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Yoga Sutra

Samadhi Pada

Sutra 1.15
दृष्टानुश्रविकविषयवितृष्णस्य वशीकारसंज्णा वैराग्यम्
dr̥ṣṭa-anuśravika-viṣaya-vitr̥ṣṇasya vaśīkāra-saṁjṇā vairāgyam

Dispassion is the consciousness of mastery acheived by controlling the desires of objects seen or heard.

drishta = seen, perceived
anushravika = heard, from scriptures
vishaya = objects
vitrishnnasya = who has control over desires
vashikaara = mastery
samjna = consciousness
vairaagyam= dispassion

Vairaagyam is the subjugating consciousness reached by exercising control over the desires arising out of the objects of sense organs. The mind is in imbalance always being disturbed by the desires. The desires are generated in the mind by the objects perceived through sense organs. The trigger or stimulus is the perception of objects.


One who understands this mechanism and aspires to get control over the desires has constant vigil over his sense organs and the stimulus. He is on alert always. He performs his functions without attachment. His mind and sense organs are completely detached. The communication is completely blocked. It does mean that he is inactive. His sense organs perform all the activities, but the inputs fed by them have no capacity to make any modifications in his mind.  The willpower he employs for such a control is Vairaagyam, the dispassion.  


Patanjali mentioned two classes of objects: one is the class of objects seen or perceived and another one is the class of objects heard. 


The objects perceived are the objects like women, wealth, health, food and the like. The objects heard are the objects from the experiences of others, mostly through scriptures. In the days of Patanjali, scriptures were taught by oral transmission only. Hence the objects heard are objects given in scriptures or derived out of others' experiences. They include the prayer to deities, learning of scriptures, performing spiritual ceremonies, moral life, heaven and the like. One often has the desire for the objects like these. These desires make one's mind imbalanced. Hence, dispassion is the control of desires in any form.

Commentary by Maharishi Vyasha

Dispassion is the consciousness of the  controller who is devoid of any thirst for perceptible and scriptural objects.

When one is freed from the desires of temporal perceptible objects like woman, food, drink and wealth and the desires of scriptural objects like heaven, disembodiment, dissolution in nature, his internal organ which finds objective discrepancies even in the celestial and terrestrial objects obtains the state of consciousness having the mastery over the objects, which is disjoined from any faulty attachments. This state of consciousness having mastery over the objects is disppassion.

Commentary by Swami Vivekananda

That effort, which comes to those who have given up their thirst after objects either seen or heard, and which wills to control the objects, is non-attachment.

Two motives of our actions are (1) What we see ourselves; (2) The experience of others. These two forces are throwing the mind, the lake, into various waves. Renunciation is the power of battling against these and holding the mind in check. Renunciation of these two motives is what we want. I am passing through a street, and a man comes and takes my watch. That is my own experience. I see it myself, and it immediately throws my Chitta into a wave, taking the form of anger. Allow that not to come. If you cannot prevent that, you are nothing; if you can, you have Vairagyam. Similarly, the experience of the worldly-minded teaches us that sense enjoyments are the highest ideal. These are tremendous temptations. To deny them, and not allow the mind to come into a wave-form with regard to them is renunciation; to control the twofold motive powers arising from my own experience, and from the experience of others, and thus prevent the Chitta from being governed by them, is Vairagyam. These should be controlled by me, and not I by them. This sort of mental strength is called renunciation. This Vairagyam is the only way to freedom.

Commentary by Sri Osho


Many things are implied and have to be understood. One, the indulgence in sensual pleasures. Why do you ask for sensuous pleasures? Why the mind constantly thinks about indulgence? Why you move again and again in the same pattern of indulgences?

For Patanjali and for all those who have known, the reason is that you are not blissful inwardly; hence, the desire for pleasure. The pleasure-oriented mind means that as you are, in yourself, you are unhappy. That’s why you go on seeking happiness somewhere else. A person who is unhappy is bound to move into desires. Desires are the way of the unhappy mind to seek happiness. Of course, nowhere this mind can find happiness. At the most, he can find few glimpses. Those glimpses appear as pleasure. Pleasure means glimpses of happiness. And the fallacy is that this pleasure-seeking mind thinks that these glimpses and pleasure is coming from somewhere else. It always comes from within.

Let us try to understand. You are in love with a person. You move into sex. Sex gives you a glimpse of pleasure; it gives you a glimpse of happiness. For a single moment, you feel at ease. All the miseries have disappeared; all the mental agony is no more. For a single moment you are here and now, you have forgotten all. For a single moment there is no past and no future. Because of this – there is no past and no future, and for a single moment you are here and now-from within you the energy flows. Your inner self flows in this moment, and you have a glimpse of happiness.

But you think that the glimpse is coming from the partner, from the woman or from the man. It is not coming from the man or from the woman. It is coming from you! The other has simply helped you to fall into the present, to fall out of future and past. The other has simply helped you, to bring you to the nowness of this moment.

If you can come to this nowness without sex, sex, by and by will become useless, it will disappear. It will not be a desire then. If you want to move in it you can move into it as a fun, but not as a desire. Then there is no obsession with it because you are not dependent on it.

Sit under a tree someday – just in the morning when the sun has not arisen, because with the sun arising your body is disturbed, and it is difficult to be at peace within. That is why the East has always been meditating before the sunrise. they have called it brahmamuhurt – The moments of the divine. And they are right because with the sun, energies rise and they start flowing in the old pattern that you have created.

