the yoga sutras of patanjali

ियायुक्तस्य सिद्धिः स्यादक्रियस्य कथं भवेत् न शास्त्रपाठमात्रेण योगसिद्धिः प्रजायते

kriyāyuktasya siddhiḥ syādakriyasya kathaṃ bhavet na śāstrapāṭhamātreṇa yogasiddhiḥ prajāyate

Yoga is not achieved by mere reading of the scriptures.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika I.65

Nevertheless …

the yoga sutras of patanjali

i. samadhi pada

According to senior ashtanga yoga teacher John Scott, the four padas or chapters of the Yoga Sutras are aimed at: (1) advanced practitioners, (2) beginners, (3) intermediate practitioners, (4) everybody including non-practitioners.

अथ योगानुशासनमः ॥ १॥

i.1 atha yogānuśāsanamaḥ

“As Patanjali says, ‘Atha yoga anusanam.’ ‘Now begins the study of yoga.’ Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but now, today, at this very moment.” Jason at Leaping Lanka

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः ॥ २॥

i.2 yogaścittavṛttinirodhaḥ

“Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”

Yoga is all about stopping frettin’
David Williams

Yoga is about taming the lizard.

If something seems scary (suggested by tone of voice, excitement, stridency and soundtrack) our unblinking lizard brain pays close attention, while ignoring the more relevant news
Britt Blaser

The reptile hindbrain reacts to threats before opportunities. A lot of people have a vested interest in keeping us afraid.

Yoga is not being confused by the noise in your head.

Learning control of the processes of your mind
Andrey Lappa

You are the thinker of your thoughts, but you are not the thoughts themselves.
Steve Pavlina

Buddhist meditators don’t flinch

तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानमः ॥ ३॥

i.3 tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe'vasthānamaḥ

वृत्तिसारूप्यमः इतरत्र ॥ ४॥

i.4 vṛttisārūpyamaḥ itaratra

वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टा अक्लिष्टाः ॥ ५॥

i.5 vṛttayaḥ pañcatayyaḥ kliṣṭā akliṣṭāḥ

प्रमाणविपर्ययविकल्पनिद्रास्मृतयः ॥ ६॥

i.6 pramāṇaviparyayavikalpanidrāsmṛtayaḥ

प्रत्यक्शानुमानागमाः प्रमाणानि ॥ ७॥

i.7 pratyakśānumānāgamāḥ pramāṇāni

विपर्ययो मिथ्याज्ञानमः अतद्रूपप्रतिष्ठमः ॥ ८॥

viparyayo mithyājñānamḥ atadrūpapratiṣṭhamḥ .. 8..

शब्दज्ञानानुपाती वस्तुशून्यो विकल्पः ॥ ९॥

śabdajñānānupātī vastuśūnyo vikalpaḥ .. 9..

अभावप्रत्ययालम्बना वृत्तिर्निद्रा ॥ १०॥

abhāvapratyayālambanā vṛttirnidrā .. 10..

अनुभूतविषयासंप्रमोषः स्मृतिः ॥ ११॥

anubhūtaviṣayāsaṃpramoṣaḥ smṛtiḥ .. 11..

अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः ॥ १२॥

abhyāsavairāgyābhyāṃ tannirodhaḥ .. 12..

तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोऽभ्यासः ॥ १३॥

tatra sthitau yatno'bhyāsaḥ .. 13..

स तु दीर्घकालनैरन्तर्यसत्कारासेवितो दृढभूमिः ॥ १४॥

sa tu dīrghakālanairantaryasatkārāsevito dṛḍhabhūmiḥ .. 14..

दृष्टानुश्रविकविषयवितृष्णस्य वशीकारसंज्ञा वैराग्यमः ॥ १५॥

dṛṣṭānuśravikaviṣayavitṛṣṇasya vaśīkārasaṃjñā vairāgyamḥ .. 15..

तत्परं पुरुषख्यातेर्गुणवैतृष्ण्यमः ॥ १६॥

tatparaṃ puruṣakhyāterguṇavaitṛṣṇyamḥ .. 16..

वितर्कविचारानन्दास्मितारूपानुगमातः संप्रज्ञातः ॥ १७॥

vitarkavicārānandāsmitārūpānugamātḥ saṃprajñātaḥ .. 17..

विरामप्रत्ययाभ्यासपूर्वः संस्कारशेषोऽन्यः ॥ १८॥

virāmapratyayābhyāsapūrvaḥ saṃskāraśeṣo'nyaḥ .. 18..

भवप्रत्ययो विदेहप्रकृतिलयानामः ॥ १९॥

bhavapratyayo videhaprakṛtilayānāmḥ .. 19..

श्रद्धावीर्यस्मृतिसमाधिप्रज्ञापूर्वक इतरेषामः ॥ २०॥

śraddhāvīryasmṛtisamādhiprajñāpūrvaka itareṣāmḥ .. 20..

तीव्रसंवेगानामः आसन्नः ॥ २१॥

tīvrasaṃvegānāmḥ āsannaḥ .. 21..

मृदुमध्याधिमात्रत्वातः ततोऽपि विशेषः ॥ २२॥

mṛdumadhyādhimātratvātḥ tato'pi viśeṣaḥ .. 22..

ईश्वरप्रणिधानादः वा ॥ २३॥

īśvarapraṇidhānādḥ vā .. 23..

क्लेशकर्मविपाकाशयैरपरामृष्टः पुरुषविशेष ईश्वरः ॥ २४॥

kleśakarmavipākāśayairaparāmṛṣṭaḥ puruṣaviśeṣa īśvaraḥ .. 24..

तत्र निरतिशयं सर्वज्ञ्त्वबीजमः ॥ २५॥

tatra niratiśayaṃ sarvajñtvabījamḥ .. 25..

स पूर्वेषामः अपि गुरुः कालेनानवच्च्हेदातः ॥ २६॥

sa pūrveṣāmḥ api guruḥ kālenānavacchedātḥ .. 26..

तस्य वाचकः प्रणवः ॥ २७॥

tasya vācakaḥ praṇavaḥ .. 27..

तज्जपस्तदर्थभावनमः ॥ २८॥

tajjapastadarthabhāvanamḥ .. 28..

