3.50 – When one perceives the difference between Pure Awareness and the subtlest aspect of the intellect, one becomes all-knowing and gains supremacy over all states of existence.

सत्त्वपुरुषान्यताख्यातिमात्रस्य सर्वभावाधिष्ठातृत्वं सर्वज्ञातृत्वं च ॥४९॥

sattva purusha anyata khyati matrasya sarva-bhava adhisthatrittvam sarva-jnatritvam cha

  • sattva – primal force of luminosity; subtlest aspect of the intellect (buddhi)
  • purusha – soul; spirit; Pure Awareness; the true Self
  • anyata – difference
  • khyati – knowledge; view; point of view; conception
  • matrasya – only
  • sarva – all; every
  • bhava – state of being
  • adhisthatrittvam – supremacy; governing; ruling
  • sarva – all; every
  • jnatritvam – knowledge
  • cha – and; also; both

3.51 – Through nonattachment to even those highest powers, the seeds of error are destroyed, and Pure Awareness is realized.

तद्वैराग्यादपि दोषबीजक्षये कैवल्यम् ॥५०॥

tad vairagya api dosa bija ksaya kaivalyam

  • tad – that
  • vairagya – detachment; dispassion; nonattachment
  • api – even; also; too; though
  • dosa – error; defect; fault
  • bija – seed; source; origin
  • ksaya – termination; dissolution; end
  • kaivalyam – liberation; perfect unity; enlightenment; freedom; Self-knowledge

3.52 – The yogi should avoid any feelings of pride if invited to join the celestial assemblage or risk falling back into undesirable states.

स्थान्युपनिमन्त्रणे सङ्गस्मयाकरणं पुनरनिष्टप्रसङ्गात् ॥५१॥

sthani upanimantrane sanga smaya akaranam punuh anista prasangat

  • sthani – a place; location; home; office; rank; can also refer to the abode of celestial beings
  • upanimantrane – invitation
  • sanga – association; assembly; coming together as a group
  • smaya – pride; arrogance
  • akaranam – without any cause; absence of action
  • punuh – again; anew
  • anista – unfavorable; undesirable
  • prasangat – attachment; addiction; inclination toward

Commentary on Sutras 3.50—3.52:

NOTE: New translation for 3.51 reads “the seeds of error.” That refers to the kleshas.

The subtlest aspect of the intellect is called the buddhi. See Sutra 3.36 for a review of the practice of samyama on the distinction between the buddhi and Pure Awareness. In Sutra 3.50, Patanjali tells us that knowledge and supremacy over all states of our existence arise from the clear recognition of this distinction.

That’s because we’re now seeing things from the perspective of Awareness Itself. The thinnest veil of avidya has fallen, and we can see the whole landscape at once. We’re behind all states of consciousness, all thoughts and emotions, all moods and physical sensations. We know we’re not any of those things. We now recognize that the Power of Awareness gives rise to them all, and we know we are that Awareness.

We are the Power of Awareness, not the false-self—not the individual, separate, egoistic self we believed ourselves to be—but the one true Self behind all forms.

When we’re abiding in that clear recognition, there’s no attachment to any powers because there’s no one left to attach to them. The false-self has dissolved in the vast sky of Awareness (chidakasha).

Why, then, does Patanjali mention that the seeds of bondage are destroyed through nonattachment to those highest powers?

Because the seeds of bondage, the latent imprints in consciousness, are still present. When those samskaras are triggered, the yogi will be drawn back down into lower states and see things from the perspective of the false-self.

From there, they may claim ownership of the powers, feel prideful about achieving them, and become attached to them. By now, we know how that story ends. The yogi will use those attachments to construct another version of the false-self and then be pulled further into darkness and delusion. And the cycle of suffering will continue. (Also see Sutra 4.27.)

But by remaining steadfast in training and practicing nonattachment to any powers which may arise, the seeds of bondage continue to be burned away. Eventually, the yogi is liberated from all suffering, and there will be no further risk of falling into lower states.