45, (1 time) 3.13 (6 times),15 (2 times)&16(1 time),4.33(3times)).

For example in Sūtra 4.33 the Tattvavaiśāradī commentary reads – navasya hi vastrasya prayatnasaṃrakṣitasyāpi cireṇa purāṇatā dṛśyate etc. – Even in new cloth preserved with care, oldness becomes visible after a long time. (Prasāda,Rāma (1998), p.312)– This is mentioned in the context of explaining the term Krama(sequence).

In Yogavārttika – for the same Sūtra (4.33) we see the following statement –  vastrasyāntakāle dṛśyamānā purāṇatā nahyananubhūtakramakṣaṇā saṃbhavatītyarthaḥ – the oldness of the cloth that is seen towards the last stage of the cloth, is not possible without having gone through the moments of the sequence.(Rukmani TS (2001), p.133) 

Though this first type of usage of the term Purāṇa in both the commentaries do not serve the purpose of the paper, as that of showing the reliance of Yogasūtra commentaries on Purāṇas, still it helps is refining focus and help us move to the intended references of the term Purāṇa.  

2.2 – Type – 2 Mention of Purāṇas 

Under this type of mention, we find that Purāṇa (the mere nomenclature) – as a class of literature is mentioned along with other authentic sources of literature to serve various interpretative purposes of the two commentators.

2.2.1 Tattvavaiśāradī 

In Tattvavaiśāradī we find such references in six  occasions[3]. The occurrences and the purpose for which such references have been made merits detailed discussion. This will reveal the extent to which the mere nomenclature of Purāṇa were utilized.  The occurrences are discussed hereunder –

2.2.1.a – Determining  the meaning of the term atha

Sūtra 1.1  –

…niḥśreyasasya hetuḥ samādhiriti hi śrutismṛtītihāsapurāṇeṣu prasiddham

…trance (Samādhi) is the means of the highest good

(Nishreyasa) as set forth in the Vedas (śruti), smṛti, Itihāsa and purāṇaṣ. (Prasāda,Rāma (1998), p.2)

This sentence is found in the context of determining the meaning of the term atha – which is the very first term in the very first Sūtra of Yogasūtras. In the context of rejecting the meaning ānantarya (after) and to establish the meaning adhikara many arguments are advanced. This statement also serves that purpose.

To explain – Prior to this statement it has been discussed in Tattvavaiśāradī that – If atha is taken to mean ānantarya (after) there might be a problem. Even “after” (ānantarya) possessing all prerequisites needed for the learning if the subject matter being taught is not authentic then the teaching cannot commence. But if the teachings are authoritative/authentic – then without a student even the teaching in the form of composition of the text can be undertaken.

To prove this –Tattvavaiśāradī makes the above statement invoking blessings of śruti, smṛti, itihāsa and purāṇa on the fact that samādhi – the subject matter of the teachings of Yoga – leads to niḥśreyasa(greater good/liberation). Thus in fixing the meaning of the term atha – purāṇa has been invoked by Tattvavaiśāradī.[4]

2.2.1.b –  On The Superiority of Īśvara

Sūtra 1.24 –

so’yamīdṛśa īśvarasya śāśvatika utkarṣaḥ . sa kiṃ sanimittaḥ sapramāṇakaṃ āhosvinnirnimitto niṣpramāṇaka iti . uttaraṃ – tasya śāstraṃ nimittam . śrutismṛtītihāsapurāṇāni śāstram . –

Such is the greatness of the Lord unlimited by time. Is there any reason, any authority for it ? Or, is it without reason, without authority? The answer is ‘Its authority lies in the sacred teaching,’ the Vedas, the Smṛtis, the Itihāsas and the Purāṇas (Prasāda,Rāma (1998), p.44)

In this second occasion it can be seen that for the superiority of Īśvara Śāstras are authority. śruti, smṛti, itihāsa and purāṇa are Śāstras. It is to be noted that to establish the superiority of Īśvara, among the host of authoritative texts invoked purāṇa is also mentioned.

2.2.1.c –  In defining the term Āgama

Sūtra 1.25 –

tena śrutismṛtītihāsapurāṇalakṣaṇādāgamata āgacchanti buddhimārohanti asmādabhyudayaniḥśreyasopāyā ityāgamaḥ, tasmātsaṃjñādiviśeṣapratipattiḥ. 

Hence that which comes into the mind from the Veda, the Smṛti, the Itihāsa  and the Purāṇa is the only true verbal cognition (āgama), the real authority; and is for this reason the only true means of worldly progress and the Highest Good. With this object the knowledge of special names, &c., should be obtained. (Prasāda,Rāma (1998) p.47)

This is a quotation in continuation with the discussion from the previous occurrence. It was stated previously that the superiority of Īśvara has to be known from Āgama and Purāṇa is part of Āgama.  In the context here Sage Vyāsa in the commentary states –   “tasya saṃjñādiviśeṣapratipattirāgamataḥ paryanveṣyā” – The nomenclature and other specifics of Īśvara has to be known from Āgama[5]. In that context the in defining the very term Āgama the above statement of Tattvavaiśāradī occurs

Thus, is it clear from this discussion that though a few details about Īśvara are given in the Sūtras, nomenclature and specifics about Īśvara have to be known from āgama of which Purāṇa is also an integral part.

2.2.1.d –  Determining the nature of the Ātman, that is realized  

Sūtra 2.22 –

kṛtārthamekamiti . nāśo’darśanam . anaṣṭaṃ tu dṛśyamanyapuruṣasādhāraṇatvāt . tasmaddṛśyātparasyā”tmanaścaitanyaṃ rūpaṃ tena tadiha śrutismṛtītihāsapurāṇaprasiddham avyaktamanavayavamekamanāśrayaṃ vyāpi nityaṃ viśvakāryaśaktima 

He explains –  Even though destroyed, in relation, &c.’ Destruction means dis- appearance, The knowable, however, is not destroyed, being common to all the other Purāṇa. Consciousness is the nature of the self which is beyond the knowable. It is by that, that the knowable is ensouled. That is known in the śruti, Smṛti, Purāṇa and Itihāsa as the Unmanifested, One without parts, not dependent upon anything else, pervading, eternal, possessing the energy of all the effects in the world. It does not become the object of knowledge to the wiseman the act being contrary to his nature. It is, however, seen by the unwise and is not therefore non-existent. (Prasāda,Rāma (1998), p.139)

To clarify the context – In this Sūtra on one Puruṣa attaining Kaivalya the total non-destruction of Prakṛti is discussed. It is established that to the person who has realized the self – Prakṛti does not exist. But for the one who has not realized, Prakṛti continues to exist (as individual souls are many in this system of philosophy). In that context, while elaboration on who is a realized soul (to whom the Prakṛti does not exist) –the nature of Ātman is presented by Tattvavaiśāradī as that which is well known in text such as śruti  et al where purāṇa  is also mentioned. Thus to determine the nature of the Ātman the name of Purāṇa is invoked along with other classes of authoritative iterature.

2.2.1.e –  Harmonizing Purāṇic views on the nature of Mind 

Sūtra 4.10 –

yacca smṛtītihāsapurāṇeṣu maraṇānantaraṃ pretaśarīraprāptistadvimokaśca sapiṇḍīkaraṇādibhirityuktaṃ tadanujānīmaḥ . ātivāhikatvaṃ tasya na mṛṣyāmahe . na cātrāsti kaścidāgamaḥ . labdhaśarīra eva ca yamapuruṣairapi pāśabaddho nīyate . na tvātivāhikaśarīraḥ . tasmādāhaṃkārikatvāccetaso’haṃkārasya ca gaganamaṇḍalavattrailokyavyāpitvādvibhutvaṃ manasaḥ . evaṃ cedasya vṛttirapi vimvīti sarvajñatāpattirityata uktaṃ vṛttirevāsyeti .

