“Ashtanga Yoga” [ Eight limbs of Yoga]~ Part-2

This part is devoted to the discussion of ” Ashtanga Yoga”   (Patanjali Yoga Sutras):-

Target: To make the MIND calm, tranquil and free from disturbances. 

Introduction :  There are Six systems of Hindu philosophy:    Samkhya ; Yoga ; Nyaya ; Vaisheshika; Mimamsa & Vedanta.

Here we will focus on Yoga system~ “Patanjali Yoga Sutras” , which has it’s own model of  Ultimate Reality according to Yoga philosophy. This has different view point from Vedanta on Ultimate Reality.  Yoga tradition is similar to Samkhya System of philosophy.  Great Sage Kapil was founder of Samkhya Philosophy. Samkhya was composed during 500-600 BC. According to Samkhya philosophy, Universe is composed of two independent co-exiting realities” purusha (consciousness) and prakriti (matter). When purusha is bonded to prakriti , Jiva (a living being ) is formed.  Samkhya philosophy is believed to be the oldest philosophy which is basically a science of liberation. Liberation from bondage of sufferings.   Samkhya means numbers. Kapila was a great a sage. That is why in Bhagavad Gita Ch10-verse-26, Lord Krishna says ” Amongst trees I am peepal tree ^^ ; of the celestial sages, I am Narad. Amongst the Gandharvas, I am Chitrath and amongst siddhas I am the sage Kapil”. It is believed that all branches of Hindu philosophies are derived from Samkhya including Patanjali Yoga Sutras.

Yoga Sutra: What is Sutra? Vayu Purana defines " sutra" as *A very brief statement, leaving no room for doubt, without repetition and expressing a comprehensive idea*. We need commentary to understand sutras.

*****Yoga Sutras are  based on  practical activities along with theory. The basis of  Yoga Sutras certainly lies in Samkhya Philosophy. Samkhya is theoretical and Yoga is Practical.  Ultimate goal is Liberation( Moksha) which is similar to Advaita Vedanta. Advaita Vedanta is monistic where as Yoga Tradition is Dualistic. In my blog ” What is Joy ?(Published in 3 parts) and ” The Wisdom of Five Sheaths” , I have discussed about the Ultimate Reality and to find the path of Liberation, in the perspective of Advaita Vedanta. The Vedanta is for the person who is competent to understand and study sastras (Scriptures) ,has tranquil mind, with required attributes as described in Vedanta.  After attainment of certain preliminary qualifications which are known as four salvations ,one can progress towards the direction of knowing Brahman, which is the main goal. In the same manner, Yoga Sastra is based on controlling the mind by following ethical values, right attitudes, correct postures, Breathing exercises, concentration and meditation. Now I will try to explain ,that I have understood through intuition, after studying both philosophies along with other research work going on in Neurology and an upcoming subject Neurotheology. Advaita Vedanta theory says that you are already free. You are already that what you want to become. ” tat tvam asi” is one of the four mahaVakyas. All the four mahaVakyas are in present tense. Neither in past or future. You already posses your real Identity, which you have forgotten. Then what is the problem with us? Why don’t we realize who I am? We have forgotten our true Self and suffer because of ignorance only. Very simple theory, according to Advaita Vedanta , we need to remove the Ignorance which is termed as Avidya.

Key words: purusha, prakriti, Avidya, samadhi, Kaivalya

Principal Teachings of Yoga Sutras:

  1.  Human sufferings can be removed by eliminating faulty and wrong perceptions of life, because wrong perceptions gives rise to endless cravings for satisfaction of senses.
  2. The eternal peace we seek is realized by experiencing the truth our Identity which is obscured by ignorance (Avidya). The Identity is always exists within us, waiting to be revealed. Once revealed, it is then enlightenment, the Self-realization.
  3. Self-realization can be attained by mastering the MIND. Only tranquil mind with one pointedness can remove the veils of ignorance.
To free the mind from the limitations of ignorance is like a drama that has been repeated since time immemorial. The foundation of this drama is summarized in three basic precepts: 1.Purusha 2. Prakriti 3.Avidya

The Yoga Sutras are also known as Raja Yoga, the Royal Yoga. This system of Yoga is universal. Spirituality here is a holistic science and applicable to the people of all faiths.  The guidelines are very specific, well designed, logical, beyond doubt. Through practices step by step one can achieve the goal. 

Now we will discuss Samadhi pada , first section of four Sections of “Patanjali Yoga Sutras”:

We will discuss here Samadhi Pada sutra 1.1-1.4 

Samadhi Pada : This is the first section which is an exploration of the different aspects of Samadhi. First four Sutras (1.1-1.4) of this section deals with the definition of Yoga as a process of mental purification. The second sutra alone gives a vast meaning. If that line is understood and practiced, then the goal will be achieved. This sutra directly points towards setting of Subconscious mind.  ” yogah chitta vritti nirodha” means stopping of distraction and fluctuation of mind. If mind is fixed, conflicts will be ceased. Details of Vrittis are given in next sutras.                                                                                                                 

Sutras 1.5-1.11 teaches five types of Vrittis which will be discussed in the next part (part-3) : Five Vrittis are as follows :-                                                           Pramana– cognitive process:  Viparyaya– process of misconception:  Vikalpa- illusionary and fantasy prone states: Nidra-  state of inertness Smriti– inner process of memory

Brief discussion over sutras from 1.1 to 1.4- 

1.1 “atha yoganushasanam”: This is the beginning of Yoga. 

