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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 46  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 76-80

Study of the concept of dvandva in the Pātañjala Yogasūtra from a philosophical and psycho-physiological perspective


Research Assistant, Philosophico Literary Research Department, Kaivalyadhama S.M.Y.M. Samiti, Lonavala, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication1-Jul-2015

Correspondence Address:
Seema Rani Yadav
Research Assistant, Philosophico-Literary Research Department, Kaivalyadhama, S.M.Y.M. Samiti, Lonavala - 410 403, Maharashtra
India
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DOI: 10.4103/0044-0507.159743

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  Abstract 

Background: In order to have a clearer understanding of yogic concepts as described in the Pātañjala Yogasūtra (PYS), the seminal, most authentic and authoritative, but extremely compact ancient text of yoga, there is a need for their critical study with reference to relevant commentaries and secondary sources of the PYS.
Aim: The current study focused on the word dvandva (general meaning - pair, conflict) as used in the PYS, as well as various relevant commentaries on the PYS, in an attempt to explain the end effect of yogic āsana in relation to dvandva.
Methods: A thorough review of the PYS and 22 commentaries on it that pertained to the concept of dvandva was conducted. The commentaries referred to were of two types: (a) Direct commentaries on the PYS and (b) indirect commentaries, i.e., commentaries on bhāṣya (commentary) of Vyāsa on the PYS. After this review, descriptive and analytical methods were used to correlate the philosophical understanding of dvandva, found in the PYS and its 22 relevant commentaries, with the psycho-physiological understanding of the concept.
Results: There are mainly five pairs of words regarding dvandva pertaining to āsana in PYS and the 22 commentaries referred to. They are śïta-uṣṇa, sukha-duḥkha, māna-avamāna, kāma-krodha, and kṣut-tṛṣṇā/pipāsā. These five pairs of words are either opposites or compound words, and all of them seem to represent disturbing elements of a conflict. The psycho-physiological mechanisms, by which these five pairs of disturbing elements related to dvandva become ineffective as a result of perfection in āsana, can be hypothesized.
Conclusion: The current study has attempted to critically analyze one of the important yogic concepts, dvandva. An effort has also been made to understand the mechanisms of transcending dvandva as a result of perfection in āsana, which the extremely compact PYS or its direct and indirect commentary seems to fall short of elucidating. Thus, the present study has thrown light on the need for fundamental studies of important terms or concepts mentioned in the PYS to understand their deeper meanings and probable mechanisms of action.

Keywords: Āsana, conflict, dvandva, Patañjali, Yogasūtra


How to cite this article:
Yadav SR. Study of the concept of dvandva in the Pātañjala Yogasūtra from a philosophical and psycho-physiological perspective. Yoga Mimamsa 2014;46:76-80

How to cite this URL:
Yadav SR. Study of the concept of dvandva in the Pātañjala Yogasūtra from a philosophical and psycho-physiological perspective. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2014 [cited 2019 Oct 19];46:76-80. Available from: http://www.ym-kdham.in/text.asp?2014/46/3/76/159743


  Introduction Top


In order to have a clearer understanding of yogic concepts as described in the Pātañjala Yogasūtra (PYS), the seminal, most authentic and authoritative but extremely compact ancient text of yoga, there is a need for their critical study with reference to secondary sources of the PYS. The word dvandva has been used in the 48 th verse of the second chapter of PYS in terms of resolving the conflict between two human conditions through the perfection of yogic āsana (Karambelkar, 1986). Two vital questions arise from this claim: (a) What are the types of dvandva? and (b) If dvandva can be transcended by the accomplishment of āsana, what justifications can possibly be there for such a claim? The very first commentator of PYS, Vyāsa, while writing on dvandva, remarked about "overcoming" or "remaining unaffected" by pairs of opposites, such as "heat and cold." It is very difficult to see the interrelationship between this understanding from Vyasa's commentary and the effects of practice of āsana as per the PYS. In order to find a logical and satisfactory answer to this problem, the current article examines 22 Sanskṛta commentaries on PYS, as well as applies psycho-physiological understanding of the concept of dvandva to the study.

