Yoga Sutra - Sādhana Pada 2.2
समाधिभावनार्थः क्लेश तनूकरणार्थश्च ॥२
samādhi-bhāvana-arthaḥ kleśa-tanū-karaṇa-arthaḥ ca ||2||
[It is] for the purposes of cultivating samadhi and attenuating the afflictions.
[The yoga of action] is for bringing about samādhi and for weakening the afflictions [to yoga].
Patañjali states here that by the performance of kriyā-yoga, the kleśas, afflictions—nescience, ego, attachment, aversion, and the clinging to life—which are the subject of the next sūtra, are weakened. Etymologically, kleśa, from the root kliś, means to torment, trouble, cause pain, afflict. The word is often translated as obstacles, since in addition to tormenting the living entities, the kleśas obstruct the mind from realizing the nature of the true self. As yoga was defined in I.2 in terms of the suppression of vṛttis, so here kriyā-yoga is defined in terms of the weakening, tanū-karaṇa, of what we will discover are the underlying cause of the vṛttis, the kleśas. We are thus moving into a deeper psychological level of the citta.
In fact the kleśas become like burnt seeds, scorched by the fire of discrimination, and thus they become unproductive, and one is no longer subject to these afflictions and the kliṣṭa (detrimental) vṛttis they produce. (We noted earlier that kliṣṭa is from the same root as kleśa.) In Vācaspati Miśra’s understanding, kriyā-yoga weakens the afflictions, at which point discrimination, no longer overcome by these powerful enemies, can manifest and burn them further. Otherwise, the kleśas are present at all times. Without performing kriyā-yoga, says Śaṅkara, one may know theoretically from the scriptures and the teachings of the gurus that prakṛti and puruṣa are different, but this type of knowledge in and of itself will not remove the kleśas, and thus there will be no experiential realization of these theoretical ideas. Consequently, one will remain victimized by these kleśas—ignorance, ego, desire, etc. Hence Patañjali is prescribing that one must actively perform kriyā-yoga.
Recall that under normal circumstances, every seed of karma must at some point bear its fruit. Since there are unlimited seeds of karma, which cannot all fructify during a single lifetime, one must be reborn in order to experience all one’s just karmic fruits lying in storage. Upon being reborn and experiencing the fruits of these previously stored seeds of karma, however, more actions are performed in response, each one planting more seeds of karma, and the vicious cycle of birth and death is perpetuated. As has been discussed, any single action triggers a potentially unending series of reactions, since one solitary action produces a reaction, which, when it eventually bears fruit, prompts a response or rereaction, prompting a rerereaction, provoking a rererereaction and so on unlimitedly. By kriyā-yoga, these seeds are burnt and so no longer ripen and bear the fruit of repeated experiences in the world of saṁsāra. Simultaneously, as the kleśas are weakened, sattva is enhanced, and, as this happens, the discrimination of the difference between the puruṣa soul and prakṛti matter can arise.
Some scholars feel that the jump in subject matter from the previous chapter on samādhi to the kriyā-yoga orientation of this chapter points to the patchwork nature of the text. After all, the path to samādhi was defined earlier as stilling the mind, and here as actively engaging in devotion, austerity, and study. As Feuerstein (1979) has long argued, however, there is an organic transition and fundamental structural coherence between the two. Sūtra I.2 defines the primary goal, citta-vṛtti-nirodha, the pacification of the mind, and II.1ff concern themselves with those subconscious mechanisms triggering these vṛttis, the kleśas. The distinction in terminologies and practices in this chapter merely reflects the requirements of a deeper level of psychological analysis and subsequent remedial activity. This chapter is thus an indispensable continuation of the first, providing more specific technical information as to the psychological mechanisms underpinning the citta-vṛttis that sūtra I.2 requires the yogī to still. Without eliminating the kleśas, there is no question of bringing about this ultimate state, samādhi-bhāvana.
samādhi (m.) absorption, concentration, putting together, unitive awareness;
bhāvanā (m.) cultivating, causing to be, manifesting; causative form of √bhu (be)
arthaḥ = meaning, purpose, aim
kleśa (m.) affliction, pain, distress; from √kliś (trouble, afflict)
tanū (f.) attenuated, lessened, diminished, weakened; from √tan (stretch, spin out)
karana (m.) doing, making, causing, effecting
arthaś (m.) meaning, purpose, aim
ca (ind.) and