ततः प्रत्यक्चेतनाधिगमोऽप्यन्तरायाभावश्च ॥ २९॥

tataḥ pratyakcetanādhigamo'pyantarāyābhāvaśca .. 29..

व्याधिस्त्यानसंशयप्रमादालस्याविरतिभ्रान्तिदर्शनालब्धभूमिकत्वानवस्थितत्वानि चित्तविक्शेपास्तेऽन्तरायाः ॥ ३०॥

vyādhistyānasaṃśayapramādālasyāviratibhrāntidarśanālabdhabhūmikatvānavasthitatvāni cittavikśepāste'ntarāyāḥ .. 30..

दुःखदौर्मनस्याङ्गमेजयत्वश्वासप्रश्वासा विक्शेपसहभुवः ॥ ३१॥

duḥkhadaurmanasyāṅgamejayatvaśvāsapraśvāsā vikśepasahabhuvaḥ .. 31..

तत्प्रतिषेधार्थमः एकतत्त्वाभ्यासः ॥ ३२॥

tatpratiṣedhārthamḥ ekatattvābhyāsaḥ .. 32..

मैत्रीकरुणामुदितोपेक्शणां सुखदुःखपुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां भावनातश्चित्तप्रसादनमः ॥ ३३॥

maitrīkaruṇāmuditopekśaṇāṃ sukhaduḥkhapuṇyāpuṇyaviṣayāṇāṃ bhāvanātaścittaprasādanamḥ .. 33..

प्रच्च्हर्दनविधारणाभ्यां वा प्राणस्य ॥ ३४॥

pracchardanavidhāraṇābhyāṃ vā prāṇasya .. 34..

विषयवती वा प्रवृत्तिरुत्पन्ना मनसः स्थितिनिबन्धिनी ॥ ३५॥

viṣayavatī vā pravṛttirutpannā manasaḥ sthitinibandhinī .. 35..

विशोका वा ज्योतिष्मती ॥ ३६॥

viśokā vā jyotiṣmatī .. 36..

वीतरागविषयं वा चित्तमः ॥ ३७॥

vītarāgaviṣayaṃ vā cittamḥ .. 37..

स्वप्ननिद्राज्ञानालम्बनं वा ॥ ३८॥

svapnanidrājñānālambanaṃ vā .. 38..

यथाभिमतध्यानादः वा ॥ ३९॥

yathābhimatadhyānādḥ vā .. 39..

परमाणु परममहत्त्वान्तोऽस्य वशीकारः ॥ ४०॥

paramāṇu paramamahattvānto'sya vaśīkāraḥ .. 40..

क्शीणवृत्तेरभिजातस्येव मणेर्ग्रहीतृग्रहणग्राह्येषु तत्स्थतदञ्जनतासमापत्तिः ॥ ४१॥

kśīṇavṛtterabhijātasyeva maṇergrahītṛgrahaṇagrāhyeṣu tatsthatadañjanatāsamāpattiḥ .. 41..

तत्र शब्दार्थज्ञानविकल्पैः संकीर्णा सवितर्का समापत्तिः ॥ ४२॥

tatra śabdārthajñānavikalpaiḥ saṃkīrṇā savitarkā samāpattiḥ .. 42..

स्मृतिपरिशुद्धौ स्वरूपशून्येवार्थमात्रनिर्भासा निर्वितर्का ॥ ४३॥

smṛtipariśuddhau svarūpaśūnyevārthamātranirbhāsā nirvitarkā .. 43..

एतयैव सविचारा निर्विचारा च सूक्श्मविषया व्याख्याता ॥ ४४॥

etayaiva savicārā nirvicārā ca sūkśmaviṣayā vyākhyātā .. 44..

सूक्श्मविषयत्वं चालिङ्गपर्यवसानमः ॥ ४५॥

sūkśmaviṣayatvaṃ cāliṅgaparyavasānamḥ .. 45..

ता एव सबीजः समाधिः ॥ ४६॥

tā eva sabījaḥ samādhiḥ .. 46..

निर्विचारवैशारद्येऽध्यात्मप्रसादः ॥ ४७॥

nirvicāravaiśāradye'dhyātmaprasādaḥ .. 47..

र्तंभरा तत्र प्रज्ञा ॥ ४८॥

rtaṃbharā tatra prajñā .. 48..

श्रुतानुमानप्रज्ञाभ्यामः अन्यविषया विशेषार्थत्वातः ॥ ४९॥

śrutānumānaprajñābhyāmḥ anyaviṣayā viśeṣārthatvātḥ .. 49..

तज्जः संस्कारो न्यसंस्कारप्रतिबन्धी ॥ ५०॥

tajjaḥ saṃskāro nyasaṃskārapratibandhī .. 50..

तस्यापि निरोधे सर्वनिरोधानः निर्बीजः समाधिः ॥ ५१॥

1.51 tasyāpi nirodhe sarvanirodhānḥ nirbījaḥ samādhiḥ

ii. sadhana pada

According to senior ashtanga yoga teacher John Scott, the four padas or chapters of the Yoga Sutras are aimed at: (1) advanced practitioners, (2) beginners, (3) intermediate practitioners, (4) everybody including non-practitioners.

तपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि क्रियायोगः ॥ १॥

2.1 tapaḥsvādhyāyeśvarapraṇidhānāni kriyāyogaḥ

Tapas (= asceticism, self-discipline, diligent practice), self-study and devotion constitute kriya (cleansing, purifying) yoga.

Pattabhi Jois defines tapas as anything where the mind is focused on one activity (something like that, I didn’t get the exact words). I like that definition because it implies that anything done with full mental focus can be a meditative/yogic activity. So even those of us with feeble, easily-distracted asana practices might be able to pursue tapas by things like (to pick a few random examples) writing, taking photographs or cooking – provided that we can at least sometimes get absorbed in the activity for its own sake, goal-lessly, not worrying about what other people will think of the results. Which is difficult – surely we have to care about doing an activity "well" in some sense in order to care enough about it to get absorbed in doing it. So where do we drawn the line between that and being externally focused, speculating/worrying about other peoples’ judgements?

I like the Pattabhi Jois definition a lot more than BKS Iyengar’s:

Tapas is the inner himsa (violence) by which we create the possibility of outer ahimsa. … it is a burning inner zeal and austerity, a sort of unflagging hardness of attitude towards oneself which makes possible compassion and forgiveness towards others.

(Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, II.43)

TKV Desikachar has another interesting take on the matter:

Tapas does not mean penance or castigation, but is something we do in order to keep us physically or mentally healthy. It is a process of inner cleansing.

(Heart of Yoga)

svādhyāya is self-examination: part of yoga is learning to contemplate, to introspect oneself and one’s reactions, but in a relaxed, detached, non-judgmental way. Asana practice is one excellent tool for learning this: how do I react when I’m confronted with unfamiliar and difficult physical challenges? To the fact the others around me are better at some things? When some things prove harder and more frustrating to achieve than I hoped they might be? Whether I can put my leg behind my head or not is of course completely unimportant (although I think I would enjoy being able to do it, and will be able to Real Soon Now, maybe), but by trying to do it I can learn lessons about patience, discipline and coping with frustration that might be useful if I can also learn to apply them to things that do mattter.

समाधिभावनार्थः क्लेशतनूकरणार्थश्च ॥ २॥

samādhibhāvanārthaḥ kleśatanūkaraṇārthaśca .. 2..

अविद्यास्मितारागद्वेषाभिनिवेशाः क्लेशाः ॥ ३॥

avidyāsmitārāgadveṣābhiniveśāḥ kleśāḥ .. 3..

अविद्या क्शेत्रमः उत्तरेषां प्रसुप्ततनुविच्च्हिन्नोदाराणामः ॥ ४॥

avidyā kśetramḥ uttareṣāṃ prasuptatanuvicchinnodārāṇāmḥ .. 4..

अनित्याशुचिदुःखानात्मसु नित्यशुचिसुखात्मख्यातिरविद्या ॥ ५॥

anityāśuciduḥkhānātmasu nityaśucisukhātmakhyātiravidyā .. 5..

दृग्दर्शनशक्त्योरेकात्मतेवास्मिता ॥ ६॥

dṛgdarśanaśaktyorekātmatevāsmitā .. 6..

सुखानुशयी रागः ॥ ७॥

sukhānuśayī rāgaḥ .. 7..

दुःखानुशयी द्वेषः ॥ ८॥

duḥkhānuśayī dveṣaḥ .. 8..

स्वरसवाही विदुषोऽपि तथारूढो भिनिवेशः ॥ ९॥

svarasavāhī viduṣo'pi tathārūḍho bhiniveśaḥ .. 9..

ते प्रतिप्रसवहेयाः सूक्श्माः ॥ १०॥

te pratiprasavaheyāḥ sūkśmāḥ .. 10..

ध्यानहेयास्तद्वृत्तयः ॥ ११॥

dhyānaheyāstadvṛttayaḥ .. 11..

क्लेशमूलः कर्माशयो दृष्टादृष्टजन्मवेदनीयः ॥ १२॥

kleśamūlaḥ karmāśayo dṛṣṭādṛṣṭajanmavedanīyaḥ .. 12..

सति मूले तद्विपाको जात्यायुर्भोगाः ॥ १३॥

sati mūle tadvipāko jātyāyurbhogāḥ .. 13..

ते ह्लादपरितापफलाः पुण्यापुण्यहेतुत्वातः ॥ १४॥

te hlādaparitāpaphalāḥ puṇyāpuṇyahetutvātḥ .. 14..

परिणामतापसंस्कारदुःखैर्गुणवृत्तिविरोधाच् च दुःखमः एव सर्वं विवेकिनः ॥ १५॥

pariṇāmatāpasaṃskāraduḥkhairguṇavṛttivirodhāc ca duḥkhamḥ eva sarvaṃ vivekinaḥ .. 15..

हेयं दुःखमः अनागतमः ॥ १६॥

heyaṃ duḥkhamḥ anāgatamḥ .. 16..

द्रष्टृदृश्ययोः संयोगो हेयहेतुः ॥ १७॥

draṣṭṛdṛśyayoḥ saṃyogo heyahetuḥ .. 17..

प्रकाशक्रियास्थितिशीलं भूतेन्द्रियात्मकं भोगापवर्गार्थं दृश्यमः ॥ १८॥

prakāśakriyāsthitiśīlaṃ bhūtendriyātmakaṃ bhogāpavargārthaṃ dṛśyamḥ .. 18..

विशेषाविशेषलिङ्गमात्रालिङ्गानि गुणपर्वाणि ॥ १९॥

viśeṣāviśeṣaliṅgamātrāliṅgāni guṇaparvāṇi .. 19..

द्रष्टा दृशिमात्रः शुद्धोऽपि प्रत्ययानुपश्यः ॥ २०॥

draṣṭā dṛśimātraḥ śuddho'pi pratyayānupaśyaḥ .. 20..

तदर्थ एव दृश्यस्यात्मा ॥ २१॥

tadartha eva dṛśyasyātmā .. 21..

कृतार्थं प्रति नष्टमः अप्यनष्टं तदन्यसाधारणत्वातः ॥ २२॥

kṛtārthaṃ prati naṣṭamḥ apyanaṣṭaṃ tadanyasādhāraṇatvātḥ .. 22..

स्वस्वामिशक्त्योः स्वरूपोपलब्धिहेतुः संयोगः ॥ २३॥

svasvāmiśaktyoḥ svarūpopalabdhihetuḥ saṃyogaḥ .. 23..

तस्य हेतुरविद्या ॥ २४॥

tasya heturavidyā .. 24..

तदभावातः संयोगाभावो हानं। तदःदृशेः कैवल्यमः ॥ २५॥

tadabhāvātḥ saṃyogābhāvo hānaṃ. tadḥdṛśeḥ kaivalyamḥ .. 25..

विवेकख्यातिरविप्लवा हानोपायः ॥ २६॥

vivekakhyātiraviplavā hānopāyaḥ .. 26..

तस्य सप्तधा प्रान्तभूमिः प्रज्ञा ॥ २७॥

tasya saptadhā prāntabhūmiḥ prajñā .. 27..

योगाङ्गानुष्ठानादः अशुद्धिक्शये ज्ञानदीप्तिरा विवेकख्यातेः ॥ २८॥

yogāṅgānuṣṭhānādḥ aśuddhikśaye jñānadīptirā vivekakhyāteḥ .. 28..

Georg Feuerstein believes that this sloka is the start of a passage (from here to somewhere around iii..4) that is not part of Patanajali’s main text – either Patanajali quoting another text, or a later addition. Interesting, since the immediately following slokas are some of the best known and most frequently quoted in the entire work.

यमनियमासनप्राणायामप्रत्याहारधारणाध्यानसमाधयोऽष्टाव अङ्गानि ॥ २९॥

yamaniyamāsanaprāṇāyāmapratyāhāradhāraṇādhyānasamādhayo'ṣṭāva aṅgāni .. 29..

The famous, much quoted (and, according to Feuerstein, not Patanjali’s) “eight limbs” of classical yoga are:

  1. yama
  2. niyama
  3. asana
  4. pranayama
  5. pratyahara
  6. dharana
  7. dhyana
  8. samadhi

The eight aspects of yoga: the ethical discipline, moral discipline, physical discipline, physiological discipline, mental discipline, intellectual discipline, egoistic [something I can’t hear?], and then to experience the spiritual tranquility, not the mental tranquility
BKS Iyengar, transcribed from a BBC radio interview with Mark Tully

अहिंसासत्यास्तेयब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहा यमाः ॥ ३०॥

ahiṃsāsatyāsteyabrahmacaryāparigrahā yamāḥ .. 30..

The yamas are:

  1. ahimsa
    Thou shalt not kill.
  2. satya
  3. asteya – non-stealing. Akin to the buddhist concept of “right livelihood”?
  4. brahmacharya – sometimes interpreted to mean “celibacy”, although not generally by contemporary senior yoga teachers, large numbers of whom are married with families.
  5. aparigraha

जातिदेशकालसमयानवच्च्हिन्नाः सार्वभौमा महाव्रतमः ॥ ३१॥

jātideśakālasamayānavacchinnāḥ sārvabhaumā mahāvratamḥ .. 31..

शौचसंतोषतपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि नियमाः ॥ ३२॥

śaucasaṃtoṣatapaḥsvādhyāyeśvarapraṇidhānāni niyamāḥ .. 32..

वितर्कबाधने प्रतिपक्शभावनमः ॥ ३३॥

vitarkabādhane pratipakśabhāvanamḥ .. 33..

वितर्का हिंसादयः कृतकारितानुमोदिता लोभक्रोधमोहपूर्वकामृदुमध्याधिमात्रा दुःखाज्ञानानन्तफला इति प्रतिपक्शभावनमः ॥ ३४॥

vitarkā hiṃsādayaḥ kṛtakāritānumoditā lobhakrodhamohapūrvakāmṛdumadhyādhimātrā duḥkhājñānānantaphalā iti pratipakśabhāvanamḥ .. 34..

अहिंसाप्रतिष्ठायां तत्सन्निधौ वैरत्यागः ॥ ३५॥

ahiṃsāpratiṣṭhāyāṃ tatsannidhau vairatyāgaḥ .. 35..

सत्यप्रतिष्ठायां क्रियाफलाश्रयत्वमः ॥ ३६॥

satyapratiṣṭhāyāṃ kriyāphalāśrayatvamḥ .. 36..

अस्तेयप्रतिष्ठायां सर्वरत्नोपस्थानमः ॥ ३७॥

asteyapratiṣṭhāyāṃ sarvaratnopasthānamḥ .. 37..

ब्रह्मचर्यप्रतिष्ठायां वीर्यलाभः ॥ ३८॥

brahmacaryapratiṣṭhāyāṃ vīryalābhaḥ .. 38..

अपरिग्रहस्थैर्ये जन्मकथंतासंबोधः ॥ ३९॥

aparigrahasthairye janmakathaṃtāsaṃbodhaḥ .. 39..

शौचातः स्वाङ्गजुगुप्सा परैरसंसर्गः ॥ ४०॥

śaucātḥ svāṅgajugupsā parairasaṃsargaḥ .. 40..

सत्त्वशुद्धिसौमनस्यैकाग्रःयेन्द्रियजयात्मदर्शनयोग्यत्वानिच ॥ ४१॥

sattvaśuddhisaumanasyaikāgrḥyendriyajayātmadarśanayogyatvānica .. 41..

संतोषादः अनुत्तमः सुखलाभः ॥ ४२॥

saṃtoṣādḥ anuttamaḥ sukhalābhaḥ .. 42..

कायेन्द्रियसिद्धिरशुद्धिक्शयातः तपसः ॥ ४३॥

kāyendriyasiddhiraśuddhikśayātḥ tapasaḥ .. 43..

स्वाध्यायादः इष्टदेवतासंप्रयोगः ॥ ४४॥

svādhyāyādḥ iṣṭadevatāsaṃprayogaḥ .. 44..

समाधिसिद्धिरीश्वरप्रणिधानातः ॥ ४५॥

samādhisiddhirīśvarapraṇidhānātḥ .. 45..

स्थिरसुखमः आसनमः ॥ ४६॥

ii.46 sthirasukhamḥ āsanamḥ

Posture should be stable (shtiram) and comfortable (sukham) is all Patanjali (or whoever compiled the “eight limbs” section) had to say. Arriving at stable, comfortable posture can, however, be an epic journey.

प्रयत्नशैथिल्यानन्तसमापत्तिभ्यामः ॥ ४७॥

prayatnaśaithilyānantasamāpattibhyāmḥ .. 47..

ततो द्वन्द्वानभिघातः ॥ ४८॥

ii.48 tato dvandvānabhighātaḥ

Having achieved stable, comfortable posture, one is no longer troubled by the perception of duality.

तस्मिनः सति श्वासप्रश्वासयोर्गतिविच्च्हेदः प्राणायामः ॥ ४९॥

tasminḥ sati śvāsapraśvāsayorgativicchedaḥ prāṇāyāmaḥ .. 49..

बाह्याभ्यन्तरस्तम्भवृत्तिः देशकालसंख्याभिः परिदृष्टो दीर्घसूक्श्मः ॥ ५०॥

bāhyābhyantarastambhavṛttiḥ deśakālasaṃkhyābhiḥ paridṛṣṭo dīrghasūkśmaḥ .. 50..

बाह्याभ्यन्तरविषयाक्शेपी चतुर्थः ॥ ५१॥

bāhyābhyantaraviṣayākśepī caturthaḥ .. 51..

