Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are a collection of 196 Sanskrit sutras (aphorisms) on the theory and practice of yoga. The Yoga Sutras were compiled sometime between 500 BCE and 400 CE by the sage Patanjali in India who synthesized and organized knowledge about yoga from much older traditions.
Patanjali Yoga Sutras (translation and commentary by Swami Vivekananda c. 1890)Edit
Chapter I - Samadhi Pada: Concentration: It's Spiritual UsesEdit
- 26. स ऩवू षे ाभ ् अणऩ गरुु ् कारेनानवच्छदे ात ॥् २६॥
sa poorvesham api guruh kalenanavachchhedat
He is the Teacher of even the ancient teachers, being not limited by time. It is true that all knowledge is within ourselves, but this has to be called forth by another knowledge. Although the capacity to know is inside us, it must be called out, and that calling out of knowledge can only be got, a Yogi maintains, through another knowledge. Dead, insentient matter, never calls out knowledge. It is the action of knowledge that brings out knowledge. Knowing beings must be with us to call forth what is in us, so these teachers were always necessary. The world was never without them, and no knowledge can come without them. God is the Teacher of all teachers, because these teachers, however great they may have been—gods or angels—were all bound and limited by time, and God is not limited by time. ...
- 27. तस्य वाचक् प्रिव् ॥ २७॥
tasya vachakah prannavah
His manifesting word is Om...
The commentator says the manifesting word of God is Om. Why does he emphasise this? There are hundreds of words for God. One thought is connected with a thousand words; the idea, God, is connected with hundreds of words, and each one stands as a symbol for God...
Is there any material sound of which all other sounds must be manifestations, one which is the most natural sound? Om (Aum) is such a sound, the basis of all sounds. The first letter, A, is the root sound, the key, pronounced without touching any part of the tongue or palate; M represents the last sound in the series, being produced by the closed lip, and the U rolls from the very root to the end of the sounding board of the mouth. Thus, Om represents the whole phenomena of sound producing.
It must be the natural symbol, the matrix of all the variant sounds. It denotes the whole range and possibility of all the words that can be made. Apart from these speculations we see that around this word Om are centred all the different religious ideas in India; all the various religious ideas of the Vedas have gathered themselves round this word Om.
The word has been retained at every stage of religious growth in India, and it has been manipulated to mean all the various ideas about God. Monists, Dualists, Mono-Dualists, Separatists, and even Atheists, took up this Om. Om has become the one symbol for the religious aspiration of the vast majority of human beings.
Take, for instance, the English word God. It conveys only a limited function, and if you go beyond it, you have to add adjectives, to make it Personal, or Impersonal, or Absolute God. So with the words for God in every other language; their signification is very small. This word Om, however, has around it all the various significances. As such it should be accepted by everyone.
- 28. तज्जऩस्तदथबय ावनभ ॥् २८॥
The repetition of this (Om) and meditating on its meaning (is the way).
Why should there be repetition? We have not forgotten that theory of Samskaras, that the sum-total of impressions lives in the mind. Impressions live in the mind, the sum-total of impressions, and they become more and more latent, but remain there, and as soon as they get the right stimulus they come out. Molecular vibration will never cease.
When this universe is destroyed all the massive vibrations disappear, the sun, moon, stars, and earth, will melt down, but the vibrations must remain in the atoms. Each atom will perform the same function as the big worlds do. So the vibrations of this Chitta will subside, but will go on like molecular vibrations, and when they get the impulse will come out again. We can now understand what is meant by repetition. It is the greatest stimulus that can be given to the spiritual Samskaras.
“One moment of company with the Holy makes a ship to cross this ocean of life.” Such is the power of association. So this repetition of Om, and thinking of its meaning, is keeping good company in your own mind. Study, and then meditate and meditate, when you have studied. The light will come to you, the Self will become manifest.
But one must think of this Om, and of its meaning too.
Avoid evil company, because the scars of old wounds are in you, and this evil company is just the heat that is necessary to call them out. In the same way we are told that good company will call out the good impressions that are in us, but which have become latent. MVR<There is nothing holier in this world than to keep good company, because the good impressions will have this same tendency to come to the surface.
- 29. तत् प्रत्यक्चेतनाणधगभोऽप्यन्तयामाबावि ॥ २९॥
From that is gain (the knowledge of) introspection, and the destruction of obstacles.
The first manifestation of this repetition and thinking of Om will be that the introspective power will be manifested more and more, and all the mental and physical obstacles will begin to vanish. What are the obstacles to the Yogi?
