The Language Of Yoga Demystified – Part II


In this series, Yogic terminologies of will be taken up and their

  1. Etymological analysis,
  2. Lexical descriptions and
  3. Textual occurrences in Yogic texts and their commentaries, as available, will be presented. Predominantly Yogasūtra, Haṭha-yoga-pradīpikā and Bhagavadgītā are consulted.

Śabda-yoga is intended to help students, teachers, and professionals of Yoga to develop a sound grammatical, contextual, and thereby an authentic and immersive understanding of Yoga terminologies.

List of Words

The words that appear in the Yogasūtras will be sequentially dealt initially and then terms from other prominent Yoga texts will be taken up. Every śabda-yoga article will analyse five terms. The five terms for this article are –

  1. Atha
  2. Yoga
  3. Anuśāsana
  4. Citta
  5. vṛtti 

1. Atha


अर्थ + ड = अथ

atha = artha + ḍa

  • In this word artha is the root. The meaning of the root is yācñā  – to beg
  • The suffix is ḍa.
  • This suffix is added to the root based on the rule of Vārttika on Sage Paṇini’s Sūtra – anyeṣvapi dṛśyate (3.2.101) – the ‘r’ in the root gets deleted in the process of adding the suffix. “atha” is the resultant form. In this case, the addition of suffix to this root only gives a grammatically valid word form. The meaning of atha does not emerge from this process. The conventional usage of the term which is documented in the lexicons and such other sources throw light on the meaning of the term.


The amarakośa has the following entry on the term –

मङ्गलानन्तरारम्भप्रश्नकार्त्स्न्येष्वथो अथ

maṅgalānantarārambhapraśnakārtsnyeṣvatho atha (3.3.247)

The words atha and atho are used to indicate the following meanings –

maṅgala (auspicious), anantara (after), ārambha(beginning), praśna(question), kārtsnya (entirety).

Atha is an indeclinable(avyaya). The avyaya-kośa (lexicon of indeclinables) gives the following entry in this regard –

अथ मङ्गलानन्तरारम्भप्रश्नकार्त्स्न्याधिकारप्रतिज्ञासमुच्चयवितर्कविकल्पेषु

atha maṅgalānantarārambhapraśna-kārtsnyādhikārapratijñāsamuccayavitarkavikalpeṣu (Entry 17, p.9)

To the five meaning given in amarakośa this lexicon adds five more meanings. They are adhikāra(the subject matter), pratijñā(vow), samuccaya(conjunction), vitarka(doubt), vikalpa(option).

The usage of all the ten meanings that emerge from the above to references have been shown in avyaya-kośa (pg.9,10).[1]

Textual occurrences – Yogic texts 


Atha is the very first word of Yogasūtra and it appears just once in the text.

अथ योगानुशासनम्

atha yogānuśāsanam ॥1.1॥

Putting together the views of 15 traditional yogasūtra saṃskṛta commentaries, three meanings of atha of are – adhikāra (subject matter), maṅgala (auspiciousness), ārambha (commencement).

While these are the meanings associated with the word Atha textually and traditionally, it is very perplexing to note that atha is translated as now. And it is discussed that as refers to now – Yoga speaks of the now and here and so on.[2] . It can be noted that most Sanskrit to English dictionaries give the meaning now, but traditional lexicons and Yoga texts do not give this meaning.


In the Gītā we find the word atha being used in 8 occasions.

The meanings of the word (based on the commentary of śrīśaṅkarācārya, if not available śrīrāmānujācārya’s & śrī-vedāntadeśika’s views are mentioned. If views are not available in any of the three commentaries, contextual meaning is presented. The occurrences are as follows –

  1. अथ व्यवस्थितान्दृष्ट्वा…atha vyavasthitāndṛṣṭvā… । 20 ॥ (none of the three commentators give any specific meaning – we can see that this is just to indicate anantara – afterwards – after the blowing of the conches on both the sides)
  2. …पितॄनथ पितामहान्..pitṝnatha pitāmahān ।26 ॥(though none of the three commentators give any specific meaning, by looking at the verse above we can see that the word atha is used just as a conjunction/connecting word)
  3. अथ चैनं नित्यजातं…atha cainaṁ nityajātaṁ… । 26 ॥ (atha here indicates agreeing for argument’s sake – abhyupagamārthaḥ – śrīśaṅkarācārya)
  4. अथ चेत्त्वमिमं धर्म्यं…atha cettvamimaṁ dharmyaṁ… । 33॥ (though the three commentators do not mention any meaning for atha in this verse– going by the 18.58 reference below from śrīśaṅkarācārya ‘s commentary atha with cet can be taken to mean yadi – if)
  5. अथ केन प्रयुक्तोऽयं …atha kena prayukto’yaṁ …। 36॥ (atha here indicates a question – praśnārthakaḥ – śrī-vedāntadeśika)
  6. अथ चित्तं समाधातुं …atha cittaṁ samādhātuṁ …। 9 ॥ (atha here indicates evaṃ – in this manner – śrīśaṅkarācārya)
  7. अथैतदप्यशक्तोऽसि …athaitadapyaśakto’si …। 11 ॥ (atha here indicates punaḥ – again – śrīśaṅkarācārya)
  8. अथ चेत्त्वमहङ्कारात् …atha cettvamahaṅkārāt …॥ 58 ॥ (Here the words atha cet – means yadi – if – śrīśaṅkarācārya)

It is interesting to note that in the Gītā we find the occurrences of atha in meanings that have not be collected in the lexicons – like punaḥ (again), abhyupagama etc. We can observe here that atha is an indeclinable which is used conveniently to describe various moods and senses according to the context.


