Hinduism,Cosmos ,Sanatan Dharma.Ancient Hinduism science.

Yoga Sῡtras of Patañjali

Yoga Sῡtras of Patañjali


Apart from the fact that this famous text was written somewhere between the first and fourth century A.D, little is known about it’s origin and author.

The text relies heavily on Sāmkhya philosophy and it borrows the dualism of this school. Basically there are two conflicting principles: purusha and prakriti: The Self and nature. Patañjali explains how consciousness has become entangled in prakriti and also explains how to get out of this entanglement and realize the Self. Prakriti is everything the Self is not, so this includes the mind and its fluctuations. Unlike Vedānta, which recognizes only one Self for all, classical yoga recognizes a separate Self for each being. However, Patañjali does not mention a plurality of Selves in his text, but from sῡtra I:24 one can infer that the Self is individual for each being.

Patañjali introduces several samādhis, so the word samādhi is used here to denote a meditative state of variable inwardness and concentration, not just the highest union with the Self. Since yoga is defined as restraint of the fluctuations of consciousness, we can safely assume that the term samādhi denotes any such degree of restraint. Patañjali mentions eight samādhis:

1. “Samprajñāta samādhi” means “with a mental disposition”. It is “associated with discursive thought, reflection, bliss and I AM-ness”(I:17)
2. “Asamprajñāta samādhi” means “without a mental disposition” as well as freedom from “residual samskāras” (I:18)

3. “Savitarkā samādhi” means with thought or cogitation. (I:42)
4. “Nirvitarkā samādhi” means without thought or cogitation. (I:43)

5-6. “Savicāra and nirvicāra samādhi” means “with and without thought or deliberation” and they are said to be more subtle than the two previous (I:44). Nirvicāra is said to be the opening to the Self (I:47) and “truth bearing” (I:48).

7. “Nirbīja samādhi” means without seed. It is when even the subtle impressions of nirvicāra are removed (I:51).

8. “Dharmamegha samādhi” is defined as: That meditative state with discrimination, detached at all times (IV:29).

Unfortunately the first three pairs are described so similarly that it is imposible to distinguish them. The progressive advancement from savicāra to nirvicāra and then via nirbīja to dharmamegha is somewhat clear. It is stated that the -vicāra types are more subtle than the previous, but that savicāra should be more subtle than nirvitarkā seems a contradiction of terms; how can a samādhi with thoughts be more subtle than a samadhi without thoughts? In the first six instances Patañjali seems to be merely mentioning synonymous terms, rather than defining progressive stages of meditation. He groups them together as samādhis “with seed” (I:46). This gives us the following stages of deeper and deeper samādhi:

1. Attempt to be focused on a single object or principle, but disturbed by thoughts and deliberations.
2. Without thoughts and deliberation. Focused on a single object or principle.
3. Without any object or principle. Pure awareness aware of itself only.
4. Permanent and natural state of distinction between Self and not-Self.

In other words, the object of meditation is only used to rid the mind of thoughts and deliberations. Once the mind has quieted down, one should let go of the object and rest in awareness watching awareness. This is important to keep in mind when reading Patañjali’s text, because otherwise, as history has shown, one can easily get lost in rules and restrictions.

Yoga Sῡtras

Chapter One, “Samādhi”

1. Now Yoga is being taught.

“Yoga” means both union with the Self as well as the means to that union.

Definition of yoga

2. Yoga is the restraint of the fluctuations of consciousness.

“Restraint”: “Nirodhah” also means aversion and obstruction.

3. Then the seer abides in the Self.

The seer is neither the Self, nor is it the fluctuating consciousness. It is pure awareness. As explained later (II:6) the problem is that self-ness is ascribed to the power of seeing, whereby the seer arises as I AM-ness. Then we have the situation described in the next sῡtra:

4. Otherwise [there is] identification with the fluctuations.

The “one” who is identified truely does not exist. Ignorance is an illusion. Here is how the illusion comes about: I AM-ness, which co-exists with identification, is defined in sῡtra II:6 as “self-ness … ascribed to the seer and the seen”. In other words pure awareness somehow gets the idea it is a seer and it identifies with the seen. Pure awareness says: I AM, and I am this and that.

Categories of fluctuations

5. The fluctuations can be divided into five categories; they are either painful or non-painful.

“Aklista” (“non-painful”) can not be translated “non-afflicted”, as Feuerstein does, since all fluctuations clearly are, or are based on, afflictions — as can be seen from the discussion thereof in chapter two. I AM-ness and ignorance are afflictions (II:3) and they are the basis of fluctuations. Also if some fluctuations were non-afflicted, it would imply that some fluctuations were not to be restricted (II:11); yet that is not the case.