- 30. व्याणधस्त्यानसंशमप्रभादारस्याणवयणतभ्राणन्तदशनय ारब्धबणू भक - त्वानवणस्थतत्वाणन णचत्तणवऺऩे ास्तऽे न्तयामा् ॥ ३०॥
vyadhistyanasanshayapramadalasyaviratibhrantidar shanalabdhabhoomikatvanavasthitatvani chittavikshepastentarayah
Disease, mental laziness, doubt, calmness, cessation, false perception, non-attaining concentration, and falling away from the state when obtained, are the obstructing distractions.
Chapter IV – Kaivalya Pada IndependenceEdit
- 33.... Nature’s task is done, this unselfish task which our sweet nurse Nature had imposed upon herself. As it were, she gently took the self-forgetting soul by the hand, and showed him all the experiences in the universe, all manifestations, bringing him higher and higher through various bodies, till his glory came back, and he remembered his own nature. Then the kind mother went back the way she came, for others who have also lost their way in the trackless desert of life. And thus she is working, without beginning and without end. And thus through pleasure and pain, through good and evil, the infinite river of souls is flowing into the ocean of perfection,of self-realisation. *Glory unto those who have realised their own nature! May their blessings be on us all!
Yoga Sutras of Patañjali (translated by Charles Johnston), (1912)Edit
Intro to Book IEdit
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are in themselves exceedingly brief, less than ten pages of large type in the original. Yet they contain the essence of practical wisdom, set forth in admirable order and detail. The theme, if the present interpreter be right, is the great regeneration, the birth of the spiritual from the psychical man: the same theme which Paul so wisely and eloquently set forth in writing to his disciples in Corinth, the theme of all mystics in all lands.
- We think of ourselves as living a purely physical life, in these material bodies of ours. In reality, we have gone far indeed from pure physical life; for ages, our life has been psychical, we have been centred and immersed in the psychic nature.... The teaching of the East is, that all these are true powers overlaid by false desires; that though in manifestation psychical, they are in essence spiritual; that the psychical man is the veil and prophecy of the spiritual man.
- The purpose of life, therefore, is the realizing of that prophecy; the unveiling of the immortal man; the birth of the spiritual from the psychical, whereby we enter our divine inheritance and come to inhabit Eternity. This is, indeed, salvation, the purpose of all true religion, in all times.
- 1. OM: Here follows Instruction in Union. Union, here as always in the Scriptures of India, means union of the individual soul with the Oversoul; of the personal consciousness with the Divine Consciousness, whereby the mortal becomes immortal, and enters the Eternal. Therefore, salvation is, first, freedom from sin and the sorrow which comes from sin, and then a divine and eternal well-being, wherein the soul partakes of the being, the wisdom and glory of God.
- 2. Union, spiritual consciousness, is gained through control of the versatile psychic nature. The goal is the full consciousness of the spiritual man, illumined by the Divine Light. Nothing except the obdurate resistance of the psychic nature keeps us back from the goal. The psychical powers are spiritual powers run wild, perverted, drawn from their proper channel. Therefore our first task is, to regain control of this perverted nature, to chasten, purify and restore the misplaced powers.
Intro to Book IIEdit
- The first book of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is called the Book of Spiritual Consciousness. The second book, which we now begin, is the Book of the Means of Soul Growth. And we must remember that soul growth here means the growth of the realization of the spiritual man, or, to put the matter more briefly, the growth of the spiritual man, and the disentangling of the spiritual man from the wrappings, the veils, the disguises laid upon him by the mind and the psychical nature, wherein he is enmeshed, like a bird caught in a net.
- The question arises: By what means may the spiritual man be freed from these psychical meshes and disguises, so that he may stand forth above death, in his radiant eternalness and divine power? And the second book sets itself to answer this very question, and to detail the means in a way entirely practical and very lucid, so that he who runs may read, and he who reads may understand and practise. The second part of the second book is concerned with practical spiritual training, that is, with the earlier practical training of the spiritual man.
- The most striking thing in it is the emphasis laid on the Commandments, which are precisely those of the latter part of the Decalogue... Therefore Patanjali, like every great spiritual teacher, meets the question: What must I do to be saved? with the age-old answer: Keep the Commandments...
- 1. The practices which make for union with the Soul are: fervent aspiration, spiritual reading, and complete obedience to the Master.
The word which I have rendered "fervent aspiration" means primarily "fire"; and, in the Eastern teaching, it means the fire which gives life and light, and at the same time the fire which purifies. We have, therefore, as our first practice, as the first of the means of spiritual growth, that fiery quality of the will which enkindles and illumines, and, at the same time, the steady practice of purification, the burning away of all known impurities.
