The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Book I: Consciousness and Superconsciousness (Samadhi Pada)
- Now to explain Yoga.
- Yoga is the cessation (nirodha) of the modes of mind (chitta vritti).
- Then consciousness takes on its true nature.
- At other times consciousness is identified with the modes of mind.
- There are five such modes which can either be painful or not painful.
- The modes are right knowledge, wrong knowledge, imagination, dreamless sleep and memory.
- The sources of right knowledge are by direct perception, or by logical analysis, or from the testimony of authorities.
- Wrong knowledge is a false interpretation not corresponding with the actual nature of the object.
- Imagination is the ideas which arise from knowledge conveyed by words.
- Dreamless sleep is the mode of mind during the natural absence of a conscious object.
- Memory is the calling up of an object from past experience.
- The control of these modes is achieved by practice (abhyasa) and nonattachment (vairagya).
- Practice is concentrated effort to keep the mind steady.
- It becomes firmly grounded when carried out for a long time without interruptions and with earnest attention.
- Nonattachment is the consciousness of being free from desires for worldly things either experienced or heard about.
- The highest nonattachment comes from the knowledge of the Soul (Purusha) which brings victory over natural processes (gunas).
- The first level of super consciousness (samprajnata samadhi) is attained progressively in four stages. These are by questioning, by discrimination, by the
experience of supreme bliss, and finally by the realization of the unity of the universe with consciousness.
- In the higher level (asamprajnata samadhi) there is an absence of all modes of mind and only subconscious impressions (samsaras) are retained in the
mind. This comes from the constant practice of the highest type of nonattachment.
- Its inferior form is attained by those who are beyond consciousness of the body but become merged in Nature (prakritilayanam)
- For others this samadhi is attained by total trust, great energy, recollection, regular practice of meditation,
and discriminative knowledge.
- This samadhi is soon achieved by those who practice intensively.
- Even these will gain superior results depending on whether they do mild, moderate, or extremely intensive practice.
- Perfection is also attained by devotion to the Lord (Ishvara pranidhanad).
- Ishvara is a special Purusha untouched by afflictions, actions and their results, or unconscious tendencies.
- In Ishvara the seed of knowledge is developed to its utmost limit.
- Being beyond time Ishvara is the Master of masters.
- The word expressing Ishvara is Aum (or OM).
- One should constantly repeat and listen attentively to Aum while meditating on its meaning.
- From this comes the awakening of a higher consciousness, and also the destruction of the obstacles to meditation.
- The obstacles, or mental distractions, are sickness, laziness, doubt, lack of attention and enthusiasm, lack of energy, sensuality, false perception, and failure to
attain or maintain concentration.
- The symptoms of a distracted mind are grief, anxiety, trembling, and irregular breathing.
- To overcome these symptoms one should meditate on one particular truth (ekatattva).
- By cultivating feelings of friendship toward the happy, compassion toward the unhappy, joy toward the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked, the mind becomes
purified and calm.
- Also the mind becomes calm by regulating the expulsion and retention of the breath (pranayama).
- Or the mind becomes controlled and stable through the changes produced by extraordinary sense perceptions.
- Or by meditating on the shining Inner Light (jyotismatee) which is beyond all suffering.
- Or by meditating on one who has attained desirelessness.
- Or by meditating on the subconscious knowledge gained from dreams or dreamless sleep.
- Or by meditating on anything which particularly appeals.
- By such meditations the yogi gains mastery over all from the atomic to the infinite.
- The yogi whose mind retains only one object of concentration becomes identified with either the knowable object, the method of knowing, or the knower, as pure crystal
becomes colored by objects placed nearby.
- The first stage of this mode of concentration is when the name, meaning, and knowledge of an object are intermingled. This is called super consciousness "with
questioning" (savitarka samadhi).
- The second stage, superconsciousness "beyond questioning" (nirvitarka samadhi), is attained when memory is so controlled that the object of
concentration is known directly without interference from memories of it.
