Yogaschitta vrtti Nirodhaha

Yogaschitta vrtti Nirodhaha

Every individual has a state of mind which is called his or her Parinama, or Vrtthi. Vrttis can be one of three possible types: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas Vrttis.


Sattva is the quality of Truth, of Wholesomeness. It is a state to be desired and to be achieved by the practice of Yoga. This is a state of balance in the mind and body that occurs when the boy is strong, resilient and the mind quiet and calm.


The Rajasic State is one of hyperactivity. This describes the modern man, who is constantly engaged in some activity or the other, often without purpose or significant result. It is important to understand that a Rajasic state is at times necessary, such as when waking up from sleep. If we are devoid of Rajas, we cannot get up from bed and begin to function on a daily basis. But having got up, we should lapse into the state of Completeness of Sattva, so that we can interact with the rest of humanity with kindness and compassion. Therefore, Rajas is necessary merely to convert from the sleep state to the state of wakefulness so that we can function.


The Tamasic State is one of dullness of body and intellect. This is the state we are in on weekends and holidays, when we feel we deserve to “vegetate”. Again, the Tamasic state is necessary to fall asleep at the appropriate time so that we are not awake into the night, counting sheep to try and fall asleep! But it is important not to be lethargic, such as sleeping during the day. Having acquired the right amount of sleep, which varies between individuals, we should be awake and alert the rest of the time, without the use of stimulants! Thus, as in the case of Rajas, the Tamasic state is necessary to transition from wakefulness to sleep and to remain in the sleep state without interruption until we wake up feeling refreshed.

If the Vrttis (states of mind as described above) can be brought to a resolution/control by the practice of Abhyasa and Vairagya (study and understanding), and dispassion will occur.

Abhyasa and Vairagya

Abhyasa” – study, pra131ctice. Having gained knowledge from the Guru with respect and devotion, such knowledge should be assimilated so that comprehension takes place. We will discuss that learning comes from different sources in one of the next blogs. Besides a Guru, knowledge can also be gained from a Pramana, a means of knowledge, such as reading of the Vedas and Upanishads. But without the guidance of a teacher, such knowledge can be confusing. To the average individual, comprehension of the Vedas and Upanishads is very challenging. He needs the guidance of the Guru.

Vairagya: Dispassion

With acquiring knowledge, the mind develops the ability to discriminate. As human beings we are given the power of Choice. Animals live instinctively. Man has been given the ability to choose between right and wrong. The dispassion that results from acquiring knowledge gives us the ability to choose right over wrong. Vedas also state that in all of this a certain amount of Divine Grace is necessary. In other word, it is not enough to acquire knowledge because you are a good student; without being blessed, such knowledge will not culminate in deep understanding.

“With acquiring knowledge, the mind develops the ability to discriminate.”


Being asked to clap, a person has the choices of doing it, not doing it and doing it differently. Therefore, I can choose to clap, not to clap or decide to clap at some other time, removed from the context of when I was asked to clap! We have NO CHOICE in having the power of choice! But we do have the choice of deciding what is appropriate and what is not. This requires Abhyasa and Vairagya, the study of the scriptures, and discriminatory power. Assimilation of knowledge gained and development of dispassion leads to the ability to refrain from wrong actions.

We often perform questionable actions in our lives and then justify such actions with explanations of how it was reasonable to do such. Upon inquiry, such actions are not worthy of us, and create conflicts in us. It is preferable to refrain from such actions, so that the mind remains free of turbulence.  

“There are no liars, only people who lie!”

The Vedas say that people do not lie or rob because they are liars and robbers, but because there is an urge in them to do so, over which they have no control. They know that what they are doing is wrong but they cannot control themselves because of pressures in their lives. So it is true for all of us. We often have the urge to tell a lie or to take something that does not belong to us. To avoid doing this, we need Vairagya, the ability to understand that we can do without it. Practicing Vairagya will bring us that freedom we yearn for. This will bring us tremendous leisure; the mind will remain calm and quiet without being troubled by the wrong action. No matter how callous we are, a wrong action will have an effect on our conscience. We often see people acting out of turn while appearing to be untroubled by their conscience. This is only an appearance.

~ Hari Om

Tirun Gopal

Tirun Gopal MD, is the Medical Director of the Department of Ob-Gyn at St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco. He is devoted to enhancing the health of the average American through lifestyle changes, dietary modifications and Eastern Herbology, and providing Complementary Care through Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Yoga and Meditation.
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