Yoga Sutra - Samādhi Pada 1.20
श्रद्धावीर्यस्मृतिसमाधिप्रज्ञापूर्वक इतरेषाम् ॥२०॥
śraddhā-vīrya-smṛti-samādhi-prajñā-pūrvakaḥ itareśām ||20||
Of the others it is proceded by faith, energy, mindfulness, samadhi, and wisdom.
[But] for others, [the state where only subconscious impressions remain] is preceded by faith, vigor, memory, samādhi absorption, and discernment.
Vyāsa contrasts this sūtra with the previous one by introducing the term upāya–pratyaya; the state where only subconscious impressions remain can be attained by the bhava–pratyaya of the previous sūtra, that is, can have prakṛti as its cause, or by upāya–pratyaya, can have upāya, practice, as its cause. The implication is that the means adopted by real yogīs to attain this state are the proper means indicated in this sūtra: faith, vigor, memory, samādhi absorption, and discernment. If these means are adopted, the practitioner will not return to prakṛti like the bhava–pratyaya beings of the last sūtra.
The commentators take this sūtra as promoting a progression of events that must be undertaken by the aspiring yogī. Vyāsa takes śraddhā, faith, to be clarity of mind, which perhaps indicates that since any type of enterprise requires faith that it will lead to the attainment of a goal, when one sees things clearly, one can understand which kind of endeavor best merits one’s trust. Vācaspati Miśra states that faith is belief in the goal of the enterprise, which in this case is asamprajñāta–samādhi. Vyāsa states that faith sustains like a benevolent mother; it supports the yogī until the very end. Deep faith gives rise to the second item on Patañjali’s list, vīrya, vigor or energetic endeavor, which the commentators take to be the pursuit of the eight limbs of yoga that will be described in some detail in Chapter II. Faith, then, inspires energetic action in pursuing the practices of yoga. We can note that according to II.38, the attainment of vīrya, vigor, is specifically achieved by the practice of celibacy, an indispensable ingredient in the eight limbs of yoga. This vīrya, in turn, produces the next item, smṛti, memory, which is taken by Vyāsa to mean an undisturbed mind; by Vācaspati Miśra to indicate always keeping the goal in mind; and by Śaṅkara to refer to scriptural knowledge.
This focused state of mind passes into the penultimate stage mentioned in this sūtra, samprajñāta–samādhi, or undeviated concentration on an object, which Patañjali addressed in I.17. As a result of the complete absence of distraction in samādhi, the final item on the list, prajñā, discernment, the ability to see things as they really are, manifests. The ultimate act of discrimination is the ability to distinguish puruṣa from any aspect of prakṛti. The mind, says Vyāsa, has now accomplished its goal and fulfilled the purpose of its existence and thus need no longer continue to operate. Consequently, preceded by the five stages indicated in this sūtra, asamprajñāta–samādhi—the complete uncoupling of the puruṣa from the mind—now ensues.
As scholars have long noted, these five stages find a parallel in the Buddha’s preenlightenment training under his two yogī teachers, Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka son of Rāma, which, while understood differently between the traditions, underscores once again the shared context of meditational practices in ancient India.