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Yoga-Sūtrā (Reading and Application)

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali


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  1. Portion on Accomplishments

Samadhi Pada (51 sutras)

Samadhi is a state of direct and reliable perception (pramāṇa) where "the seer" (Purusha, pure consciousness, the Self) abides in itself. Samadhi is the main technique the yogi learns by which to calm the workings of the mind, whereafter Kaivalya, the isolation of 'the seer' from the impurities of the mind, is attained. The author describes yoga and then the nature and the means of attaining samādhi.

  • This chapter contains the famous definitional verse (YS 1.2): "Yogaś citta-vritti-nirodhaḥ" ("Yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of mindstuff").[35] When the mind is stilled, the seer or real Self is revealed:

1.3. Then the Seer is established in his own essential and fundamental nature.

1.4. In other states there is assimilation (of the Seer) with the modifications (of the mind).[37]

  • YS 1.33–39 mentions seven practices to still the mind, the seventh being meditative absorption (YS 1.39), which is further explained in YS 1.40–51 and YS 3.1–12.

  • YS 1.23 offers an alternative, less arduous method to attain samadhi via the path of bhakti, or surrender to Ishvara. Some scholars believe this to be Patanjali's "favored" approach.



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2. Portion on Practice

Sadhana Pada (55 sutras)

Sadhana is the Sanskrit for "practice" or "discipline," aiming at discriminative discernment, to discern the Seer (consciousness) from its objects and the hindrances. Here the author outlines two systems of Yoga: Kriyā Yoga and Aṣṭāṅga Yoga('Eightlimbed Yoga').


Kriya Yoga

  • Kriyā Yoga in the Yoga Sūtras is a preparation for Aṣṭāṅga Yoga (with three special elements of the Niyamas (2nd limb)):[39]

2.3 tapas – austerity[39]

2.4 svādhyāya – self-study of the scriptures[39]

2.5 īśvara praṇidhāna – devotion to god or pure consciousness[39]

Ashtanga Yoga

  • Aṣṭānga Yoga is the yoga of eight limbs. In chapter 2, five "indirect aids" for purification and aiding insight are outlined:

1. Yama – restraints or ethics of behaviour; Yama consists of:

1.1 Ahimsa (Non-violence)

1.2 Satya (Truthfulness)

1.3 Asteya (Non-stealing)

1.4 Brahmacharya (Chastity)

1.5 Aparigraha (Non possession)

2. Niyama – observances; Niyama consists of:

2.1 Saucha (Cleanliness)

2.2 Santosha (Contentment)

2.3 Tapas (Austerity)

2.4 Svadhyaya (Self-study)

2.5 Isvara Pranidhana (Devotion to the lord)

3. Āsana – A physical posture in which one can be steady and comfortable.[40]

4. Prāṇāyāma – control of the prana (breath)

5. Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses

6. Dhāraṇā – concentration

7. Dhyāna – meditation

8. Samādhi – absorption



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3. Portion on Contemplation

Vibhuti Pada (56 sutras)

Vibhuti is the Sanskrit word for "power" or "manifestation". In chapter 3, the last three limbs of Aṣṭānga Yoga, known as samyama, are outlined:

6. Dhāraṇā - concentration

7. Dhyāna – meditation

8. Samādhi – absorption

Besides insight into pure awareness (purusha), samyama gives 'supra-normal powers' (Sanskrit: siddhi), as the yogi gains access to and unites with the tattvas, the constituents of prakriti.[42] The text warns (III.38) that these powers can become an obstacle to the yogi who seeks liberation.



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4. Portion on Absoluteness

Kaivalya Pada (34 sutras)

Kaivalya, "isolation", of the Seer from the contents of the mind so it is no longer disturbed by the movements of the mind. It stands for emancipation or liberation, and is used where other texts often employ the term moksha (liberation). The Kaivalya Pada describes the process of liberation and the reality of the Seer.



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