Aim

The current study focused on the word dvandva (general meaning - pair, conflict) as used in the PYS, as well as various relevant commentaries of the PYS, in an attempt to explain the end effect of yogic āsana in relation to dvandva.


  Methods Top


A thorough review of the PYS and 22 commentaries on it that pertained to the concept of dvandva was conducted. The commentaries referred to were of two types: A) direct commentaries on the PYS and b) commentaries on bhāṣya (commentary) of Vyāsa on the PYS, referred to as indirect commentaries in the current article. Following the review, descriptive and analytical methods were used to correlate the philosophical understanding of dvandva, as found in the PYS and its 22 relevant commentaries, with the psycho-physiological understanding of the concept.


  Results Top


There are mainly five pairs of words regarding dvandva pertaining to āsana in PYS and the 22 commentaries referred to. They are śïta-uṣṇa, sukha-duḥkha, māna-avamāna, kāma-krodha, and kṣut-tṛṣṇā/pipāsā. These five pairs of words are either opposites or compound words, and all of them seem to represent disturbing elements of a conflict. The psycho-physiological mechanisms, by which these five pairs of disturbing elements related to dvandva become ineffective as a result of perfection in āsana, can be hypothesized.


  Discussion Top


Let us first understand the meaning of dvandva in the light of the Sanskṛta and English dictionaries as well as Sanskṛta and Hindi grammar. The word dvandva according to the Sanskrit-English dictionaries (Williams, 1899; Apte, 1924; Cappeller, 1972) has the following definition: pair, couple, male and female, a pair of opposites (e.g., heat and cold, joy and sorrow, etc.). Also, one of the reverse translations from English to Sanskṛta of a "pair of opposites" would be dvandva. Moreover, the word "conflict" is closely related to and can even be considered as a "pair of opposites." In Sanskṛta and Hindi grammar, the word dvandva is a compound word (samāsa); samāsa is only a pair and not essentially a pair of opposites (Suryakanta, 1975). From this point of view, all the statements found as a commentary on dvandva can be broadly termed as "pairs of words."

For further understanding, the current study referred to 22 Sanskṛta direct and indirect commentaries on the PYS (Bhatta, 1911; Gupta, 1911; Karambelkar, 1986; Rukmani, 1983; Sāstri, 1927, 1931, 1982a, 1982b, 1982c, 1982d, 1982e; Sāstri, 1932; Sāstri, 1935a, 1935b, 1935c, 1935d, 1935e, 1935f; Sāstri, 1939a, 1939b, 1939c; Sāstri & Sāstri, 1952) that pertained to the concept of dvandva. When referring to these 22 commentaries, the author found mainly five pairs of words with regards to the understanding of dvandva:



The commentaries providing pairs of words are of both types, pairs of opposites as well as compound words, thereby supporting the dictionary interpretation. ṣïta-uṣṇa (cold-heat), sukha-duḥkha (pleasure-pain), and māna-avamāna (honor-dishonor) are the compound words representing pairs of opposites. Kāma-krodha (desire-anger) and kṣut-tṛṣṇā/pipāsā (hunger-thirst) are the compound words representing the pairs. but not opposites. It is quite obvious that all of the above pairs, whether they are pairs of opposite words or just pairs of words, seem to be elements of human experience that indicate some sort of disequilibrium or imbalance, be it physiological or psychological. Therefore, they can be thought of as elements of human experience that disturb the balance. Thus, we come to a conclusion that dvandva does not essentially refer to pairs of opposites, but to any pair of disturbing elements of human experience which, according to PYS, become ineffective as a result of perfection in āsana. The question of how accomplishment in āsana can result in overcoming these five pairs of words related to dvandva, however, needs to be answered. The PYS, or for that matter, the direct or indirect commentators of the PYS, have not clearly explained how āsana can help transcend dvandva.