6. [The five categories are:] Valid cognition, misconception, fancy, sleep, memory.

“Fancy”: “Vikalpa” also means conceptualization. However, since the two categories of conceptualization are already mentioned, Patañjali probably means “fancy” or “imagination”.

7. Valid cognitions are: Direct perception, inference and valid testimony.

8. Misconception is incorrect understanding, without foundation in the [subjects true] appearance.

9. Fancy is a result of spoken knowledge devoid of content.

10. The sleep fluctuation is based on the sense of voidness.

11. Memory is not letting go of an experienced object [or understood subject].

Restraint and dispassion

12. That restraint arises from practice and dispassion.

The restraint referred to is the restraint mentioned in sῡtra I:2; restraint of the fluctuations of consciousness.

13. Practice is the willful effort to remain in a steady state.

“Steady state”: Durable absence of fluctuations of consciousness. The whole purpose of restraining.

14. But it only becomes steady when carefully attended to for a long time without interruption.

15. Dispassion is conscious mastery of desirelessness for things seen or heard.

“Seen or heard” means everything. It does not exclude the other senses.

16. This [dispassion] is at its best when the Self is known and there is freedom from the gunas.

“Gunas”: This technical term is impossible to translate. It literally means “qualities”, but refers to the three constituent forces of nature: Sattva, rajas and tamas. They have three distinct qualities: Illumination, activity and inertia. Gunas are not like solid building blocks, but rather like subtle energies.

“Self is known”: This sῡtra states that although dispassion is a means to a means to Self-realization, it can not be perfect unless one has realized the Self. However, knowledge of the Self can come in moments of deep meditation. It can be complete or it can be incomplete. From these moments arises dispassion.

In the next two sῡtras Patañjali describes two such temporary states of knowing the Self. The first is incomplete, the second complete.

Samprajñāta and asamprajñāta defined

17. Samprajñāta [samādhi] is associated with discursive thought, reflection, bliss and I AM-ness.

“Samprajñāta” means “with thoughts or a mental disposition”. In this state there are still fluctuations of the mind, ecstasy and I AM-ness.

I AM-ness is the sole origin of individuated consciousness (IV:4).

This samādhi still has a gross object of meditation. It is the lowest of eight types of samādhi.

18. The other [asamprajñāta samādhi] is the practice of cessation of the former as well as of residual samskāras.

“The former”: Discursive thought and mental disposition.

“Samskāras”: This technical term denotes the impressions in the mind of any kind of experience. It also denotes that these impressions are not passive, but are active forces in a persons consciousness.

“Asamprajñāta” means “without thoughts or a mental disposition”.

Here Patañjali introduces two kinds of samādhi; he will introduce others later.

This samādhi still has a gross object of meditation. It is the second of eight types of samādhi.

Categories of seekers

19. [Modest seekers are] intent on the bodiless state, [yet are still] merged with prakriti.

“Bodiless state”: “Videha” refers to angels and other beings, that function without a physical body.
“Prakriti”: Technical term denoting creation, the gunas and their activity.

The lowest class of seekers strive not for freedom from the gunas, but for a supreme life in the higher worlds, fx. in paradise.

20. [Medium seekers are] those others for whom faith, energy, mindfulness, samādhi and supreme wisdom are prerequisites.

21. [Ardent seekers have an] extreme urge and are near [the goal].

22. From modest, medium and ardent also follows differences [in levels of samādhi].

God (Īśvara) and samādhi

23. Or devotion to God.

This sῡtra can have several meanings. Devotion is not to be seen as an alternative to restraining fluctuations, but as an alternative to the prerequisites: Faith, energy, mindfulness, samādhi and supreme wisdom. All these actually come together in supreme devotion.

Sῡtra II:44 states that connectedness with ones chosen form of God is produced by self-study.
Sῡtra II:45 states that perfection in samādhi is produced by devotion to God.
So devotion is the bridge between initiatory self-study and final samādhi.

The sῡtra could also state that just as there are mild, medium and strong applications of the previously mentioned, there is also mild, medium and strong levels of devotion to God.

“Īśvara”: May be translated as “God”, but Īśvara also denotes the ultimate reality, the supreme consciousness. Thus Īśvara is both impersonal as well as personal. One may pick any personified aspect of God as ones personal Īśvara: Krishna, Shiva, Jesus, etc. The form does not matter, however, not anyone qualifies to be an object of devotion, as the next verse explains.

