Read an Excerpt
The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali
By Patañjali, James Haughton Woods
Dover Publications, Inc. Copyright © 2003 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
NOTICE TO THE READER
Patañjali's Mnemonic Rules or Yoga-sutras are divided into four books as follows:
Book 1. Concentration or Samadhi, with 51 rules or sutras,—
Book 2. Means of attainment or Sadhana, with 55 sutras,—
Book 3. Supernormal powers or Vibhuti, with 55 sutras,—
Book 4. Isolation or Kaivalya, with 34 sutras,—
In all, there are 195 rules. Their extreme brevity is apparent when they are printed continuously, as at the end of the Ananda[??]açrama edition, where the entire text of the rules occupies only between four and five pages.
The Comment or Bhasya, usually after a brief introductory paragraph or phrase (called avatarana), takes up the rules, one by one, and gives first the text and then the meaning thereof.
Vacaspatimiçra's Explanation is of course in the first instance an explanation of the Comment; but since the Comment comprehends also the Rules, it is in fact an explanation of both Rules and Comment. In the body of this volume, the Explanation is not put all together by itself, but is made to keep pace with the Comment, rule by rule.
Meaning of the Differences of Type
The translation of the Rules is set in pica type of full-faced Clarendon style;
The translation of the Comment is set in pica type of Roman style;
The translation of the Explanation is set in long primer type of Roman style.
Single angles (like these < >) indicate that the words which they enclose are taken from the particular Rule or Yoga-sutra under discussion.
Double angles (like these« ») indicate that the words which they enclose are taken from the Comment or Yoga-bhasya.
Double quotation marks (" ") indicate that the words which they enclose are taken from some authoritative text.
Single quotation marks (' ') indicate that the words which they enclose are the objections or questions of an opponent, or are a quotation from some unauthoritative text.
A half-parenthesis on its side ([??]) is used between two vowels to show that they are printed in violation of the rules of euphonic combination.
May he, who, having abandoned his primal form, exercises his power to show kindness to the world in many ways—he with the beautiful hood and many mouths, possessed of deadly poison and yet abolishing the mass of hindrances—he the source of all knowledge, and whose girdle of attendant snakes produces continual pleasure,—may he, the divine Lord of Serpents, protect you, with his white stainless body—he, the giver of concentration (yoga), and himself concentrated in concentration.
1. Now the exposition of yoga [is to be made].
The expression indicates that a distinct topic commences here. The authoritative book which expounds yoga is to be understood as commenced. [To give a provisional definition:] yoga is concentration; but this is a quality of the mind-stuff (citta) which belongs to all the stages. The stages of the mind-stuff are these: the restless (ksipta), the infatuated (mudha), the distracted (viksipta), the single-in-intent (ekagra), and the restricted (niruddha). Of these [stages the first two have nothing to do with yoga and even] in the distracted state of the mind [its] concentration is [at times] overpowered by [opposite] distractions and [consequently] it cannot properly be called yoga. But that [state] which, when the mind is single-in-intent, fully illumines a distinct and real object and causes the hindrances (kleça) to dwindle, slackens the bonds of karma, and sets before it as a goal the restriction [of all fluctuations], is called the yoga in which there is consciousness of an object (samprajñata). This [conscious yoga], however, is accompanied by deliberation [upon coarse objects], by reflection [upon subtile objects], by joy, by the feeling-of-personality (asmita). This we shall set forth later. But when there is restriction of all the fluctuations (vrtti) [of the mind-stuff], there is the concentration in which there is no consciousness [of an object].
I prostrate myself before him who is the cause of the world's origination, before Vrsaketu, who—although for him fruition and other results of karma proceeding from the hindrances have ceased—is yet kindly [to the world he has made]. Prostrating myself before Patañjali the sage, I proceed to set forth a brief, clear, and significant explanation of the Comment by Vedavyasa.