Just in the morning, the sun has not yet come on the horizon, everything is silent and nature is fast asleep – the trees are asleep, the birds are asleep, the whole world is asleep; your body also inside is asleep – you have come to sit under a tree. Everything is silent. Just try to be here in this moment. Don’t do anything; don’t even meditate. Don’t make any effort. Just close your eyes, remain silent, in this silence of nature. Suddenly you will have the same glimpse which has been coming to you through sex or even greater, deeper. Suddenly you will feel a rush of energy flowing from within. And now you cannot be deceived because there is no other; it is certainly coming from you. It is certainly flowing from within. Nobody else is giving it to you; you are giving it to yourself.


But the situation is needed – a silence, energy not in excitement. You are not doing anything, just being there under a tree, and you will have the glimpse. And this will not really be the pleasure, it will be the happiness because now you are looking at the right source, the right direction. Once you know it, then through sex you will immediately recognize that the other was just a mirror; you were just reflected in him or in her. And you were the mirror for the other. You were helping each other to fall into the present, to move away from the thinking mind to a non-thinking state of being.

The more mind is filled with chattering, more sex has appeal. In the East, sex was never such an obsession as it has become an obsession in the West. Films, stories, novels, poetry, magazines, everything has become sexual. You cannot sell anything unless you can create a sex appeal. If you have to sell a car you can sell it only as a sex object. If you want to sell toothpaste, you can sell only through some sex appeal. Nothing can be sold without sex. It seems that only sex has the market, nothing else – a significance.

Every significance comes through sex. The whole mind is obsessed with sex. Why? Why has this never happened before? This is something new in human history. And the reason is now West is totally absorbed in thoughts – no possibility of being here and now, except sex. Sex has remained the only possibility, and even that is going.

For the modern man, even this has become possible – that while making love he can think of other things. And once you become so capable that while making love you go on thinking of something – of your accounts in the bank, or you go on talking with a friend, or you go on being somewhere else while making love here – sex will also be finished. Then it will just be boring, frustrating because sex was not the thing. The thing was only this – that because sexual energy moving so fast, your mind comes to a stop; the sex takes over. The energy flows so fast, so vitally, that your ordinary patterns of thinking stop.


And talking has brought man here – the situation that is today. A constant chattering mind does not allow any happiness, any possibility of happiness, because only a silent mind can look within, only a silent mind can hear the silence, the happiness, that is always bubbling there. But it is so subtle that with the noise of the mind you cannot hear it.

Only in sex the noise sometimes stops. I say ”sometimes”. If you have become habitual in sex also, as husbands and wives become, then it never stops. The whole act becomes automatic and the mind goes on its own. Then sex also is a boredom.
Anything has appeal if it can give you a glimpse. The glimpse may appear to be coming from the outside; it always comes from within. The outside can only be just a mirror. When happiness flowing from within is reflected from the outside, it is called pleasure. This is the definition of Patanjali’s – happiness flowing from within reflected from somewhere in the outside, the outside functioning as a mirror. And if you think that this happiness is coming from the outside, it is called pleasure. We are in search of happiness, not in search of pleasure. So unless you can have glimpses of happiness, you cannot stop your pleasure-seeking efforts. Indulgence means search for pleasure.

A conscious effort is needed. For two things. One: Whenever you feel a moment of pleasure is there, transform it into a meditative situation. Whenever you feel you are feeling pleasure, happy, joyful, close your eyes and look within, and see from where it is coming. Don’t lose this moment; this is precious. If you are not conscious you may continue thinking that it comes from without, and that’s the fallacy of the world.

If you are conscious, meditative, if you search for the real source, sooner or later you will come to know it is flowing from within. Once you know that it always flows from within, it is something that you have already got, the indulgence will drop, and this will be the first step of desirelessness. Then you are not seeking, not hankering. You are not killing desires, you are not fighting with desires, you have simply found something greater. Desires don’t look so important now. They wither away.

Remember this: they are not to be killed and destroyed; they wither away. Simply you neglect them because you have a greater source. You are magnetically attracted towards it. Now your whole energy is moving inwards. The desires are simply neglected. 

You are not fighting them. If you fight with them you will never win. It is just like you were having some stones, coloured stones, in your hand. And now suddenly you have come to know about diamonds, and they are lying about. You throw the coloured stones just to create space for the diamonds in your hand. You are not fighting the stones. When diamonds are there you simply drop the stones. They have lost their meaning.

Desires must lose their meaning. If you fight, the meaning is not lost. Or even, on the contrary, just through the fight you may give them more meaning. Then they become more important. This is happening. Those who fight with any desire, that desire becomes their centre of the mind. If you fight sex, sex becomes the centre. Then, continuously, you are engaged in it, occupied with it. It becomes like a wound. And wherever you look, that wound immediately projects, and whatsoever
you see becomes sexual.

The mind has a mechanism, an old survival mechanism, of fight or flight. Two are the ways of the mind: either you can fight with something or you can escape from it. If you are strong, then you fight. If you are weak, then you take flight, then you simply escape. But in both the ways the other is important, the other is the centre. You can fight or you can escape from the world – from the world where desires are possible; you can go to the Himalayas. That too is a fight, the fight of the weak.


If you are strong, then you are ready to fight. If you are weak, then you are ready to fly, to take flight. But in both the cases, you are not becoming stronger. In both cases, the other has become the centre of your mind. These are the two attitudes fight or flight – and both are wrong because through both the mind is strengthened.

Patanjali says there is a third possibility: don’t fight and don’t escape. Just be alert. Just be conscious. Whatsoever is the case, just be a witness. Conscious effort means one: searching for the inner source of happiness, and, second: witnessing the old pattern of habits – not fighting it, just witnessing it.

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