Skip to content

“Ashtanga Yoga” [ Eight limbs of Yoga]~ Part-6


  • The article is purely based on my studies, my thoughts, my concept, my beliefs, my experiences and self realization.
  • ☆I found some link between modern science(Quantum mechanics) and teachings of ancient sages as mentioned in Vedanta, regarding Universe, Supreme Consciousness or the Ultimate truth , the Ultimate Reality whatever we say.
  • ☆ The term “MAN” wherever used in this entire text is intended to consider as “HUMAN” irrespective of gender differences.
  • ♡ Having gone through the Vedanta/ancient texts, commentaries, translated by different writers, translators, publishers on the same topic, I have tried my best to share the subject matter as I understood and convinced too. My intention is to reach to you with the topic that I found very useful for human lives. I am not good in English literature. Please give your valuable suggestions for the improvement and valuable inputs to make the text beneficial for mankind. 
  • ☆ The Spiritual context is purely based on ancient sacred texts. Sanskrit slokas are taken from books and websites. There may be little variation in the translations and commentaries. I have shared my own views and explanations according to my concept gathered in the subject through experience and intuitions. There is no discrimination against any religion, race, cast or creed. 
  • Your feedback will be highly appreciated. I am sure that the subject matter is highly logical and does not bring any conflict. Hope you will enjoy reading. Regards. NAMASTE.


For practice of Samadhi, aspirant require advanced state of spiritual development. In my earlier blogs, I have discussed “Ashtanga Yoga” which is a integrated method to reach the state of Samadhi. In this blog we will concentrate on another kind of method called “Kriya Yoga” which is preliminary preparation for entering into the state of Samadhi. Sadhana Pada, the second section among four sections of Patanjali Yogasutra starts with the instructions in “Kriya Yoga”.  In this section Maharshi Patanjali gives us guidelines to make proper foundation through some practical methods to enter into state of “Samadhi”. Here we will discuss the first part of Sadhana Pada which deals with philosophy of “klesha”. Klesha means pain, misery , sufferings , problems and difficulties in life. Pain may be physical or mental. We will focus on different types of kleshas which are obstacles that must removed to achieve goal.  Our goal is to attain state of Samadhi. Through this article, we will learn the method of overcoming the pains in life according to Patanjali Yoga sutras.

Recap: In previous blogs “Ashtanga Yoga”  part-1 to part-5 , I have covered following topics (links included):-

Ashtanga Yoga Part1  Introduction to Patanjali Yoga sutras : It presents a holistic systematic approach towards the elimination of sufferings and attainment of spiritual liberation.  Maharshi Patanjali integrated and simplified the science of Yoga concisely in his Yoga sutras. There are 196 sutras presented in four sections know as PADA. Maharshi Patanjali  divided the path of Yoga, known as “Raja Yoga” into eight levels (Eight limbs) named “Ashtanga yoga”.

Ashtanga Yoga Part-2:  Samadhi Pada ,the first section of four Sections of “Patanjali Yoga Sutras” explained briefly. Ashtanga Yoga Part-3:  In this part we have discussed on first five limbs of Eight limbs(Ashtanga Yoga), which are : 1. Yama – Restraints, 2. Niyama – Observances, 3. Asana -Physical postures, 4. Pranayama – Control of Prana (Breathing control), 5. Pratyahara -Withdrawal of the senses.   Ashtanga Yoga Part-4:   Last three limbs of Eight limbs are Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  In this part-4, sutras from Vibhuti Pada  ,Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi have been discussed in details. Practices of samadhi unravel the mysteries of Yogic Life and the power of siddhis are thus acquired. 

Ashtanga Yoga Part-5:    In this part we have discussed five Vrittis, means mental modifications as mentioned by Maharshi Patanjali. Five Vrittis are 1)Right Knowledge. 2) Wrong Knowledge. 3) Imaginary Knowledge. 4) No Knowledge. 5) Past Knowledge.

Now, this Blog will start with definition of “kriya yoga” Sutra: 2.1

sutra 2.1 "tapahsvadhyayeshvarapranidhanani kriyayogah" means=> Kriya Yoga is three fold- Austerity, study of scriptures and surrender to Supreme Being.

