Stilling the Body, Stilling the Mind: The Yogasūtra of Patañjali Flashcards Preview

YS-101 An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Yoga > Stilling the Body, Stilling the Mind: The Yogasūtra of Patañjali > Flashcards

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Yoga Darśana

= philosophical school (darśana) that takes as its source text, the Yogasūtra of Patañjali, hence called Pātañjalayoga, or the Yogadarśana

In this sense, Yoga differs from other traditional daraśnas or systems of Indian philosophy. E.g> Sāṅkhya, Vedānta, Mimāṃsā, Nyāya, and Vaiśeṣika

So called "Classical Yoga", many traditional commentaries, not one single interpretation


Intro to the Yogasūtra

Patañjali 4/5th century CE

Systematizer of "Classical Yoga"

Yogasūtra - 195 sūtras

"textual minimalism"

dense, cryptic, aphorisms

sūtras to be "unpacked" by a guru or commentator, "zip files" to be "unzipped"

the nature of the mind, human suffering, and a systematic approach toward attaining complete spiritual freedom or the "isolation" of pure consciousness (kaivalya)

strongly influenced by Buddhism, and Jainism

aimed primarly at male, Brahmin, ascetics


Who was Patañjali?

Brahmin intellectual

Yoga practitioner? Likely

1 Patañjali, or 3 Patañjalis?

1. Author of an important grammatical commentary (Mahābhāṣya)

2. Author of an Āyurvedic treatise

3. Author of the Yogasūtra


Many Patañjalis

By at least the 13th century in South India, Patañjali would come to be identified in temple iconography as Ādiśeṣa, the divine serpent

Story of Goṇika, and the folk "etymology" of his name: pat = to descent, añjali = hands in namaskarā mudrā

Over time, Patañjali came to be understand as the 3-in-1 Patañjali, and as Ādiśeṣa himself - thus ascribing divine origin to the Yogasūtra itself

Today, in Iyengar Yoga classes, an invocation to Patañjali is often chanted that invokes this tradition of Patañjali, verse can be traced back to King Bhoja's 11th cent commentary


Dating and Authorship

2 layers of text: sūtra, and bhāṣya (commentary). traditionally ascribed to Vyāsa

1 author or 2? Philipp Maas has posited single authorship of Patañjali for both sūtra and bhāṣya

Together the text is known as the Pātañjalayogaśāstra

Many of the mss- colophons read: Pātañjalayogaśāstra sāṅkhyapravacana "Patañjali's yoga treatise, the exposition of sāṅkhya"

Ideas from Buddhism (eg Vasubandhu) that feature in the bhāṣya

Consensus: c. 4-5th century

Whether root text and commentary were written by 1 or 2 persons, nonetheless their reading together became standard and authoritative


Yoga and Sāṅkhya

"Both the followers of Sāṅkhya and those of Yoga praise their own way as the best.. The followers of Yoga rely on experimental methods, and those of Sāṅkhya on scriptural interpretation. I consider both these views true: Followed according to their instructions both lead to the ultimate goal (MhB 12.289.7). In the BG we sill see this place out as the difference between Karmayoga and Jñānayoga

"The knowers of truth see that Sāṅkhya and Yoga are one" (MhB 12.304.4)


25 tattvas of classical Sāṅkhya

1. Puruṣa (consciousness, the witness)

2. Prakṛti. the guṇas:
sattva (goodness, compassion, calmness and positivity),
rajas (activity, chaos, passion and impulsivity, potentially good or bad),
tamas (darkness, ignorance, dullness, laziness, lethargy and negativity)
- unmanifest, primordial "matter"; the witnessed

3. Buddhi (first principle of individuation; intellect; will; characterized by the eight bhāvas, or predispositions)

4. Ahaṅkāra (self-identity, ego)

5. Manas (mind)

6-10. Five buddhīndriyas (senses of cognition): hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, smelling

11-15. Five karmendriyas (senses of action): speaking, grasping, moving, excreting, procreating

