“Ashtanga Yoga” [ Eight limbs of Yoga]~ Part-4

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 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 positive 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.

"svarasavahi vidushopi tatharoodho bhiniveshah" means => Fear of death is an inherent and present in all leaving beings, even in those who are very learned. [sutra 2.9]
"te pratiprasavaheyah sookshmah" means => These causes of unhappiness can be annihilated by resolving them to the source i.e. by reversing the process by which they are produced can be destroyed.[sutra 2.10]
"Dhyanaheyastadvrittayah" : means => Through meditation, their (different states of minds/
Vrittis) are to be rejected. [sutra 2.11]

Recap: In the previous parts of my blog “Ashtanga Yoga”  part-1 to part-3 , we have discussed following topics:-

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 , 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 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.  

Introduction:

Five limbs described in Sadhana Pada are step by step processes of elimination of all external causes of mental distraction. Yama and Niyama helps in eliminating disturbances due emotions and uncontrolled desires. Asana and Pranayama eliminates disturbances that arise in physical Body. Pratyahara plays a vital role through detachment of senses which affects mind. As such ,the practitioners become free of external disturbances. These five techniques of yogic practices are referred as “Bahiranga” or external.  These practices make aspirants fit physically, mentally, emotionally and morally for practices of next higher levels of Yoga. These three practices of Yoga Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are known as Antaranga or internal. In this part-4, we will discuss sutras from Vibhuti Pada  Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  Practices of samadhi unravel the mysteries of Yogic Life and the power of siddhis are thus acquired. Accomplishments of Power are discussed in the second part of third Pada. Therefore the third Pada is known as Vibhuti”

Vibhuti means to expanse your consciousness. Expanse of state of mind to higher level of consciousness is Vibhuti. Instead of scattered and fluctuating mind, mind should be held in one place , at one point. That is one pointedness.  Pranayama, Pratyahara helps to practice Dharana. That is the ultimate aim of practicing Dharana. This practice will lead the aspirant to next higher stage  “Dhyana”. One pointed attention is essential to explore the core of consciousness. Even one pointed attention can be applied in day to day activities for better results, better performances and thus getting a satisfaction which will keep the mind happy. When mind is happy, it means one can lead the life happily. The first sutra of Vibhuti Pada defines Dharana.

Dharana – Concentration: 6th anga: 

sutra : 3.1 "deshabandhashchittasya Dharana" means fixing the mind onto a fixed point.

“deshabandhashchittasya”  => this suggests to confine mind in a territory, a very limited space, which disallows movements of mind. That is called “Dharana”.

One pointed attention: Dharana is the process of fixing the attention of mind to a certain point. That may be any object of concentration (internal or external), sound, deity or  noble idea for the benefit of creation. After successful practices of first five limbs, one becomes ready for Dharana. It is the first step towards Dhyana (meditation). Practicing Dharana stops mind moving randomly and make it one-pointed concentration. As such it finds complete absorption in the present moment. Even one pointed concentration can be made by focusing on breath, or reciting mantras or concentrating on image of deity. 

Dharana, Dhyana & Samadhi: These three limbs together lead aspirants to the ultimate goal.  In reality, normally mind remain fixed hardly for a very few minutes. Even if someone fixes mind on image of deity, yet mind wanders at numerous points or issues. Therefore it is important to practice first five limbs with full attention. “Pratyahara”  helps in attaining a mind without fluctuations, since withdrawals of senses bind the mind to a fixed point. It is impossible to concentrate unless the mind is purified. For that ,let us look into Sutra 1.33 (Samadhi Pada) to understand right methods for purification of mind which will help in concentration of mind. 

sutra 1.3 " maitri-karuna-muditopeksanam sukhadukhapunyapunyavisayanam bhavanataschittaprasadanam"

According to above sutra , if the fourfold qualities are dealt with right actions, then the practitioner of Yoga will overcome the distractions of mind. These are : 1. friendliness towards happiness, 2. compassion towards misery,  3. rejoicing for virtues and 4. indifference to vices.  With such preparation and practice, “Dharana” comes much more easily and naturally. 


