Sutra 1.31, 1.32

Sutra 1.31

दुःखदौर्मनस्याङ्गमेजयत्वश्वासप्रश्वासा विक्षेपसहभुवः॥३१॥

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duHkhadaurmanasyaa~ggamejayatva shvaasaprashvaasaa vikShepasahabhuvaH


“(Mental) pain, despair, nervousness, and hard breathing are the symptoms of a distracted condition of mind.”

In this sutra, symptoms by which the presence of Viksepa can be recognized are presented. Pain (dukkha) either physical or mental shows disharmony in the system. To treat physical pain one can visit a doctor. However, mental pain needs special examination either by self or a specialist.

Pain, when combined with a feeling of incapacity to remove it effectively, leads to despair, despair then leads to nervousness which is merely an outer physical symptom of despair. Nervousness disturbs the breathing because it disorganizes the flow of Pranic currents.

The subject of suffering (kleshas) has been dealt with in detail by Patanjali in Chapter 2.  However, in this sutra we are talking about mental afflictions called Vikshepa and the associated symptoms. Removal of these is dealt with in the following sutras.


" Sorrow, Dejection, Restlessness Of Body, Inhalation And Exhalation Arise From (Previous) Distractions."

Sorrow is of three kinds – Adhyatmika (arising within oneself), Adhibhautika (inflicted by others), and Adhidaivika (from natural calamity). Sorrow is any suffering that one tries to prevent/remove. Dejection results from non-fulfillment of desires. Upsetting of bodily steadiness results in shakiness of the body. The process of disturbed breathing is also associated with mental distraction. In complete concentration, breathing may stop but the flow of inner consciousness continues and brings about concentration on the object of meditation.

Sutra 1.32


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tatpratiShedhaartham ekatattvaabhyaasaH


"For removing these obstacles there (should be) constant practice of one
truth or principle."

This sutra refers not to the attainment of ‘samadhi’ (as suggested by some commentators) but to reverse the tendency of the mind to run after sense objects and develop capacity to stay focused on the object of concentration. Concentration of purpose and the capacity to keep the mind directed within are essential pre-requisites for the practice of Yoga.


"For Their Stoppage (i.e. Of Distractions) Practice Of (Concentration on) A Single Principle Should Be Made."

How is the mind to be understood?

  • One state limited to one object without a substrate: not tenable because then the mind will always be one-pointed on that object
  • Continuous flow of discrete (similar or dissimilar) ideas: if, as is considered for this view, the mind is momentary then a flow cannot be maintained
  • Each idea of the mind is uniquely different from every other idea: not tenable as this would negate the presence of the ‘self’ which is the cognizer through all senses

So, we must conclude that mind is a substrate of all modifications and is one continuous entity. For the purpose of concentration, it is not important what the object of contemplation (the single principle) is – Ishvara or any other element/object (Aranya does recommend focusing on Ishvara or the pure I-sense). When concentration is coordinated with inhalation and exhalation, the breathing becomes yogic breathing which leads to calmness of the mind. The effort to keep the mind still also decreases shakiness of the body.


Aranya’s statement that the ordinary breathing is associated with mental distraction came up for some discussion. We finally concluded that the breathing referred to in this sutra is the result of one of the nine Vikshepas mentioned in the previous sutra. In such a case the breathing will be distracted.

An interesting idea about suffering was brought forward – all suffering results when objects made for human comfort are damaged. For example, in the case of calamities like Katrina, most of the damage was to man-made items like buildings, roads, bridges, vehicles etc. Living in tune with nature can reduce our suffering as there will be much less to lose.

One question came up with regard to the practice on "one principle (ek tattva)" – can the benevolent acts of Mother Teresa be considered ‘one principle’? The answer: no, not the acts themselves but the singe idea of reducing human suffering can be considered as one principle.


7 comments to Sutra 1.31, 1.32

  • Ramani Ayakannu

    Sutra 1.31 appears to have far reaching implications on oneself. It is a direct impliation that if one is experiencing any one of the symtoms (Sorrow,Dejection,nervousness, or breathing problems)it would need immediate attention or rather there is a need for the individual to realize that he/she has an issue that needs to be addressed. It can be treated as “Self-realization” that we have allowed an external factor to have a profound impact on ourself. This would be contrary to the teachings of Yoga. Through the practice of Yoga, we are being trained to recognise and welcome external factors or forces. At the same time, we are trained (or will be trained) not to react impulsively to these forces but rather learn to rationalize their impliations, and learn to respond rationally. Therefore, our reaction to these external forces shall have minimal or no impact on ourselves.
    My opinion is, that, if one is experiencing these symtoms, it would be a clear indication that that person needs needs help or training to overcome the obstacles stated in sutra 1.30. It would also mean that he/she has not reached that level in Yoga where he/she is able to factors recognize and rationalize external factors with minimal or no impact on oneself.


  • Ramani Ayakannu

    Sutra 1.32 appears to direct us towards the practice of meditation as one method to remove obstables.
    However, it is my believe that meditation alone will not help to remove obstacles but rather a balanced approach that consists of both Asanas & meditation. The reason being that some of the obstacles cannot be removed solely through medication alone but rather a combination of mediation and physical exercise. Through the practice of Yoga (Asanas & Meditation) it will help oneslf to realise ones own strong abilities, and weaknesses. Realising ones own strengths and weaknesses would be a major step (or progress or milestones) towards samadhi. This realization (strengths & weaknesses) would be a good indication on the problematic areas that we need to emphasise to reduce these weaknesses.

  • subhash

    Hi Ramani,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. In your comment on sutra 1.31 you have emphasized the need to recognize and deal with ‘external’ factors. My observation is that we can be afflicted with any of the conditions in sutra 1.30 and 1.31 not only from external factors but also from internal factors as well. Internally we can start worrying about events from our past which are embedded in our sub-conscious or worry about future events. In fact, I think the suffering caused by these internal events is much harder to deal with than what can be caused by external events.


  • Is your Really simply syndication link working properly? I can’t seem to sign up for your primary feed for whatever reason, but the comments feed functions correctly?

  • subhash

    Thanks for visiting the yoga sutra site. Unfortunately, I am not techy enough to know how to make the RSS feed link work. I would, in fact, appreciate any help that you can provide to make it work. Thanks.

  • Hello Subhash (and others),

    Thank you for visiting my little upstart blog, and especially for letting me know about your excellent site. I have only had time to glance around here and there, but I can see already that it will be a great resource for studying the sutras in more depth. I really appreciate the enormous amount of work you have put into it already. I look forward to exploring more of what you have offered here.

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  • subhash

    Hi Ken,
    I look forward to your active participation in the discussion on the blog posts which I keep updating from time to time, based on the discussions in the YSP Study group meetings. Given that you have over 25 years of experience with the sutras, your feedback will be very valuable for us. Thanks.
    – Subhash