4.32 – In this ultimate revelation, the purpose of the primal forces of nature is fulfilled. This brings an end to their sequential transformations.

ततः कृतार्थानं परिणामक्रमसमाप्तिर्गुणानाम् ॥३२॥ tatah krita arthanam parinama krama samaptih gunanam
  • tatah – due to that; from that
  • krita – accomplished; fulfilled; performance of action
  • arthanam – purpose
  • parinama – change; consequence; fruit; result; effect; transformation
  • krama – sequence; order; succession of events; sequence of time; gradual progression; unfoldment
  • samaptih – ending; concluding
  • gunanam – of the primal forces of nature

4.33 – That flow of sequential transformations has specific, correlative moments in time. From the perspective of the end-point of that changing flow, one comprehends this.

क्षणप्रतियोगी परिणामापरान्त निर्ग्राह्यः क्रमः ॥३३॥ ksana pratiyogi parinama aparanta nirgrahyah kramah
  • ksana – moment; instant; extremely brief measure of time
  • pratiyogi – correlative; a counterpart of
  • parinama – change; consequence; fruit; result; effect; transformation
  • aparanta – the end-point
  • nirgrahyah – perceivable; comprehensible
  • kramah – sequence; order; succession of events; sequence of time; gradual progression; unfoldment

4.34 – When the purposes of the primal forces of nature have been fulfilled, they are returned to their original, balanced state. The free soul then abides in their own essence, the Power of Awareness.

पुरुषार्थशून्यानां गुणानांप्रतिप्रसवः कैवल्यं स्वरूपप्रतिष्ठा वा चितिशक्तिरिति ॥३४॥ purusha artha sunyanam gunanam pratiprasavah kaivalyam svarupa pratistha va chiti shaktih iti
  • purusha – soul; spirit; Pure Awareness; the true Self
  • artha – purpose; meaning; an object
  • sunyanam – empty of; devoid of
  • gunanam – of the primal forces of nature
  • pratiprasavah – return to the origin
  • kaivalyam – liberation; perfect unity; enlightenment; freedom; Self-knowledge
  • svarupa – nature; quality; essence; appearance; original form
  • pratistha – to abide; to rest; foundation; ground; stability
  • va – or
  • chiti-shaktih – the Power of Awareness
  • iti – thus

Commentary on Sutras 4.32—4.34:

In Sutra 2.18, Patanjali tells us that the gunas express through the elements and the senses to form all which is seen. And that the purpose of the seen is: 1) to provide a field through which the soul can enjoy experiences (bhoga) and 2) to lead it toward liberation (apavarga – a term synonymous with kaivalya or moksha). Sattva draws the yogi into the ultimate revelation of dharammegha samadhi, fulfilling the final purpose of the gunas. Then divine grace pulls back the cosmic curtain and reveals the fullness of the Self. Another way of looking at this is through the symbolism of the Goddess Kali. Kali is the all-powerful Supreme Shakti. As Maha Maya, she gives rise to all the individualized expressions of her Awareness. She clothes souls in five bodily sheaths (koshas) and veils their view of her with the five kleshas. Kali’s name holds the dual meanings of “time” and “black.” As the ink-black darkness, she is the womb of creation. She gives birth to us all and encases us in the illusory experience of time. As the Great Warrioress, she destroys our inner demons, our attachments, aversions, and false sense of self. In this role, she is referred to as the “Devourer of Time” because she eats through the illusion of time and reveals her timeless nature. Kali’s timeless nature is every soul’s nature, the one true Self, Awareness, or Shiva. It’s Kali who, using her three primordial powers (sattva, rajas, and tamas), births the illusion of time and separation with her “flow of sequential transformations.” And it’s Kali who uses Her sword of nonduality to cut off the head of avidya (spiritual ignorance) and reveal timeless Uuity. In these two sutras, Patanjali comes back to the theme explored in Sutras 3.53—3.55, the moment-to-moment unfoldment of time. As discussed in the commentary on those sutras, we perceive all individual life moments as a flow. The analogy was of a movie made of thousands of individual still photographs. When the projector’s light shines through the moving film, we don’t notice the individual frames, just the flow they create. Now, at the end of the journey, the yogi has gone beyond the influence of the gunas and their sequential flow of transformations. From there, they see things from the perspective of eternity. In other words, they’ve stepped outside of time and are looking back at it. They see how their consciousness was mesmerized by the whirling movement of the moments. They notice the individual frames, the stream of life events that created the experience of a seamless material reality. And they know that throughout every experience within the realm of time, their true Self had remained untouched by it all. For that liberated yogi, the gunas have been returned to their origin. Forever beyond their control, the yogi abides in and as the essence of the Self, Chiti-Shakti—the Power of Awareness.