- Two higher stages of super consciousness where the object of concentration is a subtle element (suksam visayam) are explained in a similar way. These are
super consciousness "with meditation" (savichara samadhi) and superconsciousness "beyond meditation"
- The province of the subtle elements extends up to the very essence of Nature (prakriti).
- All these stages of super consciousness are called samadhis "with seed".
- With the pure flow of consciousness in nirvichara samadhi comes a spiritual clarity.
- And in this stage discriminative knowledge becomes identical with natural law.
- Because this discriminative knowledge is specific and complete, it differs in essence from knowledge gained from scriptures or by logical analysis.
- The mental impression arising from nirvichara samadhi prevents all other impressions.
- With the control even of that impression all impressions cease and that samadhi is called "without seed" (nirvikalpa
Book II : Ways To Attain Yoga (Sadhana Pada)
- Practical ways to attain Yoga (union of consciousness with the Infinite) are through ascetic disciplines
(tapas), study and meditation on Aum (Svadhyaya), and by devotion to the Lord (Ishvara). [Refer to Book I:23-28.]
These are the preliminary steps (kriya yoga).
- The purpose of kriya yoga is to bring about super consciousness and to weaken the afflictions.
- The afflictions are ignorance, ego-consciousness, desire, aversion, and the clinging-to-life instinct.
- Ignorance is the cause of the other afflictions whether they are dormant (exist in potential form in the subconscious), weakened (rendered non-operative through
meditation), overpowered (the yogi counters them by cultivating the opposite tendencies), or fully operative.
- Ignorance is regarding the non-eternal as eternal, the impure as pure, the distressing as pleasurable, and the not-Self as Self.
- Ego-consciousness is the apparent identification of the Perceiver with the instruments of perception.
- Desire is that which dwells upon pleasure.
- Aversion is that which dwells upon pain.
- The clinging-to-life instinct, springing up of its own nature, remains even in the wise.
- When the afflictions are in potential form they should be overcome by resolving them into their natural cause (prakriti).
- The gross effects produced by the afflictions in their fully operative form should be overcome by meditation.
- The result of past experience of the afflictions is that tendencies (karmas) are stored in the subconscious mind which causes suffering both in this life and
the life to come.
- As long as the storehouse of karmas exists, they will bear fruit in the next birth, length of life, and experiences of pleasure and pain.
- These fruits will result in pleasure or pain according as to whether their cause is from virtue or vice.
- But, to the discriminating yogi, all material experience is considered painful since by natural processes (guna vritti) the painful consequences of change,
anxiety, and new tendencies (samsaras) happen.
- What is to be avoided is pain not yet come.
- The cause of avoidable pain is the identifying of the experiencer with the object of experience.
- The objective world has the nature of illumination, activity, and stability (gunas), and comprises the physical elements as well as the senses. Its purpose
is for the sake of experience and the liberation of the experiencer.
- The four aspects of Nature are gross (or general), subtle (or specialized), the once resolvable (or primal) and the irresolvable (or unevolved).
- The Seer (Purusha), although pure consciousness only, sees through the senses and mind which becomes colored by the object.
- The visible universe exists for the sake of the Seer.
- Although the visible universe has ceased to exist for those who have achieved enlightenment, it still exists because it is common to all other experiencers.
- The relationship between the Seer and Nature (Prakriti) is that of the owner and the owned, and this causes identification of the Self and not-Self.
- The cause of that identification is ignorance.
- When this ignorance is absent the identification is also removed, and the Seer attains absolute freedom (kaivalya).
- This ignorance (and consequent identification) is removed by unwavering discriminative knowledge of the Seer and Nature.
- The yogi develops this perfect knowledge through seven stages.
- The practice of the things subservient to Yoga gives the light of knowledge which destroys the impurities
preventing complete discriminative knowledge.
- The things subservient to Yoga (called the eight limbs of yoga) are:
- Yama - ethical restraints
- Niyama - ethical observances
- Asana - postures
- Pranayama - breath and prana control.
