What happens as we grow spiritually? Is there a step-by-step process that everyone goes through—all spiritual seekers, including those of any or no religious persuasion—as they gradually work their way upward, until they achieve the highest state of Self-realization? About 2200 years ago, a great spiritual master of India named Patanjali described this process, and presented humanity with a clear-cut, step-by-step outline of how all truth seekers and saints achieve divine ...
What happens as we grow spiritually? Is there a step-by-step process that everyone goes through—all spiritual seekers, including those of any or no religious persuasion—as they gradually work their way upward, until they achieve the highest state of Self-realization?
About 2200 years ago, a great spiritual master of India named Patanjali described this process, and presented humanity with a clear-cut, step-by-step outline of how all truth seekers and saints achieve divine union. He called this universal inner experience and process “yoga” or “union.” His collection of profound aphorisms—a true world scripture—has been dubbed Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
Unfortunately, since that time many scholarly translators with little or no spiritual realization have written commentaries on Patanjali’s writings that have succeeded only in burying his pithy insights in convoluted phrases like “becomes assimilated with transformations” and “the object alone shines without deliberation.” How can any reader understand Patanjali’s original meaning when he or she has to wade through such bewildering terminology?
Thankfully, a great modern yoga master—Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the classic Autobiography of a Yogi—has cut through the scholarly debris and resurrected Patanjali’s original teachings and revelations. Now, in Demystifying Patanjali, Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Yogananda, shares his guru’s crystal clear and easy-to-grasp explanations of Patanjali’s aphorisms.
As Kriyananda writes in his introduction, “My Guru personally shared with me some of his most important insights into these sutras. During the three and a half years I lived with him, he also went with me at great length into the basic teachings of yoga.
“I was able, moreover, to ask my Guru personally about many of the subjects covered by Patanjali. His explanations have lingered with me, and have been a priceless help in the [writing of this book].”
After reading many translations of the Yoga Sutras over the years, I found Swami Kriyananda's commentaries and writings so lucid and practical in their application to everyday life. It is a blessing to have Patanjali's teaching accessible to everyone seeking the divine within.
- Christopher Key Chapple
Swami Kriyananda has provided an immensely readable translation of and commentary on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. This central text outlines all the basics required for a balanced Yoga practice. It effortlessly describes and explains the various states of meditation. Patanjali outlines the foundational ethics of Yoga, including abstention from impure, distracting, and deflating actions. By rising up into the state of spirituality, one can overcome the myriad troubles of life. Swami Kriyananda adds yet another jewel to the treasure trove of Yoga Sutra interpretations.
- Philip Goldberg
The Yoga Sutras has generated almost as many translations and commentaries as there are sutras in Patanjali’s masterpiece. Inevitably, the takeaway for readers is different in each instance because the nuances of interpretation lead the student in radically different directions. Many versions were written by the gurus who brought the ancient tradition to the West, but one important voice, Yogananda’s, was missing. We will never have a Yogananda translation, but now we have the next best thing: a direct disciple’s interpretation of the master’s perspective. Because Yogananda’s role in bringing Yoga to the West is unsurpassed, Demystifying Patanjali is a welcome and illuminating contribution to the ongoing transmission.
- Subhash Kak
I enjoyed reading Demystifying Patanjali, which is a view of the Yoga Sutras from the perspective of Paramhansa Yogananda. Its personal anecdotes and other stories add to the narrative.
The words of a great master, whether written by his own hand or recorded by others, are a vehicle primarily for the transference of his consciousness. By studying his thoughts we receive not only his meaning, but also his vibrations. The vibrations of Patanjali, until now, have been largely obscured by clumsy translations, or often even more obscure "interpretations." The power of this volume is not only clear, simple meaning, but also a clarity of vibration. This is a Patanjali we never knew was there: kind, practical, incisive, yes, but also generous and sympathetic to those who seek to embrace the vision of infinity he has attained.
New York Journal of Books, June 2013
- Birgit W. Patty
Demystifying Patanjali is particularly recommended for readers who are already familiar with 1) yogic philosophy, 2) Yogananda’s teaching, or 3) Swami Kriyananda’s numerous published works.