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No one knows anything about the life of Patanjali, the compiler of the Yoga-Sutra. which is the classical text on Râja-Yoga. According to native Indic tradition, he was the same person who also wrote a widely respected Sanskrit commentary - the Mahabhashya - on Pflnini's Ashtcldhyayt, a famous work on grammar. Some also attribute to him various medical treatises. Patanjali the grammarian lived c. 200 B.C.E. However, this traditional identification is questionable. Internal evidence in the Yoga-Sutra suggests that it was composed c. 100-200 C.E. The curious thing is that the Sfltra nowhere mentions Patanjali as its compiler, and the first person to attribute this classical work on Yoga to him was Vâcaspati Mishra, the tenth-century author of the Tattva-Vaishâradi commentary on the Sutra.
Indic tradition in fact knows of several individuals by the name of Patanjali. In addition to the grammarian and compiler of the Yoga-Sutra, there also was a Sâmkhya philosopher by that name, and in Tamilnadu (South India), the great sage Tirumñlar names a Patanjali as one of his disciples. But both individuals were of a later date. So was the Patanjali who was the author of Nidâna-Stitra, a work on ritualism.
Patanjali, the compiler of the Yoga-Satra, has the following legend associated with him: One day, the old woman Gonikfl, who was barren, desired a son of her own. She fervently prayed to God Vishnu, who was greatly moved by her devotion. With his permission the cosmic serpent Ananta, who serves Vishnu as an eternal couch and who had been meaning to incarnate on Earth, resolved to become Gonikft's son. As she was stretching her hands, with upturned palms, in prayer toward Heaven, a minute fragment of Ananta's infinite body dropped straight into her palms.
She immediately knew her prayers had been answered, and she lovingly nursed the heavenly seed until it had gown into a young man. Because her hands had been in the prayerful gesture called anjali and because her son had fallen (pat) from Heaven, she called him Patanjali.
We can only surmise that he must have been a man of considerable stature and wisdom to feel competent enough to compile his aphoristic work on Yoga, the Yoga-Sutra. His lineage does not appear to be alive anymore, though the twentieth-century Yoga master Swami Harihar~nanda (1869-1947), composer of a Sanskrit commentary on the Yoga-Sutra, was initiated by a teacher - Swami Triloki Aranya - who allegedly stood in the direct lineage of Patanjali. However, Harih & flnanda's Sanskirit commentary on the Yoga-Sutra does not show any evidence of teachings other than those found in the extant Sanskrit literature on Patanjali's compilation. If Patanjali's lineage were still intact, one would have expected noticeably deeper explanations of the aphorisms (s2tra). Many of the aphorisms remain somewhat obscure.
There is a gap of at least 250 years between the composition of the Yoga-Satra and the appearance of the oldest available Sanskrit commentary on it- Vyâsa's Yoga-Bht2shya. But this shortcoming and also the uncertainty about Patanjali's life do not detract from the great merit of the Yoga-Satra. It is the most succinct traditional outline of the yogic path and should be studied in depth by all serious students of Yoga.
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Patanjali's Sutras - Covers the art, science and philosophy of life. His compilation contains 196 sutras Sutra - short, terse, concise aphorism or mantra that is pregnant with meaning. The sounds themselves carry more than the intellectual content. Click-here for Yoga Sutras
Su - meaning thread
Tra - meaning to transcend
The Sutras are like pearls on a thread that helps the student to transcend.
Four (4) Chapters or Padas (parts) of Yoga Sutras
1. Samadhi-Pada - Chapter on Contemplation and Ecstasy
2. Sadhana-Pada - Chapter on the Pat of Realization and Practice
3. Vibhuti-Pada - Chapter on Properties and Powers
4. Kaivalya-Pada - Chapter on Emancipation and Liberation (freedom)
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Chapter 1.1 Atha yoga-anushasanam
Now let us begin together the study of yoga
Now the teachings of yoga are being explained.