The first sutra of Sadhana Pada defines ” Kriya yoga” . Kriya yoga comprises of three actions : 1) Tapas, 2) Svadhyaya and 3) Isvara Pranidhana. We will discuss on the actions which are basically practices means Sadhana. Tapas: Tapas means fire. Fire burns. Here fire is referred to burning of mental impurities which is the first and foremost step towards Samadhi. Sometime Tapas is referred to austerity too.  Tapas is the first step, for the removal of Avidya( ignorance). It is also conservation of heat and energy in physical body through pranayama.

Tapas has to be considered as pain and that to be accepted as an inspiration for the purification of mind. Tapas is austerity which is a practice that helps to struggle and accept our life’s challenges happily. Austerity does not mean torturing the body or doing anything that weakens the faculties of mind. Practice of such austerity should help in bringing the ability to endure and overcome problems, sufferings with great strength. It is the foundation which gives rise to wisdom, peace and an inner joy. It builds a strong faith on Self. Wisdom, faith and fearlessness are the result of tapas.           

We will see what Lord Krishna says in the context of ” Tapas” in Bhagavad Gita-Chapter-4,verse-7.

BG:4.7 " As a kindled fire reduces wood to ashes , O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions(karmas ) from material activities. Fire of knowledge burns the entire karma, accumulated karmas, current karmas and reduces the scope of future karmas.

Tapas is that practice which can remove mental impurities in waking state, dreaming state and even beyond. The complexities in mind must be eliminated even from the stock that gathered due Samskaras (previous births). Svadhyaya: Study of spiritual and devotional texts that will strengthen spiritual inclination. It also means the detailed study of one’s own self. Self-study. Study of own personality which includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspect. Practice of Svadhyaya will lead to perception of self ,through which awareness will rise. Through Svadhyaya, aspirant can look at his or her own consciousness. It is refinement of the intellect through introspection and acquisition of knowledge. For acquisition of knowledge, study of sacred Texts are essential. Even the aspirant may approach his master to learn lessons. Let us look into Bhagavad Gita Chapter4, verse 34 to understand “Svadhyaya”  which is a process of gaining knowledge in another way. I felt it adding here:– “tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya upadeksyanti te jnanam jnaninas tattva-darsinah” : Bhagavad Gita:4.34

Bhagavad Gita:4.34:  “Learn the truth by approaching a Spiritual master(GURU).Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.”

Ishwara Pranidhana: This step is dedication. A life dedicated to God.  Ishwara is inner awareness. It is within us ,the real Self.  Mind(Chitta) should be placed at the disposal of this “Self “(inner awareness)completely. This dedication also includes discharge of duties towards creation of God, for the betterment society, for the betterment of Nation, and for the betterment of this Earth and beyond.  An unconditional surrender to the Supreme Being is referred here.

sutra 2.2: " Samadhibhavanarthah klesatanukaranarthascha" means=> practice of kriya yoga is required for the purpose of developing samadhi and for thinning out the "klesha"

We will now discuss about kleshas. Kleshas are pain bearing obstacles. According to Patanjali Yogasutra 2.3, there are five types of kleshas. To get rid of kleshas, practice of kriya yoga is necessary. Let us know in details.

sutra 2.3:" Avidyasmitaragadveshabhiniveshah klesha" 
  • Avidya : Ignorance. It is misapprehension about the real nature of self
  • Asmita: Egoism
  • Raga: Attachment
  • Dwesha: Aversion
  • Abhinivesa: Fear of death: 
sutra 2.4: " Avidyaksetramuttaresam prasuptatanuvichhinnodaranam" means => Ignorance is the productive field of all kleshas, whether they are dormant, attenuated, oscillating or expanded.

