Sutra IV.7 -IV.8

Posted July 1st, 2013 by Erin under Student Writings, Yoga Philosophy.

Sutra IV.7: karmasuklakrsnam yoginas tri-vidham itaresam

The karma of a yogi is neither white nor black; of everyone else it is of three types.

translation by Edwin Bryant

The following interpretations are written by Vanessa Serrota.

“The wise person lets go of all results, whether good or bad, and is focused on action alone. Yoga is skill in actions.” –Bhagavad Gita

This sutra teaches us to disengage (detach) from the fruits of our actions, just as the Bhagavad Gita teaches. It is important to note that the sutra says that in addition to a yogi’s actions not being black (tamasic) or grey (rajasic), neither are they white (sattvic). This may seem confusing, as the first two limbs of yoga themselves are directing us toward illuminated, “white” actions. I think the sutra is showing us that the first two limbs are just the beginning, an important place to start and that ultimately, in order to really go beyond, our motivations must become rootless, so that we detach even from the desire to do good. To me, this sutra is about being exactly present in this moment. If we surrender the fruits of our actions, we avail ourselves for what is, right now. We open up the possibility of being moved by the grace of God.

Sutra IV.7 speaks to the work we do in this method of yoga as well. When we talk about “it’s not one size fits all” and about “knowing what you’re doing and why you’re doing it”, concepts which are hallmarks of the Iyengar tradition, it is another way of saying “take the right action at the right time”. Which cannot be planned ahead. We have never been here before. What is this moment asking of us?

Sutra IV.8: tatas tad-vipakanugunanam evabhivyaktir vasananam

From [these three types of karma] the activation of only those subliminal impressions that are ready for fruition [in the next life] occurs.

translation by Edwin Bryant

This sutra is about the accumulation of karma. Each of the three kinds of actions create impressions. Even the white (sattvic) actions create impressions, as the white actions are equally driven by desire. These impressions are like seeds inside of us, manifesting as karma when the conditions are suitable. We carry these seeds of karma with us through however many lifetimes it takes for the right conditions to occur. By making right actions at right times, the fruits of the actions of the yogi are offered to God devotionally, thus the yogi accumulates no seeds of karma

Vanessa Serotta graduated from the 500hr Teacher Training with Eileen Muir. She teaches level 1-2 Monday mornings and will be teaching the next 8 Week Beginner’s series at Karuna in September


Leave a Reply