Dhyana- meditation: 7th anga.

sutra 3.2 "tatra pratyayaikatanata Dhyana" means uninterrupted stream of consciousness is Dhyana. 

Definition : DhyanaThe extension and lengthening of Dharana is Dhyana. Dharana continued without interruption is Dhyana. We have reached unto Dhyana after through practice, step by step, sequentially of  Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara and Dharana. One cannot skip any of the above steps. All the steps are scientifically designed. That is the specialty of Ashtanga Yoga. If one has followed all the steps properly, then only Dhyana is possible. One has to change his or her way of life to reach unto this stage of Dhyana (concentration). Let us look into sutra 3.2 again for further analysis.  “tatra pratyayaikatanata dhyanam” :  If we now split the sloka like this =>>  tatra + pratyaya +ekatanata, then  tatra => means ” in that place” which refers to “desha” as mentioned in sutra 3.1.                                                                pratyaya=> means total content of mind which occupies the field of consciousness at a particular time.  Mind remains in continuous contact in Dharana.                                                                                                                                   Ekatanata=> means extending continuously without interruption. Before practicing Samadhi, this kind of un interrupted continuous Dhyana is essential for the aspirant. Obviously it is not an easy job but not impossible! 

We will now discuss on why Maharshi Patanjali starts Yogasutra with Samadhi Pada instead of Sadhana Pada, while Samadhi is the last limb of Ashtanga Yoga. Because he is trying to direct us to what we have to achieve at the first instance, means setting the Goal. State of mind which is calm, quite, tranquil, and free of distortions, reflects purusha”. When the mind is in completely sattvic mode(there is a fine difference between sattvic mode and purusha), then it is possible to achieve the goal. The essence of Patanjali’s Yoga sutra is in the second sutra(1.2): Yogas citta-vritti-nirodah” which literary means “Yoga is the stilling of the modifications of the mind”. Target is to achieve the state of mind which is calm, tranquil and free of distortions. It is the control of thought waves in the mind. One must not have conflicts in the mind. We think only mind is real but actually “purusha” is real. This is due to ignorance. Within inside or outside , ignorance has to be removed through mental exercises, through discrimination. So all these sutras so far we have come across is pointing towards the Dhyana for farther higher level  “Samadhi”. When the ignorance is destroyed and you remain in stillness of mind, you do not have any other idea, you become blank and then you can do Dharana effectively. It will be then possible to stretch Dharana and that will be Dhyana. Unless the foundation work is done , Dharana can not be stretched to Dhyana. Continuing this one pointed attention without any distraction or disturbance, the aspirant saves a lot of energy which will build up a system, vast quietness and silence that fill one’s being.

Since now a days, people are talking of meditation, it has become important to know what is meditation.  At least we can concentrate on breath which is the vital force. Understand the secrete nature of breath. It must not be an ordinary one. It is prana. It is the breath to whom we should respect.  Realise that breath is the fountain head of life which primarily moves the entire universe. 

Therefore let us keep in mind that when Dharana is stretched for a long period it becomes Dhyana. In other words elongated condition of Dharana is Dhyana. 

Now we may discuss about Dhyana in details in practical point of view. According to yogic science, in every human being there are thousands of channels of energy passing through the body and life energy prana functions through these channels known as “naddis”. Among these channels, there are three most important naddis. These three channels are 1) Ida naddi, 2) pingala naddi and 3) susuhumna naddi.  Among these three, susuhumna is the Supreme. If we consider  prana as the energy field like an electrical energy field, then  Ida which is in the left may be imagined as “cathode” (-ve charge) and the right which is pingala  may be compared with anode (+ve charge). Energy flows through these channels. This concept is according to yogic anatomy. These are to be considered as psychic energies. When they are balanced, body and mind is also balanced and in the best condition for practice of Yoga. Practice of Pranayama makes balancing of these channels and thereby activate sushumna naddi. According to yogis, ida and pingala are considered as two nerve currents on either side of the spinal column. It is considered that the Moon moves the ida and the Sun moves the pingala. Ida is cooling where as pingala is heating. Ida flows through left nostrils and pingala through right nostrils. Sushumna runs along the centre of the spinal column.  It is believed that when Sushumna operates Yogi enters into samadhi. However this topic is yogic science and out of scope of  discussion in this part.

