Original language of Yoga Suutra

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 4 11:41:02 UTC 2000

>There is no noun in nom.  That is the first ellipsis.
>There is a second one.  Assuming that praa.na specifies
>pracchardanavidhaara.na creates a problem:

pracchardana = expulsion, vidhaara.na = retention. These are
clearly related to praa.na. What else could one suppose to be
expelled and retained here? Recall that breath control is a
significant part of any Yoga technique.

>praa.na in that case should have been before vaa.
>The implied meaning might be expressed with
>praa.nasya pracchardanavidhaara.naabhyaa.m vaa

The change in word order does not change the meaning. May I
suggest the use of a small monograph by J. F. Staal, titled
_Word Order in Sanskrit and Unviversal Grammar_, Dordrecht,
D. Reidel, 1967?

>Consequent suutras I.35-I.39 make the situation much worse by
>listing alternatives with vaa in different cases and sometimes as
>nouns, sometimes as adjectives, which creates even more gaps.
>I.37 is the least  clear one.

For YS I. 34-39, the nominative noun is supplied by sUtra I.
33. It is citta-prasaadanam (making the mind clear). In this
set of sUtras, the text lists various alternative means to
achieve various degrees of mental clarity. That is why there
are all these 'vaa-s' sprinkled about here. As introduced by
sUtra I. 32, citta-prasaadanam counters citta-vik.sepa (the
dispersion of the mind), i.e. the obstacles (antarAya) to
mental clarity, as described in I. 30-31. Various means of
achieving this clarity are described in sUtras I. 33-39.
There is a very clear logical flow of thought, and there is
no violence done to grammar in the commentaries here. If you
consider that mental clarity can be described either in terms
of the process of clearing the mind or as a state of thinking
with a clear mind, then the use of ablative and nominative
cases makes perfect sense.

Note that in I. 31, zvAsa-prazvAsa, i.e. shortness of breath,
is listed as one outcome of citta-vik.sepa. Taking deep breaths
(pracchardana and vidhaara.na) is the way of calming the mind
when this happens. So, "optionally" seems like a good enough
translation for vaa in I. 34. The existence of an alternative
implies that depending on what obstacle one faces, one can opt
for one of the many methods described in the text. Becoming
free of all mental attachments is described as another way of
attaining mental clarity (I. 37). It is easy to say this, but
a very difficult thing to do. Taking a deep breath is easier!

sUtra-s were purposely written in a technique that required
the use of a minimum number of words. That is what makes it
seem like there may be an ellipsis here and there. Hope this
has clarified the problem somewhat.

Best regards,
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