- Pratyahara - control of the senses by the withdrawal of prana from them
- Dharana - single-point concentration
- Dhyana - unbroken concentration (meditation)
- Samadhi - superconsciousness.
- The yamas are nonviolence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), non-stealing (asteya), continence (bramacharya), and nonpossessiveness
- The practice of these is not limited by rank, place, time, or circumstance. They are the universal great vows.
- The niyamas are purity (saucha), contentment (santosha), ascetic disciplines (tapas), study and meditation,
and devotion to Ishvara.
- To counteract destructive attitudes one should cultivate thoughts of the opposite kind.
- These destructive attitudes, as for example thoughts of violence, whether they are done, caused to be done, or merely approved of; whether motivated by greed, anger,
or preceded by ignorance; and whether mild, moderate, or extreme will result in infinite suffering and ignorance. Therefore one should cultivate thoughts of the opposite
- When nonviolence is firmly established then all living beings will cease to feel enmity in one's presence.
- When truth is firmly established then all actions will bear fruit.
- When non-stealing is firmly established then all prosperity approaches.
- When continence is firmly established then vigor is gained.
- When non-possessiveness is firmly established then knowledge of former lives is gained.
- From purity comes protection of one's own body and disinclination for contact with others.
- On the purification of the conscious mode of illumination (sattva) one obtains serenity, power of single-point concentration, control of the
senses, and fitness for direct perception of Self.
- Contentment brings supreme happiness.
- Ascetic disciplines bring perfection of the body and senses due to the destruction of impurities.
- By study and meditation comes a direct realization of one's preferred Deity.
- By devotion to Ishvara comes the perfection of meditation (samadhi).
- Postures (asanas) should be steady and pleasant.
- Asanas are mastered by relaxed effort and remaining unaware of the body.
- From that one is no longer disturbed by the dualities (ie. pairs of opposites such as hot/cold, pleasure/pain, etc.)
- On asanas being mastered there follows control of the movements of inspiration and expiration which is called pranayama.
- Modes of pranayama are when the breath is restrained externally (ie. after expiration), or internally (ie. after inspiration), or totally (ie. in mid-motion). Each
mode is regulated by place (ie. the place in the body the prana is held), by the length of time held, and by the number of times performed, which can either be
long or short.
- The fourth mode of pranayama is breath or prana restraint between the outer and inner spheres.
- From the mastery of pranayama comes the removal of ignorance covering the light of higher consciousness.
- And fitness of mind for single-point concentration (Dharana).
- When the psychic energy used by the senses is withdrawn from their sense-objects, then it becomes identical to mental energy. This process is called
- From that comes supreme control over the senses.
Book III : Powers (Vibhuti Pada)
- Dharana is focusing the attention of the mind on a particular place or object.
- When in Dharana the flow of thought becomes continuous it is called dhyana.
- When in Dhyana the object of concentration is seen in its own light free from distortion by the mind it is called samadhi.
- These three operating together is called Samyama.
- From the mastery of that comes the light of discriminative knowledge.
- The application of discriminative knowledge is to discover higher and higher states.
- These three constitute internal or direct means to Yoga in comparison with the first five limbs (called the
- But these three are external means compared to the samadhi "without seed" (nirvikalpa samadhi).
- By conscious control the non-meditative state (vyutthana) disappears as a wave of mental control is generated. The moment of control when the mind is
concerned with both states is called the mode of control (nirodhaparinamah).
- When this mode becomes a uniform flow the mind is peaceful due to its inherent nature.
- When the mind reaches the mode of samadhi (samadhiparinamah) the apparent multiplicity of the universe disappears and its unity arises.
- When the mind reaches the mode of one-pointedness (ekagrataparinamah) the mental wave that has subsided is similar to the wave that has risen.
- In a similar way the three-fold changes in form, character, and state regarding the elements and senses are explained.
- A substance (dharmi) is that which undergoes changes in properties (dharma) either past, present, or yet to come.
- The effects of the succession of changes becomes the cause of subsequent changes.
