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Patanjali Yoga Sutras

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Patanjali Yoga Sutra

Sabdartha pratyayanam itaretaradhyasat samkaras tat pravibhaga samyamat sarva bhuta ruta jnanam.

The sound, the meaning (behind it) and the idea are present together in a mixed state. By performing samyama, they are resolved and there arises comprehension of the meaning of sounds uttered by any living being. (III-17)

Folk tales world over have a dialogue between men and animal. As a child we all are fascinated with the prospect of interacting with animals, understanding their language. Since all life is the manifestation of one single consciousness, it is not impossible. We have to dive deep within 'ourselves' to resolve the complexity of any sound.

Life and matter are not what they appear on surface. Every phenomenon on this earth has layers and layers of existence. So is the case with 'sound'. Any sound has three layers called Sabda, Artha and Pratyaya. These three are mixed together like a mixture of sand, water and oil.

Sabda is the outer most layer of the sound, like the outer most shell of a seed. This is what a normal person hears. Incidentally, quite a few people in this world know how to hear but very few know the art of 'listening'. Listening to a friend or a lecture. And,of course, spouses of constantly complaining partners only pretend to hear them. Thus, prattle of a friend may just be a combination of sounds to an unwillinglistener and nothing may register in his or her mind.

Artha is the deeper layer of the sound. 'Kuhoo' of a koil may just be a sweet note of a bird to our ears. But her partner may understand the 'artha' of this 'Sabda'. 'Kuhoo' may mean 'dear' or 'come' to him.

The deepest layer is 'pratyaya', the 'picture' in the mind of the bird when she is calling Kuhoo-kuhoo (come-come). She may be calling her mate or her birdling. No one except herself may know this 'pratyaya'. But a yogi, who has learnt the art of resolving these three layers of sound by diving deep within himself through samadhi, may know the secret of Sabda, Artha and Pratyaya by performing 'Samyama' on them.

A mixture of sound, water and oil in a violently shaken state may 'look' a homogeneous fluid but when it settles down, we can see all the three layers clearly. Same is the case with a yogi. He can resolve any sound in its separate components and then 'peep' through thesecomponents to know the meaning of any sound on earth! Our scriptures are full of incidents where various characters communicate with birds and animals. Two of the majorUpanishads are named after animals.

The great text of yoga 'Yoga Vasistha' beings with the story of a crow who survives Pralaya and some rishis asking him the secret of that. Thus, Indian life was (and is) totally in tune with nature worshipping mother nature and not exploiting it, causing ecological disorders.

This article appears in the Yoga Magazine, Yoga Sudha December, 1997 edition. This article has been published courtesy

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