Some time around the beginning of the Common Era, a master by the name of Patanjali wrote down a collection of precepts and aphorisms that have come to be known as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. These sutras form the foundational text of Yoga, and have greatly influenced Yoga philosophy and practice. To many people, Yoga is nothing more than some form of exercise, but it is much more than that. Yoga refers to physical and mental disciplines whose aim is to help one cultivate body, mind, and spirit. It is divided into several major branches, one of which is Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga was first described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and is concerned primarily with the cultivation of the mind using meditation to further one's acquaintance with the reality behind the movie of life in which each of us is involved.
In essence, the aphorisms of Patanjali can be regarded as a collection of instructions and principles that when used as a guide and applied, can help you to heighten your awareness, broaden your perspective, and deepen your experience of life. The aphorisms can help you along a path where you ultimately achieve liberation from the confines of a physical life melodrama you keep creating for yourself. Although, the key to reaching this emancipation requires one to become a student of a master or adept who can explain and exemplify the sutras. In and of themselves, the sutras are merely words, words, words, but it is the master or adept that embodies them and brings them to life.
The sutras were originally written in Sanskrit and have been translated and interpreted by many throughout the years. Some translations and interpretations are more easily understood than others. This ebook features a translation and interpretation of the sutras by Charles Johnston (1867-1931) whose credentials include Bengal Civil Service, Retired; Indian Civil Service, Sanskrit Prizeman; and Dublin University, Sanskrit Prizeman. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: The Book of the Spiritual Man, an interpretation by Charles Johnston, was first published in 1912 and is now in the public domain.