Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Pratyaya Mean?

Pratyaya is a Sanskrit term that can refer to several concepts, but in yoga, it typically refers to the contents of the mind – a single thought, a person’s basic tendencies or an object of focus in meditation. It can also refer to a person’s conscious impressions or internal seeds that do not disappear, even in the blissful state of samadhi.

In Buddhism, the concept of pratyaya refers to the causes, particularly of mental activity, and is divided into four types: hetu-pratyaya (direct cause), samanantara-pratyaya (immediately preceding cause), alambana-pratyaya (object as a cause) and adhipati-pratyaya (superior cause).


Yogapedia Explains Pratyaya

Pratyaya is a key concept in Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. On the path to union with the Divine, the yogi first begins with many thoughts or impressions, which are gradually reduced to a single pratyaya or thought. At this point, the yogi has reached the state of meditative awareness. In this context, pratyaya is the object of meditation.

In dharana (concentration and perceptual awareness), the sixth of Patanjali’s eight limbs, the yogi learns to prevent other thoughts from intruding on his/her efforts to focus on the pratyaya. In dhyana (contemplation and meditation of the Divine), the seventh limb, the yogi learns to sustain awareness of only the pratyaya. The eighth limb, samadhi (union with the Divine), is achieved and the yogi becomes one with the pratyaya.

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