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As I discuss in this question, by far the most popular school of Hindu philosophy is the Vedanta school. But there are five other Astika or orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy: Purva Mimamsa, Samkhya, Yoga, Vaisheshika, and Nyaya. My question is about the Yoga school, which had a similar worldview to the Samkhya school except it embraced the existence of a supreme being. The defining text of the Yoga school is Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

Now according to Hindu philosophy, there are three means of obtaining happiness: the Drishta or evident means, like eating food if you're hungry; the Anushravika or scriptural means, like doing an Ashwamedha Yagna to go to Swarga; and the means of knowledge, i.e. using knowledge to attain Moksha. (What kind of knowledge is required varies according to different Hindu philosophies.) In any case, in Adhyaya 1 Sutra 15 of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali says that Vairagya or dispassion requires indifference to the rewards obtained by the Drishta and Anushravika means:

dr̥ṣṭa-anuśravika-viṣaya-vitr̥ṣṇasya vaśīkāra-saṁjṇā vairāgyam

Desirelessness is the consciousness of supremacy in him who is free from thirst for perceptible and scriptural enjoyments.

Here is what Vyasa says in his commentary on this Sutra:

A mind free from attachment to perceptible enjoyments, such as women, food, drinks, and power, and having no thirst for scriptural enjoyables, such as heaven and the attainment of the states of the Videha and the Prakritilaya, has, when it has come into contact with such divine and worldly objects, a consciousness of its supremacy, due to an understanding of the defects of the objects, brought about by virtue of intellectual illumination. This consciousness of power is the same as the consciousness of indifference to their enjoyment, and is devoid of all desirable and undesirable objects as such. This mental state is desirelessness (Vairagya).

I'm interested in the part in bold. My question is, what scriptures describe the Videha and Prakritilaya states, given that Vyasa says they're "scriptural enjoyments"?

Vachaspati Mishra's subcommentary on Vyasa's Bhashya provides some information about what the Videha and Prakritilaya states are:

Scripture is the Veda. Those that are known from the Veda are scriptural enjoyments, such as heaven, etc. He speaks of desire for them too: such as "heaven, etc." The Videhas are the disembodied, who live only in the vehicles which serve as instruments (of knowledge and action). The state of the disembodied (vaidehya) is their state of existence. Others believe the Prakriti only to be the self. They meditate upon the Prakriti. They are merged in the functional Prakriti alone. (The functional Prakriti is that in which the state of the equipoise has been disturbed, i.e. not the Mulaprakriti.) The state of the Prakritilaya is the state of their existence.

Vachaspati Mishra specifically defines the scriptural enjoyments as "[t]hose that are known from the Veda", so does anyone know if the Vedas describe these two states? The Upanishads may be a good place to look.

Note that the Videha state may sound similar to the Kaivalya state discussed in my question here, but the Yoga school considers Videha to be lower than Kaivalya, which they consider to be Moksha.

  • I find it fascinating and rather alarming that someone here has included "women" in their list of perceptible enjoyments. This is clearly sexist language that doesn't belong in any discussion on the Yoga Sutras. Quote: "A mind free from attachment to perceptible enjoyments, such as women, food, drinks, and power... ..." This clearly implies that men are the only ones who can elevate their consciousness to these available spiritual heights. It would be more appropriate to use the words "sexual pleasure" so that women are not precluded from full human potential. – Gary McHarg Nov 2 '17 at 3:17
  • I find it fascinating and rather alarming that someone here has included "women" in their list of perceptible enjoyments. This is clearly sexist language that doesn't belong in any discussion on the Yoga Sutras. Quote: "A mind free from attachment to perceptible enjoyments, such as women, food, drinks, and power... ..." This clearly implies that men are the only ones who can elevate their consciousness to these available spiritual heights. It would be more appropriate to use the words "sexual pleasure" so that women are not precluded from full human potential. – Gary McHarg Nov 2 '17 at 3:17
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    @GaryMcHarg The "someone" you're referring to is Vyasa, and the text being quoted is Vyasa's Yoga Bhashya, the canonical commentary on the Yoga Sutras. I would submit that the canonical commentary on the Yoga Sutras is a better arbiter than you of what does or does not "belong in any discussion on the Yoga Sutras". If the Yoga Bhashya conflicts with the sensibilities of modern society, consider the possibility that that's a problem with modern society. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 2 '17 at 3:32
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    @GaryMcHarg Note that this does not mean that women are ineligible for Moksha, just that Patanjali Yoga may not be the way to do it. But there is a way for woman to get Moksha, namely Sharanagati. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, "O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth – women, vaiśyas and śūdras – can attain the supreme destination." – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 2 '17 at 3:39
  • But never mind, and please don't take it personally, old concepts are difficult to overcome. We are all on the same journey, just climbing different faces of the same mountain towards enlightenment. Om Shanti. – Gary McHarg Nov 2 '17 at 6:21

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