There are just two occurrences of the term in this text. They are as follows –

  • The first occurrence – अथ नादानुसन्धनम् …atha nādānusandhanam ..56 ॥ – In this context the jyotsnā commentary clarifies the meaning as anantaram – after. (athaitattrayānuṣṭhānānantaraṃ – atha – After the practices of āsanaṁ kumbhakaṁ and mudra – comes nādānusandhanam).
  • The second occurrence – अथासने दृढे योगी …athāsane dṛḍhe yogī – 1 – in this verse also the word atha refers to after – anantara according to  – jyotsnā commentary athāsanopadeśānantaraṃ…



युज्+ घञ् = योगः

yuj+ ghañ = yogaḥ

  • To the root here is yuj
  • the suffix is ghañ

Grammatically we see three Roots yuj in the dhātupāṭha.[3] They are

Yuj samādhi – to concentrate, to focus, to abstain from senses
Yuj  yoga – to join, to bind to restrain, to unite, to apply, to combine
Yuj  saṃyamana – to restrain, to control, to bind

The suffix ghañ is added to indicate bhava -the act-  as per the rule 3.3.18 of Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini

Based on this the derivative statement would then be युज्यते इति योगः – yujyate iti yogaḥ – the act of concentration, the act of joining or the act of controlling.


The following is the entry in amarakośa on Yoga –

योगः सन्नहनोपायध्यानसङ्गतियुक्तिषु॥

yogaḥ sannahanopāyadhyānasaṅgatiyuktiṣu..3. 3. 22. 2. 1

The term Yoga means – armour, means, dhyāna, relation/union, junction

Textual occurrences


The Yogasutra uses the word Yoga in 7 occasions.

Just Yoga

In just one occasion the word Yoga is used independently

  • योगः चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः – yogaḥ cittavṛttinirodhaḥ ॥ 2 ॥ – This is where Yoga is defined as the restrain/cessation of the activities of the mind.

Compound word

In three occasions the word Yoga is used as part of compound word –

  • Yogānuśāsana – अथ योगानुशासनम् – atha yogānuśāsanam ॥ 1 ॥  – the teaching of Yoga following prior teaching
  • Kriyāyoga – तपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि क्रियायोगः tapaḥsvādhyāyeśvarapraṇidhānāni kriyāyogaḥ ॥ 2.1 ॥ – the Yoga of action
  • Yogāṅga – योगाङ्गानुष्ठानादशुद्धिक्षये ज्ञानदीप्तिराविवेकख्यातेः  yogāṅgānuṣṭhānādaśuddhikṣaye jñānadīptirāvivekakhyāteḥ ॥ 2.28 ॥ – the limbs of Yoga

With prefixes –

There are three forms where prefixes are added to the term Yoga. They are

  • saṁyoga – ..स्वरूपोपलब्धिहेतुः संयोगः…svarūpopalabdhihetuḥ saṁyogaḥ ॥ 23 ॥ तदभावात्संयोगाभावो हानं …tadabhāvātsaṁyogābhāvo hānaṁ …॥ 25 ॥ – conjunction
  • samprayoga – स्वाध्यायादिष्टदेवतासंप्रयोगः – svādhyāyādiṣṭadevatāsaṁprayogaḥ ॥ 44॥ – this word has been given various meanings by various traditional commentators – conversation, direct vision, direct appearance (of the personal deity)
  • Viniyoga – तस्य भूमिषु विनियोगः – tasya bhūmiṣu viniyogaḥ ॥ 6 ॥ – channelization


In this text references are plenty with regard to the usage of the term. Excepting in chapters 1 and 17 in all other chapters in about 94 verses, the term Yoga or the derivate of the term or the compound in which Yoga is a component term or the term Yoga with a suffix is found.

