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

Disclaimer:

  • 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.

Introduction!

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. 

Conclusion:

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 :   arun7663@gmail.com 

“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.

Conclusion: 

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 !