16-20. Five tanmātras (subtle elements): sound, touch, form, taste, smell

21-25. Five mahābhūtas (gross elements): space, wind, fire, water, earth


Structure of the Text

1. Samādhi Pāda: The Chapter on Mental Absorption

2. Sādhana Pāda: The Chapter on Practice

3. Vibhūti Pāda: The Chapter on Yogic Power

4. Kaivalya Pāda: The Chapter on Independence



Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind


5 types of vṛttis


valid means of knowledge, misconception, imagination, sleep, memory


3 pramāṇas

(literally means "proof" and "means of knowledge", pramana are the means which can lead to knowledge)

direct perception, inference, tradition


How to tame your vṛttis

Their vṛttis restraint is accomplished through repeated practice and dispassion

In that regard, practice is the effort in remaining steadfast

That practice, moreover, when cultivated for a long time, without interruption and preformed with reverence, becomes a firm ground

Dispassion is the controlled consciousness for one who lacks desire for sense-objects, whether seen directly or revealed in scriptures

Higher than that, from discernment of the Self, arises the lack of desire for the guṇas


Devotion to the Lord

Or the vṛttis are stilled dut to devotion to the Lord

The Lord is a special Puruṣa, untouched by the kleśas, karma, their ripening or their depositories

In Him, the seed of omniscience is unsurpassed

He is also the techer of the ancients, for He is unobstructed by time

His sonic expression is OṂ

Repetition of that OṂ, resting in its meaning

From that, there is the acquisition of inner-consciousness, and also the absence of obstacles


The obstacles to Yoga

Sickness, sloth, doubt, carelessness, laziness, incontinence, false perception, not obtaining a firm ground, and instability - these distractions of the mind are the obstacles

Suffering, ill-mindedness, trembling of the limbs, irregular inhalation and exhalation accompany the distractions

In order to prevent them, practice fixing the mind on a single object (eka-tattva)


Fixing the mind on a single object

Through the cultivation of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion towards those who are suffering, joy towards those who are virtuous, and equanimity towards those who are nonvirtuous, there is the calming of the mind


exhale and retention of breath, or various mental activities, knowledge from dreams or sleep, or

the mind is steadied through meditation on an object as one wishes


Sādhana Pāda

The chapter on practice

for those whose minds are afflicted, not to worry...

Kriyāyoga is comprised of austerity (tapas), self-study (scādhyāya) and devotion to the Lord (īśvara-praṇidhāna)

Kriyāyoga is for cultivating Samādhi and for weakening the kleśas



The Mental Afflictions

ignorance = avidyā

I-am-ness = asmitā

desire = rāga

aversion = dveṣa

clinging to life = abhiniveśa


Aṣṭāṅgayoga: The "8 limbs of Yoga"

1. Yama (restraints)
a. Ahiṃsā (non-harming)
b. Satya (truthfulness)
c. Asteya (non-stealing)
d. Brahmacarya (sexual restraint/celibacy)
e. Aparigraha (non-coveting)

2. Niyama (observances)
a. Śauca (cleanliness)
b. Santoṣa (contentment)
c. Tapas (austerity)
d. Svādhyāya (self-study, mantra repetition)
e. Īśvara-praṇidhāna (devotion to the lord)

3. Āsana (posture)

4. Prāṇāyāma (breath control)

5. Pratyāhāra (sense withdrawal)

6. Dhāraṇā (concentration)

7. Dhyāna (meditation)

8. Samādhi (absorption)

6, 7 and 8 are "inner limbs" (antar-anda) "total restraint" (saṃyama)


Spiritual side effects may include:

Yogic powers (siddhi, vibhuti)

Perform "complete restraint on:

- a word, meaning, idea: knowledge of the speech of all creatures
- on the ideas of others: knowledge of other's minds
- on the body: invisibility
- on one's karma: knowledge of one's death
on strength: strength of an elephant, etc
- on the sun: knowledge of the different realms of the Universe
- on the moon: knowledge of the solar system
- on the throat: cessation of hunger and thirst

other powers include: knowledge of past lives, entering into the bodies of others, levitation, radiance, divine hearing, flying, mastery of elements, perfection of the body etc



These powers are not the final goal of Patañjalayoga, but are rather important and useful "signposts" on the way

The ultimate goal is liberation, known as kaivalya (independence)

wherein there is the complete isolation of the conscious Seer from the mind-body, and the world

This occurs when one is in the "state" of yoga (i.e Samadhi)

Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind

Then the Seer abides in its own nature