- By Samyama on the three-fold change already explained one gains knowledge of the past and future.
- By Samyama on the distinction between the name, the object named, and its idea - three aspects normally considered intermingled - comes understanding of the sounds of
all living beings.
- By Samyama on subconscious impressions (samsara) one gains knowledge of previous lives.
- By Samyama on mental processes one gains knowledge of the minds of others.
- But not the contents of other minds as the aim is not to be identified with the lives of others.
- By Samyama on the form of the body the power of observing that form is checked as its light is displaced from the eyes of an observer. This is called the power of
- Also by this the power of the concealment of speech is explained.
- By Samyama on actions (karma) which will bear fruit either soon or much later, or from the portents of extraordinary happenings, comes knowledge of the time
- By Samyama on friendliness, compassion, etc. arises the fruits of these attitudes.
- By Samyama on various powers such as the strength of an elephant one obtains this strength.
- By Samyama on the shining Inner Light comes knowledge of what is subtle, hidden, or remote.
- By Samyama on the sun comes knowledge of the world.
- By Samyama on the moon comes knowledge of the star systems.
- By Samyama on the pole star comes knowledge of the motions of the stars.
- By Samyama on the navel comes knowledge of the systems of the body.
- By Samyama on the hollow of the throat one stills hunger and thirst.
- By Samyama on the nerve called kurma (situated below the hollow of the throat) comes complete firmness of body.
- By Samyama on the shining light from the aperture in the skull comes direct perception of perfected beings (siddha).
- Or by Samyama on the light of intuitive knowledge (pratibhad) comes all knowledge (ie. discriminative knowledge).
- By Samyama on the heart comes knowledge of the content of minds.
- Enjoyment comes from a failure to discriminate between the conscious mode of illumination (sattva) and Purusha. These are absolutely different because sattva
exists for the sake of Purusha. By doing Samyama on the independence of Purusha comes knowledge of the nature of Purusha.
- From that Samyama comes supernatural perceptions of hearing, sensation of touch, vision, taste, and smell.
- These are obstacles to samadhi, but supernatural powers in the non-meditative state (vyutthana).
- By the relaxation of the causes of bondage (bandha), and by knowledge of the flow of vital currents and of the mind (chitta), one obtains the power
of entry into the bodies of others.
- By controlling the vital current udana (through Samyama) one can pass over water, mud, thorns, etc. and leave the body at will.
- By controlling the vital current samana (through Samyama) one appears surrounded by blazing light.
- By Samyama on the relationship between the ear and space (akasha) comes supernatural hearing.
- By Samyama on the relationship between the body and space, the body becomes as light as cotton and one can walk through the air.
- By Samyama on that mode of mental activity external to the body, called the great disembodiedness (mahavideha), comes the destruction of the covering of the
light of consciousness.
- By Samyama on their gross nature (sthula), their essential attributes (svarupa), their subtle nature (suksama), their relative qualities
(anvaya), and their purposes (arthavattva), comes mastery over the elements (bhuta).
- From that mastery comes the eight great perfections (mahasiddhi), excellence of the body, and a consciousness of its indestructible qualities.
- Excellence of the body consists in complexion, beauty, strength, and hardness like adamant.
- By Samyama on the properties of the senses which are specialized receptivity (grahana), their essential attributes (svarupa), knowledge of self
(asmita), their relative qualities (anvaya), and their purposes (arthavattva), comes mastery over the senses.
- From that one obtains speed of mind (ie. power to move the body as quickly as the mind), the power of perception without the bodily senses, and victory over nature.
[These are called the honey-like perfections (madhupratika) - from commentary by Vyasa.]
- By Samyama on the conscious principle (sattva) as manifested by the internal instrument (antakarana), comes discriminative knowledge of sattva and
Purusha. From this one gains supremacy over all existence and distinctive knowledge of all entities. [This is called "free from suffering" (visoka) -
from commentary by Vyasa.]
- By nonattachment to even these powers comes the destruction of the seed of bondage leading to absolute freedom (kaivalya).