Samadhi– The state of Cosmic Consciousness- the 8th anga: 

sutra 3.3: "tad evarthamatranirbhasan svaroopashoonyam iva samadhih" means=> In that absolute state, then there is no meditator or the thing that is meditating upon. What remains only is the meditation, that is called samadhi. 

When Dhyana enters into Samadhi , the Gate which leads into the world of realities opens. Samadhi means a state of mind which through the practice of Dharana and Dhyana has become so  completely tranquil and the person meditating  is so absorbed that the he or she even forgets own existence.                Let us analyse the word “svaroopashoonyam”  of sutra 3.3. ” svaroopa” + shoonyam”  means that ” svaroopa” which is the residual consciousness of its own action disappears completely i.e. becomes shoonyam” .

When you are fully absorbed with the vastness of the Supreme being and even the sense that I am meditating is not there and the ego “I” goes then, only the true Self, higher Self ,the Big I” remains.  This is possible when there are no Vrittis in chitta. In other words mind does not fluctuate. In Samadhi, Mind  surrenders all its resistances to the union with the object of meditation. In this state, field of observation and the observing intelligence merge and total intelligence shines as the sole substance of reality. 

sutra 3.4 "trayamekarta samyamah" means => The three practices Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi together on same object is called samyamah.

If we analyse the word “samyamah”  we will find it has two parts. Sama + Yama. Sama means perfection and Yama means control. In samyamah, mind dives completely in to an object or idea and gains complete knowledge of the object of attention down to its most subtle aspect. This gives rise to psychic powers called “Vibhuti”. Practice of Samyamah and mastery of its technique opens the door toward power and Siddhis.

Key points : Dharana, Dhyana , Samadhi , concentration, meditation, purusha, samyamah , Ashtanga Yoga.

Conclusion!:

In this section, Vibhuti Pada, we have discussed about the means to reach the goal , the last limb of Eight limbs.  So far we have discussed Eight angas.  If followed properly, the person will definitely feel joy and peace of mind which will accompany to the bed at the end of the day. Who does not want a peaceful sleep?  

All practices as mentioned above will make ways for state of “samyamah” which constitute Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Eight limbs as a whole constitute one complete path which leads the aspirant upwards. When the mind is set into a pattern, automatically one connection will be established with higher Self. That is individual’s experience which can be considered as Self-Realization\

In the next part, part-5 we will discuss Samadhi Pada, 5th sutra onwards from the first section of Patanjali Yoga Sutra and some part of Vibhuti Pada which will explain different types of Vrittis. Removal of Vrittis is essential to control our mind.

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.

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 ! JAI GURU! (17/01/2021)

“Ashtanga Yoga” [ Eight limbs of Yoga]~ Part-3

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 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 positive 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.

"sankalpa prabhavan kamanas tyaktva sarvan asheshatah manasaivendriya gramam viniyamya samantatah shanaih shanair uparamed buddhya dhriti grihitaya atma sanstham manah kritva na kinchid api chintayet " :- from Bhagavad Gita-Ch-6/ver-24.
Lord Sri Krishna said : One should engage oneself in the practice of Yoga with determination and faith and not to be deviated from the path. One should abandon without exception, all material speculation and thus control all the senses on all sides of the mind.

This part is devoted to the discussion of ” Ashtanga Yoga”  : Eight Limbs according to Patanjali Yoga Sutras :-

Introduction: 

In my previous blogs part-1 and part-2 of  “Ashtanga Yoga Sutras”, I have tried to explain about Yoga Philosophy and the basis of it. We have discussed four sutras of Samadhi Pada. A brief recap is presented here again. 

