"The chitta, by its own nature, is endowed with all knowledge. It is made of sattva particles, but is
covered by rajas and tamas particles; and by pranayama this covering is removed." -----Vivekananda, “ Raja Yoga”
The essence of Raja Yoga and its rigorous practice through eight steps is well illustrated in the commentary of Yogasutra of Patanjali by Swami Vivekananda. In this commentary the above statement figures. Then the basic question that comes to one’s mind is how can the chitta, which in its basic nature is pure and endowed with all knowledge, be corrupted?
The limitation of language in explaining this situation becomes apparent as Swami Vivekananda resorts to objective physicality in trying to clarify the process of defilement of pure consciousness.
It is as though we need to assign an objective framework to first understand chitta and then define an attribute of a pure constituent, sattva particles, being its nature. The defiling process is then described by accumulation of Rajas and tamas particles.
In order to have a deeper understanding it is necessary to elaborate this process from a non-objective dimension. We can proceed from the remedy that has been suggested; namely, the practice of ‘Pranayama’. Pranayama is the technique that one develops over many years of practice of controlling the prana or the vital force in the human body. Unlike many practitioners who assume that pranayama has to do with controlled breathing, it is the practice of controlling the nadi currents through the aid of controlled pulsation of the right and the left lungs which is accomplishes by the control of breathing.
It is the imbalance in the flow of the vital life force which causes consciousness modification. These modifications are karmic inheritance in material nature. The sattva particles can be thought of as pure ground potential state which defines the ground of being of pure consciousness. The mind operates in a reflective mode of pure consciousness and hence it acquires certain distorted characters contributed by the positively or negatively agitated state of the mind represented by the Rajas or Tamas particles.
Here we can recall the wisdom of Yama as he instructs Nachiketa in Katha Upanishad the hierarchy of the human mind:
“Beyond the senses there are the objects, beyond the objects there is the mind, beyond the mind there is the intellect, the Great Self is beyond the intellect. Beyond the Great there is the Undeveloped, beyond the Undeveloped there is the Person (purusha). Beyond the Person there is nothing--this is the goal, the highest road. That Self is hidden in all beings and does not shine forth, but it is seen by subtle seers through their sharp and subtle intellect.” ……Chapter 6 verse 10-12
Words of wisdom from a contemporary teacher reflects the process I have been explaining:
“Every thought, feeling, perception, or memory you may have causes a modification, or ripple, in the mind. It distorts and colours the mental mirror. If you can restrain the mind from forming into modifications, there will be no distortion, and you will experience your true Self.” ……………..Swami Satchidananda
Hence it is not the pure consciousness which is modified but the reflection in the mind which operates at a much lower plenum. The Ashtanga Yoga defined by Patanjali is a process of eliminating the acquired and induced modifications of the perceptual and conceptual mind which operates under the influence of the Ego.
Love to you all.