After collection and critical review of the material collected from the above-cited commentaries, the author found that a complete understanding of dvandva cannot be attained solely based on the commentaries. In order to provide some direction to the current study, it was thought necessary to include psycho-physiological understanding related to dvandva as well. Thus, the current article discusses this aspect and attempts to arrive at an understanding of the above claim of transcending dvandva with the help of the PYS and its commentaries, as well as on the basis of the psycho-physiology related to dvandva and its five pairs.

Understanding based on the PYS

Patañjali has presented the concept of āsana in just three sūtras/aphorisms (the 46 th , 47 th , and 48 th sūtras) in his second chapter. Interestingly, he has not mentioned the name of a single āsana; he has mentioned only the principles related to the performance of āsana in the three sūtras. They are:

  • sthira-sukham-āsanam - PYS II/46

    Meaning: āsana is (that which is) stable and pleasurable.
  • prayatnaśaithilyanantasamāpattibhyām PYS II/47

    Meaning: With (total) relaxation of efforts and merging into the infinite.
  • "tato dvandvānabhighātaḥ" - PYS II/48.

    Meaning: Through that, pairs of disturbing elements/conflicts cease to attack.


Let us first try to understand the import of these three sūtras one by one.

"sthira-sukham-āsanam" PYS II/46.

Meaning: āsana is (that which is) stable and pleasurable.

Here, two special characteristics of āsana have been mentioned:

  • sthira or the stable condition - This is both physical and mental
  • sukham or the comfortable/pleasurable condition. This is fundamentally mental, but is also dependent upon the physical condition.


This sūtra can be considered as a definition of the ideal state of an āsana: That which is maintained with stability and in a pleasurable state.

The next sūtra gives the method of practicing the āsana, and is a type of practical instruction for the attainment of the ideal state of āsana mentioned in the earlier sūtra:

"prayatnaśaithilyanantasamāpattibhyām" PYS II/47

Meaning: With (total) relaxation of efforts and merging into the infinite.

In this sūtra, the two important principles for the performance of āsana mentioned by Patañjali are:

(a) prayatnaśaithilya and (b) anantasamāpatti.

Let us try to find out the importance of the two instructions:

a. prayatnaśaithilya

  • prayatna = effort
  • śaithilya = relaxation.


The combined meaning of the two words would be "relaxation of efforts" or "effortlessness." As long as one makes an effort for anything, one remains associated with the "ego" or the concept of "I." So, making an effort would mean that a person's ego is also actively involved. On the other hand, "effortlessness" can be achieved or accomplished only when one's ego stops working. "Ego" and "effortlessness" cannot coexist. The meaning of "effortlessness" can also be taken to be that one is not the "doer of the practice," i.e. one has transcended the concept of the kartā (doer). The Bhagwad Gita (Prabhupada, n.d.), in relation to yoga, has stated that a person who thinks of himself as "the doer" is certainly not able to see things as they actually are. One who is controlled by the ego or a feeling of "doer-ship" cannot practice "relaxation of efforts." Ego is also tied closely to pairs of opposites or conflicts such as sukha (pleasure)-duḥkha (pain), māna (honor)-avamāna (dishonor), etc., as it is attachment and aversion of the "I" or "ego" to and from certain aspects of a particular condition that causes these conflicts. Transcending or overcoming the feeling of pleasure-pain, honor-dishonor, and the like through conscious and repeated relaxation of efforts in āsana means one has transcended the ego. Thus, in a broader sense, "relaxation of efforts" can mean "transcending the ego."

b. anantasamāpatti

  • ananta = infinite, endless
  • samāpatti = merging into, engrossed into.


In this second instruction, the word "anantasamāpatti" literally means "merging into the infinite." If the mind is directed toward the ananta (infinite), the yoga practitioner is able to transcend body consciousness, as when one consciously concentrates on higher planes of existence (one's interconnection with the cosmos), one loses consciousness of lower planes of existence related to worldly life. Thus, the word "anantasamāpatti" can also be taken to mean "transcending the body consciousness."