We allow what has been said in the Purāṇas, the Itihāsas and the Smṛtis about the mind coming after death possess the body of a Preta (the departed one) and also the release from that Preta body by the performance of the ceremonies of sapiṇḍīkaraṇa, etc. But we do not submit to that body being the intermediary vehicle. There is no authority in the Vedas for the existence of such an intermediary vehicle. What happens is that the mind takes up the body of a Preta, and is therein taken away by the men of Yaina ; not that this body serves as the intermediary vehicle. For this reason, the mind being of the nature of the principle of individuality, and that principle like ākāśa in all the three worlds, the mental principle is all-pervading. (Prasāda,Rāma (1998), p.281)

This is a discussion is in the context of mind being all pervasive, which Sage Vyāsa the principal commentator holds, following the views of Ācārya Svayambhu.

Tattvavaiśāradī elaborately discusses this and tries to harmonize this view of mind being all pervasive with the āgama (authentic texts) like Smṛtis and Purāṇas that state that post death there is an ātivāhika (intermediate) Preta (of the deceased) Śarīra (body) that is part of various funeral rituals like Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa. If there is an ātivāhika body, then in that body the mind will be lodged and hence it cannot be all pervasive.  If it is asserted that the mind is all pervasive then the Purāṇic and Smṛti rituals cannot be justified for the Preta. This is harmonized in the discussion above where the mind that is all pervasive itself assumes an ātivāhika preta śarīra and takes part in all the rituals stated in the Purāṇas etc. Hence both the theory of all-pervasiveness’ of the mind and also the Purāṇic etc funeral rites are respectfully harmonized.

2.2.1.f  – Anumāna Versus Āgama 

Sūtra 4.33 –

ayamabhisaṃdhiḥ – krameṇa mokṣe sarveṣāṃ mokṣātsaṃsāroccheda ityanumānaṃ, taccā”gamasiddhamokṣāśrayaṃ, tathā cābhyupagatamokṣapratipādakāgamapramāṇabhāvaḥ kathaṃ tamevā”gamaṃ pradhānavikāranityatāyāmapramāṇī kuryāt . tasmādāgamabādhitaviṣayametadanumānaṃ na pramāṇam .
śrūyate hi śrutismṛtītihāsapurāṇeṣu sargapratisargaparamparāyā anāditvamanantatvaṃ ceti .

The inference is that there being emancipation of all in the case of the freedom of one only from succession, the world mast come to end. And this depends upon the emancipation proved to exist by the authority of the Śāstra. Thus here is the authority of the means of knowledge known as verbal authority, which establishes the emancipation understood. How can it be that the same Śāstras should, by a certain teaching of theirs, stultify another authority of the Śāstra establishing the eternity of the modifications of the Pradhāna? Therefore, the inference which militates against the authority of the āgama cannot be considered an authority. It is of course in the Veda, the smṛti and the purāṇas that the succession of creation after creation is without beginning and without end. Further it is not possible that all the souls should cease to be born and die all at once. (Prasāda,Rāma (1998), p.314)

The discussion here is the about the liberation of all by the end of modification of Pradhāna for all Puruṣas by the liberation of one Puruṣa. This is attempted to be achieved by Anumāna(inference) stated above. But the discussion clarifies that – inference which militates against the āgama cannot be accepted. And the āgamas among which Purāṇas are also quoted clearly stated that the succession of creation after creation is without beginning and without end. Hence there is no possibility of emancipation of all and also end of modification of Pradhāna once for all. Thus Purāṇa along with other Āgamas is referred to negate mere anumāna.

2.2.2  – Yogavārttika 

In Yogavārttika we find such general references to the Purāṇa literature along with other āgamas in two  occasions[6]. They are discussed in detail now.

2.2.2.a – On The Superiority of Īśvara

Sūtra 1.24  – The wordings for the first reference in Yogavārttika exactly matches the one in the Tattvavaiśāradī (2.2.1.b) –

tasya śāstraṃ nimittamiti –  śāstraṃ śrutismṛtītihāsapurāṇāni

 (Śāstras) scriptures, traditional texts (śruti, smṛtis,) the epics and the purāṇas (Rukmani,TS (2001), p.p.139)

Thus, Yogavārttika also accords the same position of Śāstra to Purāṇas as was done by Tattvavaiśāradī

2.2.2.b – Determining the sequence of practice of components of Prāṇāyāma 

Sūtra 2.50 –

atra prathamādiśabdaiḥ pūrakāditraye kramavacanāta saitraḥ pāṭhakramo’nuṣṭhāne nādarttavyaḥ . tathā ca pūrakakumbhakarecakā ityevautsargiko’nuṣṭhānakramaḥ, purāṇādiṣu bāhulyena darśanācca

In this context by the words Prathama and so on since there is mention of order in the three, Pūraka & c., while practicing (prāṇāyāma), the order of the Sūtra is not to be followed. The Pūraka, Kumbhaka and Recaka is the general order of practice. This is also found (mentioned) a number of times in Purāṇas and other texts. (Rukmani,TS (2001), p.227)

As evident, the context of discussion is the sequence of the practice of the components of Prāṇāyāma. The Sūtra quotes the method of recaka, pūraka and Kumbhaka(bāhyābhyantarastambhavṛttiḥ… 2.50) – whereas Sage Vyāsa prefers the sequence as Pūraka-kumbhka-recaka (pūrakakumbhakarecakā). Yogavārttika clarifies that the sequence given in the Sūtras are to be shunned in Prāṇāyāma as the practice tradition is according to the commentary and even in many places in Purāṇas the commentators sequence is preferred.

2.2.2.c – An Authority on a Technical expression  

Sūtra 3.45 –

yatreti – yatra kāmāvasāyitvamiti tāntrikī paribhāṣā purāṇeṣvapyevamavagamād

Yatra kāmāvasāyitvamiti is a definition pertaining to this doctrine. One learns this to be so from the Purāṇas as well. (Rukmani, TS (2001), p.175)

This sūtra speaks about the attainment of āṇimā and other eight Yogic powers through the conquest of bhūtas (elements) by the practice of Saṃyama stated in Sūtra 3.44. Among the eight Siddhis that are attained through this – the eight siddhi is stated as “yatra kāmāvasāyitvamiti” by Sage Vyāsa in his commentary. The meaning of this term is also given by Vyāsa himself as – satyasaṃkalpatā – the ability to effect change as the Yogi resolves in his mind. With regard to the expression “yatra kāmāvasāyitvamiti” the above quoted clarification is given by Yogavārttika, thus establishing purāṇas as an authority to confirm the meaning of the technical expression.

2.3  – Type – 3 Mention of Purāṇas 

As stated earlier, under this category – quotations of Purāṇic verses are given in the two commentaries with or without the mention of the name of the specific Purāṇas by the two commentators to achieve various commentarial purposes. They are now discussed with relevant references.

2.3.1 Tattvavaiśāradī 

In Tattvavaiśāradī in 12 Sūtras[7] we find such references connected to the Purāṇas.

These references from Purāṇas could be seen to serve the following purposes–

  1. Giving the specifics to an inference (1 Sūtra)
  2. Serving as a source of authority to the explanation and add additional material (9 Sūtras)
  3. Reason Vis a Vis authority (1 Sūtra)
  4. A pūrvapakṣa and siddhānta view on a Purāṇic Authority (1 Sūtra)

The number of verses quoted in each of these occurrences varies from just a portion of a verse to more than ten verses. To main uniformity and also compactness of discussion – the context of the discussion, purpose of the quotation and its essence is conveyed in the body of the paper with the actual quotation in the footnotes in most occasions.

