- by Latha Raman Sivashakti Yoga Bangalore
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- Jul 06 2017
“Yoga Sutras of Patanjali”
IntroductionYoga practice, to a layman, is the hatha yoga and pranayama for keeping the people healthy and stress-free. The real study of yoga is for the mastery of mind. It consists of mainly 4 branches- Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga.Here for the review I have chosen Raja Yoga as in Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Chapter II. As the name suggests Raja Yoga is the king over all other branches of Yoga encompassing other branches as well in its practice. The hatha yoga and pranayama which are the most common things practiced in yoga classes are also part of Raja Yoga. It employs practical methods to bring mastery over the mind and one day reach the highest Samadhi. I have chosen only the Chapter II for book review as I am more interested in the practice of Raja Yoga.
The other chapters can be read for knowledge sake, in my opinion. Any student inclined in Raja Yoga path may do the same.The primary text of Raja Yoga is called the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (sometimes also called Patanjali Yoga Sutra or Yoga darsanam). Sutra literally means “thread,” each Sutra being the barest thread of meaning upon which a teacher might expand by adding his or her own “beads” of experience or example, etc for the sake of the students.There are almost 200 Sutras, traditionally divided into 4 sections. The first is the “Portion of Contemplation,” (Samadhi Pada with 51 sutras). It gives the theory of Yoga and a description of the most advanced stages of the practice of Samadhi or contemplation. The second sutras in this chapter, Yogascitta vritti nirodhah – the restrain of the mental modification is yoga , summarises what Yoga’s goal is. Rest of the sutras are the extensions of this key sutra.
The second is the “Portion on Practice,” (Sadhana Pada with 55 sutras). There is philosophy is this 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 accomplishments and ways to overcome the obstacles. The third section is called the “Portion on Vibhuthi Pada”, (on Accomplishments with 56 sutras) and discusses the final inner steps of Raja Yoga plus all the powers and accomplishments which could come to the faithful practitioner. The final section is called the “Portion on Absoluteness,” (Kaivalya Pada with 34 sutras) and discusses yoga from a more cosmic, philosophic point.It is not known exactly when Sri Patanjali lived, or even if he was a single person rather than several people using the same title. Estimates of the date of sutras range from 500 B.C. to 300 A.D. In any case he did not in any sense ‘invent’ Raja Yoga, but rather systematized 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 nourish today in their myriad forms.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali with Sri Swami Satchidananda’s commentary is a simple and easily understandable explanation of the Sutras. Sri Swami Satchidananda, the founder of Integral Yoga and disciple of Swami Sivananda, has been a beautiful instrument to guide us in the study of Raja Yoga. This book is unique commentary on the Yoga Sutras in that it is based on Swamiji’s informal exposition of the Sutras at lectures and yoga retreats. It was not written for any scholarly or intellectual purpose, but it is the recorded conversation of a yoga Master to his students in true Sutra exposition tradition.
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