The very study of Patanjali's Sutras is an exercise in spiritual reading, and a very effective one...
- 2. Their aim is, to bring soul-vision, and to wear away hindrances.
The aim of fervour, spiritual reading and obedience to the Master, is, to bring soul vision, and to wear away hindrances. Or, to use the phrase we have already adopted, the aim of these practices is, to help the spiritual man to open his eyes; to help him also to throw aside the veils and disguises, the enmeshing psychic nets which surround him, tying his hands, as it were, and bandaging his eyes. And this, as all teachers testify, is a long and arduous task, a steady up-hill fight, demanding fine courage and persistent toil...
- 3. These are the hindrances: the darkness of unwisdom, self-assertion, lust, hate, attachment.
Let us try to translate this into terms of the psychical and spiritual man. The darkness of unwisdom is, primarily, the self-absorption of the psychical man, his complete preoccupation with his own hopes and fears, plans and purposes, sensations and desires; so that he fails to see, or refuses to see, that there is a spiritual man; and so doggedly resists all efforts of the spiritual man to cast off his psychic tyrant and set himself free.
- 4. The darkness of unwisdom is the field of the others.
These hindrances may be dormant, or worn thin, or suspended, or expanded.
Here we have really two Sutras in one. The first has been explained already: in the darkness of unwisdom grow the parasites, hate, lust, attachment. They are all outgrowths of the self-absorption of the psychical self... they must be fought and conquered, or, as Patanjali quaintly says, they must be worn thin,-as a veil might, or the links of manacles.
- 5. The darkness of ignorance is: holding that which is unenduring, impure, full of pain, not the Soul, to be eternal, pure, full of joy, the Soul.
- 6. Self-assertion comes from thinking of the Seer and the instrument of vision as forming one self.
... To translate this into our terms, we may say that the Seer is the spiritual man; the instrument of vision is the psychical man, through which the spiritual man gains experience of the outer world.
- 7. Lust is the resting in the sense of enjoyment...
Sensation, as, for example, the sense of taste, is meant to be the guide to action; in this case, the choice of wholesome food, and the avoidance of poisonous and hurtful things. But if we rest in the sense of taste, as a pleasure in itself; rest, that is, in the psychical side of taste, we fall into gluttony, and live to eat, instead of eating to live. So with the other great organic power, the power of reproduction. This lust comes into being, through resting in the sensation, and looking for pleasure from that...
- 8. Hate is the resting in the sense of pain.
Pain comes, for the most part, from the strife of personalities, the jarring discords between psychic selves, each of which deems itself supreme. A dwelling on this pain breeds hate, which tears the warring selves yet further asunder, and puts new enmity between them, thus hindering the harmony of the Real, the reconciliation through the Soul...
- 9. Attachment is the desire toward life, even in the wise, carried forward by its own energy.
The life here desired is the psychic life, the intensely vibrating life of the psychical self. This prevails even in those who have attained much wisdom, so long as it falls short of the wisdom of complete renunciation, complete obedience to each least behest of the spiritual man, and of the Master who guards and aids the spiritual man...
- 10. These hindrances, when they have become subtle, are to be removed by a countercurrent.
The darkness of unwisdom is to be removed by the light of wisdom, pursued through fervour, spiritual reading of holy teachings and of life itself, and by obedience to the Master.
Lust is to be removed by pure aspiration of spiritual life, which, bringing true strength and stability, takes away the void of weakness which we try to fill by the stimulus of sensations...
Hate is to be overcome by love. The fear that arises through the sense of separate, warring selves is to be stilled by the realization of the One Self, the one soul in all. This realization is the perfect love that casts out fear.
- 1. The binding of the perceiving consciousness to a certain region is attention (dharana).
Emerson quotes Sir Isaac Newton as saying that he made his great discoveries by intending his mind on them. That is what is meant here.... It is the power to focus the consciousness on a given spot, and hold it there Attention is the first and indispensable step in all knowledge. Attention to spiritual things is the first step to spiritual knowledge.
The Light of the Soul... a paraphrase of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, by Alice A. Bailey, (1927)Edit
- "Before the soul can see, the harmony within must be attained, and fleshly eyes be rendered blind to all illusion....” From The Voice of the Silence
- The Science of Raja Yoga, or the "Kingly Science of the Soul," as laid down by its main exponent, Patanjali, will eventually find its greatest demonstration in the West... exemplified in the right use of the mind and its utilisation by the soul for the achievement of group objectives and the development of group consciousness upon the physical plane.