 2.3.1.a – Giving the specifics to an inference 

Sūtra 1.25 –  A set of verses from the  Vāyupurāṇa is given by Tattvavaiśāradī in the context of presenting the Specific descriptions of Īśvara. It was stated in the commentary of Sage Vyāsa[8] that specific aspects of Īśvara has to be learnt from Āgamas. To this statement of Sage Vyāsa we see Tattvavaiśāradī presenting the two sets of specific aspects of Īśvara by quoting from the Vāyupurāṇa – a) ṣaḍaṅgatā ((Īśvara) being endowed with six limbs). The six limbs are – sarvajñatā (omniscience) tṛpti (contentment) anādibodha (being endowed with enlightenment since time immemorial) svatantratā (independence) nityamaluptaśaktiḥ (always being endowed with strength) and anantaśakti (endless power). and    b) daśāvyatā (ten types of imperishable nature of Īśvara) – jñāna (knowledge) vairāgya (dispassion) aiśvarya (powers) tapas (austerity/disciplining) satya(truthfulness) kṣamā(patience/forgiving nature) dhṛti(fortitude), sraṣṭṛtva (being the creator) ātmasaṃbodha (realization of self) and, adhiṣṭhātṛtva (being the substratum)[9].

Thus it can be seen that while the Yogasūtras (and Sage Vyāsa’s commentary) provide Anumāna – the inferential logical basis of Īśvara, Purāṇas fills life into those concepts therein. Hence Yogasūtras and Purāṇas are connected like the body and soul.

2.3.1.b – Serving as a source of authority to the explanation and add additional inputs 

References and quotation from the Sūtras 2.1, 2.32, 2.48, 2.52, 2.54, 3.1-3 serve this purpose.

  1. Sūtra 2.1  – In the Tattvavaiśāradī commentary to this Sūtra – quotation from Viṣṇupurāṇa – which is in the form of conversation between khāṇḍikya and keśidhvaja is pointed out to show that even in this Purāṇic text – Tapas, svādhyāya etc have been discussed as limbs of Yoga as in Kriyāyoga.[10]
  2. Sūtras – 2.32, 2.48, 2.52, 2.54, 3.1,2,3 – These Sūtras speak about Yama&Niyama, Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra,  dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi respectively. Tattvavaiśāradī quotes from Viṣṇupurāṇa in most of these occasions “atrāpi purāṇam” – meaning “here the Purāṇa also”. By this, Purāṇic authority for the views of the sūtra and the commentary is provided amd along with that additional inputs from Purāṇic lore on these limbs of Yoga are presented. For example let us consider one such quotation from the Viṣṇupurāṇa that is given in the commentary to the Sūtra 2.32 on Yamas and Niyamas

ete yamāḥ saniyamāḥ pañca pañca prakīrtitāḥ.
viśiṣṭaphaladāḥ kāmyā niṣkāmānā(ṇāṃ) vimuktidāḥ

These are the restraints and observ- ances five each. When practised with desire they secure special fruit. To those who have no desire for fruit, they secure liberation. (Prasāda,Rāma (1998), p.160)

It can be seen that this quote highlights the number of- Yamas and Niyamas are five each which concurs with the presentation of Sage Patañjali, and thus stands as an authority to Sage Patañjali’s exposition. The second line states – when done with desire, the give specific, special results and if done with without desire the lead to liberation.   This is an additional information from the Purāṇas is nether discussed by Sage Patañjali or Sage Vyāsa. This additional input comes only from the Purāṇas. This two fold purpose of quoting from the Purāṇas holds good from for all similar references to the other limbs on yoga enunciated in Sūtras  2.32 to 3.3.

Further, under the same category of utilization of Purāṇas in Yogavārttika, the quotation from the Vāyupurāṇa given in Sūtra 4.13[11] is also worth noting. The context of this occurrence is as follows – Sage Vyāsa, the principal commentator, opines that the diversity that is seen in the world (the effect) can be attributed to the  mutual working of the three Guṇas[12](which make up the Pradhāna). To this, the above quote from Vāyupurāṇa is given in Tattvavaiśāradī to substantiate the explanation that all the diversity rests with the Pradhāna/Prakṛti only. Hence there is no deed to doubt about the seeming dissimilarity between the effect (the world with its varied dimensions) and the cause Pradhāna.  Hence this quote from the Purāṇa is also found to substantiate the Yogasūtra proposition.

2.3.1.c – (Limits of) Logical Reasoning  vis a vis Āgama 

In this sūtra 4.5 there is a discussion regarding a Yogi taking many physical forms. In that context, the sūtra states that the Yogin creates one mind that directs many minds to facilitate coordination his multiple manifestations.

It is stated in  Tattvavaiśāradī[13] that one need not question as to – why can’t the Yogin manage many bodies with one mind itself or why is there a need to create a mind to direct, when the original mind of the Yogin itself can manage it. To this, it is stated that – that which has been established by (textual) authority need not be subjected further analysis and questioning.

Then a set of Purāṇic verses are quoted as an authority to elucidate the above point regarding the multiplicity of minds created along with the multiplicity of the bodies etc. Here we see that an end to reasoning is put on certain Yogic matters that have been documented in the Purāṇas. Thus, Purāṇas here serve as a document that preserves prior Yogic experiences. Though the name of the Purāṇa is not given– three and half verses, that convey the meaning discussed above, are given in this context.[14]

.2.3.1.d – A prima facie view and the final view on a same Purāṇic Authority

A verse from the Purāṇas is quoted and the discussion ensues based on this in Sūtra 4.10[15]. In the context of this Sūtra that describes that the Vāsanas are without a beginning – the dimension of the Citta is discussed. Among the many views– one view states that the size of the Citta is the side of the body in which it resides. And to substantiate this views the above quotation   is given – which says the Yama draws a Puruṣa who is of the size of a thumb. The proponents of the above view say that though the citta is the size of the body in which it resides, during that a Ātivāhika/antarābhāva (an intermediate body) is assumed which is drawn out by Yama (of the size of a thumb) before entering the next womb/birth.

This view is not acceptable to Svaymbhu, an ācārya whose views are acceptable to Sage Vyāsa, and hence acceptable to Vacaspatimiśra also. Svayambhu holds that mind is all pervasive and its presence and absence (in a body) is mere manifestation and absence of manifestation of the self-same omnipresent entity. Hence, the same verse is interpreted in Tattvavaiśāradī (4.10) as – “As to the verbal authority cited, the texts speak of the being drawn out of the Purusa, not of the mind, nor of a subtle body, but of the self. The self, however, the power of consciousness is non-transferable from one place to another. This drawing out, therefore, is to be described as being spoken of in a metaphorical sense. And thus the drawing out of the mind or of consciousness means wherever it may be, the absence of manifestation. It does not mean anything else.”[16]

Thus it becomes interesting to note that a Purāṇic quote becomes a source of a very important discussion regarding transmigration of the body. The Purāṇic statement is not slighted as frivolous. The commentators take all pains to give right kind of light in which the Purāṇic statement has to be seen. In the same discussion further ahead, efforts are taken to convey that Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa ritual post death described in Purāṇas etc  are to be performed as the (omnipresent) mind itself assumes the form of a Preta frame and there is no necessity that a preta body anew is created etc (as claimed by those who hold the view that mind is of the shape of the body in which it resides).[17]

2.3.2 – Yogavārttika

With regard to the third type of utilization in Yogavārttika – we can see the term Purāṇa (with quotations from Purāṇic lore) is used 21 Sūtras[18].    These occurrences can be seen used for the following purposes –

  1. Substantiation/authentication of the view point in Yogasūtras and Vyāsa’s Commentary (in 14 Sūtras)
  2. Used  as an authority to reject an opposing view point (1 Sūtra)
  3. Correct way of understanding a Purāṇic quotation that has implication in a topic under discussion (2 Sūtra)
  4. To compile and convey the meaning of a cluster of Sūtras (1 Sūtra)
  5. Illustration of rare  Yogic state(1 Sūtra)
  6. Adding more inputs to the Yogic concepts presented in Yogasūtras (1 Sūtra)
  7. Presenting a method to adapt a meditation easily (1 Sūtra)

These seven types of utilization of Purāṇic quotes are discussed below with suitable references. It has to be noted that in the discussions in the 21 Sūtras, the quotes appear for one or more times for one or more purposes enlisted above.