Five types of kleshas need to be eliminated to enter into the state of  Samadhi. Kleshas are impurities and  removal of kleshas is the process to be known as kriya yoga. Kleshas are to be understood clearly. Just as a roasted seed does not sprout and does not give birth of a tree, same way after a successful practice of Kriya yoga, the kleshas do not rise in mind and becomes unproductive state. As such, unproductive state does not give rise to modifications of the mind. Impression that “I am not the body ” becomes like a roasted Seed from the latent impression of the belief that “I am the body”. Therefore other such modification does not arise and all feelings based on such a belief get extinguished for all time. Maharshi Patanjali has explained five kleshas  one by one and the order is also significant because Avidya (ignorance) gives birth  to egoism .From egoism comes attachment. From attachment comes non-fulfilment of attachment, which in turn gives rise to aversion. From aversion comes fear of death i.e. clinging to body life Avidya (ignorance) is the source of  rest of the four Kleshas: Asmita, Raaga, Dwesha and Abhinivesa. Just as a seed gives rise to a whole tree , similarly Avidya gives birth of other four kleshas.  These kleshas have four states of expression. They may be in 1) dormant when you cannot perceive them. Sometimes they become 2) feeble or attenuated and they are experienced  in the scattered condition. They give rise to an 3) oscillating state(alternating). Some are in 4)  Expanded state.

In the dormant condition Kleshas are present in latent form. It can not find expression due lack of proper conditions as in the case of advanced Yogi. In the attenuated condition also, kleshas are present but in feeble condition and remain inactive due to lack of stimulus. When kleshas are in oscillating condition, the sufferers passes through state of confusion. In the state of expanded condition kleshas are fully operative and behaves like waves in the surface of sea as seen in the time of storms. In this condition sufferings are extreme.

sutra 2.5 "anityashuchiduhkhanatmasu nitya-shuchi-sukhatmakhyatiravidya" means=> Avidya considers non-eternal, impure, evil and non-atman to be eternal, pure, good and atman respectively

Sutra 2.5 gives classical definition of Avidya. To consider impermanent as permanent is Avidya . Sutra explains clearly what is the mistaken idea that we consider as real and permanent.  Avidya is associated with jivatma from the very beginning and remains as Samskaras until Avidya is removed through self realisation and enlightenment. 


By now, we have understood that ignorance is the source of all kinds of distress in life. From sutra 2.1 to 2.5 we have covered and understood the “kleshas” and cause of kleshas. Our goal is to reach to the state of Samadhi after eliminating the kleshas. We have also learned that Avidya is the source of all kleshas and Avidya is collection of wrong and false knowledge. Therefore if we practice, we can remove kleshas means pain bearing obstacles. Through practice of kriya yoga, kleshas can be attenuated. Calmness of body and mind will come through Tapas. Through Svadhyaya will come true knowledge , self realisation and tranquillity of mind through Ishwara Pranidhana.

Multiple paths are there to attain enlightenment. Here we have concentrated upon the teachings given by Maharshi Patanjali through his Yoga sutra. If we can follow sincerely, the steps described in Yoga sutra, we can understand Avidya . We can  distinguish between permanent and impermanent, between Body and Consciousness. Advaita Vedanta also teaches about methods for removal of Avidya means ignorance in different way. In this connection readers may read my other blogs such as:  ” WISDOM OF FIVE SHEATHES”   and  ” What is Joy” (part-1)

My next blog will cover last chapter of Patanjali Yoga sutra" KAIVALYA PADA"  

Notes:-  Having gone through all the books listed below, I have composed this blog as a concise text for Ashtanga Yoga.  

Recommended readings:

  1. Patanjali Yoga Sutras: commentary By Swami Vivekananda.
  2. FOUR YOGAS OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA :Condensed and retold by Swami Tapasyananda.
  3. Patanjal Yogasutra : Commentary , by Swami Premeshananda.
  4. Inside the Yoga Sutras- By Reverend Jaganath Carrera.
  5. Four Chapters on Freedom- By Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
  6. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Commentary on the Raja Yoga Sutras by Swami Satchitananda.

It is my sincere request to the esteemed readers to share their opinion or queries if any. Suggestions to make the site attractive will be highly helpful for me.  Readers are requested to read all the posts to have continuation of the topic from the beginning. My mail ID is : 

Discover more from ARUNSINGHA

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue Reading