The chapter wise distribution of the term Yoga in the above mentioned various forms is given below

Chapter 2 – Verses 39,45,48,49,50,53 (6)

Chapter 3 – Verses 3,7 (2)

Chapter 4 – Verses 1,2,3,25,27, 28,38, 41,42 (9)

Chapter 5 – Verses  1,2,4,5,67,11,14,21,24 (9)

Chapter 6 – Verses  1-4, 8,10,12, 15-17, 19,20, 23, 27-29, 31-33, 36,37, 41-47 (28)

Chapter 7 – Verses 1, 25 (2)

Chapter 8 – Verses 8,10,12, 14, 23, 25,27,28 (8)

Chapter 9 – verses 5,22,28 (3)

Chapter 10  – Verses 7,10,17,18 (4)

Chapter 11 – Verses 4,8,9,47 (4)

Chapter 12 – Verses 1,6,11,12,14 (5)

Chapter 13 – Verses 10, 24,26 (3)

Chapter 14 – verse 26 (1)

Chapter 15 – Verse 1(1)

Chapter 16 – Verse 1 (1)

Chapter 18 – 33, 38, 52, 57, 75,78 (6)

As can be noted from the above 6th chapter contains the highest number of references (28) to the term Yoga and chapter 14-16 have least references to the term.

The following 37 are the unique terms connected with Yoga that appear in the text. Though there may be multiple appearances of the same term, the first appearance of the term alone is indicated –

Yoga (2.25), Yogastha (2.48), Budhiyoga (2.49), jñānayoga, karmayoga, yogī (3.3), ātmasaṃyamayogāgni (4.27), yogayajña (4.28), yogasaṃsiddhi (4.38), yogasaṃnyastakarmā (4.41), sāṅkhyayogau (5.4), ayogataḥ, yogayukta (5.6), phalasaṃyoga (5.14), brahmayoga (5.21), yogārūḍha (6.3), yogasevā (6.20), duḥkhasaṃyogaviyoga, yogasaṃjñita (6.23), yogayuktātmā (6.29), buddhisaṃyoga (6.43), yogabhraṣṭa (6.47), yogamāyā (7.25), yogabala (8.10), yogadhāraṇa (8.12), yogakṣema (9.22), saṃnyāsayoga (9.28), yogeśvara (11.4), ātmayoga (11.47), yogavittama (12.1), madyoga (12.11), abhyāsayoga (12.12), kṣetrakṣetrajñasaṃyoga (13.26), bhaktiyoga (14.26), jñānayogavyavasthiti(16.1), viṣayendriyasaṃyoga (18.38), dhyānayogapara (18.52).

The elaboration of meanings of these terms is outside the scope of this article. This will be attempted in another write up.

Apart from this it is well known that Yoga is defined in this texts in three occasions

  • समत्त्वं योग उच्यते – samattvaṃ yoga ucyate – Yoga is stated as equanimity
  • योगः कर्मसु कौशलम् – yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam – Yoga is skill in actions
  • तं विद्यात् दुःखसंयोगवियोगं योगसंज्ञितम्  – taṃ vidyāt duḥkhasaṃyogaviyogaṃ yogasaṃjñitam – Know that to be termed as Yoga which is the disconnection of the connection with suffering


Just like Bhagavadgītā , here also we find numerous references to the term term Yoga and its derivative terms and also compound terms in which the word Yoga is also a component. To be precise – there are 97 such references.

In the four chapters of the text in the following verses the term Yoga in its various forms occurs – one or more times –

Chapter 1 – 1-4, 6, 9, 10-16, 1, 22, 40, 49, 52, 54, 55, 57, 63, 64, 65, 67

Chapter 2 – 1-4, 16, 23, 47, 48, 54 -56, 68, 75-77

Chapter 3 – 1, 26, 38, 44, 45, 51, 55, 61, 64, 69, 76, 83, 88, 89, 91, 94, 95, 99, 101 -105, 107, 115, 119, 120, 121, 124, 126

Chapter 4 – 3, 5, 8, 11, 12, 20, 31, 37, 39, 49, 67,69, 71, 72, 77-81, 83, 93, 95, 103, 107-109, 111, 113.

One can find various combinations of the term yoga in this text. Some of them are unique. They appear for one or more times. Those various coinages connected with Yoga in the text is given below with the references of their occurrence for first time in the text (there are 22 such terms connected to the word Yoga) –

haṭhayoga (1.1), yogī, rājayoga (1.2), aśeṣayoga (1.10), yogamaṭha (1.13), yoga  (1.14), yogavit (1.22), yogipuṅgava (1.52), siddhayogī (1.54), yogīndra (1.55),  yogaparāyaṇa (1.57), sarvayoga (1.64), yogasiddhi (1.65),  abhyāsayoga (2.54), yoginīcakra (2.55), yogatantra (3.1), yogavit(3.44), yogokta (3.3), yogataḥ (4.5), pūrvayoga(4.39), yoganidritaḥ (4.49), yogavān (4.71)

Thus it can be seen that this exercise of tracing the lexical, etymological and textual occurrences of the term has yielded rich inputs and sumptuous food for thought and study.

3. Anuśāsana

 अनु+शास्+ल्युट्  = अनुशासनम्

anu+śās+lyuṭ = anuśāsanam

  • The root word is śās. The meaning of the root is अनुशिष्टि – anuśiṣṭi –
  • The prefix is anu – that means to follow
  • lyuṭ is the suffix that is added to convey the sense Bhāva (the act). This suffix is added by the rule ल्युट् च (अष्टाध्यायी ३.३.११५ ) – lyuṭ ca (aṣṭādhyāyī 3.3.115 )

Then the derivative sentence would be अनिशिष्यते इति अनुशासनम् – aniśiṣyate iti anuśāsanam – The act of instruction following (the tradition).