2.3.2.a – Substantiation of the view point in Yogasūtras and Vyāsa’s Commentary

The Sūtras in which the Purāṇic quotes are used to this end are – 1.4,1.8, 1.21, 2.13, 2.15, 2.19,2.32,2.54 3.14, 3.15, 3.54. 4.13, 4.22, 4.32. These occurrences are discussed below –

i) Sūtra 1.4 –Vṛttisārūpya (the Puruṣa resembling the Vṛttis in the state when there is no Samādhi) is discussed here.[19] To substantiate this explanation we find a quotation from Viṣṇupurāṇa  in Yogavārttika[20]– Which means – He who offers to the ātman in the form of inner self, the objects acquired through the sense-organs, to that universal ātman, I bow. (Rukmani,TS (2001) p.45) 

ii) In Sūtra 1.8 – Vyāsa states that the kleśas are avidyā etc.m they are also given the nomenclature Tamo moha mahmoha etc. Yogavartika traces this nomenclature to Viṣṇupurāṇa[21].

iii) In Sūtra 1.21 – A quotation from Viṣṇupurāṇa is given simply as an authority in Yogavārttika to the statement of Sage Vyāsa[22] that (among the nine Yogins – the ninth Yogin (with intense Samvega (vairāgya))) attains not only the state of Samādhi but also the results of Samādhi in that very birth.[23]

iv) In Sūtra 2.13-  Viṣṇupurāṇa is quoted to substantiate the view that even when by knowledge (of Puruṣa) though the potency of Prārabdhakarma is destroyed, it definitely gives fruit.[24]

v) In Sūtra 2.15 – In substantiation to the views that there is preponderance of Suffering (duḥkha) than pleasure (sukha) in worldly experience – the quotation from Viṣṇupurāṇa is provided.[25]

vi) In Sūtra 2.19 –the meaning of the word Mātrā in ‘Tanmātrā’ is clarified – that the word Mātrā does not mean there is no other attribute (other than the one specified) in that. The absence is only of the qualities of śānta (tranquil), ghora(violent) and mūḍha(dull). In each of the Tanmātrās the qualities of the causal tanmātrās do exist. To substantiate this explanation quotation from the Viṣṇupurāṇa is presented.[26]

vii &b viii) In Sūtra 2.32 –it is  stated that all that has been stated by the group of Sūtras on Yama and Niyama (2.39-32) are also found in Viṣṇupurāṇa .  The same is done in the case of the Yogic limb of Pratyahara also in sūtra 2.54 by quoting from Viṣṇupurāṇa.

ix) In Sūtra  3.14 – where the concepts of Dharma (attributes) and Dharmi (substratum) – connected to Prakṛti – are discussed – it is established that each and every object has the potency to produce various things. To provide an authority for this Viṣṇupurāṇa is quoted.[27]

x) In Sūtra 3.15 – Sage Vyāsa speaks about the third Parinama called Avastha parinama which is different from Dharma and Lakshana parinamas. Avasthaparinama is the minute constant changes that keep happening in things in the world by the minute. After establishing this – a host of quotes from various sources are given. A Purāṇic quote is also given without specifying the name of the particular Purāṇa.[28]

xi) In Sūtra 3.54 – Sage Vyāsa[29] states that all other kinds of knowledge that arise are aspects of the knowledge that arises from the viveka of Prakṛti. To elucidate and beautifully substantiate these views Yogavarttiaka presents a verse from the Viṣṇupurāṇa [30]

xii) In 4.13 – In clarifying the meaning of the word Māyā used in a quotation in Sage Vyāsa’s commentary – a verse from Viṣṇupurāṇa  is presented in Yogavārttika.[31]

xiii) In Sūtra –  4.22 –Sage Vyāsa discusses the meaning of the word Guhā. It is stated that– the Ātman is hidden because of the extreme identity with its reflection in the Buddhi. This statement is substantiated by a quotation from the ādityapurāṇa in Yogavārttika.[32]

xiv) In Sūtra 4.32 – It is stated that the seed of the tree of worldly life is avidyā – which is wrong perception of the non-self as self. This idea of Avidyā being stated as seed is substantiated by a quote from the Viṣṇupurāṇa in Yogavārttika.[33]

2.3.2. b – Used  as an authority to reject an opposing view point 

In Sūtra 1.2 – a verse is quoted from the Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa.[34]  This is done by Yogavārttika to present a textual authority to the fact that in asamprajñātasamādhi there is absolutely no Vṛttis. This is done to refute the views of the contemporary Vedantins (of Yogavārttika) who claim that in asamprajñātasamādhi state there is modification of the intellect in the form of the pure self.

2.3.2.c – Correct way of understanding a Purāṇic quotation that has implication on a topic under discussion 

In Sūtras 1.19, and 4.14 we have such occurrences.

i) In Sūtra 1.19 – Where the Asamprajñātasamādhi state of Videhas and Prakṛti layas are discussed – a quotation from Vāyu Purāṇa is provided and the right way of understanding it is also clarified – It is self-evident from the words in Yogavārttika[35] –

In the following statement in the Vāyupurāṇa – “those who concentrate on the sense organs stay here for 10 Manvantaras, those who concentrate on the elements stay for 100 Manvantaras, those who concentrate on oneself stay for 1000 Manvantaras, those who concentrate on the intelligence stay for 10,000 years devoid of all pain, to concentrate on Prakṛti stay a full hundred thousand years. Having reached the quality-less Puruṣa there is no count of time. 

This only limits the time of stay in the various places of those who are devoted to action and worship of the sense organs etc., and in whom knowledge has not arisen. It doesn’t limit the time of Asamprajñātasamādhi stage or the time without activity because of the absence of body etc,. because Asamprajñāta cannot be reconciled with concentration only on the sense organs and so on and the absence of activity sometimes has no goal since it is like dissolution death etc., moreover those who worship the sense organs and so on are elsewhere hard to attain the state of sun etc., which are representative of the sense organs et cetera (Rukmani,TS (2001) p.117)

ii) In sūtra 4.14 – In the context of explaining evolution – a set of verses is given from the Viṣṇupurāṇa[36] and the correct way of understanding is also presented in the commentary. Here also the words of Yogavārttika are self-explanatory[37] –

This is the meaning of that statement – that a ahaṅkāra mahatāvṛtaḥ is filled in by Mahat. This is like yet being intermixed with water. Then due to the filling in process by Mahat – from the two combined – there is bhūtādi that is the sense of ego in the form of inertia (tamas) – tanmātrikaṃ sargam (tāmasa sense of ego) – then the creation (evolution) of the subtle elements – Sasarja – was done (was evolved); after that that same bhūtādi (Tāmasa sense of ego) created Ākāśa having the quality of sound from the subtle element of sound, being its own second; this is the connection and then from a ahaṅkāra, and the subtle element of sound combined is created Aākāśa; it is thus proved that there is no need for another subtle element and that either having the quality of sound being filled in by the tāmasa sense of ego created the (subtle element of) touch. In this context since there is mention of (tāmasa) ahaṅkāra being the cause in the case of Ākāśa, it is understood that in the case of the other four gross elements also the respective certain element along with the (tāmasa) ahaṅkāra alone is the cause as it is in keeping with logic. It is only in order to indicate this that there is an allusion to the sense of ego by the word bhūtādi and from that certain element of wind there came into being the Balavān, the great wind; in this way gradually by the addition of the respective subtle elements the statements of the coming into being of the three gross elements beginning with fire also are to be explained in that context. (Rukmani,TS (2001) 57,58 )