For here the Exalted Patañjali—wishing to announce in brief the import of the book which he is about to begin that he may thus assist the procedure of men of understanding and that he may, more especially, make the hearer easily comprehend—composed this sutra: 1. Now the exposition of yoga [is to be made]. Of this [sutra] the first portion, the word , he [the author of the Comment] discusses in the phrase «The expression indicates that a distinct topic commences here.» [The word is used] as in [the sutra] "Now this is the Jyotis". It does not imply that it is to be preceded [by conditions as in the first Brahma-sutra]. Now by the word he means the authoritative book in the sense that it is that whereby a thing is expounded. Moreover the book may enter upon its activity when preceded not only by calm and the other [five conditions required by the Brahma-sutra]; but it must be preceded also by [Patañjali's] desire to announce [his] truth. [Calm], on the contrary, would follow when once there had been a desire to know and when the knowledge [had entered into action]. As it is written [BAU. iv. 4. 23 or 28], "After that, calm and subdued and retired and resigned and concentrated let him behold himself in the Self only." Although it would be possible [for the book to enter into action] immediately after advantage had been taken of such things as students' questions or performances of austerities or elixirs of life, [still these are] not mentioned. The reason for this is that these things would be of no use either to the student's knowledge or to [his] feeling inclined (pravrtti) [for it]. [What then would be advantageous? The book's authoritativeness.] If the book be authoritative, then, even if there are no [questions or austerities or elixirs], the exposition of yoga is to be accepted; but if not authoritative, then, even if [there be questions and all the other conditions, still] the book is to be rejected. Thus it is [by insisting upon the authoritativeness of the book] that [Patañjali] refuses to say that [the book may begin] immediately after his understanding the truth and his desire to announce. But if it be agreed that [the word indicates] that a distinct topic commences, then when once yoga has been mentioned as the topic of the book the student easily understands the announcement of the import of the book as a whole and is started into action.—Now every one knows from Çruti and Smrti and the Epics and the Puranas that concentration is the cause of final-bliss [and that yoga is authoritative]. Some one might ask, If the word indicates that a distinct topic commences in all those works to which it is attached, then, if this is so, would not such an announcement as, "Now therefore the inquiry into Brahma [is to be made]" also be included?' To prevent this mistake [the commentator] uses the word «here.» [Again], some one cites the Yogiyajña-valkyasmrti, "Hiranyagarbha and no other of ancient days is he who gave utterance (vakta) to yoga" and asks how it can be said that Patañjali gives utterance to the authoritative book on yoga. In reply the author of the sutra says : exposition in the sense of expounding something previously expounded. When then the word signifies that here a distinct topic commences, then the point of the statement is quite consistent.—Accordingly he says, «The authoritative work which expounds yoga ... as commenced». Here an objector interrupts, 'The topic which is commenced here is not the authoritative work, but yoga in so far as it is taught.' In reply to which, he says «is to be understood.» True, we are beginning yoga in so far as it is taught. But the instrument which is to teach this [yoga] is the authoritative work which deals with the same. Moreover the teacher's activity has to do more immediately with the instrument than with the thing he works upon. Accordingly, with emphasis upon the activity of the author (kartr), we are to understand that the authoritative work which deals with yoga is commenced. But the topic commenced is that yoga only which is limited in its activity by an authoritative work. This is the real point.—And one must suppose that the hearing of the word , which means that a distinct topic has commenced, suggests—like the sight of a water-jar carried [on a girl's shoulder at early morning]—another meaning, [namely,] it serves as an auspicious beginning.—Doubt as to the actual thing [yoga] is occasioned by doubt as to the meaning of the word [yoga]. This [doubt] he removes by stating that [«yoga,» in the phrase] «yoga is concentration» is etymologically derived from the stem yuj-a [Dhatupatha iv. 68] in the sense of concentration and not from the stem yuj-i [vii. 7] in the sense of conjunction.
Another objection is raised, 'The yoga which is to be described is a whole, and concentration is a part of it; and a mere part is not the whole.' The reply is in the words «But this.» The word ca has the sense of «but» and distinguishes the whole from the part.—«Which belongs to all the stages» refers to the stages or states which are to be described: Madhumati [iii. 54], Madhupratika [iii. 48], Viçoka [i. 36], Samskaraçesa [iii. 9]. These belong to the mind-stuff. In all these [stages] is found that yoga the [more] special mark of which is the restriction of the mind-stuff. But concentration is a part [of this] and has not this as its special mark. And the words «yoga is concentration» are a statement for etymological purposes only, in so far as one is not dwelling upon the difference between the whole and the part. But [when he is referring to] the practical purpose of what he calls «yoga,» [he says] it is the restriction of the fluctuations of mind-stuff: this is the stricter sense of the term. To those [Vaiçesikas] who hold the view that fluctuations are sensations inherent in the soul and that therefore the restriction of them would also involve the soul (atman) in which they inhere,—to these in rebuttal he says, «a quality of the mindstuff.»