(Last Updated on : 21/07/2010)
The seventh yoga sutra states about the difference between a yogi's acts and an ordinary individual's acts. Actions are of three types - white, black and grey. These kinds of deeds are performed by an ordinary man, whereas, a yogi is beyond any coloured deeds, he is pure and liberated. The various acts performed by an ordinary man is consisted of several shades in positive and negative, whereas a yogi gives rise to unalloyed actions; they are beyond dichotomy. A common individual can also become liberated from these confined deeds, if he is successful to keep aside his ambitions and cravings.
of a yogi
Trividkam threefold (black, white and mixed, or grey)
Itaresam for others
A yogi's actions are neither white nor black. The actions of others are of three kinds - white, black or grey.
This sutra speaks of three types of actions and their effects on an average individual, but there are in fact four. The fourth is free, uncoloured and pure. The yogi follows this kind of action to be free from its fruits.
White, black and mixed or grey actions give rise to fruits and chain reactions. Black actions produce tamasic, grey actions rajasic, and white, sattvic effects. White actions result in virtue, black in vice. Grey actions result in a mixture of effects, and of positive and negative emotions.
The unmixed actions of the yogi are beyond saliva, rajas and lamas. They yield no positive or negative reactions in consciousness and hence are free from duality. This fourth type of action is propitious and auspicious. This is the real 'skill in action' of the yogi (reference: Bhagavad Gita, 11.50).
An average person is satured with ambitious thoughts. He desires rewards for his deeds, but forgets that they carry the seeds of pain. If his ambition is transformed into spiritual aspiration, he loses interest in rewards and comes to understand sadhana for the sake of sadhana, or action for the sake of action. He becomes refined; his mind and consciousness become clear and his actions clean. He collects no impressions. He takes future births only to cleanse himself of past-accumulated impressions. He anchors his mind and consciousness unreservedly to the will of the divine. All his actions are free from the seeds of reactions.
There is an inclination to associate Patanjali's eightfold path with the ascetic, who conquers the temptations of the flesh simply by rejecting the civilized world and dwelling in places where no temptations exist. Of all discussions on how to belong to the world, act in it and yet remain unsullied; pride of place is often given to the debate between Lord Krishna and Arjuna on the eve of battle. There, Krishna makes it clear that action cannot be avoided; because inaction is also action; and that selfish actions, and attachment to their fruits, lead to entrapment.
With respect to this triumph of world literature and philosophy, the Bhagavad Gita, one must acknowledge that in this sutra, Patanjali, in his usual crisp style, has said exactly the same thing. Not even the superbly expressive style of the Gita can eclipse Patanjali's intelligence in going straight to the heart of the matter.
How does a free man act, and yet remain free? This is the main thrust of the kaivalya pada. Here Patanjali evidently states that free action, beyond causality, is his who acts without motive or desire - as if a kite were released in the sky, without a string to bring it back to earth. (III.12-15 and iv.4)