2.3.2.d – To compile and convey the Gist of a cluster of Sūtras 

In Sūtra 1.28 – a set of 18 verses from Liṅgapurāṇa is quoted in  Yogavārttika and stated that – the views of Sūtra beginning from īśvarapraṇidhānād vā (till this Sūtra)(1.23-28) is stated clearly in the verses of Liṅgapurāṇa.[38]

2.3.2.e – Illustration for rare Yogic state from Purāṇas

In sūtra 2.51 – the Kevalakumbhaka state of Prāṇāyāma is discussed. Yogavārttika presents the state experienced by Dhruva in Viṣṇupurāṇa (without quoting the verses in that regard) as Kevalakumbhaka. The words  of Yogavartttika is worth noting in this regard – And this (Kevala) Kumbhaka is not limited to the regions of exhalation and inhalation because it pervades them; neither  is it limited by time and number; because one can stay in it for a period of a month or year and so on according to one’s desire. That prāṇāyāma is heard with regard to Dhruva in Viṣṇupurāṇa. There it is stated that in his penance due to his suspension of breath the suspension of breath of all living beings took place. Therefore his was and not just kumbhaka but kevala kumbhaka.[39] 

2.3.2.f – Adding more inputs to discussions  of Yogasūtras 

In the Sūtra 3.26 – It is stated that the knowledge of the Bhuvana (the cosmos) arises by the practice of saṃyama on Sūrya. Sage Vyāsa’s commentary itself is detailed on the Sūtra about the cosmos. Over that Yogavārttika adds a quotes from the Purāṇic lore to enrich the understanding about Bhuvana(cosmos). Details about the dimension of Sumeru is brought in from the quote in Viṣṇupurāṇa.[40] Another quote from Viṣṇupurāṇa is presented to state the manner in which how Lavaṇasamudra (ocean of salt) encircles Jambūdvīpa[41] . (Apart from this, it is also to be noted that – Quotes from Sūryapurāṇa, Nāradapurāṇa are also presented to give textual authority to the descriptions given in Sage Vyāsa’s commentary. These are not presented as they do not add anything new to the discussion)

2.3.2.g – Presenting a method to adapt a meditation easily 

In Sūtra 1.28 – Praṇava-japa (repetition of Praṇava) and the meditation upon its meaning is also stated. Yogavārttika takes into account the various ways of meditations about pranava and presents a short method described is in the Garuḍa Purāṇa for Praṇava- to give a direction to those desirous of adopting the practice easily. – The manifest, the unmanifest and the Pruusha are known as three syllables. By those who meditate on the inner self the supreme Brahman should be known as the ardhamātrā (TS Rukmani  p.161)[42]. In the Omkara – Here the three Mātrās of ‘O’ is meditated as (the three) – Vykata, Avyakta and puruṣa and the ‘m’ is meditated upon as Paramātman.

3. Summary – Consolidation of insights 

In the above discussion – three types of occurrences of the term Purāṇa were discussed and illustrated with examples. The second type where just the name of the Purāṇa class of literature was mentioned as an authority and third type where specific quotes from the Purāṇas  were given– were found relevant and elaborated in detail.

In the second type of where merely the Purāṇa class of literature was alluded as an authority, it could be seen that –

In Tattvavaiśāradī – Right from determining the meaning of the very first term in the Very first sūtra “atha” , to establish the superiority of Īśvara, for defining the very meaning of the term Āgama (verbal testimony), and for giving an authentic description of the nature of the Puruṣa –  the name of the Purāṇa literature was invoked.

Also, in establishing the all-pervasive nature of the mind (citta) which is very central to Yogasūtras and negating mere reason in light of recorded textual authority on Yogic experiences – Purāṇas authority was invoked.

In this regard Yogavārttika – also invoked merely the name of Purāṇas to establish the superior virtues of Īśvara. More importantly – it could be noted that Sage Vyāsa’s commentary differed from the order of practice of components of Prāṇāyāma stated in the Sūtras and presented a new sequence. Yogavārttika bolstered the views of Sage Vyāsa by referring to the Purāṇas as authority in that regard and it was also stated that this was acceptable to practitioners even. Further when Sage Vyāsa, the primary commentator, used a technical expression unique to Yoga “yatra kāmāvasāyitvam” – its meaning was confirmed taking recourse to Purāṇas.

With regard to the third type of reference – In Tattvavaiśāradī it could be seen that – when the inference, as if, gave the skeletal level proof of existence and nature of Īśvara – it is the quotes from Vāyupurāṇa that provided specifics about Īśvara, as if, adding flesh and blood to discussion on Īśvara . It could also be seen that in both Tattvavaiśāradī and Yogavārttika – unfailingly in explaining all the all-important aṣṭāṅgas (eight limbs) quotes from Viṣṇupurāṇa were presented – both as an authority and source of additional insights. Logical Reasoning was also shown its place with regard to Yogasiddhis – in the context of Yogin creating a nāyakacitta –(a directing mind)– and the superiority of Yogic experience that was recorded in the Purāṇic sources was asserted.

With regard to ensuring conformity of Yogic theories with Purāṇic conceptions it could be noted that Tattvavaiśāradī took special efforts in harmonizing the Purāṇic views in connection with the ātivāhika body and sapiṇḍīkaraṇa rituals. The effort to ensuring conformity of Yogic views to Purāṇic descriptions was also done by Yogavārttika with regard to Videhas and Prakṛti layas and also with regard to the views regarding evolution.

Apart  from this, it could also be noted that Yogavārttika has employed Purāṇas- to Illustrate the rare and unique state of Kevalakumabhaka (about Dhruva), to refute opponents (Vedantins) views  on Asamprajñātasamādhi, presenting the versified summary of set of Sūtras (on Īśvarapranidhana) and to bring to light a short and easy way of doing Praṇavadhyāna.

Thus it could be seen that Tattvavaiśāradī and Yogavārttika have relied upon Purāṇas heavily and for multifarious purposes to place the interpretation on firm footing.  It is also to be noted that most later commentaries often refer to Tattvavaiśāradī and Yogavārttika commentary in course of their interpretations.

4. Conclusions 

To conclude – a verse quoted in Sage Vyāsa’s commentary to Sūtra 1.48 can be considered –

āgamenānumānena dhyānābhyāsarasena ca ।
tridhā prakalpayan prajñāṃ labhate yogamuttamam ॥

By āgama (learning Yoga tenets & practices /systematically/authentically), anumāna (inference) and  dhyānābhyāsarasa (joy practice of meditation) the intellect is refined and best state of Yoga is attained.[43]  

The fact that – Yoga is all about abhyāsa-rasa (experience of delight in practice) is well known. But that rasa in abhyāsa can be ensured only when the abhyāsa itself is rooted on anumāna (inference/reasoning). As indicated and adequately illustrated in the paper – that anumāna should further be in accordance to Āgama – which is the record of experiences and insights of yore handed down by texts and traditions. Among the texts of Āgama it has been seen through this paper that Purāṇas are very heavily relied division of Āgamas by the commentators in clarifying and interpreting – philosophical and practical aspects of Yoga.

Thus being enriched, embellished and authenticated – Yoga is deeply indebted to the Purāṇas. And finally, it could also be stated that being encyclopaedic and hence being relied upon by various other disciplines among which Yoga is also one, Purāṇas might have also have ensured that all these dependent disciplines are woven into the same Indic cultural and civilizational fabric organically and inseparably.