- When allured by celestial beings [ie. beings who have become "merged in Nature" - see Book I:19] one should neither form any attachments nor show amazement
as this could again lead to ignorance.
- By Samyama on indivisible moments of time and their order comes discriminative knowledge.
- From that one can discriminate between two similar objects which cannot be distinguished by class, particular properties, or position.
- This saving (ie. from the bondage of ignorance) discriminative knowledge includes all objects and every aspect of them simultaneously.
- When the conscious principle sattva and Purusha have equal purity, then absolute freedom (kaivalya) is attained.
Book IV : Absolute Freedom (Kaivalya Pada)
- Supernatural powers may be obtained either through birth, or by using drugs, or through (sacred) chants (Mantra), or by ascetic
disciplines (tapas), or from the superconscious state (samadhi).
- Change from one class to another comes from the inflow of nature.
- Deeds are not the actual cause of this change, but they break the obstacles holding back the flow of nature just as a farmer can open an irrigation gate allowing the
water to flow through.
- Mindstuff (chittam) is created from the material of self-consciousness (asmita).
- The multiple activities of the numerous created minds are controlled by the original mind.
- Only the mind attained through meditation is free from desires.
- The actions (karma) of yogis are neither pure nor dark; for others they are either pure, pure and dark, or dark.
- From the storehouse of drives (karmas) only those tendencies arise which are able to bear fruit.
- There is a consecutiveness between memory and subconscious impressions (samsara), which are not different, although separated by class, space, and time.
- These impressions have no beginning since desires are eternal.
- All these impressions are hold together by cause (the afflictions and their results [refer to Book II:3]), effect (experiences of pleasure and pain, substratum (the
mind itself which "supports" the impressions), and object (the sense-objects which give rise to the impressions); in the absence of these the impressions are
- Objects retain their essential nature, but there is a change in qualities from past to future.
- The qualities are either manifested or subtle, being of the nature of the natural processes (gunas).
- Because of the unity of changes in the gunas, there is unity in all objects.
- Objects remain the same although perceived differently by different minds.
- And an object cannot be said to be dependent on a single mind, since in the absence of that mind what would then happen to the object?
- An object is either known or unknown to the mind according as the mind is affected or not affected by its coloring.
- Because Purusha - the master of mind - is not affected, all modes of mind are always known to it.
- Mind is not self-luminous because it is knowable.
- And it is not possible for the mind to perceive both itself and sense-objects at the same time.
- If part of the mind was knowable by another part then that part would be knowable by a third part and so on, which would result in a confusion of memories.
- The Purusha, although itself changeless, is reflected in the understanding mind which thereby takes the form of the pure intelligence of Purusha.
- The mind colored by the Seer (Purusha) and the seen is able to understand all the objective universe.
- Although equipped and variegated with innumerable tendencies and impressions, the mind exists for the sake of another (ie. the Purusha) because it operates in
- For one with subtle perception the (false idea of the) identity of mind and Purusha completely ceases.
- Surely at that time the mind of one with such discriminative knowledge becomes serene and directed towards absolute freedom (kaivalya).
- The other thoughts that arise in the intervals of that mind are from the subconscious impressions (samsaras).
- The removal of these is in the same manner as described for the afflictions. [Refer to Book II:10]
- When one is free from desire for any fruit even in the state of highest illumination, then from constant and continuous knowledge comes that state of consciousness
called "the cloud of virtue" (dharmameghah samadhi).
- From that comes the cessation of the afflictions and the fruits of works.
- And at that time because of the infiniteness of the knowledge of that mind free of all coverings from the afflictions, the knowable universe appears small.
- >Then, having fulfilled their purpose, the successive modes of the natural processes (gunas) comes to an end.
- The succession of changes consists of an uninterrupted sequence of moments which are recognized as distinct at the end (of a series) of changes.
- Absolute freedom (kaivalya) is when the gunas, no longer needed for the sake of Purusha, are resolved into their original state (Prakriti),
or when the energy of consciousness is established in its own nature.