Atha - now, auspiciousness, a prayer, a blessing, benediction, authority, a good omen
Yoga - joining, union, junction, combination, application, use, means, result, deep meditation, concentration
Anu - to flow where the current is taking you
Anusasnam - advice, direction, order, command, direction, laying down rules and precepts, a revised text, introduction, or guide given in procedural form. Thus, it means guidance in the codes of conduct, which are to be observed, and which form the base from which to cultivate one's ethical and spiritual life.
This sutra may be taken to mean: 'the disciplines of integration are here expounded through experience, and are given to humanity for the exploration and recognition of that hidden part of man which is beyond the awareness of the senses~
Chapter 1.2 Yogah citta-vrtti-nirodhah
Classical definition - Yoga is the restraint or bounding (like the banks of a river) of the fluctuations of the mind.
Yoga - union of individual soul with the Universal; also the means to attain this union
Chitta - mind stuff or consciousness
1. Manas - lower mind and senses
2. Buddhi - higher, intuitive mind
3. Ahantkara - ego
Vrtti - fluctuations in the mind
Nirodhah - embankment, restraint
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The power to exercise our freedom, our ability to make correct, appropriate or helpful choices. Real source of nirodha is freedom.
o Yoga's Goal
Recognition - experiencing that the Divine has become our own true self.
Chapter 1.3 Tada Drastuh sva rupe' vasthanam
Then the Seer dwells in his own true nature.
Sva - our own, our authentic
Rupa - form
Key to yoga lies in empowering our experience of freedom to align with the currents of Divine Consciousness.
Chapter 1. 4 Vrtti Sarupyam Itaratra
In other states (when the seer is not established in his own true nature), the seer appears the same as the thought waves in the mind.
At other times, the seer identifies with the fluctuation consciousness.
Vrtti - behavior, fluctuation, modification, function, state of mind
Sarupyam - identification, likeness, closeness, nearness
Itaratra - at other times, elsewhere
Chapter 1. 5 Vrttayah Pancatayyah Klista Aklistah
The thought waves are fivefold; some are painful and some are not painful.
Vrttayah - movements, modification
Pancatayyah - fivefold
Klista - afflicting, tormenting, distressing, painful
Aldistah - untroubling, undisturbing, unafflicting, undistressing, pleasing
5 Chitta Vrttis - waves of the mind
1. Pramana - correct perception
2. Viparyaya - incorrect perception
3. Vikalpa - imagination
4. Nidra - sleep
5. Smrti - memory
a. Supernormal - new ideas, revelations, remembering our oneness of all creation
b. Normal - don't need to relearn how to walk
c. Sub normal - amnesia, Alzheimer's, senility
Chapter 1. 6 Pramana Viparyaya Vikalpa Nidra Snutayah
The five types of vrtti are: valid proof, wrong cognition, imaginary cognition, sleep, and memory.
Pramana - valid knowledge, experienced knowledge, correct knowledge, which is studied, and verified, proof, or evidence
Viparyaya - inverted perverse, contrary
Vikalpa - doubt, indecision, hesitation, fancy, imagination, or day-dreaming
Nidra - sleep, a state of emptiness
Smrtayah - memory
Chapter 1. 7 Pratyaksa Anumana Agamah Pramanani
Correct knowledge is direct, inferred or proven as factual.
Pratyaksa - direct perception
Anumana - inference
Agaxnah - traditional sacred texts or scriptural references, a person who is a scriptural authority and whose word can be relied on
Pramanani - kinds of proof
Chapter 1.8 Viparyayah Mithyajnanam Atadrupa Pratistham
Illusory or erroneous knowledge is based on non-fact or the non-real.
Viparyayah - perverse, unreal
Mithyajnanam - illusory knowledge
Atadrupa - not in its own form
Pratistham - occupying, standing, seeing, beholding
Chapter 1.9 Sabdajnana Anupati Vastusunyah Vikalpah
Verbal knowledge devoid of substance is fancy or imagination.