Watch the video presentation of the paper here:


[1] Pada 1 Sūtras – 1, 24, 25, Pada 2 Sūtras – 1, 22, 32, 48, 52, 54, Pada 3 Sūtras – 1-3, 6, 17Pada 4 Sūtras – 5, 10, 13, 33
[2] Pada 1 Sūtras -2, , 8,19,21,24, 28,45  Pada 2 Sūtras – 13, 15, 19,32,50, 51,54,  Pada 3 Sūtras – 13-16, 26,45,54,  Pada 4 Sūtras -13,14,22,32,33.
[3] Sūtras 1.1, 1.24, 1.25, 2.22, 4.10, 4.33
[4] The translation of the entire discussion can be seen here: “Although it is possible that the questioning of a student the performance of purifica- tory actions (tapas), and employment of alchemy may serve as antecedents, they are not to be taken as such here, because the recognition and taking up of the study by a student are of no use in making a treatise on Yoga authoritative. Even if there should be no student for the time being, the work should be undertaken if authoritative. If however not authoritative, it should be given up even though there be a student asking for it. The existence of an immediate sequence between the knowledge of truth and the desire to explain it is hereby refuted. If, however, the meaning is to be taken to be undertaking, then by speaking of the Yoga to be discussed by undertaking the work, the whole meaning and object of the work is set forth; and the student is easily informed and set to work in the belief that trance is the means of the highest good, as set forth in the Vedas, the Smritis, the Itihasas, and the Puranas”- (Prasāda, rāma (1998) p.2)
[5] Translation by the author of the paper
[6] Sūtra 1.24  &  Sūtra 3.45
[7] Sūtras 1.25, 2.1, 2.32, 2.48, 2.52, 2.54, 3.1-3, 4.5, 4.10, 4.13,
[8] tasya saṁjñādiviśeṣapratipattirāgamataḥ paryanveṣyā
[9] kutastarhi tadviśeṣapratipattirityata āha – tasyeti… ādipadena ṣaḍaṅgatādaśāvyayate saṃgṛhīte . yathoktaṃ vāyupurāṇe (1.12.30) – “sarvajñatā tṛptiranādibodhaḥ svatantratā nityamaluptaśaktiḥ। anantaśaktiśca vibhorvidhijñāḥ ṣaḍāṣṭhuraṅgāni maheśvarasya ॥ ” tathā (vāyupurāṇa 1.10.60) – “jñānaṃ vairāgyamaiśvaryaṃ tapaḥ satyaṃ kṣamā dhṛtiḥ . sraṣṭṛtvamātmasaṃbodho hyadhiṣṭhātṛtvameva ca ॥avyayāni daśaitāni nityaṃ tiṣṭhanti śaṃkare . ” iti.
[10] tapaḥsvādhyāyetyādi . kriyaiva yogaḥ kriyāyogo yogasādhanatvāt . ata eva viṣṇupurāṇe (6.7.33) khāṇḍikyakeśidhvajasaṃvāde – “yogayukprathamaṃ yogī yuñjamāno’bhidhīyate . ” – ityupakramya tapaḥsvādhyāyādayo darśitāḥ .
[11] yathoktaṃ vāyupurāṇe (1.1.97)–“vaiśvarūpyāt(viśvarūpāt)pradhānasya pariṇāmo’yamadbhutaḥ” iti – Because of the multifarious nature of the Pradhāna, the effect is wonderful (Translation by author of the paper)
[12] sarvamidaṁ guṇānāṁ saṁniveśaviśeṣamātramiti paramārthato guṇātmānaḥ
[13] pramāṇasiddhasya niyogaparyanuyogānupapatteriti
[14] ekastu prabhuśaktyā vai bahudhā bhavatīśvaraḥ। bhūtvā yasmāttu bahudhā bhavatyekaḥ punastu saḥ॥(Vāyupurāṇa 2.5.139) tasmācca manaso bhedā jāyante caita eva hi। (Found as – tasmātsumanaso bhedājjāyante tejasaśca ha -2.5.140) ekadhā sa dvidhā caiva tridhā ca bahudhā punaḥ ॥yogīśvaraḥ śarīrāṇi karoti vikaroti ca। prāpnuyādviṣayānkaiścitkaiścidugraṃ tapaścaret ॥(Vāyupurāṇa 1.5.30) saṃharecca punastāni sūryo raśmigaṇāniva (verse found as – saṃharecca punaḥ sarvān sūryatejo guṇāniva Vāyupurāṇa 2.5.149) iti  Verses quoted in Sūtra 4.5 – Tattavaisharadi –  The one Lord becomes many by his power of Lordship. For this reason and because having become many he again becomes one, these arecertain- ly born by the differences of the mind, one-fold, two-fold, three-fold and manifold. The Yogisvara makes his bodies in this way and unmakes them. By some he enjoys objects of enjoyment and by other performs hard penances. He again draws in the bodies as the Sun draws in his ray.’ (Prasāda, rāma (1998), P.273)
[15] Tathā ca purāṇam – “aṅguṣṭhamātraṃ puruṣaṃ niścakarṣa yamo balāt” iti – And also the purāṇa – The Yama drew out of the body with force the Purusa of the size of the thumb (Found in mahābhārata 3.297.17)) (Prasāda, rāma (1998), p.280,281)
[16] āgamastu puruṣasya niṣkarṣamāha । na ca cittaṁ vā sūkṣmaśarīraṁ vā puruṣaḥ kiṁtu citiśaktirapratisaṁkramā । na cāsyā niṣkarṣaḥ saṁbhavatītyaupacāriko vyākhyeyaḥ । tathāca citeścittasya ca tatra tatra vṛttyabhāva eva niṣkarṣārthaḥ।
[17] We allow what has been said in the Purāṇas, the itihāsas and the smṛtis about the mind coming after death possess the body of a Preta (departed spirit) and also the release from that Preta body by the performance of the ceremonies of Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa, etc. But we do not submit to that body being the intermediary vehicle. There is no authority in the Vedas for the existence of such an intermediary vehicle. What happens is that the mind takes up the body of a Preta, and is therein taken away by the men of Yama ; not that this body serves as the intermediary vehicle. For this reason, the mind being of the nature of the principle of individuality, and that principle like ākāśa in all the three worlds, the mental principle is all-pervading –(Prasāda, rāma (1998), P.281)
[18] Pada 1 Sūtras – 2, 4,8,19,21,28 | Pada 2 – Sūtras – 13, 15,19, 32, 50, 51, 54| Pada 3 – Sūtras 14,15, 26, 54| Pada 4 –  Sūtras – 13, 14, 22, 32
[19] buddhyā niveditaviṣayatvādityarthaḥ।nivedanaṁ ca svārūḍhaviṣayasya pratibimbarūpeṇa cityādhānam । – Being informed by the intellect about the nature of the object. And informing is, placing the object which is present in oneself in consciousness, by reflection.(Rukmani, TS (2001),  p.45)
[20] ‘gṛhītānindriyairarthānātmane yaḥ prayacchati। antaḥkaraṇarūpāya tasmai viśvātmane nama”(1.14.34) iti viṣṇupurāṇādibhyaḥ.
[21] tathā ca viṣṇupurāṇam(1.5.5) ॥ – tamo moho mahāmohastāmisro hyandhasaṁjñakaḥ। avidyā pañcaparvaiṣā prādurbhūtā mahātmanaḥ ॥ iti ।
[22] samādhilābhaḥ samādhiphalaṁ ca bhavatīti
[23] ‘viniṣpannasamādhistu muktiṃ tatraiva janmani’ ityādiviṣṇupurāṇādibhya iti bhāvaḥ – …from such statements as “one who attends Samadhi attains liberation in that life itself” from the Viṣṇupurāṇa (6.7.35) (Rukmani, TS(2001) p.122).