ततः क्शीयते प्रकाशावरणमः ॥ ५२॥

tataḥ kśīyate prakāśāvaraṇamḥ .. 52..

धारणासु च योग्यता मनसः ॥ ५३॥

dhāraṇāsu ca yogyatā manasaḥ .. 53..

स्वस्वविषयासंप्रयोगे चित्तस्य स्वरूपानुकार इवेन्द्रियाणां प्रत्याहारः ॥ ५४॥

svasvaviṣayāsaṃprayoge cittasya svarūpānukāra ivendriyāṇāṃ pratyāhāraḥ .. 54..

Pratyahara is often translated in to English as “withdrawal of the senses”. Withdrawal of the senses from what? Rather say withdrawal of the mind’s attention from whatever random ephemera the senses come up with to try to distract it; learning to choose and control one’s mental focus.

An example of how asana practice can contribute to developing it on my blog.

New York yoga teacher Carl Horowitz’s thoughts on pratyahara. The bit about “the physical body” as “an external object” (external to what? to a mind located where?) is deeply wrong, but the rest is interesting.

ततः परमा वश्यतेन्द्रियाणामः ॥ ५५॥

2.55 tataḥ paramā vaśyatendriyāṇāmḥ

iii. vibhuti pada

According to senior ashtanga yoga teacher John Scott, the four padas or chapters of the Yoga Sutras are aimed at: (1) advanced practitioners, (2) beginners, (3) intermediate practitioners, (4) everybody including non-practitioners.

देशबन्धश्चित्तस्य धारणा ॥ १॥

3.1 deśabandhaścittasya dhāraṇā

Learning to direct/focus one’s attention to a single thing (citta bandha = literally, “binding the mind”) is dharana.

Physical yoga practices in general use the body and its position as the object on which we’re trying to sustain focused attention. It’s very clever – we’re given something to (try to) do that’s so difficult it’s impossible to do it whilst thinking about anything else. David Wlliams says in ashtanga vinyasa yoga specifically, maintaining mula bandha should be the point of concentration.

तत्र प्रत्ययैकतानता ध्यानमः ॥ २॥

tatra pratyayaikatānatā dhyānamḥ .. 2..

… and as we learn to really concentrate for sustained periods of time, gradually the awareness of there being a separate mind that is doing the concentrating fades, and “it’s just happening”.

तदः एवार्थमात्रनिर्भासं स्वरूपशून्यमः इव समाधिः ॥ ३॥

tadḥ evārthamātranirbhāsaṃ svarūpaśūnyamḥ iva samādhiḥ .. 3..

“Samadhi” – literally, “putting back together”

त्रयमः एकत्र संयमः ॥ ४॥

trayamḥ ekatra saṃyamaḥ .. 4..

तज्जयातः प्रज्ञाऽऽलोकः ॥ ५॥

tajjayātḥ prajñā''lokaḥ .. 5..

तस्य भूमिषु विनियोगः ॥ ६॥

tasya bhūmiṣu viniyogaḥ .. 6..

त्रयमः अन्तरङ्गं पूर्वेभ्यः ॥ ७॥

trayamḥ antaraṅgaṃ pūrvebhyaḥ .. 7..

तदः अपि बहिरङ्गं निर्बीजस्य ॥ ८॥

tadḥ api bahiraṅgaṃ nirbījasya .. 8..

व्युत्थाननिरोधसंस्कारयोरभिभवप्रादुर्भावौ निरोधक्शणचित्तान्वयो निरोधपरिणामः ॥ ९॥

vyutthānanirodhasaṃskārayorabhibhavaprādurbhāvau nirodhakśaṇacittānvayo nirodhapariṇāmaḥ .. 9..

तस्य प्रशान्तवाहिता संस्कारातः ॥ १०॥

tasya praśāntavāhitā saṃskārātḥ .. 10..

सर्वार्थतैकाग्रतयोः क्शयोदयौ चित्तस्य समाधिपरिणामः ॥ ११॥

sarvārthataikāgratayoḥ kśayodayau cittasya samādhipariṇāmaḥ .. 11..

ततः पुनः शान्तोदितौ तुल्यप्रत्ययौ चित्तस्यैकाग्रतापरिणामः ॥ १२॥

tataḥ punaḥ śāntoditau tulyapratyayau cittasyaikāgratāpariṇāmaḥ .. 12..

एतेन भूतेन्द्रियेषु धर्मलक्शणावस्थापरिणामा व्याख्याताः ॥ १३॥

etena bhūtendriyeṣu dharmalakśaṇāvasthāpariṇāmā vyākhyātāḥ .. 13..

शान्तोदिताव्यपदेश्यधर्मानुपाती धर्मी ॥ १४॥

śāntoditāvyapadeśyadharmānupātī dharmī .. 14..

क्रमान्यत्वं परिणामान्यत्वे हेतुः ॥ १५॥

kramānyatvaṃ pariṇāmānyatve hetuḥ .. 15..

परिणामत्रयसंयमादः अतीतानागतज्ञानमः ॥ १६॥

iii.16 pariṇāmatrayasaṃyamādḥ atītānāgatajñānamḥ

By meditating … the yogi obtains knowledge of the past and the future.

Patanajali now starts to talk about siddhis, or apparently supernatural/superhuman powers than can arise as side effect of yoga practice. Getting caught up in these, pursuing them for their own sake, is the biggest obstacle to true yoga.

The yogi ain’t psychic, says David Williams – he’s just the one who’s been paying the most attention.

Experienced meditators perceive separate events that occur in a fast sequence better than non-meditators, apparently [pdf] because they process initial visual perceptions more efficiently and thus free up mental resources more quickly to be able to notice the second event.

