Running in Circles
Ok. I hope you have heard about Patanjali, the sage. Yeah, it’s a name of a legend, the FMCG thing is recent. Patanjali is often called father of modern yoga. How modern is modern ?
Well, Patanjali’s exact time period is not known, but it is known that he came before Panini (circa 4th century BCE) . So, modern is pretty ancient. How old is Yoga ?. No idea.
Again, Panini is a legend, not a bread. Panini is the formulator of Sanskrit grammar, he laid down rules which ushered the era of Classical Sanskrit. Throughout his works, he referenced one guy quite relentlessly. He was Patanjali, the grammarian, the musician and Yogi unparalleled.
Patanjali is mainly credited with the re-establishment of Yoga in Indian culture, which at that time was a bit lost, pretty much like today. I am joking, we are lost beyond measure.
Thus he gave the Yoga Sutras. Yoga Sutras cut across differences of race, caste, creed, culture and is surprisingly straightforward. No intellectual speculation, no poetic masala, makes it pretty boring, but that is perhaps the purpose. Here goes the first line of the sutra.
Yoga(yoga) chitta (mind) vritti(~~~) nirodha (aversion)
Yoga is an aversion to mind’s ~~~.
I would not explain the above text because I don’t like sounding wise, when I am not. So, we are going to learn about the word Vritti (वृत्ति), which we pointlessly skipped in the above sutra.
वृत्ति generally means behavior, one’s mode of being, one’s state of being.
वृत्ति also means rolling stones and rolling tears.
Those two sets of meanings are quite strange, aren’t they ? What has rolling stones to do with one’s state of being ?
The answer lies in the word-root वृत, वृत means a circle. Hence, cyclical motion is वृत्ति. So, the rolling stones bit is explained.
Now, according to saints and sages, who speak throughout the ages. Our mind and our behavior is by default, cyclical. We are running in circles, or more plainly put, we are programmed to run in circles. We pleasingly call these cyclical happenings as habits. Some unpleasant habits are called addictions. Biological structure of our whole selves, our organs and our basic cells, our whole mental structure and even the foreign bacteria that reside in our guts, all are constantly repeating the stuff over and over again.
Since repetition is best represented by a circle. Thus our behavior, the general state of our being is merely a cycle, we call it..वृत्ति..
But, why is वृत a circle ?
The answer comes from the akshara — वृत्.
वृत् means enveloping. Actually, enveloping isn’t the precise word.
When we take a turn to cover something up, that act of doing is वृत्.
It also has remnants in Indo-European languages. For example, Vertex, or Vortex both come from vertere, which means turning to cover. Slowly, vertex began to be known as the turning point. Overtime, it became the turning point that is overhead, therefore giving a new word — vertical.
The dizzy, whirling sensation that one gets — it is called Vertigo.
The effect of vertere doesn’t end there. The word verse also came from vertere. When we turn the page, it’s a verse that got ended. A size of a typical verse is that of a page.
The word versus, means to turn against . Again, we are using the same word-root.
Inverse, converse, invert, convert, revert, reverse, conversation (which I try to have with girls ) — all of them came from this very small word-root.
And none other than our combined whole — the universe — means one verse. That which has no other side, but only one side is universe.
In modern Indic languages, वृत has found many forms. बर्तन, the casual Hindi word for utensil, came into existence because utensils were mostly circular in shape and their manufacturing was done on a circular wheel.
वार्ता means a conversation. The formal word being — वार्तालाप.
This is the reason why the modern Indic word for “talk” is बात.
संवर्तन means completion of the cycle. That is why when someone completes education i.e. Gurukul, it is called संवर्तन.
But all cycles do not end that pleasantly. Most ancient cultures imagine completion of the worldly cycle in a destruction. They were not pessimists, they were just more observant. Most natural things follow this order. The year ends in winter, the life ends in death, the day ends in darkness.
That is why संवर्तनी means destruction of the world.
Creation and destruction go hand in hand, it is a cycle. All broze-age cultures share a common symbol to show this cycle, a snake eating itself. An Ouroboros.
As I try to put my foot in my mouth. You do something saner, and pick better cycles. We are creatures of habit.
Stay in Awesome cycles.
And Stay tuned for awesome.