Sabdajnana - verbal knowledge
Anupati - followed in sequence, pursued, phased in regular succession
Vastusunyah - devoid of things, devoid of substance or meaning
Vikalpah - imagination, fancy
Chapter 1.10 Abhava Pratyaya Alambana
Sleep is the non-deliberate absence of thought-waves or knowledge.
Dreamless sleep is an inert state of consciousness in which the sense of existence is not felt.
Abhava - non-existence, a feeling of non-being, absence of awareness
Pratyaya - going towards conviction, trust, confidence, reliance, usage, knowledge, understanding, instrument, means, intellect
Alainbana - support, abode, dependence on a prop, mental exercise to bring before one's thoughts the gross form of the external
Vrttih - function, condition, thought-wave
Nidra - sleep without dreams
Chapter 1.11 Anubhuta Visaya Asampramosah Smrtih
Memory is the unmodified recollection of words and experiences.
Aunbhuta - perceived, apprehended, experienced, knowledge, derived from direct perception, inference and comparison, verbal knowledge
Visaya - an object, a sense of object, an affair, a transaction
Asampramosah - not allowing to slip away, without stealing from anything else
Smrtih - memory of a thing experienced, recollection of words or experiences
Chapter 1.12 Abhyasa Vairagyabhyam Tannirodhah
They (the modifications) are controlled by practice and dispassion.
Practice and detachment are the means to still the movement of consciousness.
Abhyasa - repeated practice
Vairagyabhyam - freedom from desires, detachment, renunciation
Tannirodhah - their restraint
Chapter 1.13 Tatra Sthitau Yatnah Abhyasah
Practice is the steadfast effort to still these fluctuations.
Tatra - of these, under these circumstances, in that case
Sthitau - as regards steadiness, as regards perfect restraint
Yatnah - continuous effort
Abhyasah - practice
Chapter 1.14 Sa Tu Dirghakala Nairantarya Satkara
Long uninterrupted, alert practice is the firm foundation for restraining the fluctuations.
Dirghakala - for a long time
Nairantarya - without interruption, continuous
Satkara - dedication, devotion
Asevitah - zealously practiced, performed assiduously
Drdhabhumih - of firm ground, firmly rooted, well fixed
Chapter 1.15 Drsta Anusravika Visaya Vitrsnasya Vasikarasamjna Vairagyam
Renunciation is the practice of detachment from desires.
Drsta - perceptible, visible
Anusravika - heard or listening, resting on the Vedas or on tradition according to oral testimony
Visaya - a thing, an object of enjoyment, matter
o Vitrsnasya - freedom from desire, contentment
Vasikara - subjugation, supremacy, bringing under control
Samjna - consciousness, intellect, understanding
Vairagyam absence of worldly desires and passions, dispassion, detachment, indifference to the world, renunciation
Chapter 1.16 Tatparam Purusakhyateh Gunavaitrsnyam
The ultimate renunciation is when one transcends the qualities of nature and perceives the soul.
Tatparam - that highest, that most excellent, the ultimate, the best, the purest, the supreme
Purusakhyateh - the highest knowledge of the soul, perception of the soul
Gunavaitrsnyam - indifference to the qualities of nature, inertia or dormancy (tamas), passion or vibrance (rajas) and luminosity or serenity (sattva)
Chapter 1.17 Vitarka Vicara Ananda Asmitarupa Anugamat Samprajnatah
Practice and detachment develop four types of Samadhi: self-analysis, synthesis, bliss, and the experience of purr being.
Vitarka - analytical thinking or analytical study, argument, inference, conjecture
Vicara - reason, meditation, insight, perfect intelligence where all logic comes to an end
Ananda - elation, bliss, felicity
Asmitarupa - consciousness of being one with oneself
Anugamat - by accompanying, by following, comprehending, grasping
Samprajnatah - distinguish, know actually, know accurately