[24] prārabdhaphalakasya karmaṇī bījaśaktināśe’pi phalaṁ samāpyata eva bījadāhepyutpannāṅkuravaditi।
ata eva … yogāgnidagdhakarmacayo’cirā’’d(Viṣṇupurāṇa 6.7.35) iti gītāviṣṇupurāṇayorjñānayogābhyāṁ karmaṇo dāha eva śrūyate na tu nāśa iti – “Though the potency of the seed of prārabdha Karma is destroyed it definitely gives fruits Just as the sprout which has come out, though the seed is burnt. It is because of this that in the sayings of the Gita and vishnupurana…  “very soon the collection of Karma burnt by the fire of Yoga…” (Rukmani, TS(2001), p.48)
[25] tad uktaṃ viṣṇupurāṇe (6.5.56) – kalatraputramitrārthagṛhakṣetradhanādikaiḥ।
kriyeta na tathā bhūri sukhaṃ puṃsāṃ yathā’sukham ॥ it. – It has been stated in viṣṇupurāṇa – There is not much pleasure for a man created from his wife, friend and son, through a home property etc., as pain. (TS Rukamni p.65)
[26] eteṣu ca mātraśabdaiḥ śāntādiviśeṣasyaiva vyāvṛttirna tu guṇāntarasaṁparkasya, ekadvitryādi-lakṣaṇatvavacanāt।tanmātrāṇyaviśeṣāṇi aviśeṣāstato hi te। na śāntā nāpi ghorāste na mūḍhāścāviśeṣiṇaḥ ॥ iti viṣṇupurāṇācceti(1.2.46) . – The Tanmatras are Avisheshas. They are the Avisheshas from that. They are not tranquil of violent or dull. (Rukmani, TS(2001), p.111)
[27] tadetaduktaṃ viṣṇapurāṇe (2.7.32,33) – yathā ca pādapo mūlaskandhaśākhādisaṃyutaḥ.ādibījātprabhavati bījānyanyāni vai tataḥ ॥saṃbhavanti tatastebhyo bhavantyanye pare drumāḥ। te’pi tallakṣaṇadravyakāraṇānugatā mune ॥Evam avyākṛtātpūrvaṃ jāyante mahadādayaḥ। saṃbhavanti surāstebhyastebhyaścākhilajantavaḥ ॥ iti . – Just as a tree having roots trunk branches et cetera comes into being from the initial seed and then other seeds are born and then again from those seeds their eyes other different trees they also O Muni confirm to the material cause having the same characteristic in this way in the beginning from the Unmanifest Mahat etc, come into being from them the gods…and from them all living beings. (Rukmani, TS(2001), p.59)
[28] purāṇe ca (bhāgavatapurāṇa 11.22.42 – Reference given by Rukmani, TS(2001) p.70) … – nityo naimittikaśceti prākṛtātyantikau tathā . iti – Even in the Purana… And … in the Purana – Eternal, due to a cause, the complete and the continual (to indicate constant change in avasthas). (Rukmani, TS(2001) p.67)
[29] asyaivāṁśo yogapradīpo madhumatīṁ bhūmimupādāya yāvadasya parisamāptiriti
[30] viṣṇupurāṇe (6.5.62) ca sarveṣāmevetarajñānānāṃ pradīpatulyatvavivakṣayā brahmavivekajajñānasya sūryatulyatvaṃ proktam -andhaṃ tama ivājñānaṃ dīpavaccendriyodbhavam. yathā sūryastathā jñānaṃ yadviprarṣe! vivekajam ॥ iti – That which arises from the sense organs is like pitch darkness, it is ignorance which is also like the light of lamp, (whereas) the light of the Sun, so is the knowledge born of discriminate discernment O Brahmin Sage. (Rukmani, TS(2001), p.211)
[31] tathā viṣṇupurāṇam (2.13.95) api—śivikā dārusaṃghāto racanā sthitisaṃsthitiḥ. anviṣyatāṃ nṛpaśreṣṭha tadbhede śivikā tvayā ॥evaṃ chatraśalākādi pṛthagbhāvo vimṛśyatām.kva jātaṃ chatram ity eṣa nyāyastvayi tathā mayi ॥ Also in viṣṇupurāṇa – The vehicle (palanquin) is an assemblage of pieces of wood joined together by man oh best among Kings look for the vehicle in its difference from the wood similarly the umbrella and its pieces of sticks are different now ponder over where the umbrella has gone thi reasoning is for you and for me (Rukmani, TS(2001), p.50)
[32] Tadetad ekākāratvam ādityapurāṇe’pyuktam (ādityapurāṇa (saurapurāṇa) 46.25 – Reference given by Rukmani, TS(2001) p.98 )— nityaḥ sarvagato hyātmā buddhisannidhisattayā. yathā yathā bhavedbuddhirātmā tadvadiheṣyate ॥ – The same oneness in form has been mentioned in the ādityapurāṇa as well the Atman is eternal it moves everywhere due to its existence in the presence of the mind it is desired hear that as the mind becomes so also the Atman becomes. (Rukmani, TS(2001), p.98)
[33] tathā ca viṣṇupurāṇe (6.7.11) – anātmanyātmabuddhiryā arthe svamiti yā matiḥ। avidyātarusaṃsūcibījametaddvidhā sthitam ॥ – The Vishnu Purana (has the following statement) –  that thought of the self in that which is not the self and the thought of possession belonging to oneself with reference to something useless this is the seed for the growth of the Vidya tree existing in a twofold way (Rukmani, TS(2001), p.129)
[34] ”yuñjīta yogī nirjitya trīn guṇān paramātmani। tanmayaścātmato bhūtvā cidvṛttimapi saṃtyajedi”ti (Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa 43.45) mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇādau aiśvarayoge’pi vṛttiśūnyatvāvagamācca –  … the Yogi should become one with the Paramātman having concurred absolutely the three Gunas having become one with the Atman one should give up the modification of the intellect even (Rukmani, TS(2001),2001, p.40)
[35] yacca vāyupurāṇe (reference not traceable to source – Rukmani, TS(2001), also states the same p.117,fn 4)- daśa manvantarāṇīha tiṣṭhantīdriyacintakāḥ। bhautikāśca śataṃ pūrṇaṃ sahasraṃ tvābhimānikāḥ॥ bauddhā daśasahasrāṇi tiṣṭhanti vigatajvarāḥ। pūrṇaṃ śatasahasraṃ tu tiṣṭhantyavyaktacintakāḥ॥  nirguṇaṃ puruṣaṃ prāpya kālasaṃkhyā na vidyat – iti vākyaṃ, tad indriyādyupāsakānāmanutpannajñānānāṃ karmadevānāṃ tattatpadāvasthitikālameva paricchinatti na tu teṣāmasaṃprajñātasamādhikālān dehādyabhāvena vṛttyabhāvakālān vā indriyādicintāmātreṇāsaṃprajñātānupapatteḥ vṛttyabhāvasya kādācitkasya pralayamaraṇāditulyatvenāpuruṣārthatvācca indriyādyupāsakānāmindriyādyabhimānisūryādipada- prāpterevānyatra phalavattvāśravaṇācceti.
[36] viṣṇupurāṇādau (1.2.36-39) tu śabdatanmātrād ākāśam ākāśāt sparśatanmātraṃ tasmād vāyur evaṃkrameṇa sṛṣṭiḥ smaryate . yathā viśeṣpūrve’haṅkārasṛṣṭyanantaram— yathā pradhānena mahān mahatā sa tathāvṛtaḥ ॥
bhūtādis tu vikurvāṇaḥ sargatanmātrakaṃ tataḥ .sasarja śabdatanmātrādākāśaṃ śabdalakṣaṇam .
śabdamātraṃ tathākāśaṃ bhūtādiḥ sa samāvṛṇot.ākāśastu vikurvāṇaḥ sparśamātraṃ sasarja ha ॥
balavān abhavad vāyus tasya sparśo guṇo mataḥ. –  ityādikrameṇa pañcabhūtasṛṣṭiruktā .  – Whereas in the Purāṇas like the Vishnu, creation is traditionally remembered in the following order from the subtle element of sound comes Ākāśa from Ākāśa comes the subtle element of touch and from that value etc.,. In the Viṣṇupurāṇa after the evolution of ahaṅkāra (sense of ego) the evolution of the five gross elements stated in the following order – just as by the great Pradhāna, the great (intellect) is covered by the Guṇas, then elementary (ahaṅkāra) (that aspect pertaining to the elements) becoming productive as the subtle element of sound, produced from the subtle element of sound, ether, having the property of sound. Then the elementary (ahaṅkāra) enveloped ether which was only sound. Ether becoming productive as the (subtle elements of) touch produce the mighty wind of which the quality is touch.  In this manner the creation of the five elements are stated. (Rukmani, TS(2001) p.57).
[37] tasyā ayam arthaḥ so’haṅkāro mahatākṛta āpūritaḥ yathā pṛthivī jalenānuviddhā bhavati tadvat, tato mahatāpūrṇāddvābhyāṃ militvā bhūtās tāmasāhaṅkāraḥ tanmātrikaṃ sargaṃ.tanmātrāṇāṃ sṛṣṭiṃ sasarja cakāra, tadanantaraṃ sa eva bhūtādiḥ śabdatanmātrāt svadvitīyāt śabdaguṇakam ākāśaṃ sasarjetyanuṣajyate.
[38]tadidamīśvarapraṇidhānādvetyādisūtragaṇoktamarthajātaṁ liṅgapurāṇe spaṣṭaṁ pradarśitam । yathā ।
avidyayeśasya yogo nātīto nāpyanāgataḥ।nāpyastyasmitayā caivaṃ rāgeṇāpi trikālatā ॥
kāleṣu triṣu saṃbandhastasya dveṣeṇa no bhavet। tathaivābhiniveśena saṃbandho na kadācana ॥
kuśalākuśalaiścaiva saṃbandho naiva karmmabhiḥ। bhavet kālatraye śaṃbhoravidyāmativarjanāt .
vipākaiḥ karmaṇāṃ tasya na bhavedeva saṃyamaḥ। kāleṣu triṣu śarvasya śivasya śivadāyinaḥ ॥
sukhaduḥkhairna saṃmpṛśyaḥ kālatritayavartibhiḥ। tathaiva bhogasaṃskārairbhagavānantakāntakaḥ ॥
puṃviśeṣaḥ paro devo bhagavān parameśvaraḥ। cetanācetanonmuktaḥ prapañcādakhilātparaḥ ॥
loke sātiśayatvena jñānaiśvarye vilokite। śive nātiśayitvena sthite āhurmanīṣiṇaḥ ॥
pratisargaṃ vastubhānaṃ brahmaṇo’śāstravistaram। upadeśātsa eṣṭavyaḥ kālāvacchedavartinām ॥
kālāvacchedayuktānāṃ gurūṇāmapyasau guruḥ। sarveṣāmapi sarveśaḥ kālāvacchedavarjitaḥ ॥
anādireva saṃbandho vijñānotkarṣayoḥ pare। sthitayorīdṛśaḥ śarvaḥ pariśuddhaḥ svabhāvataḥ ॥
ātmaprayojanābhāve parānugraha eva hi। prayojanaṃ samastānāṃ kriyāṇāṃ parameṣṭhinaḥ ॥
praṇavo vācakastasya śivasya paramātmanaḥ। śivarudrādiśabdānāṃ praṇavo hi paraḥ smṛtaḥ ॥
śaṃbhoḥ praṇavavācyasya bhāvanā tajjapādapi। āśu siddhiḥ parā prāpyā bhavatyeva na saṃśayaḥ ॥
ekaṃ brahmamayaṃ dhyāyetsarvaṃ vipra carācaram।carācaravibhāgaṃ ca tyajedahamiti smaran ॥
saptāṇḍāvaraṇānyāhuraṇḍasyātmāmbujāsanaḥ।koṭikoṭyayutānīśe cāṇḍāni kathitāni tu ॥
tatra tatra caturvaktā brahmāṇo harayo bhavāḥ।sṛṣṭāḥ pradhānena tathā prāpya śaṃbhostu sannidhim ॥
asaṃkhyātāśca rudrākhyā asaṃkhyātāḥ pitāmahāḥ।harayaścāpyasaṃkhyātā eka eva maheśvaraḥ ॥
brahmendraviṣṇurudrādyairapi devairagocaram।ādimadhyāntarahitaṃ bheṣajaṃ bhavarogiṇām ॥
śivatattvamiti khyātaṃ śivādapi paraṃ padam – iti ( Source quoted by Rukmani, TS(2001),2001, p.166 – liṅgapurāṇa uttara 9.36 but not all the verses are found in one place. They are found in various portions of pūrvabhāga chapter 4 (1.4)) (As this is the gist of the discussion in Sūtras and nothing new is added, translation is not provided. Translation of this can be seen in Rukmani, TS(2001), pp.167-169)
[39] ayaṃ ca kumbhako na recakapūrakadeśena paricchinnaḥ vyāpakatvātvāt, nāpi kālasaṃkhyābhyāṃ paricchinnaḥ svecchayā māsasaṃvatsarādikālasthāyitvāt . sa ca prāṇāyāmo dhruvasya viṣṇupurāṇo śrūyate .
tasya hi tapasi prāṇanirodhena sarvajīvaprāṇanirodho’bhavaditi tatroktam . atastasya kevalakumbhaka āsīditi .
[40] sumeroḥ parimāṇaṁ ca viṣṇupurāṇe proktam –  caturaśītisāhasrairyojanairasyocchrāyaḥ ।(this portion not traced)praviṣṭaḥ ṣoḍaśādhastād dvātriṁśanmūrdhni vistṛtaḥ । mūle ṣoḍaśasāhasro vistārastasya bhūbhṛtaḥ ॥ (viṣṇupurāṇa 2.2. 9) meroścaturdiśastatra navasāhasravistṛtam ।ilāvṛtaṁ mahābhāga catvārastatra parvatāḥ ॥((viṣṇupurāṇa 2.2. 16))  iti । – The measurement of Sumeru is mentioned in the Vishnupurana as  – From below it has penetrated sixteen, at the top it has extended thirty two, at the base the four directions of the meru which supports the earth is sixteen thtouosand wide. Therein O greatone, Ilavarta is none thousand (Yojanas) wide. There are four mountains there. ( Rukmani, TS(2001), pp.116-117)
[41] jambūdvīpaṁ samāvṛtya lakṣayojanavistṛtaḥ । maitreya valayākāraḥ sthitaḥ kṣārodadhirbahiḥ ॥ iti viṣṇupurāṇāt (2.3.28) । samudasya dvīpadviguṇatvaṁ pārśvadvayena bodhyam । –  In this context, by the statement ” surrounding the Jambudivpa there is a girdle shaped salt ocean outside , which is one lakh Yojanas wide. O maitreya!” from the Vishnupurana. One comes to know that on both sides the ocean is twice the expanse of the dvipa. (Rukmani, TS(2001),2001, p.117)
[42] praṇavārthaścāvāntarabhedaiḥ śrutyādiṣu bahudhoktaḥ saṃkṣepāttu gāruḍokto’rthotra kathyate’ yathā gāruḍe
vyaktāvyakte ca puruṣastisro mātrāḥ prakīrttitāḥ.
ardhamātrā paraṃ brahma jñeyamadhyātmacintakaiḥ ॥ iti
[43] Translation by the author of the paper


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  2. Rukmani,TS (2001), Yogavārttika of Vijnana Bhikshu, Text with English Translation and Critical Notes, Volumes 1-4, New Delhi: Munishiram Manoharlal Publishers Private Limited.
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This paper was presented as a part of a Conference on Puranas and Indic Knowledge Systems, organized by Indic Academy on 26th and 27th March 2021.

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