1.5 – There are five types of fluctuations in consciousness. These are either obstructing or non-obstructing.

वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टाक्लिष्टाः ॥५॥ vrittayah pancatayah klishta aklishta
  • vrittayah – “the vrittis are”; vrittis – fluctuations, modifications; activities, movements
  • pancatayah – five-fold; having five parts
  • klishta – obstructive; afflictive; painful; tormented; obscured; colored
  • aklishta – non-obstructive; non-afflictive; non-painful; non-tormented; non-obscured; non-colored

1.6 – The five types of fluctuations in consciousness are: 1) accurate knowing, 2) illusions, 3) delusions, 4) deep sleep, and 5) memory.

प्रमाणविपर्ययविकल्पनिद्रास्मृतयः ॥६॥ pramana viparyaya vikalpa nidra smritayah
  • pramana – accurate knowing; valid proof; evidence
  • viparyaya – illusion; wrong knowledge; misperception; opposite of; turning around
  • vikalpa – delusion; imagination; false notion; fancy
  • nidra – deep sleep; slumber
  • smritayah – memory; recollection; remembrance

1.7 – Accurate knowing can come from clear perception, inference, or from wise sources.

प्रत्यक्षानुमानागमाः प्रमाणानि ॥७॥ pratyaksha anumana agamah pramanani
  • pratyaksha – clear perception; direct perception; self-evident; visible
  • anumana – inference; consideration; reflection
  • agamah – wise sources; sacred works; traditional doctrines or precepts
  • pramanani – accurate knowing; valid means of proof

1.8 – Illusions are distorted perceptions with no solid foundation in reality.

विपर्ययः मिथ्याज्ञानमतद्रूपप्रतिष्ठम् ॥८॥ viparyayah mithya jnanam atad rupa pratistham
  • viparyayah – misperception; illusion; wrong knowledge; opposite of; turning around
  • mithya – illusion; unreal; distorted; falsity; error in understanding
  • jnanam – knowledge; awareness
  • atad – not that
  • rupa – appearance; form
  • pratistham – foundation; ground; stability

1.9 – Delusions are mental concepts devoid of truth.

शब्दज्ञानानुपाती वस्तुशून्योविकल्पः ॥९॥ shabda jnana anupati vastu shunyah vikalpah
  • shabda – word; sound; name; voice; tone
  • jnana – knowledge; awareness
  • anupati – depending on; following
  • vastu – object; thing; truth; fact
  • shunyah – devoid of; empty of
  • vikalpah – delusion; imagination; false notion; fancy

1.10 – Deep sleep is a movement in consciousness which sustains the mental state of nothingness.

अभावप्रत्ययालम्बना तमोवृत्तिर्निद्र ॥१०॥ abhava pratyaya alambana vritti nidra
  • abhava – nothingness; absence; void; negation
  • pratyaya – contents of consciousness; mental content; notion; cognition; conception
  • alambana – base; sustaining; support; foundation; depending on; resting upon
  • vritti – fluctuations; modifications; activities; movements
  • nidra – deep sleep; slumber

1.11 – Memories are the retention of previous experiences.

अनुभूतविषयासंप्रमोषः स्मृतिः ॥११॥ anubhuta vishaya asampramoshah smritih
  • anubhuta – experienced; tasted; perceived
  • vishaya – object of sensory experience; content; subject matter; impressions
  • asampramoshah – retaining; not letting drop
  • smritih – memory; recollection; remembrance

Commentary on Sutras 1.5—1.11:

The fluctuations in consciousness (vrittis) form five recognizable patterns or configurations. Some of these patterned movements are non-restrictive. Others obstruct our clear perception of Awareness and the world and cause us pain and suffering. The five patterned movements in consciousness are:
  1. Accurate knowing
When our consciousness is settled and clear, we can directly perceive the truth of things. Or we can use our powers of reasoning and intuition to gain accurate knowledge. A third way to acquire right knowledge is through a trustworthy source. In the pursuit of higher knowledge, a spiritual guide and a map, such as the Yoga Sutras, are indispensable.
  1. Illusions
The more fluctuations in our field of consciousness, the less accurate our perceptions become. Our inner turbulence superimposes itself on the external world, coloring and distorting it. We then act on wrong information and create more troublesome karma, which adds to the chaos. At the root of this disorder is our illusory sense of self-identity. Wrongly knowing ourselves to be separate, independent entities is the cause of all our suffering.
  1. Delusions
Delusions are mental creations in which we form concepts about reality that we then mistake for reality. Our mental world becomes so convincing that we mistake the thought for the thing, our ideas about a person for the person herself. The vritti of delusion causes us to view entire segments of society through the lens of our prejudices. Or to categorize whole countries as evil because of the actions of a few of their leaders. This type of vritti also draws us into excessive fantasies, which can create insatiable desires for material things. It can cause us to worry endlessly about events that may never come to pass, creating intense fears and aversions.
  1. Deep sleep
At first glance, deep sleep seems more like the absence of all vrittis rather than a particular type of vritti. But as Patanjali stated in Sutra 1.2, when the vrittis are still, unity is experienced. In a state of deep sleep, however, consciousness is overcome with the energy of inertia. It moves toward the idea of nothingness. Advanced yogis have transcended that state. They may appear to sleep as the rest of us do, but rather than being overcome by the vritti of unconsciousness, they rest in the ever-aware light of the Self.
  1. Memories
A person under hypnosis can sometimes recall minute details of a crime scene, the numbers on a license plate they never attempted to memorize, the name and description of someone they met twenty years before, or the exact location of something they lost months in the past. Each experience we have creates an imprint in consciousness. When clear, we can intentionally access that vast storehouse of information. But in lower states, our powers of recollection are limited.