Four sections of Patanjali Yoga Sutras are as under:

  1. Samadhi Pada: The first section:  Portion on contemplation has 51 sutras. Samadhi refers to that state of the Yogi, where his Self-identity is absorbed into the pure consciousness with collapsing of three categories of Self (witness, witnessing and witnessed). Beyond this state it is “Kaivalya” (Liberation which is known as “moksha” in Vedanta). The essence of Patanjali’s Yoga sutra is in the second sutra: “Yogas citta-vritti-nirodah” which literary means “Yoga is the stilling of the modifications of the mind” . Target is to achieve the state of mind which is calm, tranquil and free of distortions. It is the control of thought waves in the mind. One must not have conflicts in the mind.
  2. Sadhana Pada: It has got 55 sutras: Sadhana means practices. Author describes two systems of Yoga.
    1. Kriya Yoga: which includes following steps: 
    a) Tapas (Austerity) ;
    b) Svadhyaya; (Self study of scriptures);
    c) Isvara pranidhana- devotion to God or pure consciousness.
    2. Ashtanga Yoga:    [We will focus here on “Ashtanga yoga”. ]
  3. Vibhuti Pada: This section has 56 sutras: This chapter describes about “Siddhi” (supra normal powers) which can be acquired by the practice of Yoga.
  4. Kaivalya Pada: 34 sutras: Describes the process of liberation (isolation) which is commonly known as emancipation (moksha) too.

    Maharshi Patanjali  divided the path of Yoga, also known as “Raja Yoga” into eight levels (Eight limbs) named “Ashtanga yoga”.  Kriya Yoga will be discussed in later parts.

As we know that Ashtanga means Eight Limbs. Ashta = Eight, Anga = Limbs. Eight limbs are : Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

Limbs literally  means "anga" in Sanskrit. All limbs together form the complete system Yoga to reach the final goal. We will frequently now call anga as a prime point of discussion here. Eight limbs can be treated as 8 steps.
  1. Yama: The first “anga”  consists of prohibitions against unethical deeds. These are basically restraints. Following are to be noted: 
  • Ahimsa-Non violence: sutra 2.35: ” Ahimsapratisthayam tatsaminidhau vairatyagah”   Non-violence truly  meant here as  to refrain from causing harm , showing anger , being harsh to others including self. Killing and doing physical harm is common form of violence.  However, out of frustrations we sometime become harsh with others. This is also a gross form of violence. To maintain a life with non-violence, we need to have a heart with full of love for others irrespective of their attitudes towards us. That love  must be unconditional and universal. At the same time we must love ourselves equally. Then frustration will not arise. Through logical reasonings we can definitely have mastery on this quality ” ahimsa”.                                                                                         
  • Satya-Truthfulness: : sutra 2.36: ” Satya pratisthayam kriyaphalasrayatvam” which means on being firmly established in truthfulness ,the Yogi gets the power of attaining for himself  the fruits of work without the work . Results come to them automatically. This is the power of truth. It is believed that for an honest person who is in the path of truth, fear vanishes for him. because one need not be afraid since the life is open to all. Nothing to hide. Life becomes an open book. This is very simple to understand that truthfulness has tremendous power.
  • Asteya-Non-stealing: sutra 2.37: ” asteyapratesthayam sarvaratnopasthanam” which means ” To one established in honesty, non-stealing, all gems present themselves”. With the establishment of virtues like honesty, aspirant develops an intuitive awareness. Therefore we should curb our desires for the things which are not our own. Rather we should share our knowledge, our noble thoughts and material belongings to uplift others who are indeed needy ,instead of hoarding them for own benefits.                                                                                           
    Brahmacharya- celibacy:  Right use of energy: sutra 2.38 says ” Brahmacharya pratisthayam viryalabhah”.  It is about controlled and disciplined sex. Brahmacharya does not mean cut off from sex. According to explanations of the above sutras by the scholars it is said that “Virya” , the seminal fluid is our life. If stored properly, it can generate lot of energy. When absorbed into the system it gets transformed into prana. Conserved sexual energy in woman also gets transformed. Seminal fluid gives stamina and strength to the brain and nerves. 
  • Aparigraha- non possessing, non accumulation: sutra 2.37: ” Aparigraha sthairye janmakathamta sambodhah”  which means : On becoming steady in non-possessiveness, there arises the knowledge of how and from where is it generated. One of the most important virtues. This sutra teaches to give up tendency of accumulation of materials. Possession should be that much required to maintain life (necessary items).

2. Niyama : This second  limb (“anga” ) is composed of some injunctions to develop various ethical virtues. Following are the components of Niyama.