In summary, based on the above explanations, prayatnaśaithilya and anantasamāpatti taken together would mean transcending the ego as well as the body consciousness.

Now, let us move toward the third sūtra in the context of the above explanations:

"tato dvandvānabhighātaḥ" - PYS II/48.

Meaning: Through that, pairs of disturbing elements/conflicts cease to attack.

The above sūtra talks about the effect of āsana, viz., when āsana is done in the manner prescribed in the earlier sūtras and, thereby, one attains perfection in it, one is no longer harassed by pairs of disturbing elements/conflicts or by dvandva. Earlier, we have already seen the five pairs of words related to dvandva, viz., the three pairs of opposites of ṣïta-uṣṇa (cold-heat), sukha-duḥkha (pleasure-pain), and māna-avamāna (honor-dishonor), and the two pairs of compound words of kāma-krodha (desire-anger) and kṣut-tṛṣṇā/kṣut-pipāsā (hunger-thirst). Thus, one can logically draw a conclusion that these five pairs of disturbing elements/conflicts (dvandva) cease to attack when one attains perfection in āsana.

In this context, it is worth briefly mentioning a related verse in a text of Hatha yoga, Hathapradipika (Digambar & Jha, 1980). The explanations given above as per PYS with respect to āsana are also available in the context of the higher state of samādhi in the 111 th verse of the 4 th chapter of Hathapradipika as follows:

"na vijānāti śitoṣṇam na duḥkham na sukham tathā

na mānam nāpmānam ca yogï yuktaḥ samādhinā"

Meaning: A yogi blessed with the experience of samādhi does not mind cold, heat, pain, and pleasure, or being honored or dishonored.


Although the two states of samādhi and āsana are undoubtedly different, the comparison is still relevant in this context. In samādhi, the dvandva like heat-cold, pain-pleasure, etc., become insignificant for the sādhaka whereas, after the accomplishment of āsana, these factors remain but the practitioner does not get disturbed by them. Thus, even if the two states are dissimilar, their corresponding effects can be seen as stages of progression on the path of yoga.

Psycho-physiological understanding

After discussing in detail about the instructions from the PYS, let us now correlate dvandva in the PYS and the commentaries referred to with psycho-physiological understanding of the concept.

For the sake of the current study, the interpretations of dvandva given by the commentators are classified into three categories:

  • śïta (cold) and uṣṇa (heat): This pair seems to be more physiological in nature
  • sukha (pleasure) and duḥkha (pain), māna (respect) and avamāna (disrespect), kāma (lust) and krodha (anger) These pairs seem to be more psychological in nature
  • kṣut (hunger) and pipāsā/tṛṣṇā (thirst): This pair seems to be both physiological and psychological in nature.


Now, we will examine the five pairs of words in the light of the earlier discussion related to PYS as well as the above classification.

Dvandva with respect to śïta-uṣṇa (heat-cold)

Sāstri (1932) has referred to one of the verses from Vyāsa's (the very first commentator of PYS) bhāṣya, "śïto0ṣṇādibhirdvandvairāsana jayānnābhibhūyate," which suggests that the person who is accomplished in āsana will remain unaffected by heat and cold or he will transcend the feeling of cold and heat. The author found this effect of āsana mentioned by most of the commentators along with Vyāsa. Dvandva related to the opposite pairs of śita (cold) and ūṣṇa (heat) is more physiological in nature. Body conscious persons would tend to experience a feeling of heat and cold more than usual. Therefore, this dvandva related to the body can be overcome only if one has transcended the body consciousness. With reference to the earlier discussion, this dvandva can be overcome by following the instruction given by Patañjali of anantasamāpatti. This instruction can be seen as a top-down approach starting from mind to body of "merging into the infinite" to transcend the body consciousness. Thus, in the process of perfecting āsana, a yoga practitioner who repeatedly and consciously experiences merging into the infinite and, thereby, transcends body consciousness will be able to overcome the dvandva related to heat and cold. It is important to note that in saying this, Patañjali's instruction of prayatnaśaithilya is not altogether excluded; the emphasis on anantasamāpatti is merely stated.