Lexicon – The lexicon amarakośa does not have this word.

Textual Occurrences


There is just one occurrence of the term in this text अथ योगानुशासनम्  – atha yogānuśāsanam 1.1.

It is interesting and educative to note the derivation of the term given in some of the saṃskṛta commentaries of yogasūtra –

  • अनुशिष्यते व्याख्यायते लक्षणभेदोपायफलैर्येन तदनुशासनम्

anuśiṣyate vyākhyāyate lakṣaṇabhedopāyaphalairyena tadanuśāsanam (Bhojavṛtti)     

That by which the explanation with definition, divisions, means and outcomes (of Yoga) is given is anuśāsana

  • हिरण्यगर्भादिना शिष्टस्य शासनमनुशासनं शास्त्रम्

hiraṇyagarbhādinā śiṣṭasya śāsanamanuśāsanaṁ śāstram (pradīpikā) Teaching that which has been already taught by Hiraṇyagarbha and others (earlier teachers).

  • योगोऽनुशिष्यते विविच्य बोध्यतेऽनेनेति योगानुशासनम्

yogo’nuśiṣyate vivicya bodhyate’neneti yogānuśāsanam (nāgojībhaṭṭavṛtti)  That by which Yoga is being taught after analyzing – is yogānuśānsanam


Though in this text there is no direct reference to the word anuśāsana in just one occasion we find a related term –

कविं पुराणमनुशासितारमणोरणीयांसमनुस्मरेद्यः 8.9

kaviṃ purāṇamanuśāsitāramaṇoraṇīyāṃsamanusmaredyaḥ .

The word anuśāsitā is used in this verse to refer to the Lord. Where śrīśaṅkarācārya defines the term anusansita as –

अनुशासितारं सर्वस्य जगतः प्रशासितारम्[4] – anuśāsitāraṃ sarvasya jagataḥ praśāsitāram –

The one who governs the entire world.

Haṭhayogapradīpikā. – This term or its derivates are not found in the text

4. Citta


चित्+क्त = चित्तम्

cit+kta = cittam

  • The root word is cit. The meaning of the root is saṃjñāna[5] – which means to perceive, to think etc.
  • The suffix is kta – it is used to indicate the instrumentality. This is based on the description in the Sanskrit-Sanskrit dictionary – (Śabda)kalpadruma[6]

Hence the derivate statement for the word Citta is – चेतयति अनेन इति चित्तम्  – cetayati anena iti cittam – that by which one knows.


The following is the entry on Citta in the amarakośa –

चित्तं तु चेतो हृदयं स्वान्तं हृन्मानसं मनः

cittaṃ tu ceto hṛdayaṃ svāntaṃ hṛnmānasaṃ manaḥ (

citta, cetas, hṛdaya,  svānta, hṛt, mānasa and manas are all synonyms.

Textual occurrences


Citta is one of the terms that is found used pervasively in this text. In all the four chapters in  20 sūtras the term Citta is directly used.  A chapter-wise analysis is presented below –

Pāda 1 – Four Sūtras – 2,30,33, 37 – mention the term citta – In these Sūtra – cittavṛttinirodha(2) (cessation of activities of the mind as the definition of yoga), citavikṣepas(30) (distractions of the mind), citaprasādana (means to attain pleasant and calm state of the mind) by maitrī and other bhāvanās(33) and focusing the mind on dispassionate sages(37) are discussed.

Pāda 2 – 1 Sūtra 54  – that defines pratyāhāra – withdrawal of the senses from their respective objects and making the senses follow the citta is described.

Pāda 3 – 7 Sūtras  – 1,9,11, 12, 19, 34,3 mention the term Citta. In the definition of dhāraṇā (1), in describing the three citta pariṇāmas (changes in the mind) during nirodha, samādhi and ekāgratā  (9,11,12) the term citta is found to be used. Further, in the Sūtras (19,34,38) that describe the Siddhis – paracittajñāna (knowing other mind), cittasaṁvit (understanding the mind), paraśarīrāveśa(entering into other’s body) we find the usage of the term Citta.

Pāda 4 – 9 Sūtras  4,5,15-18, 21, 23, 26 – use the term Citta.  Nirmāṇacittas – the creation of multiple minds to attain experience in multiple bodies created by Yogic powers and nāyaka-citta (this term is coined by the commentaries) – one citta that manages the multiple cittas – are discussed (4,5). Later we find discussions on

  • how the world outside the mind (citta) is separate and real (15),
  • how there cannot be one mind that just imagines the existence of the world (do deny substantial existence of the world) (16),
  • how again, the world is real outside – as only when the citta gets in touch with respective objects they are known and when not in touch they are not known (and exist outside independently) (17),
  • how the consciousness observes all the action of the mind (18),
  • the infinite regress and other problems that will result if one denies the existence of consciousness and argues that there is a mind-monitoring-mind (21),
  • the unique nature of the mind – being connected both with the subject and the object(23)
  • and the nature of the mind that turns kaivalya-wards on clearly understanding the nature of the consciousness (26).