- Hitherto the mind has either been prostituted to material ends or has been deified. Through the science of Raja Yoga, the mind will be known as the instrument of the soul and the means whereby the brain of the aspirant becomes illuminated and knowledge gained of those matters which concern the realm of the soul.
- All the various Yogas have had their place in the unfoldment of the human being. In the first purely physical race, which is called the Lemurian, the Yoga at that time imposed upon infant humanity was Hatha Yoga, the Yoga of the physical body, that Yoga which brings into conscious use and manipulation the various organs, muscles and parts of the physical frame. The problem before the adepts of that time was to teach human beings, who were then little more than animals, the purpose, significance and use of their various organs, so that they could consciously control them...
- In Atlantean days, the progress of the sons of men was procured through the imposition of two Yogas....Laya Yoga, the Yoga of the centres... Later on, Bhakti Yoga, growing out of the development of the emotional or astral body... Now... the subjugation of the mental body and the control of the mind is brought about through the practice of Raja Yoga, and the fifth initiation, that of adept, is the goal for evolving humanity. Thus, all the Yogas have had their place and served a useful purpose and it will become apparent that any return to Hatha Yoga practices or those practices which deal specifically with the development of the centres, brought about through various types of meditation practices and breathing exercises, is, from a certain aspect, a retrogression.
- How does man, the victim of his desires and lower nature become man, the victor, triumph over the world, the flesh and the devil? It is brought about when the physical brain of the incarnated man becomes aware of the self, the soul, and this conscious awareness only becomes possible when the true self can "reflect itself in the mind-stuff."
- The man is no longer what his physical body makes him, when identified with it, the victim of the world. He walks free, with shining face (I. Cor. 3) and the light of his countenance is shed abroad upon all he meets. No longer do his desires swing the flesh into activity, and no longer does his astral body subjugate him and overcome him.
- Patanjali was a compiler of teaching which, up to the time of his advent, had been given orally for many centuries... The Yoga Sutras are the basic teaching of the Trans Himalayan School to which many of the Masters of the Wisdom belong, and many students hold that the Essenes and other schools of mystical training and thought, closely connected with the founder of Christianity and the early Christians, are based upon the same system... the Sutras have been dictated and paraphrased by the Tibetan Brother and the commentary upon them has been written by myself, and subjected to revision and comment by the Tibetan.
- The translation is not literal, and is not an exact definition of each original Sanskrit term. It is an attempt to put into clear and understandable English the exact meaning, insofar as it is possible to do so through the medium of that non-elastic and unimaginative tongue.
Book I ,The Problem of UnionEdit
- 1. AUM (or OM). The following instruction concerneth the Science of Union.
2. This Union (or Yoga) is achieved through the subjugation of the psychic nature, and the restraint of the chitta (or mind).
3. When this has been accomplished, the Yogi knows himself as he is in reality.
4. Up till now the inner man has identified himself with his forms and with their active modifications.
5.The mind states are five, and are subject to pleasure or pain; they are painful or not painful.
6. These modifications (activities) are correct knowledge, incorrect knowledge, fancy, passivity (sleep) and memory.
7. The basis of correct knowledge is correct perception, correct deduction, and correct witness (or accurate evidence).
8. Incorrect knowledge is based upon perception of the form and not upon the state of being.
9. Fancy rests upon images which have no real existence.
10. Passivity (sleep) is based upon the quiescent state of the vrittis (or upon the non-perception of the senses.)
11. Memory is the holding on to that which has been known.
12. The control of these modifications of the internal organ, the mind, is to be brought about through tireless endeavour and through non-attachment....
33. The peace of the chitta (or mind stuff) can be brought about through the practice of sympathy, tenderness, steadiness of purpose, and dispassion in regard to pleasure or pain, or towards all forms of good or evil.
34. The peace of the chitta is also brought about by the regulation of the prana or life breath.
35. The mind can be trained to steadiness through those forms of concentration which have relation to the sense perceptions.
36. By meditation upon Light and upon Radiance, knowledge of the Spirit can be reached and thus peace can be achieved.
37. The chitta is stabilized and rendered free from illusion as the lower nature is purified and no longer indulged....
51. When this state of perception is itself also restrained (or superseded), then is pure Samadhi achieved.
The Problem of Union... (Commentary)Edit
- 1. AUM (or OM). The following instruction concerns the Science of Union.
