Yoga Sutra - Sādhana Pada 2.4
अविद्या क्षेत्रमुत्तरेषाम् प्रसुप्ततनुविच्छिन्नोदाराणाम् ॥४॥
avidyā kśetram-uttareṣāṃ prasupta-tanu-vicchinna-udārāṇām ||4||
Ignorance is the origin of the others, whether dormant, attenuated, interrupted, or fully active.
Ignorance is the breeding ground of the other kleśas, whether they are in a dormant, weak, intermittent, or fully activated state.
Patañjali gives the important information here, in resonance with all Indic soteriological thought, that ignorance, avidyā, is the foundation of all the other kleśas, the field, kṣetra, within which they grow, and hence the ultimate cause of saṁsāra. Like a piece of land is the substratum for bushes, creepers, grass, plants, etc., says Śaṅkara, so ignorance supports the other kleśas; when ignorance is dispelled, the other kleśas disappear.
Adopting what one might nowadays consider a psychoanalytical tone, Patañjali also differentiates among four different states in which the five kleśas manifest. Vyāsa defines these as the dormant state, prasupta, when the kleśas reside in the mind in potential form as seeds. Śaṅkara qualifies this by noting that only the kleśas other than ignorance can be found in a dormant state. Ignorance is never dormant, since it is the cause and support of the others and thus is always manifest. Otherwise, according to “Vijñānabhikṣu, a kleśa may be dormant for a long time, even two or three births, before reactivating. These dormant seeds eventually germinate when a person encounters particular situations or contexts that serve as triggers. They then develop into the fully activated, udāra, kleśas mentioned in this sūtra—kleśas that are actually exerting their influence on the mind at a given time.
When the kleśas are continually interrupted—appearing and then fading away—they are described as intermittent, vicchinna, the third state listed in this sūtra. For example, says Vyāsa, when the kleśa of attachment for something is present, aversion for it is absent. Aversion may succeed attachment, but the two do not occur simultaneously. In other words, clarifies Vijñānabhikṣu, aversion is not totally absent from a person when some other emotion like attachment is present; it is just in abeyance or latent (and, of course, vice versa). Therefore, it can be considered intermittent. Or, continues Vyāsa with a rare touch of humor, just because Caitra is attracted to one particular woman at one point in time does not mean he is disinterested in other women. He happens to be interested in one particular woman in the present, but he may become interested in some other woman in the future. These future attachment kleśas featuring other women remain either in dormant, weak, or interrupted states while the present kleśa is running its course. Intermittent kleśas differ from dormant kleśas, the first item on the list, insofar as they remain inactive for shorter periods of latency, according to Vijñānabhikṣu.
When, according to Vyāsa, one consciously cultivates a state of mind that is the opposite of the kleśas, they become weak, tanu, the second state noted by Patañjali. Indeed, Vācaspati Miśra and Vijñānabhikṣu note that one desiring liberation should actively counteract these kleśas. One can accomplish this by the practice of kriyā-yoga, which Patañjali has indicated weakens the kleśas, tanū-karaṇa (I.2). The practice of cultivating their opposites and pondering their consequences, which we will encounter in II.34, also weakens the kleśas: Thus, right knowledge dispels its opposite, the kleśa of ignorance; discrimination of the difference between puruṣa, the real self, and prakṛti dispels its opposite, the kleśa of ego, the false self; detachment dispels its opposites of both the kleśas of attachment and aversion, since they are two sides of the same coin; and the realization of the eternality of the soul dispels the kleśa of clinging to life. More than being weakened, Vyāsa continues, ultimately these kleśas can be burnt by yogīs who have cultivated deep meditation, and they then completely lose their power to activate even when the yogī encounters situations that would under normal circumstances trigger their activation. Such yogīs are said to have had their last birth.
The kleśas therefore can actually be found in five states, according to Vyāsa. Since they continue to exist when they have been burnt, but have lost their power to produce effects, the burnt or impotent state can be added to the list of four mentioned in the sūtra, making a total of five. Śaṅkara says this burnt state was not included by Patañjali in this sūtra because burnt seeds are not common to all living beings as is the case with the other four states, and this sūtra concerns itself with the kleśas as generally found present among embodied beings. Only in the yogī is a burnt category to be found.
avidyā (f.) a(not) + vidyā, wisdom, knowledge, from √vid (know)
kśetram (n. nom. sg.) origin, field, ground; from √kṣi (posses)
uttareṣāṃ (m.) of the others
prasupta (m.) dormant, fallen, asleep, inactive, latent; pra(before,forward + supta from √svap (sleep)
tanu (m.) attenuated, lessened, diminished; from √tan (stretch, spin out)
vicchinna (m.) suppressed, overpowered, interrupted; vi (assunder, away) + chinna, from √chid (cut)
udārāṇām (m. gen. pl.) fully active or engaged, aroused; ud (up, forth, out) + āra, from √ṛ (go)