VOS footnotes (1)
Jul 28, 1996 09:17 AM
by Kim Poulsen
As promised, I will make a few notes as the VOS dicussion gets going.
Mostly on the terms, the ideas behind the sentences and the possibility for
First - the origin of the text. I am aware of two statements regarding
the text, one by HPB in the introduction connecting it to the Yogacharya
School, and the other by CWL in the intro to "Light on the Path" which
states it to be from a work by Aryasanga - better known as Asanga, founder
of the Yogacharya School. The first is undoubted (as I will show with a few
verses) and the second is highly probable: Asanga was the adept of the
school, a preacher of brotherly love, an interpreter of esoteric meaning in
texts (artha) and claiming to be a pupil of Maitreya, the Buddha to come.
One peculiarity of the yogarcharyas is that they often prefer yoga terms
(like Patanjali's) to the pali terms. I will give the definitions of the
lesser known words with ITRANS transliteration in brackets, this is the
best way to render the words in ASCII.
dharana (dhaaraNa, dharaNa) from dhaara, dhara - to hold, bear, support:
wearing, supporting, mental concentration, upholding a state
of mental focus and concentration.
nada (nad.h) utter a sound or cry, resound
As dharana plays a vital part in the VOS I think it best to explain the
term in full. Just as with the eight-fold path (of which right samadhi is
the eight part), at the threshold of the four truths so raja yoga has its
eight steps (see Yoga Sutras, 2.29). These are connected in pairs to a
plane of being.
Connected to the 6th or astral, emotional plane is 1) yama and 2) niyama.
An emotional nature controlled by regulations and self-restraint. The
astral nature is curbed even before sitting for meditation.
Connected to the 7th or physical plane is 3) asana and 4) pranayama - a
sitting posture is taken (aasana) and the breath controlled (praaNaayaama).
Connected to the 5th or mental plane is 5) pratyahara and 6) dharana.
First pratyahara (pratyaahaara) abstraction, witholding (the senses),
retreat (from the objective world). The lower mind is calmed by resorting
to the nature of the higher mind. Then 6) dharana, concentration, focus.
The lower mind is evoked again, but this time focussed on the real.
Connected to the 4th or buddhic plane is 7) dhyana and 8) samadhi. Concrete
and abstract levels of buddhic plane. Meditation and its goal - the state
This should explain why dharana is the sixth state. Dharana, dhyana and
samadhi is often considered together corresponding to manas-buddhi-atma or
rather manas, buddhi-manas, atma-buddhi. (see Mahayanasutralamkara
In a future post would like to add a few extracts from the
Mahayanasutralamkara of Asanga and a commentary upon it, all of them
interesting and some of them strongly supportive of the claim that the VOS
has a yogacharya origin.
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