The unique compound terms that have citta as a component in this text are worth noting. They include – citavikṣepa, citaprasādana , paracittajñānacittasaṁvit, nirmāṇacitta and so on.

There are 12 occurrences of the term Citta in this text. The details are as follows –

Chapter 4 – 1 verse – verse 21 –  The expression yatacittātmā (the one who has restrained the mind) is found here.

Chapter 6 – 6 verses – verses 10,12,14,18,19,20. Here also the expression yatacitta is found in the verses 10,12,19. Expressions such as Maccitta (14) ( a mind that is devoted to me – the Supreme being),   viniyataṁ cittam (18) (the mind that is regulated), nirudham cittam (the mind the activities of which is totally restrained) (20) are also found in this chapter.

Chapter 10 – 1 verse – Verse 9 – Here also the term Maccitta is used.

Chapter 12 – 1 verse  – Verse 9 – here the mere word Citta is used where – Śrī Kṛṣṇa provides various means to steadily fix the citta. Those means include – abhyāsa, karmaphalatyāga etc

Chapter 13 – 1 verse – Verse 9 – samacittatva – equanimity of the mind is mentioned here

Chapter 16 – 1 verse  – verse 16 – anekacitavibhrānta is the expression found here – which is demoniac quality – where a persons is deluded by varied thoughts.

Chapter 18 – 2 verses – verses 57, 58 – in both the verses the word maccitta is used – indicating the surrendering the mind to the divinity/supreme being.

As can be observed the maximum of 6 occurrences of the term is found in the 6th chapter – Dhyānyoga connected to the mind. The other expressions and coinages are also very instructive with regard to the understanding of nature of citta which is central to the practice of Yoga.


There are 19 references to the use of the term Citta in this text. These numerous references to Citta in this text quells the notion that Haṭha is force and is connected with forcing the body to various complex postures. It is also to be noted that the number of references to citta in this text is almost equal to the number of references to Citta in Yogasutra(20). Thus this is also establishes Haṭha a discipline that is equally concerned with the mind. The details of distribution of references and their context are as follows –

Chapter 1  – 1 reference – Verse 32 – … चित्तविश्रान्तिकारकम्… cittaviśrāntikārakam – here we find reference to śavāsana leading to relaxation of the Citta.

Chapter 2 – 4 references – verses 2, 40, 68, 77 –

  • The very famous expression – that – the Citta is agitated if the breath is agitated – cale vāte calaṁ cittaṁ (2) is found here.
  • A similar meaning but a not so oft quoted expression as the previous is found later in the chapter – यावद् बद्धो मरुद्देहे यावच्चित्तं निराकुलम् – yāvad baddho maruddehe yāvaccittaṁ nirākulam (40).
  • The next reference in this chapter is in connection to how the practice of bhrāmarī leads to play of bliss in citta – चित्ते जाता कदाचिदानन्दलीला- citte jātā kadācidānandalīlā (68) .
  • The final reference to Citta in this chapter is an injunction – to not think anything at the end of Kumbhaka in the practice of prāṇāyama – कुम्भकप्राणरोधान्ते कुर्याच्चित्तं निराश्रयम् –  kumbhakaprāṇarodhānte kuryāccittaṁ nirāśrayam (77)

Chapter 3 – 3 references –  verses 3,41,90.

  • The first reference is about how the mind is rendered free from objects (of thoughts) on the awakening of kuṇḍalī- तदा चित्तं निरालम्बं … tadā cittaṁ nirālambaṁ …(3).
  • The next reference explains how the mind moves in the space in between the eyebrows during the practice of khecarīmudrā – चित्तं चरति खे यस्मात् … cittaṁ carati khe yasmāt …(41).
  • The final reference from this chapter indicates that the preservation of sexual energy in human beings is dependent on the Citta. This is stated in the context of the practice of vajrolī चित्तायत्तं नृणां शुक्रं…- cittāyattaṁ nṛṇāṁ śukraṁ …(90)

Chapter 4 – 11 references – Verses 14, 22, 37, 38, 75, 77, 82, 90, 98, 105, 110.

  • The first reference in this chapter is about how prāṇa enters suṣumnā if the mind attain equipoise चित्ते समत्वमापन्ने वायौ व्रजति मध्यमे –  citte samatvamāpanne vāyau vrajati madhyame (14).
  • The next reference indicates that – for the existence of citta there are two causes – vāsanā and prāṇa हेतुद्वयं तु चित्तस्य वासना च समीरणः hetudvayaṃ tu cittasya vāsanā ca samīraṇaḥ – (22).
  • The subsequent reference of citta is found in the definition of the śāmbhavimudrā – where the citta and prāṇa are to be merged in an inner object – अन्तर्लक्ष्यविलीनचित्तपवनः…antarlakṣyavilīnacittapavanah…(37).
  • This reference describes that though the method of practice of khecarīmudrā and śāmbhavimudrā may vary but the outcome of both practices are same as that reaching a state of bliss in the citta – भवेत् चित्तलयानन्दः … bhavet cittalayānandaḥ …(38 ).
  • This reference details the outcome of nādānusandhāna where a yogi transcends the bliss that is generated in the mind and attains bliss arising out of the natural conscious state – चित्तानन्दं तदा जित्वा सहजानन्दसम्भवः cittānandaṁ tadā jitvā sahajānandasambhavaḥ (75).
  • Attainment of oneness of citta with the consciousness is described here on reaching in the niṣpatti stage of nādānusandhāna where the prāṇa reaches the place in between the eye brows piercing the Rudragranthi – एकीभूतं तदा चित्तं…ekībhūtaṁ tadā cittaṁ…(77)
  • A second method of nādānusandhāna is described in this verse – the ears are to be closed with the thumbs and the practitioners should focus the citta on the sound that is heard within – तत्र चित्तं स्थिरीकुर्यात् यावत् tatra cittaṁ sthirīkuryāt yāvat (82).
  • This is a general verse on nādānusandhāna indicates that when the citta is attached to nāda it becomes free from attachment to the objects of the senses – नादासक्तं तथा चित्तं विषयान् न हि काङ्क्षते nādāsaktaṁ tathā cittaṁ viṣayān na hi kāṅkṣate (90).
  • This verse states that the citta that is initiated into Nāda gets dissolved with Nāda, indicating the powerful nature of the practice of Nādānusandhāna नादे प्रवर्तितं चित्तं नादेन सह लीयते – nāde pravartitaṁ cittaṁ nādena saha līyate (98).
  • This verse again glorifies the virtue of regular practice of Nādānusandhāna which leads to the dissolution of the citta and prāṇa into the blemishless consciousness – निरञ्जने विलीयेते निश्चितं चित्तमारुतौ – nirañjane vilīyete niścitaṁ cittamārutau (105).
  • This is verse describes the state of the citta which has reach the state of samādhi . It is stated that in this state – the citta is neither asleep nor awake and neither does it remember nor does it forget चित्तं न सुप्तं नोजाग्रत्-स्मृतिविस्मृतिवर्जितम् – cittaṁ na suptaṁ nojāgrat-smṛtivismṛtivarjitam (110)

Thus with the rich inputs and insights in all the three texts considered it becomes very evident that in all types of Yoga be it patañjala yoga, karma-bhakti-jñāna-dhyāna Yogas of the Gītā or Haṭhayoga – Citta is central to Yoga.

It is to be noted that just one term Citta which denotes the mind was explored. As indicated in the amarakośa reference above, if the occurrences of synonyms of citta such as – cetas, hṛdaya,  svānta, hṛt, mānasa and manas are explored – in all the three texts the inputs and insights  will be even more numerous.



वृत्+क्तिन् = वृत्तिः

vṛt+ktin = vṛttiḥ 

  • The root here is vṛt. The meaning of the root is वर्तनम् – vartanam – to be, to happen, to be present.
  • The suffix is ktin. The addition of the suffix to the root is by the rule स्त्रियां क्तिन् (अष्टाध्यायी ३.३.९४ ) – striyāṃ ktin (aṣṭādhyāyī 3.3.94). According to the rule – the word will be a feminine word and the meaning indicated by the suffix is Bhāva – the act.

Hence based on this – the derivative statement would be – वृत्यते इति वृत्तिः  – vṛtyate iti vṛttiḥ – the act of being present. (in the context of Yoga, then the implied sense would be – cittavṛttis are those (acts) by which the existence of the citta is known)


There are three references to the word vṛtti in amarakośa.

आजीवो जीविका वार्ता वृत्तिर्वर्तनजीवने (2.9.1)

ājīvo jīvikā vārtā vṛttirvartanajīvane

ājīva, jīvikā, vārtā, vṛtti, vartana – all these words indicate the meaning jīvana – means of livelihood

…वरो वृत्तौ(तौ) (3.2.8)

…varo vṛ(t)tau

Vara and vṛ(t)ta indicate encompassing and attainment of boon

…कैशिक्याद्याश्च वृत्तयः (3.3.73)

…kaiśikyādyāśca vṛttayaḥ

Kaiśikī and others are the styles (in nāṭya)

It is interesting to note that the meaning in which the term is used in yogasūtra is not to be found in any of the three references of amarakośa. Thus the meaning of the term has to be understood in the context of usage of the term in Yoga literature.

Textual occurrences

The word vṛtti and similar sounding words such as pravṛtti and nivṛtti are found in 11 occasions in this text.

