Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali

As we have already seen, in studying Patañjali’s picture of the universe, Prakriti is the elemental, undifferentiated stuff of matter; the energy by which all phenomena are projected. As the meditative mind turns inward, it probes through the gross outer coverings of things to their subtle essences; and beyond these subtle essences, it comes to Prakriti itself. But Prakriti is

Patañjali describes the two kinds of knowledge: knowledge obtained through the meditation of the senses and the reason, and knowledge obtained by direct, superconscious experience. Ordinary knowledge comes to us by way of sense-perception, and the interpretation of these perceptions by our reason. Ordinary knowledge is therefore necessarily limited to "ordinary objects"; that is to say, those kinds of phenomena

It has already been explained that samadhi is achieved by raising one object, one great wave of concentration, in the mind, by which all other thought-waves, all samskaras or past impressions, are swallowed up. But now even this one wave has to be stilled. When it has subsided, we enter that highest samadhi of all, which is called Nirvikalpa in

The English word "austerity" has a forbidding sound. But so have its two possible alternatives, "mortification" and "discipline." Discipline, to most of us, suggests a drill sergeant; mortification, a horrible gangrene; austerity, a cabinet minister telling the public that it must eat less butter. The puritanism which has so deeply coloured our language interferes here, as so often, with our

Austerity, study, and the dedication of the fruits of one's work to God are, as we saw in the preceding aphorism, the three preliminary, steps toward that power of concentration which makes possible the state of perfect yoga. That is their positive value. But they have a negative value also which is equally important. They are the means of removing

Ignorance, by Patañjali’s definition, is false identification. It is a misunderstanding of one's real nature. If you say, "I am this body, which is named Patañjali,", you are regarding the non-Atman as the Atman. And this initial act of ignorance will lead, automatically and instantaneously, to millions of similar acts. By denying the Atman within us, we deny it everywhere.

Prakriti has been defined (I, 17) as the effect or power of Brahman, the Reality. In other words, this illusion (in Sanskrit, maya) of an objective, spatiotemporal universe is projected by the Reality itself. Therefore, it follows that Prakriti and Brahman must be co-existent, and that Prakriti, like Brahman, had no beginning and will have no end. Prakriti will continue

When the obstacles in their fully developed form have been overcome, they will still exist vestigially, as tendencies (samskaras). These tendencies are only destroyed when the mind is resolved back into its cause, that is, into Prakriti, from which the mind was projected. This is, of course, the process of going into samadhi.The obstacles to enlightenment must first be overcome

"There is a story," writes Swami Vivekananda, "that the king of the gods, Indra, once became a pig, wallowing in mire; he had a she-pig, and a lot of baby pigs, and was very happy. Then some gods saw his plight, and came to him, and told him, 'You are king of the gods, you have all the gods under

It is you who are really afraid. It is you who shrink from experience. You talk so much about your pleasures, yet you know nothing about pleasure. You never try to understand its nature. The universe of sense-experience is a great book; and he who reads it through to the end with discrimination will know at length that there is