On the 'psychic' issue, one must understand that it does not mean that you are telling the future or anything particularly mystical. Like Ninjutsu it is simply a matter of seeing psychological events manifested physically and structurally. If you understand what you are looking at you can see what is coming and head it off even before it begins.
Nate Morrison on the Russian martial art Systema

While al Kalam al Batini [Sufi “hidden conversation”] produces some interesting side effects in the area of operating in the world, and while these side effects can be very useful, they should not in any way be considered in central purpose of the skills. Mushtaq Ali

when we embrace the natural, there is no need for the “supernatural”. When we embody physics, there is no need for “metaphysics” that when we work within reality as it is given we have no need for the “magical”. Mushtaq Ali again

शब्दार्थप्रत्ययानामः इतरेतराध्यासातः संकरः। तत्प्रविभागसंयमातः सर्वभूतरुतज्ञानमः ॥ १७॥

śabdārthapratyayānāmḥ itaretarādhyāsātḥ saṃkaraḥ. tatpravibhāgasaṃyamātḥ sarvabhūtarutajñānamḥ .. 17..

The yogi learns to distinuish between the sound of a word, its meaning, and his/her reaction to it: different things, which most people confuse or don’t think about.

संस्कारसाक्शत्करणातः पूर्वजातिज्ञानमः ॥ १८॥

saṃskārasākśatkaraṇātḥ pūrvajātijñānamḥ .. 18..

By contemplating another person’s body, the yogi can know the nature of their mind.

प्रत्ययस्य परचित्तज्ञानमः ॥ १९॥

pratyayasya paracittajñānamḥ .. 19..

न च ततः सालम्बनं तस्याविषयीभूतत्वातः ॥ २०॥

na ca tatḥ sālambanaṃ tasyāviṣayībhūtatvātḥ .. 20..

कायरूपसंयमातः तद्ग्राह्यशक्तिस्तम्भे चक्शुःप्रकाशासंप्रयोगेऽन्तर्धानमः ॥ २१॥

kāyarūpasaṃyamātḥ tadgrāhyaśaktistambhe cakśuḥprakāśāsaṃprayoge'ntardhānamḥ .. 21..

एतेन शब्दाद्यन्तर्धानमुक्तमः ॥ २२॥

etena śabdādyantardhānamuktamḥ .. 22..

सोपक्रमं निरुपक्रमं च कर्म। तत्संयमादः अपरान्तज्ञानम् अरिष्टेभ्यो वा ॥ २३ ॥

sopakramaṃ nirupakramaṃ ca karma. tatsaṃyamādḥ aparāntajñānam ariṣṭebhyo vā .. 23 ..

मैत्र्यादिषु बलानि ॥ २४॥

maitryādiṣu balāni .. 24..

बलेषु हस्तिबलादीनि ॥ २५॥

baleṣu hastibalādīni .. 25..

प्रवृत्त्यालोकन्यासातः सूक्श्मव्यवहितविप्रकृष्टज्ञानमः ॥ २६॥

pravṛttyālokanyāsātḥ sūkśmavyavahitaviprakṛṣṭajñānamḥ .. 26..

भुवनज्ञानं सूर्ये संयमातः ॥ २७॥

bhuvanajñānaṃ sūrye saṃyamātḥ .. 27..

चन्द्रे ताराव्यूहज्ञानमः ॥ २८॥

candre tārāvyūhajñānamḥ .. 28..

ध्रुवे तद्गतिज्ञानमः ॥ २९॥

dhruve tadgatijñānamḥ .. 29..

नाभिचक्रे कायव्यूहज्ञानमः ॥ ३०॥

nābhicakre kāyavyūhajñānamḥ .. 30..

कण्ठकूपे क्शुत्पिपासानिवृत्तिः ॥ ३१॥

kaṇṭhakūpe kśutpipāsānivṛttiḥ .. 31..

कूर्मनाड्यां स्थैर्यमः ॥ ३२॥

kūrmanāḍyāṃ sthairyamḥ .. 32..

मूर्धज्योतिषि सिद्धदर्शनमः ॥ ३३॥

mūrdhajyotiṣi siddhadarśanamḥ .. 33..

प्रातिभादः वा सर्वमः ॥ ३४॥

prātibhādḥ vā sarvamḥ .. 34..

हृदये चित्तसंवितः ॥ ३५॥

hṛdaye cittasaṃvitḥ .. 35..

सत्त्वपुरुषयोरत्यन्तासंकीर्णयोः प्रत्ययाविशेषो भोगः परार्थत्वातः स्वार्थसंयमातः पुरुषज्ञानमः ॥ ३६॥

sattvapuruṣayoratyantāsaṃkīrṇayoḥ pratyayāviśeṣo bhogaḥ parārthatvātḥ svārthasaṃyamātḥ puruṣajñānamḥ .. 36..

ततः प्रातिभश्रावणवेदनादर्शास्वादवार्ता जायन्ते ॥ ३७॥

tataḥ prātibhaśrāvaṇavedanādarśāsvādavārtā jāyante .. 37..

ते समाधाव् उपसर्गा। व्युत्थाने सिद्धयः ॥ ३८॥

te samādhāv upasargā. vyutthāne siddhayaḥ .. 38..

बन्धकारणशैथिल्यातः प्रचारसंवेदनाच् च चित्तस्य परशरीरावेशः ॥ ३९ ॥

bandhakāraṇaśaithilyātḥ pracārasaṃvedanāc ca cittasya paraśarīrāveśaḥ .. 39 ..

उदानजयाज्जलपङ्ककण्टकादिष्वसङ्ग उत्क्रान्तिश्च ॥ ४०॥

udānajayājjalapaṅkakaṇṭakādiṣvasaṅga utkrāntiśca .. 40..

समानजयातः प्रज्वलनमः ॥ ४१॥

samānajayātḥ prajvalanamḥ .. 41..

श्रोत्राकाशयोः संबन्धसंयमादः दिव्यं श्रोत्रमः ॥ ४२॥

śrotrākāśayoḥ saṃbandhasaṃyamādḥ divyaṃ śrotramḥ .. 42..

कायाकाशयोः संबन्धसंयमाल् लघुतूलसमापत्तेश्चाकाशगमनमः ॥ ४३॥

kāyākāśayoḥ saṃbandhasaṃyamāl laghutūlasamāpatteścākāśagamanamḥ .. 43..

बहिरकल्पिता वृत्तिर्महाविदेहा। ततः प्रकाशावरणक्शयः ॥ ४४॥

bahirakalpitā vṛttirmahāvidehā. tataḥ prakāśāvaraṇakśayaḥ .. 44..

स्थूलस्वरूपसूक्श्मान्वयार्थवत्त्वसंयमादःभूतजयः ॥ ४५॥

sthūlasvarūpasūkśmānvayārthavattvasaṃyamādḥbhūtajayaḥ .. 45..

