So many people talk about ‘Yoga Sutras’ without knowing their origin. There is much debate surrounding ‘who is the writer of yoga sutra?’ – with the jury still out on the same. A product of the much-acclaimed ancient sage Patanjali, this compilation of 195 sutras or words of wisdom forms the backbone of classical or raja yoga.Table of Contents:
Written and assembled by the famous Indian scholar and sage Patanjali roughly around 1700 years ago, this compilation of verses about yoga derives its knowledge from archaic traditions. Although not much credible information is available about Patanjali, historians believe that this sage has more accomplishments to his credit, including major works on Ayurveda and Sanskrit grammar.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali put together information from several ancient texts about practices that the modern world now recognizes as ‘yoga’. Though references to yoga and its practices had long existed in ancient Hindu texts and scriptures, their complexity and diversity refrained the general public from seeking access to it. This had prompted the seer to simplify the existing teachings in an easy-to-understand format for all to follow. The Patanjali Yoga Sutras book consists of four smaller books, including the:
The Yog Sutras written by Patanjali gives a detailed and deep philosophical aspect of yoga. This explains its wide acceptance, popularity and availability in multiple languages.
Hailed as one of the foundational texts of classical yoga philosophy, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra books start by defining the goal of practicing yoga. The book starts with the basics of learning to ascertain the ‘essence’ of life and distinguish it from how we perceive it. It is this understanding that allows one to be immersed in the experience of absolute unity referred to as ‘Samadhi’ in Sanskrit.
In the first few sutras, Patanjali explains, “Yoga is the progressive settling of the mind into silence. When the mind is settled, we are established in our essential state, which is unbounded consciousness.” This means, “You must look within for peace. Your true self lies within the silence between the thoughts and beyond all your limitations.”
As evident from its name, the second book of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras details instructions for practice. The 55 sutras in this book explain the eight parts of Ashtanga yoga. The eight steps to yoga include:
The term ‘Sadhana’ is a connotation for ‘spiritual practice’. Sadhana Pada enlists the steps that a yogi must take to reach a state of union with the higher self.
A collection of 56 sutras that tells one about the progression of practice, the book focuses on the mind’s ability to recognize its true power. Allegedly referred to as superhuman powers, the book teaches about the ‘Siddhis’ one can achieve through thorough dedication. However, these ‘Siddhis’ can be achieved through ‘Samyam’ or self-control that can be realized by following the three steps of:
However, the seer has also warned that one must practice sans ego, else it would pose obstacles on the path to final liberation or unity with the self.
This final book of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras contains 34 sutras and refers to the feeling of ‘solitude’ or ‘detachment’ from the materialistic way of life. The book refers to a feeling of liberation from birth or freedom from suffering; it outlines how one can free the mind from all bondages.
Referred to as the last state of yoga and the final destination of all the sutras, this book underscores the goal of any yogi, i.e., enlightenment. Living beings reel between life and death and achieve freedom from this cycle through the realization of immortality. This book entails how one can be completely free from the bondage of life without fearing death and, thus, embrace the eternal self.
Many people regard the ‘Yoga Sutras’ as a book, though the same must be referred to as a complex arrangement of tools arranged to tell one the need for self-control and the means of realizing it through dedication. The Yoga Sutras express uncertainty about the human body, though the author Patanjali regards it as unclean and unfit for attaining enlightenment. The various threads explained in the four sections of the book explain how to attune the body to attain spiritual perfection.
The Yoga sutras explained are not arranged linearly. Rather, they are arranged in a circular form like a wheel. All the four ‘Padas’ or sections have different levels of depth. As one progresses in the path to spirituality, the wheel of depth goes deeper and deeper through the four Padas, leading to an ultimate feeling of detachment.
The journey from self-realization to the ultimate realization of the self is long and arduous. However, in the quest for the ultimate self lies the feeling of peace that secures oneself from earthly bonds. It is in this endless journey that one experiences the feeling of perfection that is not mirrored in any other source.
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