Yoga Philosophy 101: Mysteries of Misapprehension

This post is a part of the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali series. In the previous sutra, we talked about suffering, and how it comes from misapprehension. In this sutra, we will discuss the mysteries of misapprehension or ignorance.

Yoga Sutra 2.4:

Mysteries of Ignorance (Avidia)


Sutra 2.4: avidya kshetram uttaresham prasupta tanu vicchinna udaranam

avidya – misapprehension, lack of understanding
kshetram – ignorance, false knowledge
uttaresham – for the others
prasupta – inactive, dormant
tanu – not active, subtle
vicchinna – interrupted, distorted
udaranam – fully active

Obstacles (klesas) can be various in their intensity. They can be fully activated, dormant or subtle. The misapprehension is the breeding ground for other (obstacles that are) dormant, feeble, alternating of fully active.

the seeds of ignorance in the Dormant States (prasupta)

Firstly, obstacles can be in dormant state (prasupta) or in the form of seeds. These seeds can be brought to fruition when a person encounters particular circumstances or a trigger.
For example, I’ve been struggling with food addictions most of my life. I don’t do well with moderations. Thus, there is no such thing, as a little bit of a chocolate cake for me. I know how it tastes, how it makes me feel while I am eating it and what it does to my system afterward. We can say that a chocolate cake is my trigger and my food addiction is at dormant state.

Fully-blown misapprehension is Activated (udaranam)

Secondly, they can be fully activated (udaranam). I had a slice of cake. There is no coming back once I crossed this border. I continue to delve into the cookie jar and everything I can find to chew on. Consequently, going on a crazy binge. Here, my kleshas are fully activated. So, a trigger activated my food addiction, and I acted on it.

Dormant MISAPPREHENSION (prasupta)

Thirdly, these afflictions can also appear and disappear (prasupta).  Somedays, no amount of chocolate cakes can provoke me. However, it doesn’t mean that the trigger completely disappeared.

Finally, we can see how klesas always influence our mind. They are capable of acting together, or when they dominate, they can temporarily hide the others. And when they flare up, there is hardly anything we can do to control them. Furthermore, all obstacles (kleshas) are rooted in misapprehension (avedia). They will bloom when the conditions are right. Ignorance (avidia) might seem like a hidden mystery. Its nature makes us believe that it doesn’t exist.

The Path of Practice to Transform the Ignorance

Some yogis are known to burn the seeds of ignorance completely. So, even when they encounter the triggers, they are not affected. These triggers still exist in a yogic mind, but they lost their power to produce effects. However, this is not a typical scenario.

And for the rest of us? Luckily, there is the path of yoga practice!

As we cultivate a yogic state of mind, the klesas become weak. We must practice of yoga of action to manage our kleshas.

The right knowledge dispels misapprehension.
Detachment displays attachment and aversion.
Love dispels fear.

Thanks for reading!

What resonates with you?

How can you incorporate any of these concepts into your life?

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