AUM is the Word of Glory; it signifies the Word made flesh and the manifestation upon the plane of matter of the second aspect of divinity. This blazing forth of the sons of righteousness before the world is achieved by following the rules herein contained. When all the sons of men have demonstrated that they are also Sons of God, the cosmic Son of God will likewise shine forth with increased intensity of glory. The great initiate, Paul, had a vision of this when he said that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain . . . waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God." (Rom. VIII.)
- 2. This Union (or Yoga) is achieved through the subjugation of the psychic nature and the restraint of the chitta (or mind).
The follower after union has two things to do: 1. To gain control of the "versatile psychic nature, 2. To prevent the mind from assuming the many forms it so easily does.
- 3. When this has been accomplished, the Yogi knows himself as he is in reality.
This might be described in the following way: The man who knows the conditions and has fulfilled them as indicated in the preceding sutra,
1. Sees the self,
2. Realises the true nature of the soul,
3. Identifies himself with the inner Reality, and no longer with the concealing forms...
- 4. Up till now the inner man has identified himself with his forms and with their active modifications.
These forms are the modifications mentioned in the various translations, conveying the subtle  truth concerning the infinite divisibility of the atom; these are the veiling sheaths and rapidly changing transformations which prevent the true nature of the soul becoming manifest. These are the externalities which hinder the light of the inner God from shining forth, and which are occultly spoken of as "casting a shadow before the face of the sun."
The inherent nature of the lives which constitute these active versatile forms has hitherto proved too strong for the soul (the Christ within, as the Christian puts it) and the soul-powers have been prevented full expression. The instinctual powers of the "animal soul," or the capacities of the aggregate of lives which form the sheaths or bodies, imprison the real man and limit his powers... He becomes "enmeshed in their activities" and must free himself before he comes into his heritage of power and peace and bliss.
Book II, The Steps to UnionEdit
- 1. The Yoga of action, leading to union with the soul is fiery aspiration, spiritual reading and devotion to Ishvara.
2. The aim of these three is to bring about soul vision and to eliminate obstructions.
3. These are the difficulty producing hindrances: avidya (ignorance) the sense of personality, desire, hate and the sense of attachment.
4. Avidya (ignorance) is the cause of all the other obstructions whether they be latent, in process of elimination, overcome, or in full operation.
5. Avidya is the condition of confusing the permanent, pure, blissful and the Self with that which is impermanent, impure, painful and the not-self.
6. The sense of personality is due to the identification of the knower with the instruments of knowledge.
7. Desire is attachment to objects of pleasure.
8. Hate is aversion for any object of the senses.
9. Intense desire for sentient existence is attachment. This is inherent in every form, is self-perpetuating, and known even to the very wise.
10. These five hindrances, when subtly known, can be overcome by an opposing mental attitude.
11. Their activities are to be done away with, through the meditation process.
12. Karma itself has its root in these five hindrances and must come to fruition in this life or in some later life....
22. In the case of the man who has achieved yoga (or union) the objective universe has ceased to be. Yet it existeth still for those who are not yet free.
23. The association of the soul with the mind and thus with that which the mind perceives, produces an understanding of the nature of that which is perceived and likewise of the Perceiver.
24. The cause of this association is ignorance or avidya. This has to be overcome.
25. When ignorance is brought to an end through non-association with the things perceived, this is the great liberation.....
30. Harmlessness, truth to all beings, abstention from theft, from incontinence and from avarice, constitute yama or the five commandments...
32. Internal and external purification, contentment, fiery aspiration, spiritual reading and devotion to Ishvara constitutes nijama (or the five rules)...
34. Thoughts contrary to yoga are harmfulness, falsehood, theft, incontinence, and avarice, whether committed personally, caused to be committed or approved of, whether arising from avarice, anger or delusion (ignorance); whether slight in the doing, middling or great. These result always in excessive pain and ignorance. For this reason, the contrary thoughts must be cultivated....
55. As a result of these means there follows the complete subjugation of the sense organs.
Book III. Union Achieved and Its ResultsEdit
- a. Meditation, and its stages
- b. Twenty-three results of meditation
Book IV. IlluminationEdit
- a. Consciousness and form.
- b. Union or at-one-ment.
Quotes about the Yoga Sutras of PantanjaliEdit
- The Yoga Sutras are the basic teaching of the Trans Himalayan School to which many of the Masters of the Wisdom belong, and many students hold that the Essenes and other schools of mystical training and thought, closely connected with the founder of Christianity and the early Christians, are based upon the same system... the Sutras have been dictated and paraphrased by the Tibetan Brother and the commentary upon them has been written by myself, and subjected to revision and comment by the Tibetan.
- Alice Bailey Introduction to ''The Light of the Soul: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Lucis Trust Publishing (1927)