Dvandva with respect to sukha-duḥkha (pleasure-pain), māna-avamāna (honor-dishonor), and kama-krodha (lust-anger)

As mentioned earlier, the pairs of pleasure-pain, honor-dishonor, and lust-anger related to dvandva seem to be more psychological in nature. Every human being passes through these feelings, but why we have so much attachment to and aversion from these feelings could be understood in the light of philosophy as well as psychology. From the viewpoint of modern psychology (Morgan, Clifford, Richard, Weisz, & Schopler, 2003), it is said that in addition to the basic physiological needs, the human being also possesses psychological needs that constantly press for fulfilment. If these are not met properly, it leads to disturbance in the life of an individual (for both a common man and a yoga practitioner). We all cherish the psychological needs of pleasure and honor to satisfy our egos. Thus, pleasure-pain, honor-dishonor, and lust-anger are all related to the ego. When humans remain excessively attached to these experiences to satisfy their ego, it causes psychological disturbances. A solution to this problem as given by Patañjali during āsana practice that was discussed earlier was transcending the ego by prayatnaśaithilya or "relaxation of efforts." This instruction can be seen as a bottom-up approach starting from body to the mind of "relaxation of efforts" to transcend the ego. However, these three pairs are not exclusively psychological in nature, and even if to a lesser extent, are also related to body physiology. Hence, Patañjali's instruction of anantasamāpatti is also relevant to these three pairs of words. Thus, the dvandva related to pleasure-pain, honor-dishonor, and lust-anger can be conquered by doing āsana in the manner prescribed by Patañjali and, thereby, achieving perfection in āsana.

Dvandva with respect to kṣut-pipāsā/tṛṣṇā (hunger-thirst)

Hunger and thirst are the most basic physiological needs, but they sometimes become psycho-physiological in nature. This is starkly seen in people with eating disorders like bulimia, etc., Thus, one needs to transcend the body consciousness (physiological aspect) as well as the ego (psychological aspect) in order to overcome the dvandva related to hunger-thirst. This can be done by following Patañjali's instructions of prayatnaśaithilya (transcending the ego by relaxation of efforts) as well as anantasamāpatti (transcending the body consciousness by merging into the infinite) and, thereby, achieving perfection in āsana.

Before concluding, the author considers it important to provide an overall psycho-physiological understanding of dvandva given by Swami Kuvalyananda, a pioneer in the area of scientific research in yoga. While describing āsana and its effect in the context of dvandva, Swami Kuvalyananda remarked that what Patañjali seemed to have in mind by dvandva is those opposite functions of the body that are likely required for smooth functioning. According to Kuvalayananda and Vinekar (1963), the opposite functions (e.g., nerve impulses - facilitatory and inhibitory) are spread over every system of the body and a correct balance of these two opposite functions, which happens when āsanas are done in a proper and meticulous way as prescribed by Patañjali, would restore their natural reciprocity and lead to the harmonious working of body and mind. This harmonious psycho-physiological functioning would also imply overcoming any type of dvandva when āsanas are perfected.


  Conclusion Top


The current study has attempted to critically analyze one of the important yogic concepts, dvandva. An effort has also been made to understand the mechanisms of transcending dvandva as a result of perfection in āsana, which the extremely compact PYS or its direct and indirect commentaries seem to fall short of elucidating. Thus, the present study has thrown light on the need for fundamental studies of important terms or concepts mentioned in the PYS to understand their deeper meanings and the probable mechanisms of action.


  Acknowledgments Top


The author is highly thankful to Kaivalyadhama for all the support and encouragement given in working on the current article. The author expresses heartfelt thanks to all the staff members of the Philosophico-Literary Research Department, especailly, Prof. G. S. Sahay, for their guidance and untiring discussions while writing this article. Dr. Praseeda Menon and Mr. Ulrich Nikolai were also of substantial help in refining the article.

 
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