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Yoga dictionary. Vikalpa

Translated from Sanskrit “vikalpa” means “fantasy”, “imagination”. In the yoga sutras Patanjali gives a detailed explanation of such phenomena as Vritti. In the Sutra of the fifth Chapter of the first, Patanjali describes their effect on the mind. In A. Bailey’s version of the translation, the Sutra reads:”there are five States of mind, and they are subject to pleasure or pain, they are painful or not painful.” Later in the sixth Sutra of the same Chapter, Patanjali enumerates the five kinds of Vritti. In A. Bailey’s version of the translation, the Sutra reads: “These modifications are right knowledge, wrong knowledge, fantasy, passivity and memory.” Among the other five types of Vritti, Patanjali mentions here such a phenomenon as Vikalpa, which in A. Bailey’s translation means “fantasy”. In Swami Vivekananda’s version of the translation, “vikalpa “is”verbal illusions”. Krishnamacharya offers the meaning “of vikalpa” as “imagination”. Translated version of E. Ostrovskaya and V. Rudy “of vikalpa” is a “mental construction”. But in Falkova proposed interpretation of “invention”. All of these versions reflect the many facets of such concepts as Vikalpa.

What is Vikalpa? Vikalpa is a kind of mind game, a combination of images, which were perceived previously. Therefore, the images stored in the mind had real objects underneath them. But the very combinations of these images generated by the mind (Chitta) can be so bizarre that they have nothing to do with reality. That is why in Sutra the ninth head of the first in version of translation A. Bailey said: “Fantasy rests on images, not expedited real existence.” How to understand this interpretation?

On the one hand, the mind cannot reproduce an image that has never been seen, but on the other hand, taking as a basis the images of real objects, the mind can generate something really nonexistent and never existed before. For example, an image of a pink elephant may pop up in your mind. The elephant itself is a real object. And pink is also a real object. But the incompatible combination of the two images generates a fantasy that has nothing to do with real life. More precisely, this is revealed by Krishnamacharya’s version of the translation of this Sutra: “Imagination is the comprehension of an object based only on words and expressions. Even in the absence of an object.”

What can be dangerous harmless fantasy? Scientifically speaking, our brains don’t distinguish real events from fantasies. And if some imaginary situation or phenomenon is constantly reproduced in the mind, the brain perceives it as actually happening. And if this imaginary situation or phenomenon has a negative connotation (and most often it happens: negative events or thoughts are much more firmly fixed in the consciousness), it will have a negative impact on the human consciousness, and moreover – lead to the accumulation of negative karma, because karma is formed not only at the level of action, but also at the level of thinking. Thus, Vikalpa can lead to the formation of samskar-karmic prints with a negative message, and this will manifest itself in the future. If the object of Vikalpa is a certain object of lust, which a person craves, it will lead to the formation and strengthening of Vasana – the habit to desire this object and strive for it. In the process of Vikalpa vasana can become so strong that it will be manifested even in future births, forming unconscious desires. The more time the formation of such a Vasana takes, the more effort will be needed to eliminate it.

In Sutra 12 of the same Chapter, Patanjali describes in detail how to eliminate all five types of Vritti, including Vikalpa. In A. Bailey’s version of the translation, the Sutra reads as follows:”the Management of these modifications of the internal organ (mind) must be achieved by tireless effort and detachment.” By untiring effort is meant (as stated in the next Sutra 13)” a constant effort to restrain the modifications of the mind, ” that is, the practice of Dhyana. By non-attachment is meant (as Sutra 15 says)”freedom from wanting all objects of desire, earthly or learned from tradition, both here and hereafter.”

Thus, Vikalpa is a fantasy of the mind, based on previous experience, but do not have real objects. Vikalpa, like all other Vrittis, causes anxiety of the mind, leading to suffering. In addition, Vikalpa leads to the accumulation of karma, as it creates a deformation of the mind – samskara, which in turn will form certain Vasanas – inclinations and habits. The more Vikalpa intensity is manifested, the stronger the Vasanas will be, and the more difficult it will be to eliminate them later. Vikalpa is suppressed by the process of Dhyana practice and by non – attachment-Vairagya.

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