Consciousness According to Yoga

The concept and nature of consciousness is lucidly explained in Upanishads and other yogic texts. With reference to consciousness Upanishads talks about Brahman, Atman only. Consciousness alone is the sole reality and all other things are mundane. Brahman or Consciousness is ‘Self referent’ and does not need any proof for its existence. The aim of yoga is pratiprasava (back to consciousness) to remove ignorance or avidya and realize the real nature of Purusha. The Purusha in Yoga is the same as Brahman in Upanishad.

Purusha (consciousness) and Prakriti (matter)

The source book of Yoga is the Yogasutra compiled by Sage Patanjali. In other words Yoga stands for Patanjali Yoga sutra, also known as Raja Yoga. In Patanjali Yoga sutra, Yoga is defined as “Yogah Chittah Vritti nirodhah” i.e Yoga is to get mastery over the modifications of Chitta (mind). This mastery over chitta means cessation of mind, where there are no thoughts.

Chitta is basically the Prakriti (lifeless object), one of the two fundamental and eternal substances, other being the Purusha (the conscious self). This prakriti is the basic material, primal matter from which the universe evoloves. It is the jada it has no consciousness. The Purusha on the other hand is a conscious entity. Consciousness is his very essence. He is eternal, ever pure, ever detached and all pervading. Through the light of consciousness chitta shines and appear to be alive, just as the moon shines from the light of the sun. Purusha due to ignorance identifies with the chitta and its modifications (vritti).


The aim of yoga is pratiprasava (back to consciousness) to remove ignorance or avidya and realize the real nature of Purusha.

Yogah Chittah Vritti nirodhah: Yoga is to get mastery over the Chitta.

Chitta = Mind + Ego + Intellect + Memory

Mind (manas) = Gathering the information

Intellect (buddhi) = Analysing the information

Ego (ahamkara) = Identifying experiences

Memory (chitta) = Storing the information.

Chitta along with its components of mind, ego, intellect and memory creates an illusion of reality around the Purusha (soul or consciousness). Purusha along with chitta thinks and generate innumerable thoughts and as a result become part of unending cycle of life and death. Purusha is in the cage of Prakriti, Buddhi, Ahankara & Manas. It is in the model of Box within a Box.

By Vitarka Samadhi you can get out of the grossest box Jnanendriyas (sense organs) & Karmendriyas (organs of action).

By Vichara Samadhi you can remove subtlest box of Tanmatras (subtle elements), Mahabhutas (gross elements) & the manas.

By Asmita Samadhi you can realize that you are the existence.

Reverse Evolution

Yoga talks about the reverse evolution where in a way we transform from our present state of complexity to the original state of simplicity. Keeping the body fit by asana, pranayama, bandha and kriyas are necessary for pratyahara (withdrawing the senses), dharaha (focus), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption, union). In Samadhi we become simple again.

The object in yoga is harmonizing Rajas & Tamas into Satva. Manas or Ahankara does not contaminate Satva. At that stage of Mahat, Purusha realizes and goes beyond the Satva & becomes Gunatita – the pratiprasava (reverse evolution) or going back to the consciousness by reducing the number of thoughts and modifications of mind and dissolving the chitta completely.

When Purusha is attached to Prakriti, he is entangled with Sukha & Dukha. When detached, it will be in its pristine purity, one with the Universal Consciousness.

  1. Yoga takes the theory of Prakriti from Sankhya and explains how Purusha can be released from Prakriti.
  2. The aim of Yoga is Pratiprasava (back to consciousness) to remove the covers and realizes the real nature of Purusha.
  3. Consciousness which is trapped in Prakriti is Jiva.
  4. There is not different type of consciousness; these are only different levels and states of consciousness. Consciousness is always singular.
  5. As white colour appears in seven colours, consciousness also appears in different states and different levels.

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