Kaivalya is the supreme attainment of yog. Kaivalya is the very purpose of yog. All of the saadhanaa of yog, as described in the second and third paads, and all of the transformations of the mind into samaadhi, as described in the first paad, exist and are pursued by the yogi with one ultimate attainment in view, and that is Kaivalya.
Kaivalya is absolute Oneness. In Kaivalya, there is no other, so it is called keval, alone. As must be repeatedly emphasized, this does not mean aloneness in the context of duality, such as when an angry child declares in a fit of temper, “Leave me alone!” or when someone says, “I want to be alone.” Even though the meaning “alone” may reflect a deeper, underlying sense of self within the dualistic vision, such an understanding of aloneness remains based upon separation. The aloneness of Kaivalya is no such separation, even though in the course of saadhanaa there takes place the separation of the mixture of the Self with the forms of the self.
In Patanjali’s terms, the mixture that leads to pain is the mixture of Purush with prakriti. But the very division of reality into Purush and prakriti is an illusion occurring in the Self, which makes it appear that there is Self, the Knower, and Self, the known. And then they are caught in the interplay of knower and known. Simply by knowing a form of prakriti within prakriti, a human being has lost touch with his or her true nature, the purity of Purush, the Self, pure, free, forever. The final purpose of yog saadhanaa is to be established in one’s true nature, one’s eternal nature, which is Purush. One’s true nature as Purush is true because it is unchanging. Truth is unchanging. The truth of Kaivalya is Purush alone, free from the division that prakriti makes apparent. Kaivalya is indivisibility, which means that the Self, in fact, is never divided.
The three previous chapters of Yog Darshan have discussed the yogic way to reach Kaivalya. The third chapter also discussed some of the possible attainments, or vibhootis, that may arise in the yogi’s life on the way to Kaivalya. But these should be treated like sideshows on the way.
There is a story in which in order to claim the title of king of the land, hopeful contestants had to pass through an enormous fairground andreach t he far side without being sidetracked into the various allurements and shows within the fair. The yogi is like that contestant for kingship, except that the yogi’s path is to remain alert to the state of ultimate liberation.
Attainments on the way, while appearing to be accomplishments, are distractions for the true yogi. If the yogi maintains the discernment, or vivek, of the true goal, which is knowledge of and establishment in Purush, then all of the manifesting shaktis of prakriti become pratiprasav, meaning that prakriti’s maayic power is reabsorbed back into the Self. This leaves the Self alone, as it has always been.
So, actually, Kaivalya is the Self as it always is. It is only that a human being first feels “I am an individual. I am not the Whole. I was born and I will die, and in between I experience joy and suffering. But I want to be established in the true being which is only Oneness, only aanand, only the Self alone, Kaivalya.” From the human perspective, Kaivalya is a state to be attained, because the human perspective, having been particularized (vishesh) exists divided from the Whole and experiences in time and space. This is the divided, particularized knowledge called the knowledge of the world and the knowledge of the forms and happenings of the world. Thus, a human being has forgotten the true nature of the ever-free, blissful Self and is living in avidyaa, the state of consciousness that is ignorant of the true state of being. For a human being, then, who wishes to recover his or her true state of being, that state of attainment is referred to as Kaivalya, the goal, saadhya, to be reached.
The perfect state of being, Kaivalya, can only be attained by bringing human attention again and again towards the true nature of the Self, called Purush. In doing this, it appears that the saadhak’s attention is being withdrawn from the forms prakriti, and so it appears that there is vairaagya, yogic detachment from the mind’s obsession with the forms of prakriti.
For the aware one, all is Self, all is Kaivalya; there is no separate prakriti. So guna pratiprasav, the dissolution of the gunas, as employed in the last sootra of Kaivalya Paad, is the result of attention becoming established in Purush, who is the very source and being of attention. The result is that the creative power of Purush, called prakriti, does not create the sense of divided consciousness that we normally know as consciousness of the ordinary, waking-state world.
In fact, we can say that in Kaivalya there is no world; there is only Purush, meaning that from the eternal viewpoint of Purush, all is Purush, the One undivided Self. Thus, in truth, the gunas of prakriti never were prasav, or extended into separate world forms. They never were the extrusion of the Self as world, for Self remains Self. It was the human consciousness that was ignorant of this eternal truth; and so, in its forgetfulness of the indivisibility of the Self, declared, “There is a world, and I was born into it.”
The yogic consciousness in Kaivalya never departs from the Self, so there is never prasav, birth, of dualism, division. Even the appearance of dualism is nothing but Self. This is the knowledge of the aware one. In the case of the one who is as yet unaware of the truth or entrenched in avidyaa, dualism is the reality and Oneness is not in his or her present purview. If, through shravan, or hearing from Guru or scripture, a person becomes aware that Oneness is a possibility, then he or she can begin to act, think, and practice for the sake of that Oneness. As the clouds of avidyaa, Selfforgetfulness, clear, the light of the Self shines in its own truth of Selfawareness of itself as one everywhere, permeating all as the very existence of all. That yogi, though appearing to others as a form, is the infinity of Being called Kaivalya.
Outline of Kaivalya Paad
When the student first approaches Kaivalya Paad, the chapter on liberation, there can arise considerable confusion as to how the sootras progress in their meaning. Often, the student thinks that if this is the chapter on liberation, why is it not speaking about that liberation? It seems to be talking about different topics. But experience and insight on the path of yogic meditation reveal a flow in the development of this paad as it progresses from the discussion of siddhis in the previous paad to Kaivalya. The following breakdown of the sootras may help in providing some insight into the evolution of understanding presented in this Kaivalya Paad:
1-6. How siddhis exist and appear
7-11. Sanskaars and the nature of bound manifestation
12-16. The nature of objective existence
17-24. The nature of the mind, the subject that knows objective existence, thus beginning the differentiation of the Knower from the mind.
25-28. Vivek khyaati, the discrimination of Purush from the chitt
29-34. The momentum of vivek towards Kaivalya.
This breakdown of the sootras, while not definitive, is simple enough to enable the student to grasp that:
- Siddhis occur in the mind
- The mind is shaped by sanskaars
- Sanskaars are shaped by objective knowledge
- Objective knowledge is known by the mind
- The true knower in the mind is the drashtaa, the Knower
- The meditator’s understanding of the distinction between the Knower and the mind results in vivek khyaati, the meditator’s discernment of Purush, one’s true Self, as distinct from the mind
- Vivek leads the meditative yogi into the solution, the state of the Knower Purush alone, utterly free from the seeming divisions of prakriti.
- The state devoid of mind’s division is Kaivalya.