1.2 “yogashchittavrittinirodhah”: Yoga is for the control of thought-waves in the mind.

1.3 “tada drashtuh svaroope avasthanam”: This means that the Self is revealed. Then you see only purusha. During this period the seer (purusha) rests in his own state. Example: When there is no wave, water is still we can see bottom below the surface of water. Even in ocean, where ocean is stand still ,we can see what lies beneath the sea from upper surface of it.  Similarly when mind waves are still, mind is calm we can feel our true nature which is Divine. That is our true Self.

1.4 “vrittisaroopyam itaratra”: At other times, when purusha is not in the state of yoga , man remains identified with the thought waves which are nothing but conflicts in the mind.


So, from the above four sutras we learn that Human mind can become a very effective tool and primarily mind would become a very helpful friend and guide us in our day to day life. The concept of purusha and prakriti may be difficult for the time being. As we will study more sutras , more we will know and finally we will have clear concept on samadhiKaivalya , the ultimate goal. When the mind is in sattvic mode, there is a fine difference between sattvic mind and purusha. Mind is not the original and primary creative power of consciousness. Our mind stands between a Superconscious and conscious state. Mind is the instrument through which we receive inspirations, intuitions, imaginations and impulsions to knowledge. Same mind creates errors and wrong perceptions about the world. This is the cause of sufferings. 

According to ancient Hindu philosophy, it is commonly believed that human life started from grass, shrubs, plants, insects, animals, higher animals in order. After wandering for millions of years, he attains human life and then the goal of human life is to find Consciousness, which is covered by Maya, known as ignorance or Avidya whatever we say.

At the end of the evolution of human life, when the intellect called conscience develops in his mind, he becomes curious to know the information of the inner world. Fortunately, one can know the songs of the Vedic religion, or any other similar so that the mystery of creation is gradually captured in his intellect, but even if he knows and understands all these things, it is not possible to attain perfection in this world apart from himself. When all the desires are fulfilled, one then wishes to enter the inner world and becomes thirsty to know “THAT”, by knowing which everything becomes known.  From this state one starts unconditional love and devotion. In this state of mind Yoga practice becomes meaningful.

Ihamutrafalbhogabiragah”(Vedantasarah-17) :-

Sachchidananda (Sat+ Chit+ Ananda) is my true nature. Unless a strong desire gets developed to realize this nature (Swaroopa), yogi can not progress. and if anyone goes on the path of Yoga, yet there are chances to get back to previous state, by seeing various worldly materials of enjoyments, sensual enjoyments etc which distracts the  during this journey. In that case leaving the Yoga, Yogi gets attracted and continue the path of enjoyment. If we follow the path correctly, all the obstacles of the four ages will not harm a man. Therefore one must understand properly and get engaged in the pursuit of Raja Yoga.

In the next part, we will discuss in details about “Ashtanga Yoga” Eight Limbs of Yoga.

Maharshi Patanjali gives a wide range of techniques that slowly control the mind and continuously induce more and more subtle perceptions automatically, as if someone is whispering into your ears. The main part of Ashtanga Yoga is contained within eight fundamental methods as follows. These will be discussed in details in my next part- part-3.

1. Yama – Social code: Restraints. 

2. Niyama – personal code: Observances.

3. Asana – sitting pose: Physical postures.

4. Pranayama – Control of Prana: Breathing control.

5. Pratyahara – Withdrawal of the senses.

6. Dharana – Concentration

7. Dhyana – Meditation.

8. Samadhi – Absorption.      

 ^^ Notes:- ( In India ,peepal tree known as “asathwa” plant) [ scientific name is Ficus religiosa know n as sacred tree in many regions of the world ] )

My sincere request to the esteemed readers to share their opinion or queries. Any suggestion to make the site attractive will be highly helpful for me.  Readers are requested to read part-1 to have continuation of the topic from the beginning. My mail ID is :   arun7663@gmail.com 

Thank you. Regards!  NAMASTE !

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Arun Singha

Retired from AIRPORTS AUTHORITY OF INDIA as Dy. General Manager (CNS).BSc(Mathematics Honors). Age 60years. Studying ancient Indian Philosophy along with modern physics and modern Biology. Follow Dr. Bruce H Lipton, Dr. JOE DISPENJA , Gregg Braden and Swami Sarvapriyananda among others. Writing consolidated articles on Upanishads, Advaita Vedanta and other ancient Indian Texts. Wish to work for the society to help people through personal guidance, motivation. Self has work experience of 36 years in the field of Air Navigation Service at different Airports in India. Gained vast experience in handling man and machine. Would like to reach to the people to share my life experiences, how I had overcome great challenges and difficulties at different times and positions.