Yoga Sutra

Samadhi Pada

Sutra 1.11
अनुभूतविषयासंप्रमोषः स्मृतिः
anu-bhūta-viṣaya-asaṁpramoṣaḥ smr̥tiḥ

Memory is the modification which takes content from the experience that has not yet disappeared fully.

anuboota = from the experience
vishaya = content
asam = not fully
pramosah = disappear 
smiriti = memory

Smiriti is the modification of the mind which takes the content from the experience that has not disappeared fully. Mind functions from the memory of the past impressions. The mind indulges in the past. Because of this function of the mind, it project the present based on the experience of past rather than having a right knowledge over the present. This results in Viparyaya or the wrong knowledge. Not only that, it imagines the future which results in Vikalpa or Imagination. All the modifications take their precedence in memory and memory takes precedence in all the modifications. Most of the mind's modifications are the result of memory only. So Smiriti is the strongest Vritti.

Commentary by Maharishi Vyasha

Memory is the non-relinquishment of an object that has been cognised.

Does the mind remember the cognition or the object? The cognition colored by the object and manifesting in both the forms of cognition and object, produces an impression (Sanskara) of the same character. This impression, having the form as its causes (cognition and object), brings about the same character. The cognition has got the form of the principal cognition and the memory has got the form of object for its precedent.


The memory is two-fold: one is assuming the object and another one not so. During dream, the object is assumed and in the waking state, the object is not assumed. All  kinds of the memory have their existence in prior right notion, misconception, fancy, and  sleep, which are constituted by the pain, pleasure and illusion. These are explained under Klesa.  By attachment comes pleasure, by envy comes pain and by ignorance comes illusion. All these modifications are to be supressed. The suppression will lead to one of the two types of Samadhi.

Commentary by Swami Vivekananda

Memory is when the (Vrttis of) perceived subjects do not slip away (and through impressions come back to consciousness).

Memory can be caused by the previous three. For instance, you hear a word. That word is like a stone thrown into the lake
of the Chitta; it causes a ripple, and that ripple rouses a series of ripples; this is memory. So in sleep. When the peculiar kind of ripple called sleep throws the Chitta into a ripple of memory it is called a dream. Dream is another form of the ripple which in the waking state is called memory.

Commentary by Sri Osho


These are definitions. He is clarifying things so later on you need not get mixed up. What is memory? – calling up of past experiences. Continuously, memory is happening. Whenever you see something, immediately memory comes in and distorts it. You have seen me before. You see me again, immediately memory comes in. If you had seen me five years before, then the picture of five years, the past picture, will come into your eyes and fill your eyes. And you will see me through that picture.

That’s why, if you have not seen your friend for many days, the moment you see you immediately say, ”You are looking very thin,” or ”You are looking very unhealthy,” or ”You have gathered fat.” Immediately! Why? Because you are comparing; the memory has come in. The man himself is not aware that he has gathered fat or he has become thin, but you become aware because immediately you can compare. The past, the last picture comes in, and immediately you can compare.


And this memory is continuously there, being projected on everything you see. This past memory has to be dropped. It should not be a constant interference in your knowing because it doesn’t allow you to know the new. You always know in the pattern of the old. It doesn’t allow you to feel the new, it makes everything old and rotten. Because of this memory, everybody is bored; the whole humanity is bored. Look at anybody’s face, he is bored, bored to death. There is nothing new, no ecstasy.

Why children are so ecstatic1 And for such simple things you cannot imagine how this ecstasy is happening. Just for few colored stones on the beach and they start dancing. What is happening to them? Why you cannot dance? Because you know those are just stones; your memory is there. For those children there is no memory, those stones are a new phenomenon – as if they have reached to the moon.

I was reading when the first man reached the moon all over the world there was excitement. And everybody was looking on their TV’s, but within fifteen minutes, everybody was bored, finished. What to do now? The man is walking on the moon. After just fifteen minutes and this dream has taken millions of years to reach there... And nobody is now interested what is happening.

Everything becomes old. Immediately it becomes memory, it becomes old. If you can drop your memories! Dropping doesn’t mean that you cease to remember, dropping only means this constant interference. When you need, you can pull it back to the focus. When you don’t need it, just let it be there silently, not coming continuously.

Past, if continuously present, will not allow present to be. And if you miss present, you miss all.