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By Swami Harshananda

Vitarka in general means imagination or doubtful knowledge. However, the Yogasutras of Patañjali (200 B. C.) uses this word in a technical sense. It categorizes samprajñātasamādhi[1] into four varieties, the first one being with vitarka (sa-vitarka).[2]

Meanings as per Yogasutras are as follows:

  1. Vitarka is defined as the intense awareness that arises in the mind when it concentrates on a gross object.
  2. In another place,[3] vitarka is identified with certain obstacles to the practice of Yoga.


  1. Samprajñātasamādhi means perfect concentration.
  2. Yogasutras 1.17
  3. Yogasutras 2.33.34
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore