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HomeEditorialYoga Sutras is the practice of settling the mind into ultimate divinity

Yoga Sutras is the practice of settling the mind into ultimate divinity

The word "yoga" comes from the Sanskrit word "Yuj," which means 'union' or 'to join'. Sutras are concise aphorisms; compressed knowledge that is easy to remember.

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The Patanjali Yoga Sutras have been interpreted and stated by many people over time. In ancient times, Patanjali wrote the sutras on palm leaves, but most of his teaching was done orally, and students learned by way of sutras. The word “sutra” comes from the same root as the medical term “suture,” meaning to join or embrace together. When a teacher illustrated a piece of knowledge, the student would be given a short axiom that would later remind them of the greater body of material. This was somewhat the same as modern-day cue cards. 

Patanjali Yoga Sutras places emphasis on four stages, Samadhi Pada, which expresses the goal of concentration as a means of achieving vairagya (detachment) through abhyasa (practice); Sadhana Pada, which describes Kriya yoga (yoga of action) and the steps to eliminate worldly suffering and reach a yogic state. Vibhooti Pada is the fixing of the chitta (the chitta primarily represents one’s mindset, or state of mind) in a particular place or area, either physical or psychological. That is, the “desha” (status) may be a particular place in the body, such as a chakra, or it may be a visualized image, such as a yantra, or a thought, such as a mantra. This mental activity itself produces a vritti. And the last one is Kaivalya Pada, Kaivalya means “solitude” or “detachment” in Sanskrit. In this case, it refers to the isolation of purusha from prakṛti (nature), and therefore the liberation from rebirth and freedom from suffering. As such, the chapter Kaivalya Pada is about the final liberation. So, Samadhi Pada defines what yoga is, Sadhana Pada describes the eightfold path of yoga, and Vibhuti Pada explains the benefits of yoga.

Mythologically, Vishnu, the maintainer of the universe, sleeps between conceptions, resting on the multi-headed serpent Anantha, floating on the ocean of attentiveness. When Shiva, the Nataraj, woke Vishnu with his dance of creation, Anantha asked for a wish to be born as a great teacher. Shiva granted his wish, and he was born as Patanjali in the palm of the great Yogini, Gonika. In the early 11th century, the Persian scholar Al Biruni visited India, lived among Hindus for 16 years, and, with their help, interpreted several significant Sanskrit works into Arabic and Persian. One was Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

There are also many arguments on the yoga sutra, such as that Al Biruni’s text has striking variances from yoga sutra manuscripts discovered in India during the 19th century. Al Biruni’s record has helped modern scholars establish that Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras manuscript existed in India in many versions, each with multiple explanations by Hindu scholars. Some of these versions and commentaries have either vanished or been undiscovered. Let us not get into these discussions, but the fact is that we Hindus believe that yoga was preserved by the sadhus (ascetics, sannyasis) of India. Some of the Hindu yoga elements were adopted by the Sufi sect of Muslims in India. If we look at Buddhism, the yoga scholar Stephen Cope identifies many similarities between Raja yoga and Buddhism. He notes that the two philosophies are not the same but are strikingly similar, having shared a long period of interchange up to about 500 CE.

Some medieval Indian texts on yoga refer to Rajayoga as one of many types of yoga. For example, the 17th-century Sarvanga yoga pradipikå, a Braj-bhashya commentary by Sundardas, teaches three tetrads of yoga. The first group is Bhakti yoga, Mantra yoga, Laya yoga, and Carcha yoga; the second is Hatha yoga, Raja yoga, Laksha yoga, and Ashtanga yoga; and the third is Samkhya yoga, Jñana yoga, Brahma yoga, and Advaita yoga. Of the twelve, Sundardas states that Rajayoga is the best yoga.

One meaning of Raja yoga is as a modern retronym introduced by Swami Vivekananda, when he equated Raja yoga with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  After its circulation in the first half of the 1st millennium CE, many Indian scholars reviewed it, then published their notes and commentary on it. Together, they form a norm called the Pātañjalayogaśāstra .

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras may be a synthesis of three traditions. From the Samkhya school of Hinduism, the Yoga Sutras adopt the “reflective discernment” (adhyavasaya) of prakriti and purusha (dualism), its intangible rationalism, and its three epistemic methods for gaining reliable knowledge. The yoga sutras are adages. They are 196 in number. The interesting thing about them is that they are mostly two liners. These short Sanskrit aphorisms have deep meanings. If you have a guru or teacher to guide you through the yoga sutras, then ultimate attainment is possible. One needs to consider each sutra for a long time to understand its underlying meaning. Sutra contemplation helps to purify the mind. You’ll be amazed to learn what yoga really is from these sutras.

The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj,” which means ‘union’ or ‘to join’. Sutras are concise aphorisms; compressed knowledge that is easy to remember. Purify yourself through steady restraints, such as non-violence, and observances, such as moderation. This is how to live in a way conducive to Self-Realization. It’s not a pre-meditation thing but rather a lifestyle you activate to think better, among other reasons. After pranayama, ultimately, a breathing technique comes to focus on the breath, the mind, the body, chakras, or any number of internal objects. When single-pointed focus is achieved, this is called Dharana. Once this focus is achieved, it is called Dhyana. After a certain amount of “time” spent in this absorption, cosmic consciousness dawns. This is samadhi. It’s higher- energy. This is the union of matter and spirit, the union between personal and divine consciousness. This state of mind and body is bliss, ecstasy, tingling, sudden insight, siddhis, and other God-consciousness-type effects. Repeated exposure to this state results in liberation, freedom from suffering, spiritual enlightenment, and self-realization.

The studies suggest that a normal human being will have 6000+ thoughts per day, which is about six and a half-thought fluctuation per minute. All these thoughts that keep coming into our minds can be positive, negative, or neutral. And these various thoughts in our mind drive the mood and emotions, and that is what will show in our acts or expressions. If each one of us practices the sutras, one can attain peace and stability in life. Ishwara (God, or the supreme power that controls every cosmic action and nature cycle) is the ultimate! It is nature! It is life! It is the spirit! something that is very difficult to describe but is possible to feel.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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