In 200-300 BC, the time of Buddha, lived Patanjali, who brought to us the three subjects of Yoga, Ayurveda and Grammar. A Sutra is one bead of the necklace, and there are many beads forming the necklace. 196 Yoga Sutras gives us the whole philosophy of Yoga.
The first chapter of the Yoga Sutras is Samadhi Pada, meaning the chapter on concentration. Among topics described by Patanjali is yoga itself, principles of practice and non-attachment, obstacles and solutions for them, tools for and results of stabilizing the mind. Samadhi padha, described in 40 Sutras, provides an overall understanding of Psychology, Parapsychology and the highest states of Consciousness.
In the first Sutra Patanjali states that he is a medium to deliver the teachings on Yoga. Atha yoga anushasanam (Yoga Sutras 1.1), meaning that now the study and practice of Yoga begins. The second Sutra reads: Yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ (Yoga Sutras 1.2). Yoga is the cutting off of all the movement that goes on constantly in our mind. Citta is a mind and body, a complex structure in which the spirit manifests in this present time. The movements (vrittis) occur because of the different pulls we experience, called Kleshas.
The Kleshas create suffering in our life and they also prevent us from achieving enlightenment:
- Avidya, the ignorance, which is the misconception of true reality
- Asmita, the identification of ourselves with the ego
- Raga, the attachment, desire for pleasurable experiences
- Dvesha, the opposite of raga, aversion for unpleasant experiences
- Abhinivesha, the will to live, which is the strongest Klesha, staying with us until death.
Two main principles of Yoga are Abhyasa and Vairagya. Abhyasa is about persistent efforts to attain and keep a state of stable tranquility. So it is about a practice, sitting in one place and doing something on a regular basis. Vairagya means non-attachment and it is about lack of desire, enjoying things, but remaining unattached. These two things remove the Kleshas and bring about quietness, allowing the realization of the true Self.
The direct path, Ishwarapranidhana, is about a complete surrender to God. There are three qualities of God, according to Patanjali:
- Omniprescence – timelessness, being in the past, present and future and can manifest in all places at the same time
- Omniscient – all knowing of the past, present and future
- Omnipotent – can do everything
One is unable to grasp all this in the mind, these are the qualities that one need to surrenders to and through surrendering oneself to Ishwara, to God, one can reach this state which is quietness.
To surrender to God one practices the Pranidhana, translated to be the sound of AUM’s. There are three powers in the universe – that which gives birth, that which sustains and that which destroys – thus referring to the beginning, maintenance and end. Pranidhana represents these three powers in the form of the sound. First letter sound to come out is A, middle is U and last is M. Hindu personalised these three into Brahma (the one who creates), Vishnu (the one who maintains) and Shiva (the one who destroys), and the combination of these three forces is the trinity, similar to Christian, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; the Holy Trinity. The subtlest of all energies is the sound, so one can understand that sound has a tremendous power to change one’s consciousness and is therefore used by many traditions all over the world. Words used in this way – which are Mantras – are mostly starting with AUM. In the Kabalah, mystic ways of the Jews, similarly Mantras are used.
Patanjali then describes the different paths in order to get established in harmonious relationship with one Self, and then the different states that one acquires when one has followed the path – Samadhi – the state of Oneness.
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre
Yoga master teacher Sharat Arora
Article derived from the Intensive Yoga Course at the
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre in Arambol, North Goa, 2003