The Yoga Sutras

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

 



Though primarily an oral tradition, certain aspects of yogic practices have been committed to writing. The sage Patanjali codified the oral tradition of the system, of at least 5000 years old, into the Yoga Sutras.

 

The Yoga Sutras are a series of suggestions or guidelines describing the yoga path, compiled into one complete work by the sage, Patanjali. The word Sutra literally means a thread or line that holds things together.

 

Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras are divided into four Books as follows:

• Samadhi Pada - Concentration (Book One - 51 sutras). Samadhi refers to a blissful state where the yogi is absorbed into the One. Samadhi is the main technique the yogini learns by which to dive into the depths of the mind to achieve Kaivalya. The author describes yoga and then the nature and the means to attaining samadhi.

• Sadhana Pada - Practice (Book Two -55 sutras). Sadhana is the Sanskrit word for "practice" or "discipline". Here the author outlines two forms of Yoga: Kriya Yoga (Action Yoga) and Ashtanga Yoga (Eightfold or Eightlimbed Yoga).

• Vibhuti Pada - Progressing (Book Three - 56 sutras). Vibhuti is the Sanskrit word for "power" or "manifestation". 'Supra-normal powers' (Sanskrit: siddhi) are acquired by the practice of yoga. The temptation of these powers should be avoided and the attention should be fixed only on liberation.

• Kaivalya Pada - Liberation (Book Four - 34 sutras). Kaivalya literally means "isolation", but as used in the Sutras stands for emancipation, liberation and used interchangeably with moksha (liberation), which is the goal of Yoga. The Kaivalya Pada describes the process of liberation and the reality of the transcendental ego. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes yoga as an eight step process known as Ashtanga.

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