  • Saucha (cleanliness) : sutra 2.40 & 2.41 ” sauchat svangajugupsa parairasamsargah”  and ” Sattvasuddhi-saumanasyaikagryendriyajayatmadarsanayogyatvani cha”.  These two sutras mandate purity of body and mind.
  • Santosha ( Contentment): sutra 2.42santosadanuttama sukhalabhah”    very simple meaning.  To keep mind away from dwelling in the past or future. One should not  regret on missed opportunities and also need not worry about future. Contentment is  the way to live in present moment, NOW.    
  • Tapas (discipline, austerity etc.) : sutra 2.43: “Kayendriyasiddhirasuddhiksayattapasah”  mandates spiritual disciplines.  A state of spiritual maturity.  With the practice of austerity, all kinds of impurities are removed from body and mind. Austerity is very important in one’s life to ascend to higher state. 
  • Svadhyaya ( study of self and sacred texts): sutra 2.44 “Svadhyayadistadevatasamprayogah”  This sutra teaches for self-observation, study of scriptures, recitation of mantras and union  with the desired deity ( Ishta devata).                                                                     
  • Isvara Pranidhana (Total surrender to the Supreme being): sutra 2.45 “Samadhisidhisiddhiri svarapranidhanat”    This sutra teaches Self surrender. Complete surrender to God.  Dedicated services for the welfare of others including mankind, animal kind, plants and nature. This practice is non selfish in nature. Without expectation of fruits of actions. This is the path of Karma Yoga.                   
At first sight, these 5 yamas and 5 niyamas might seem to resemble the 10 commandments of the Bible. Unless an aspirant has mastered these two steps of discipline, practice of subsequent steps of yoga will be ineffective.

Sadhana Pada (portion on practice) :  teaches on ashtanga(eight limbs) ” 

Beginning of Sadhana Pada describes Kriya yoga. But we will discuss here ashtanga yoga which has been described in the later part. From 28th sutra onwards explains ashtanga yoga.

"Yoganganusthanad Asuddhi ksaye JnanadiptihrA vivekakhyteh" : (sutra 2.28:  from sadhana Pada ) which means-- By the practice of the limbs of Yoga, the impurities diminishes and light of wisdom appears which leads to discriminative discernment.

Yamas and Niyamas are basic foundation to develop a lifestyle that effectively supports your practice of meditation. If the foundation is  strong, then evidently state of mind will be ready enough to progress further. These first two angas direct control our behaviour. Without practicing Yamas and Niyamas sincerely and honestly, one can not have a mind free from stress and conflicts. All of you will agree to this point.

The next three angas asana, pranayama and pratyahara mandate certain kinds of control over our body, breath and senses respectively. Very important to practice these with full devotion. We will discuss one after other in sequence.

Now, we will look into the third “anga” asana : Let us see what sutra says on Asana? 

"sthira sukhamasanam" sutra 2.46: this means one must have practice to sit for a long period without feeling discomfort.

The third anga ” Asana” is important part of Ashtanga Yoga. The importance is to make spine held erect and relaxed with the three upper parts of the body, the chest, the neck and the head in a straight line. This is required for nerve currents to channelize for further improvement in concentration. In Yoga culture around the world , some asanas are taught, which are very complex and performed with great difficulties. As such, aspirants remain busy with the perfection of asanas. Finally the essence of Yoga gets spoiled. Since they concentrate on asanas only, other seven limbs do not get due attention. Practicing asanas only becomes a part of Hatha Yoga which is mainly concerned with the maintenance of the health and attainment of longevity of the body. Getting too much engrossed in asanas will make a man body minded only. But the object of  Yoga is to make a man rise above body consciousness. In Patanjali Yoga sutra, it is simply stated that poster should be stable and comfortable for meditation.

" jati desa kala samayna vacchinnah sarvabhauma mahavratam" sutra 2.31 

Let us look into a very important sutra 2.31 in Sadhana Pada. What it says?  In this Sutra Maharshi Patanjali says that these great vows are not limited to any class, place, time and circumstances. This path of Yoga is Universal. 