—The term (citta) he uses as a partial expression for the inner-organ (antahkarana), the thinking-substance (buddhi). The point is that the Absolutely-eternal Energy of Intellect (citi-çakti), [since it is] immutable, cannot have sensations as its properties; but the thinking-substance may have them.—An objector says, 'This may be so. But if yoga belongs to all its stages,—why then! Sir, [since you concede that] the restless and the infatuated and the distracted states also are stages of mind-stuff, and [since] there would be among these states, reciprocally at least, also a restriction of fluctuations,—then would have to include these states also (tatrapi).' In replying to this difficulty he makes clear which stages are to be included and which not included [in yoga] by the words beginning with i. The restless incessantly thrown by force of rajas upon this or that object is excessively unstable; ii. the infatuated because of a preponderance of tamas is filled with the fluctuation of sleep; iii. the distracted differs from the restless in that, although prevailingly unstable, it is occasionally stable, this prevailing instability being either natural or generated by diseases and languor and other obstacles later [i. 30] to be described; iv. the single-in-intent is the focused; v. the restricted mind-stuff is that in which all the fluctuations are restricted and in which nothing remains but subliminal-impressions (samskara). In spite of the fact that certain fluctuations of the restless and the infatuated, [the first two] of these [five stages], are restricted each by the others, still, since these two are not even indirectly causes of final bliss and since they contend against it, they are so far removed from [the possibility of] being called yoga that he has not expressly denied that these two are yoga. But in the case of the distracted [state], since occasionally it has stability when directed towards a real object, he denies that it can be yoga in the words «Of these stages.» When the mind is distracted, the concentration which is the occasional stability of the mind-stuff when directed to a real object, cannot properly be called yoga. Why [cannot this be called yoga]? Because it has come under the adverse influence of distraction, which is the opposite of this [yoga]. When fallen into the hands (antargata) of a troop of opponents, it is hard for a thing to be even what it is and it is still harder for it to produce effects. Just as any one can see that a seed which has fallen into the fire and stayed there three or four moments has not power, even if sown, of sprouting: this is the real meaning. If then concentration which has come under the adverse influence of distraction be not yoga, what then is yoga? To this he makes answer, «But that [state] which, when the mind is single-in-intent.» By the word «real» (bhuta) he excludes [any] imaginary [object]. Since sleep, a fluctuation of mind-stuff, is also single-in-intent with regard to tamas,—a real (bhuta) object, the peculiar (sva) [aspect of a substance] upon which it [sleep] depends (alambana),—so he says «distinct» (sad); which means is clear (çobhana), in which the sattva [aspect] becomes evident in a very high degree. But that thing is not clear in which the tamas is in preponderance, inasmuch as it, [the tamas,] is the cause of hindrances. Now the perception of a thing either by verbal communication [agama] or by inference may, we grant, be luminous (dyotanam bhavad api); still, in so far as it is mediately known, it does not destroy undifferentiated-consciousness (avidya) which we directly experience. For in such [illusions as the sight of] two moons or a defective sense of orientation, [verbal communications or inferences] do not destroy undifferentiated-consciousness. Accordingly he uses the word «fully» (pra), because it means luminous to the full extent (pra-karsam) and because it alludes to immediate perception [in the case of yoga]. The feeling-of-personality (asmita) and the other hindrances have their root in undifferentiated-consciousness (avidya). Furthermore, since knowledge (vidya) destroys undifferentiated-consciousness (avidya); and since, when knowledge emerges, the hindrances [arising] from undifferentiated-consciousness and so on are destroyed, inasmuch as they are contrary the one to the other, and inasmuch as [then] the cause [of the hindrances] would be destroyed; therefore he says «and causes [the hindrances] to dwindle.» This, then, is the reason why [yoga] slackens the bonds which consist of karma.—And in this passage by a figurative use of the cause for the effect he employs the word «karma», whereas subtile-influences (apurva) are intended.—The word «slackens» means brings [them] down from their operation. For later [ii. 13] he says, "So long as the root exists, [there will be] fruition from it." And finally it «sets before it as a goal the restriction [of all fluctuations].»—Moreover since this [yoga] conscious of objects is four-fold, he employs the words [beginning] «This [conscious yoga].» He describes [the yoga] not conscious of objects with the words «all the fluctuations.» [In other words,] we know (kila) that sources-of-valid-ideas and other fluctuations (pramanadivrtti) made of rajas and tamas are restricted in [yoga] conscious [of objects] while fluctuations of sattva are retained; but that in [yoga] not conscious [of an object] all fluctuations whatsoever are restricted. Therefore [the final result] is established (siddham) that «belonging to all stages» means occurring in all these [four] stages, Madhumati and so on, which [four] are [all] included in these two stages [of the conscious and the unconscious yoga].
Excerpted from The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali by Patañjali, James Haughton Woods. Copyright © 2003 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.