Śarīravṛttirvratam शरीरवृत्तिर्व्रतम्॥ (sūtra III.26)

śarīra – body; vṛttiḥ - remaining; vratam – vow.

The previous sūtra said that the yogi appears like Śiva. The only differentiation is that the yogi continues to live with his body. He has to maintain his body till it lasts. Generally one is supposed to perform virtuous acts in order to balance his karmic account. Virtuous acts could mean such as poor feeding or any service oriented acts towards the betterment of the humanity. Religious rituals are also called virtuous acts. If rituals give devotional satisfaction, one can perform them. But for such a yogi, such rituals are just not needed. He carries out his normal activities without being deluded by rituals. He knows that he needs to stay with God consciousness all the time. The consequences of breaking this link have already been discussed in earlier aphorisms. For him, simultaneously remaining in God consciousness as well as carrying out his normal duties itself is a virtuous act. As he behaves just like any other person, people tend to believe that he is just another person. Such yogis do not exhibit their stage externally. They continue to retain their bodies merely to serve the humanity and their accumulated karma-s are spent like this.

(I happen to know a person like this. He can handle hundred of spiritual masters, but he does not proclaim himself as a spiritual master. He is a Self realised person, but he does not say so and does not want disciples. His commune with Śiva is on a daily basis. He never closes his eyes during meditation and nobody around him knows that he is perpetually connected with Divine. He can reply to any questions instantaneously, but he says he has to learn more. This is the type of yogi that Śiva Sūta-s talk about.)

The significance of this sūtra is best explained in Adhyātma Rāmayaṇa (Bāla Kāṇḍa, verses 50 and 51). Śiva says to Pārvatī “When the knowledge of identity of Self and self arises through great saying ‘I am That’, then with avidyā with all her off-shoots is destroyed. Knowing this, my devotee attains my own self. Let those who are devoid of devotion, roll in the abyss of sāstra-s. Theirs is neither knowledge nor emancipation, even through hundreds of transmigrations.”

The point driven home by this sūtra is that one should ensure that he stays immersed in God consciousness always, irrespective of the work that he carries out. For him no act is prohibited. What is the type of work one does is not important. What is important is the perpetual connection with God consciousness while executing any type of work. It is of no use if one indulges in rituals without getting connected to God consciousness.