Pāda 1 –  4 occurrences –  sūtras – 2,4,10,35 –

  • In the first occurrence Yoga itself is defined as the restrainment/cessation of vṛttis of the mindचित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः – cittavṛttinirodhaḥ (2).
  • In the second occasions it is stated – when not in Yoga – consciousness would resemble the vṛttis – वृत्तिसारूप्यम् – vṛttisārūpyam (4).
  • In the third occasion in this chapter the word vṛtti is used as part of the definition of nidrā. It is used to indicate that deep sleep is also an activity of the mind and it is not a state of absence of activity of mind – वृतिर्निद्रा – vṛtirnidrā (10).
  • In the fourth occasion the word pravṛtti is used in the context of describing a technique to calm the mind by focusing on the various divine experiences/knowledge in various senses of perception. According to the commentary of Sage Vyāsa – pravṛtti is used to indicate divya-saṃvit – divine knowledge …प्रवृत्तिरुत्पन्ना… – …pravṛttirutpannā… (35)

Pāda 2 – 2 occurrences –  sūtras  15, 50.

  • In the first occasion the expression guṇavṛtti is found. The expression or the operations of the guṇas (Sattva, Rajas, Tamas) that are mutually opposing to each other are indicated by the term guṇavṛtti – …गुणवृत्तिविरोधाच्च… …guṇavṛttivirodhācca… (15).
  • The second occasion of occurrence of the term vṛtti – indicates the prāṇa-vṛttis or the activities or expressions of the breath/ prāṇa. The exhalation, inhalation and retention of the breath are the vṛttis of prāṇa – बाह्याभ्यन्तरस्तम्भवृत्तिः….- bāhyābhyantarastambhavṛttiḥ…..(50)

Pāda 3 – 2 occurrences – sūtras 30, 43 –

  • In the first occasion, the expression nivṛtti is used. This indicates the going away/overcoming of the hunger(kṣut-nivṛttiḥ) and thirst(pipāsā-nivṛttiḥ) …क्षुत्पिपासानिवृत्तिः – …kṣutpipāsānivṛttiḥ (30).
  • In the second occasion a unique expression is found – akalpitā vṛttiḥ – it means non-imagined existence/activity (of the mind outside the body). A special dhāraṇā technique called videhā is spoken here, whereby in reality (not just imagining) the mind can be made to move out of the body and in due course can be made to enter into other’s bodyबहिरकल्पितावृत्तिः…- bahirakalpitāvṛttiḥ…. (43)

Pāda 4 – 3 occurrences – Sūtras – 5, 25, 30 –

  • In the first occasion the word pravṛtti is used – to indicate activities or movement. In this context this indicates the varied activities of the multiple bodies assumed by the Yogin by his powers प्रवृत्तिभेदे प्रयोजकम्… – pravṛttibhede prayojakam… (5).
  • In the second context the word nivṛtti is used to indicate the retiring, cessation, going away of pondering/thoughts about the nature of the consciousness (ātman) which happens when the special nature of the consciousness is clearly known …आत्मभावभावनानिवृत्तिः – …ātmabhāvabhāvanānivṛttiḥ (25).
  • In the third occasion also the word nivṛtti is used to indicate the cessation or going away of afflictions and actions for the one who has attained dharma-megha-samādhi …क्लेशकर्मनिवृत्तिः  – …kleśakarmanivṛttiḥ (30)

It could be noted that along with the vṛttis of citta that are well know, the vṛttis of the prāṇa and guṇas are also found discussed in the text, which need to be focussed upon during the practice of Yoga.


There are twelve references to words connected to vṛtti in this text. It is to be noted that the word vṛtti alone is not used in any of these 12 occasions. Only terms such as pravṛtti, nivṛtti, āvṛtti, apunarāvṛtti  are found  in the here. The word pravṛtti is used the maximum for about seven times in this text. The occurrences are briefly discussed below –

Chapter 5 – 1 occurrence – Verse 17 –  The expression apunarāvṛtti is found here to indicate that meaning – not coming back. Those whose impurities are cleansed through knowledge will not return back – गच्छन्त्यपुनरावृत्तिं gacchantyapunarāvṛttiṁ (17).

Chapter 8  –   2 occurrences – verse 23, 26 –  In both the occurrences, the two expressions found are anāvṛtti and āvṛtti.

  • Śrī Kṛṣṇa states that I will now speak about those Yogin who will return (āvṛtti) to earth from higher realms and those who won’t(anāvṛtti) -…त्वनावृत्तिमावृत्तिं चैव योगिनः- tvanāvṛttimāvṛttiṁ caiva yoginaḥ (23).
  • He clarifies that those who travel in the bright path will not return and those who take the dark path will return -एकया यात्यनावृत्तिमन्ययावर्तते ekayā yātyanāvṛttimanyayāvartate (26).

Chapter 11 –  1 occurrence – Verse 31 – The expression used here is pravṛtti. Here Arjun expresses his desire to know about the viśvarūpa form of the Lord, the activities(pravṛtti) of which he does not know -न हि प्रजानामि तव प्रवृत्तिम् na hi prajānāmi tava pravṛttim.