The fourth anga “pranayama”  commonly believed as control of breath but scholars says this is actually control of Universal Energy. The Prana  moves the whole Universe. Prana is believed to be a cosmic energy. It is prana vibrating at the beginning of cosmic cycle that shapes akasha (space) out of which all energies are evolved. Biological functions of all kinds are performed by this vital energy. The knowledge and control of this prana is known as pranayama. Let us see what Yoga sutra (2.49) says:-

"tasmin sati svasaprasvasayorgativicchedh pranayamh" sutra 2.49: This literally means that after practicing firm posture, the movements of inhalation and exhalation should be controlled. This is "pranayama" and  Patanjali Sutra 2.49 to 2.52 says all about it.

Practice of pranayama is done after mastering asana. When pranayama is practiced under the guidance of right “Guru” (Teacher), one can have control over prana and it becomes possible to feel the vibrations which helps attaining higher insight. Initially one can feel that how pranayama is creating motion in lungs. Thereby ,the power generated will help the nerves in getting optimum functions. It is believed that Pranic healing, faith healing etc. are  the results of doing pranayama. I am not going into details of pranayama. Aspirants can have the knowledge of pranayama through further reading and doing under authorized Institutions. The Prana is very powerful energy. One should not play with cobra without a training from trainer. It is like that.

By regulating prana, we can regulate our mind, because both moves together. If one is controlled, the other will automatically be controlled. Finally we need a controlled mind.

Now we will discuss “pratyahara” the fifth anga.

1)"svavisayasamprayage cittasvarupanukara ivendriyanam pratyaharh". sutra 2.54: Which means: When the senses withdraw themselves from the objects and imitate, as it were, the nature of the mind-stuff, this is pratyahara. 
2) " tath
paramo vasystendriyanam" sutra 2.55:
This means : Then follows supreme mastery over the senses.
[
with this sutra the sadhana Pada ends here].

Our perceptions are developed through sensory inputs that we see, hear, feel, touch, and taste which influence internal organs in the brain and mind acts accordingly. We react through inputs received by our senses. If the inputs are not favourable to our expectations or wishes, we become unhappy, angry, depressed. Our minds are engaged constantly evaluating the inputs and categorize whether inputs are favourable or not. This is our reaction on 24X7 basis. Pratyahara gives our mind a moment to not evaluate and teaches us to be free from any reactions developed by senses. Now step by step we have reached to this point of Pratyahara.

Conclusion:

In this section, sadhana Pada, we have discussed about the means to still the mind which is our final objective. So far we have discussed Five angas.  First two angas “Yamas” & “Niyamas” have ten guidelines which are very practical, logical, visionary for making a man free from all agonies, stress, miseries and sufferings. If followed properly, the person will definitely feel joy and peace of mind which will accompany to the bed at the end of the day. Who does not want a peaceful sleep?  

All practices as mentioned above will make ways for next higher stages which are Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Eight limbs constitute one complete path which leads the aspirant upwards. When the mind is set into a pattern, automatically one connection will be established with higher Self. That is individual’s experience which can be considered as Self-Realization.

Now we may compare these eight angas, the methods or process whatever we say, with Vedanta, how it would be? Let us look into:- 

In Vedanta we have seen , prequalification required for a person  is to be competent to understand and study sastras(Scriptures). The aspirant must have 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. Four salvations are:

  1. “Nitya-anitya-vastuveveka” which means discrimination between the eternal and non eternal.
  2. ” IhamutrarthaphalabhogaViraga” : Indifference to the joys in this life or in in Heaven, and of the fruits of one’s action.
  3. ” Shatsampat” : Six fold virtues that are : i) Sama (Control of mind), ii) Dama ( Control of senses),iii) Uparati (Cessation from worldly enjoyments), iv) Titiksha ( Endurance of pleasure and pain, heat and cold), v) Sraddha (Faith), vi) Samadhana (Deep concentration).
  4. “Mumukshautva” (Desire for liberation).
What we see above is that point number 3  "Shatsampat"  the Six fold virtues has enough resemblance with the Patanjali Yoga Sutras.

In the next part, part-4 we will discuss last three angas, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi which mandate specific practices to control our mind which is most essential part in this philosophy. 

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.

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 ! JAI GURU!

“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 !