The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Swami Satchidananda

Intro from the book: There are almost 200 sutras, traditionally divided into four sections.

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– The first is the Portion of Contemplation (Samadhi Pada) which gives the theory of Yoga and a description of the most advanced stages of the practice of samathi, or contemplation. This probably was given first as an inspiration to the students to begin the practices.

– The second is the Portion on Practice (Sadhana Pada). There is philosophy in the section also, but of a more practical nature. And the first five basic steps out of the traditional eight limbs of Raja Yoga are expounded, along with their benefits, obstacles to their accomplishment and ways to overcome the obstacles.

– The third section is called the Portion on Accomplishments (Vibhuti Pada) and discusses the final three inner steps of Raja Yoga plus all the powers and accomplishments which could come to the faithful practitioner.

– The final section is calledd the Portion of Absoluteness (Kaivalya Pada) and discusses Yoga from a more cosmic, philosophical viewpoint.

It is not known exactly when Sri Patanjali lived, or even if he was a single person rather than several persons using the samee title. Estimates of the date of the Sutras range from 5000 B.C. to 300 A.D. In any case, he did not in any sense “invent” Raja Yoga, But rather systematised it and compiled the already existing ideas and practices. Since that time he has been considered the “Father of Yoga” and his Sutras are the basis for all of the various types of meditation and Yoga which courish today in their myriad forms.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar recorded some talks on this but he only talks about the first two ‘books’. Basically the Sri Sri version is extremely diluted.

My notes:
– Once a man walked into the backyard of his house during twilight. All of a sudden, in a dark corner, he saw a coiled snake. Frightened, he yelled, “Snake! Snake!” … one bold fellow with a particularly long, pointed stick gave the snake a hard blow. Nothing happened.

Suddenly, an old man arrived with a lantern. He brought the lantern near the corner … the light revealed nothing but a coiled rope… In order to understand the rope as a rope, light was necessary. We, too, need a light – the light of wistom (jnana). With such a light, the world is no longer a world and all the qualities we call the non-Self appear in their true nature.

We can use this analogy to understand another point also. Twilight is the most dangerous time. Why? Because in total darkness neither a rope nor a snake could be seen. In broad daylight the rope would obviously be a rope. Only in a dull light could the man mistake the rope for a snake. If you are completely ignorant, groping in darkness, you will not even see the “rope” – the pains of this world – and want to understand the truth. So, Yoga is neither for a person who has gained the light nor for the totally ignorant person who doesn’t bother to know anything. It is for the person in between. It is to dispell this ignorance that Yoga is practiced.

Patanjali Yoga Sutras are also called Ashtanga Yoga because of it’s 8 limbs of yoga
1 – Yama (abstinence)
Non-voilence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-greed.
2 – Niyama (observance)
Purity, contentment, accepting but not causing pain, study of spiritual books and worship of God (self-surrender).
3 – Asana (posture)
4 – Pranayama (breath control)
5 – Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
6 – Dharana (concentration)
7 – Dhyana (meditation)
8 – Samadhi (contemplation, absorption or superconscious state)

– Bhramcharya (Celibacy): By observing celibacy, we preserve not just physical energy alone but mental, moral, intellectual and, ultimately, spiritual energy as well. Sexual energy that is preserved gets transformed into a subtle energy called Ojas. This is similar to personal magnetism. It tones the entire personality, builds the nerves, improves brain power and calms the mind. There is a similar word to ojas in English: ozone. In the early morning, before sunrise, we can go out and breathe the ozonic wind, which has a special bibration and energy to it. But once the sun’s rays fall, this effect is lost. That’s why the period between four and six in the morning is called the Brahmamuhurta, the Brahmic time, or divine period, and is very sacred time to meditate.

– Saint Thirumular said, “Wherever the mind goes, the prana follows.” They are inseparable. If the mind is controlled first, the breath is controlled. But which is subtler, mind or breath? Which is easier to handle, a subtle thing or a gross one? Always the gross thing. Which is easier to control: steam, water or ice? To keep ice in it’s place, we have just to put it down. For water, we need some sort of vessel. But for steam, even that is not enough; a covered cylinder is needed. Even though ice, water and steam are one and the same compound, they are in different stages. Similarly, it is easier to control prana in a grosser manifestation than in a subtle one. So, first we learn to control that physical body, then the movement of the breath, then the senses, and finally the mind. It is very scientific, gradual and easy.

Contents:
– Preface
– Acknowledgements
– Introduction
Book 1 – Samadhi Pada: Portion on Contemplation
Book 2 – Sadhana Pada: Portion on Practice
Book 3 – Vibhuti Pada: Portion on Accomplishments
Book 4 – Kaivalya Pada: Protion on Absoluteness
– Guide to Pronunciation
– Simplified Pronunciation
– Glossary
– Index
– Stories, Examples and Analogies
– Sanskrit Quotes
– Selected Reading

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