Chapter 14 – 4 occurrences – verses – 12, 13, 18, 22.

  • In two occasions the expression pravṛtti is found (12,22). In the first instance it is used to indicate restlessness as a manifestation of Rajas -लोभः प्रवृत्तिरारम्भः lobhaḥ pravṛttirārambhaḥ (12).
  • In the next reference the same word is to used to indicate that a guṇātīta (the one who has transcended the guṇas) is not perturbed by activity, inactivity etc.प्रकाशं च प्रवृत्तिं च…- prakāśaṁ ca pravṛttiṁ ca (22)
  • We find the use of the expression apravṛtti – indicating inertia, lack of activity in a person who is dominated by Tamas. अप्रकाशोऽप्रवृत्तिश्च – aprakāśo’pravṛttiśca (13)
  • The expressionजघन्य-गुण-वृत्तस्थाः… jaghanya-guṇa-vṛttasthāḥ.. (18) is found to indicate the lowly nature of actions of those in whom Tamas dominates verse 18.

Chapter 15 – 1 occurrence, verse 4 –  Here again the word pravṛtti is used to indicate – that even the emergence of actions of this ephemeral since time immemorial is from the primordial conscious supreme being – यतः प्रवृत्तिः प्रसृता…-yataḥ pravṛttiḥ prasṛtā.(4)

Chapter 16 – 1 occurrence, verse 7 – Here the two expressions pravṛtti and nivṛtti   are found. The description of people of demoniac nature is done here. It is stated that – they do not know what to embark upon(pravṛtti) and what to withdraw from(nivṛtti) – प्रवृत्तिं च निवृत्तिं च – pravṛttiṁ ca nivṛttiṁ ca (7)

Chapter 18 – 2 occurrences – Verses 30,46 –

  • Here again the two expressions pravṛtti and nivṛtti are found. In the first occasion the Sattvik mind is describe as the one which knows what to do and what to desist from (pravṛtti and nivṛtti) प्रवृत्तिं च निवृत्तिं च – pravṛttiṁ ca nivṛttiṁ ca – (30).
  • In the second occasion the word pravṛtti alone is used to indicate that all the actions (pravṛtti) of the beings emanate from the supreme being and that needs to be worshipped. यतः प्रवृत्तिर्भूतानाम्… –  yataḥ pravṛttirbhūtānām… (46)


There are just three occurrences of the expressions that are connected to vṛtti in this text.  The expressions are manovṛtti, manaḥpravṛtti,marut-pravṛtti, ekapravṛtti in chapter 3 and 4.

In chapter 3 – 1 occurrence – verse 127 – it is stated that while doing practices related to the breath the mind has to be applied. One should not allow the manovṛttis – activities of mind to wander. इतरत्र न कर्तव्या मनोवृत्तिः…- itaratra na kartavyā manovṛttiḥ… (127)

In chapter 4 – 2 occurrences Verses 24, 25. –

  • In the first reference we find the words manaḥpravṛtti,marut-pravṛtti to indicate the interconnectedness of the actions of the mind(manaḥpravṛtti) and the actions/movements of breath(marut-pravṛtti) – यतो मरुत् तत्र मनः प्रवृत्तिः यतो मनस्तत्र मरुत्प्रवृत्तिः – yato marut tatra manaḥ pravṛttiḥyato manastatra marutpravṛttiḥ (24).
  • In the next continuing with the same idea, it is stated that if the actions of one are curtailed/stopped then the actions of the other also stops. …एकप्रवृत्तेरपरप्रवृत्तिः – …ekapravṛtteraparapravṛttiḥ (25)

Thus we see the myriad interesting and insightful references across the text connected to the expression vṛtti.

References and web-tools utilized

  1. Advaita sharada – https://advaitasharada.sringeri.net/
  2. aṣṭādhyāyī – https://ashtadhyayi.com/
  3. Yoga-vaiśāradī – https://kymyogavaisharadi.org/
  4. Aksharamukha – https://aksharamukha.appspot.com/
  5. Nāmaliṅgānuśāsana alias amarakoṣa of amarasiṃha with the commentary vyākhyāsudhā or rāmāśramī by bhānuji dīkṣita, Edited with notes by M.M.Pandit Shivadatta Dadimatha, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Prathisthan, Delhi, Reprint 2002
  6. avyayakośaḥ, śrīśrīvatsāṅkācāryaḥ, saṃskṛtavidyāsamitiḥ, chennai, 2004
  7. Śabdārthakaustubha , Chakravarthy Srinivasa Gopalacharya, Bappco Publications, Second Edition, 2000

[1] https://archive.org/details/avyaya-kosa-srivatsankacharya/page/8/mode/2up

[2] https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/philosophy/the-power-of-atha/

[3] https://ashtadhyayi.com/dhatu/


[5] https://ashtadhyayi.com/dhatu/01.0039

[6] https://kosha.sanskrit.today/word/sa/cittaM?q=citta