ततोऽणिमादिप्रादुर्भावः कायसंपतः तद्धर्मानभिघातश्च ॥ ४६॥

tato'ṇimādiprādurbhāvaḥ kāyasaṃpatḥ taddharmānabhighātaśca .. 46..

रूपलावण्यबलवज्रसंहननत्वानि कायसंपतः ॥ ४७॥

rūpalāvaṇyabalavajrasaṃhananatvāni kāyasaṃpatḥ .. 47..

ग्रहणस्वरूपास्मितान्वयार्थवत्त्वसंयमादः इन्द्रियजयः ॥ ४८॥

grahaṇasvarūpāsmitānvayārthavattvasaṃyamādḥ indriyajayaḥ .. 48..

ततो मनोजवित्वं विकरणभावः प्रधानजयश्च ॥ ४९॥

tato manojavitvaṃ vikaraṇabhāvaḥ pradhānajayaśca .. 49..

सत्त्वपुरुषान्यताख्यातिमात्रस्य सर्वभावाधिष्ठातृत्वं सर्वज्ञातृत्वं च ॥ ५०॥

sattvapuruṣānyatākhyātimātrasya sarvabhāvādhiṣṭhātṛtvaṃ sarvajñātṛtvaṃ ca .. 50..

तद्वैराग्यादपि दोषबीजक्शये कैवल्यमः ॥ ५१॥

tadvairāgyādapi doṣabījakśaye kaivalyamḥ .. 51..

स्थान्युपनिमन्त्रणे सङ्गस्मयाकरणं पुनः अनिष्टप्रसङ्गातः ॥ ५२॥

sthānyupanimantraṇe saṅgasmayākaraṇaṃ punaḥ aniṣṭaprasaṅgātḥ .. 52..

क्शणतत्क्रमयोः संयमादविवेकजं ज्ञानमः ॥ ५३॥

kśaṇatatkramayoḥ saṃyamādavivekajaṃ jñānamḥ .. 53..

जातिलक्शणदेशैरन्यताऽनवच्च्हेदातः तुल्ययोस्ततः प्रतिपत्तिः ॥ ५४॥

jātilakśaṇadeśairanyatā'navacchedātḥ tulyayostataḥ pratipattiḥ .. 54..

तारकं सर्वविषयं सर्वथाविषयमः अक्रमं चेति विवेकजं ज्ञानमः ॥ ५५॥

tārakaṃ sarvaviṣayaṃ sarvathāviṣayamḥ akramaṃ ceti vivekajaṃ jñānamḥ .. 55..

सत्त्वपुरुषयोः शुद्धिसाम्ये कैवल्यमः इति ॥ ५६॥

3.56 sattvapuruṣayoḥ śuddhisāmye kaivalyamḥ iti

चतुर्थः कैवल्यपादः ।
caturthaḥ kaivalyapādaḥ

According to senior ashtanga yoga teacher John Scott, the four padas or chapters of the Yoga Sutras are aimed at: (1) advanced practitioners, (2) beginners, (3) intermediate practitioners, (4) everybody including non-practitioners.

जन्मौषधिमन्त्रतपःसमाधिजाः सिद्धयः ॥ १॥

4.1 janmauṣadhimantratapaḥsamādhijāḥ siddhayaḥ

जात्यन्तरपरिणामः प्रकृत्यापूरातः ॥ २॥

jātyantarapariṇāmaḥ prakṛtyāpūrātḥ .. 2..

निमित्तमः अप्रयोजकं प्रकृतीनां। वरणभेदस्तु ततः क्शेत्रिकवतः ॥ ३॥

nimittamḥ aprayojakaṃ prakṛtīnāṃ. varaṇabhedastu tataḥ kśetrikavatḥ .. 3..

निर्माणचित्तान्यस्मितामात्रातः ॥ ४॥

nirmāṇacittānyasmitāmātrātḥ .. 4..

प्रवृत्तिभेदे प्रयोजकं चित्तमः एकमः अनेकेषामः ॥ ५॥

pravṛttibhede prayojakaṃ cittamḥ ekamḥ anekeṣāmḥ .. 5..

तत्र ध्यानजमः अनाशयमः ॥ ६॥

tatra dhyānajamḥ anāśayamḥ .. 6..

कर्माशुक्लाकृष्णं योगिनः त्रिविधमः इतरेषामः ॥ ७॥

karmāśuklākṛṣṇaṃ yoginaḥ trividhamḥ itareṣāmḥ .. 7..

ततस्तद्विपाकानुगुणानामः एवाभिव्यक्तिर्वासनानामः ॥ ८॥

tatastadvipākānuguṇānāmḥ evābhivyaktirvāsanānāmḥ .. 8..

जातिदेशकालव्यवहितानामः अप्यानन्तर्यं स्मृतिसंस्कारयोः एकरूपत्वातः ॥ ९॥

jātideśakālavyavahitānāmḥ apyānantaryaṃ smṛtisaṃskārayoḥ ekarūpatvātḥ .. 9..

तासामः अनादित्वं चाशिषो नित्यत्वातः ॥ १०॥

tāsāmḥ anāditvaṃ cāśiṣo nityatvātḥ .. 10..

हेतुफलाश्रयालम्बनैः संगृहीतत्वादः एषामः अभावे तदभावः ॥ ११॥

hetuphalāśrayālambanaiḥ saṃgṛhītatvādḥ eṣāmḥ abhāve tadabhāvaḥ .. 11..

अतीतानागतं स्वरूपतोऽस्त्यध्वभेदादः धर्माणामः ॥ १२॥

atītānāgataṃ svarūpato'styadhvabhedādḥ dharmāṇāmḥ .. 12..

ते व्यक्तसूक्श्मा गुणात्मानः ॥ १३॥

te vyaktasūkśmā guṇātmānaḥ .. 13..

परिणामैकत्वादः वस्तुतत्त्वमः ॥ १४॥

pariṇāmaikatvādḥ vastutattvamḥ .. 14..

वस्तुसाम्ये चित्तभेदातः तयोर्विभक्तः पन्थाः ॥ १५॥

vastusāmye cittabhedātḥ tayorvibhaktaḥ panthāḥ .. 15..

