The Importance of Solitude

Patanjali Yoga Sutra Knowledge Sheet 78

Contd. from knowledge sheet 77

“By personal hygiene and cleanliness to your own physical body, there will be disinclination towards the body or there will be cessation of craving for contact with different parts of the body.”

By personal hygiene and cleanliness, the attachment to your physical body is lifted up. You become more aware of your inner body, inner self, the light body that you are. Swa-anga jugupsā. Craving for different and certain parts of the body begins in the mind because one does not totally understand this body. Beneath this skin these are all bones, flesh, nerves. Lack of understanding of the body brings different forms of obsession and madness. Those people cannot be satisfied by anything. The different obsessions take over them and they become violent. There are many crimes that are related to the body. People kill just for fun. So many crimes of sex happen. It is lack of understanding of one’s body.

Shoucha, cleanliness establishes what? Sattva shuddhi. When the mind becomes sāttvic, the thinking becomes clear, intellect becomes purified. Saumanasya, the mind becomes even more harmonious.


“The mind becomes clear and harmonious, one-pointed, control of senses and the ability to realize oneself comes to you by purity.”

Ekāgrata - one pointedness. Indriya jayatva - a say over one’s sense organs. Ātma darshana yogyatvāni - ability to realize one’s self comes to you by purity.


You can try this out. See, when you are unhappy or depressed for some time, not being in contact with anybody helps. This is a very natural and inbuilt thing in our system. No? When you feel unpleasant, depressed, you want to shut yourself away from everybody and just remain with yourself. Isn’t it? This is a very natural tendency. Non-contact with anyone else can also bring about certain amount of purity in you. Do you see what I am saying? Non-contact of any sort, even mental, can bring up the ability to realize oneself. It can make your mind more one pointed. It brings about greater clarity in thinking.

That is why great works of the world have come up in solitude. When a great poem has to come up, a person has to sit alone to write a great poem. A great painter has to be by himself when he wants to paint something. Here too people use this to the extreme. They say “Oh do not touch me”. People shove away. This is what has happened. The science has been misused in various ways. This is the truth. Do not be in contact with anybody for a day or two and you see that your mind will get back to its shape. These are the effects of shoucha.

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(This is part of a series of knowledge sheets based on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's commentaries on Patanjali Yoga Sutras.)