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Yoga Practice

But howsoever these experiences might be, they differ from the Yoga knowledge which is held forth as the ideal by Patanjali. The Yoga system speaks of five kinds of minds, namely, kshipta (wandering), mudha (somnambulic), vikshipta (occasionally steady or distracted), ekagra (one-pointed), and nirodha (restrained). So far as Yoga is used simply to mean an intense stage of concentration where the ordinary mental states are arrested, it is the common characteristic of mind of all these kinds. Thus the kshipta and mudha stages are those in which even a deep self-forgetting experience may take place even through the extreme intensity of ordinary emotions or instinctive passions when the ordinary outflow of states is arrested. Thus Bhatta Kallata writes in the Spanda-karika, "The true nature of self is there where a man is in a state of intense anger, joy, or extreme indecision, or running after something through extreme emotion" and Vijnana Bhairava also writes to that effect.

But such stages of arrest have nothing to do with the Yoga arrest which Patanjali recommends. The states of hypnosis which belong to the vikshipta stage resemble these states more than the samadhi of Yoga. Thus Bhatta Kallata and Utpala both describe the hypnotic method as an alternative means of producing the same kind of arrest as that which is achieved through the intensity of emotions thus described.(1) Thus according to Bhatta Kallata and Utpala we find that the difference between the trance states produced through strong emotions or through instinctive passions of a somnambulistic nature, and those cases of hypnotism which are produced by the surrendering will of the subject in conjunction with the suggestion of the hypnotizer, is that the latter is a case of trance initiated by conscious will and surrender, and thus may be taken as the samadhi of the vikshipta stage. The difference between the mind of the vikshipta stage and that of the kshipta and mudha stages is that the former may under certain conditions be induced to go into the trance stage, whereas the latter is almost an unconscious and somnambulistic passage without any control of the subject. Almost all the different kinds of trance experiences which we find in Europe seem to belong to this vikshipta stage. These trances of the vikshipta stage must necessarily be transitory, and do not show any real spiritual development.

(1) There seems little doubt that the modern form of hypnotism through exterior suggestion and self-passivity was quite well-known in India. An instance of hypnotism is found in the Mahabharata, XIII, 40, where "Vipula," the disciple, being asked by his teacher Devasharman to protect the latter's wife Ruci from attempts at adultery on her by Indra, sat down by her, and gazed steadily with his eyes into her eyes, so that her gaze might meet his, and filled her mind with longing for what was right. Vipula thus entered her body as the wind enters space and remained there motionless, and invisible. Then making rigid the body of his teacher's wife, he stayed there devoted to guarding her and she was not aware of him. When Indra came to tempt her, Ruci could not move a muscle under the influence of Vipula, and though she wanted to assent to Indra's proposal she could not utter a word, and only said, "Sir what business hast thou to come here?" against her wishes. Indra being much disappointed went away with fright lest Vipula should curse him.

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