न चैकचित्ततन्त्रं वस्तु तदः अप्रमाणकं तदा किं स्यातः ॥ १६॥

na caikacittatantraṃ vastu tadḥ apramāṇakaṃ tadā kiṃ syātḥ .. 16..

तदुपरागापेक्शत्वातः चित्तस्य वस्तु ज्ञाताज्ञातमः ॥ १७॥

taduparāgāpekśatvātḥ cittasya vastu jñātājñātamḥ .. 17..

सदा ज्ञाताश्चित्तवृत्तयस्तत्प्रभोः पुरुषस्यापरिणामित्वातः ॥ १८॥

sadā jñātāścittavṛttayastatprabhoḥ puruṣasyāpariṇāmitvātḥ .. 18..

न ततः स्वाभासंदृश्यत्वातः ॥ १९॥

na tatḥ svābhāsaṃdṛśyatvātḥ .. 19..

एकसमये चोभयानवधारणमः ॥ २०॥

ekasamaye cobhayānavadhāraṇamḥ .. 20..

चित्तान्तरदृश्ये बुद्धिबुद्धेरतिप्रसङ्गः स्मृतिसंकरश्च ॥ २१॥

cittāntaradṛśye buddhibuddheratiprasaṅgaḥ smṛtisaṃkaraśca .. 21..

चितेरप्रतिसंक्रमायास्तदाकारापत्तौ स्वबुद्धिसंवेदनमः ॥ २२॥

citerapratisaṃkramāyāstadākārāpattau svabuddhisaṃvedanamḥ .. 22..

द्रष्टृदृश्योपरक्तं चित्तं सर्वार्थमः ॥ २३॥

draṣṭṛdṛśyoparaktaṃ cittaṃ sarvārthamḥ .. 23..

तदसंख्येयवासनाचित्रमः अपि परार्थं संहत्यकारित्वातः ॥ २४॥

tadasaṃkhyeyavāsanācitramḥ api parārthaṃ saṃhatyakāritvātḥ .. 24..

विशेषदर्शिन आत्मभावभावनाविनिवृत्तिः ॥ २५॥

viśeṣadarśina ātmabhāvabhāvanāvinivṛttiḥ .. 25..

तदा विवेकनिम्नं कैवल्यप्राग्भारं चित्तमः ॥ २६॥

tadā vivekanimnaṃ kaivalyaprāgbhāraṃ cittamḥ .. 26..

तच्च्हिद्रेषु प्रत्ययान्तराणि संस्कारेभ्यः ॥ २७॥

tacchidreṣu pratyayāntarāṇi saṃskārebhyaḥ .. 27..

हानमः एषां क्लेशवदुक्तमः ॥ २८॥

hānamḥ eṣāṃ kleśavaduktamḥ .. 28..

प्रसंख्यानेऽप्यकुसीदस्य सर्वथाविवेकख्यातेर्धर्ममेघः समाधिः ॥ २९॥

prasaṃkhyāne'pyakusīdasya sarvathāvivekakhyāterdharmameghaḥ samādhiḥ .. 29..

ततः क्लेशकर्मनिवृत्तिः ॥ ३०॥

tataḥ kleśakarmanivṛttiḥ .. 30..

तदा सर्वावरणमलापेतस्य ज्ञानस्याऽनन्त्याज्ज्ञेयमः अल्पमः ॥ ३१॥

tadā sarvāvaraṇamalāpetasya jñānasyā'nantyājjñeyamḥ alpamḥ .. 31..

ततः कृतार्थानां परिणामक्रमपरिसमाप्तिर्गुणानामः ॥ ३२॥

tataḥ kṛtārthānāṃ pariṇāmakramaparisamāptirguṇānāmḥ .. 32..

क्शणप्रतियोगी परिणामापरान्तनिर्गृआह्यः क्रमः ॥ ३३॥

kśaṇapratiyogī pariṇāmāparāntanirgṛāhyaḥ kramaḥ .. 33..

पुरुषार्थशून्यानां गुणानां प्रतिप्रसवः कैवल्यं स्वरूपप्रतिष्ठा वा चितिशक्तिरेति ॥ ३४॥

puruṣārthaśūnyānāṃ guṇānāṃ pratiprasavaḥ kaivalyaṃ svarūpapratiṣṭhā vā citiśaktireti .. 34..

notes

transliteration

Latin transliterations on this page use the IAST standard. When I have finished checking my transliterations I will make them available as text files in devanagari and IAST. A version in the less readable but easier to type ITRANS standard (normal ASCII keyboard characters only) is available from the Sanskrit Documents List.

I couldn’t find a suitable tool for transliterating from latin versions of the text to devanagari, so I wrote one. I will make freely available when I’ve finished checking the results, in case anybody else has other texts they’d like to transliterate.

browsers

I honestly never thought I would say this, but: this page is best viewed with Internet Explorer 6 on Windows. Firefox and Safari both have (different) major bugs in their rendering of devanagari text (and IE 5, at least on the Mac, doesn’t even try).

pada

The sanskrit word for the divisions of the Sutras is pada or “foot” – whereas the English word “chapter” derives from the Latin for “head”. Interesting? Moderately so, to me.

the sanskrit text

There slight variations in spelling in different published versions of the Sanskrit text. The main reason for this seems to be that classical sanskrit was traditionally written without word breaks. Modern editors often choose to put word breaks in for clarity, but different editors (or typesetters) don't always put them in the same places. Another common variation is whether or not words at the end of sentences end with visarga, pronounced as a terminal ‘h’ or heavy aspiration with, as Georg Feuerstein describes it, “a distinct echo of the preceding vowel”. These usually aren’t in written editions but sanskrit scholars like Pattabhi Jois generally do seem to pronounce them.

I used the iTrans text from the Sanskrit Documents List as the starting point for my transliterations. This has the visargas, unlike most written texts I have seen, and I chose to leave them in.

I checked my transliterations against the devanagari text in Swami Prabhavananda’s edition.

credits

My thanks go to Lakshmish Bhat, my friend and first Sanskrit teacher, without whom I would never have started a project like this; and to the folks at the Sanskrit Documents List, whose ITrans version of the Yoga Sutras was my starting point for the text I have used here, and who were very friendly and helpful responding to my queries about transliteration.