24. God is a special Self untouched by afflictions, fruitions of karma, or residual impressions.

“Karma” means “action” as well as the fruition of the impressions of action as circumstances in life.

This sῡtra not only defines God (Īśvara), but in relation to the preceding sῡtra explains the qualities to look for when seeking out a form of God to be devoted to.

25. There [in God] the seed of omniscience is limitless.

26. [God was] even the teacher of the former ones since He is not limited by time.

27. [God is] expressed in the syllable OM.

28. [Samādhi is gained by the silent] repetition of OM with a sense of its meaning.

Close your eyes and remember the word “om” (Pronounced “ohmm”) with a sense that your Self is being invoked. As soon as it slips out of your focused awareness, remember it again. etc. Let it become more and more subtle as your attention turns inward towards the Self.

29. From this, inward-awareness is obtained and the obstacles disappear.

Obstacles and their removal

30. The obstacles are: Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false viewpoints, no stages of realization and instability.

31. The obstacles are accompanied by dissatisfaction, depression, restless limbs and unsteady inhalation and exhalation.

32. For the purpose of counteracting these, practice a single principle.

Several single principles are listed in the following.

33. A calm and clear mind comes from cultivating friendliness, compassion, joy and equanimity, when faced with pleasure and pain or good and evil.

34. Or from expulsion and retention of breath.

This is the first hint of the breathing exercises mentioned in sῡtras II:49-51.

Take a deep breath. Then let go and exhale. While you exhale imagine/sense that you are flowing into your entire body all the way to the feet. When breath stops, wait a while before inhaling and keep on falling into your body. This produces a wonderful relaxation and generates a tingling sensation in the skin. This tingling is due to prāna (vital-force) filling the body. Make it a habit to do this 3-5 times before meditation.

35. Or from steadily fixing the mind on an objective activity.

What ever you do, do it with your full attention and be concentrated.

36. Or [from being] sorrowless or luminous.

“Luminous”: This cryptic phrase could be a metaphor for being sattvic (See sῡtra II:18). It could also refer to the inner ight that can fill one in deep meditation.

37. Or [from meditating on] a being free from attachment.

Īśvara (I:24) is such a being, but fully enlightened beings can also be used as objects of meditation.

38. Or from dwelling on insights from dream or sleep.

39. Or from meditating as desired.

40. His mastery [extends] from the smallest to the greatest.

This continies previous sῡtra. It is immaterial whether the object of meditation be small or great. In other words you can meditate on whatever you like, but this does not mean you can meditate however you like, as the next sῡtra explains.

41. Having reduced fluctuations to like a clear jewel, the experiencer, experiencing and experienced merge together and are anointed.

Patañjali here reminds us that even though we can meditate on whatever we like, the important thing is how we meditate. Meditation should always be done to reduce fluctuations, to bring clarity to the mind and awareness and to merge the experiencer, experiencing and the experienced. If we do that, our meditations will be “anointed” and bring mastery. The levels of mastery are dealt with in the following sῡtras.

Various samādhis

42. In savitarkā [samādhi] sound, meaning, concept and imagination are merged into unity.

“Savitarkā” means with thought or cogitation.

“Sound, meaning, concept and imagination”: These are the various aspects of mantra (I: 27-29).

43. In nirvitarkā [samādhi] memory is purified and empty of its qualities; nothing but the object [of meditation] shines forth.

“Nirvitarkā” means without thought or cogitation.

44. In a similar manner savicāra and nirvicāra [samādhi] are explained, furthermore [they have a] subtle condition.

“Savicāra and nirvicāra” means “with and without thought or deliberation”.

45. And the subtle objectness terminates at the undesignated.

This is very important to understand. The objects of meditation becomes more and more subtle and then, ultimately, meditation has to transcend even that.

46. These are samādhi with seed.

Meaning, the Self is not yet known.

47. With skill in nirvicāra samādhi, the true Self becomes clear.

Even though nirvicāra samādhi technically terminates at the undesignated, it is possible to let go of the subtle condition of meditation at that point and realize the Self.

48. In this state insight is truth-bearing.

“This state” is the state where even the seed is transcended and awareness abides in and as the Self.

49. This [insight] is different from heard or inferred knowledge due to the intent [of nirvicāra samādhi].

“Heard knowledge”: “Sruti” also means traditional teachings about Self-realization and yoga.

50. The subtle impressions born of this insight obstructs other subtle impressions.

51. Nirbīja samādhi is when even that is restrained, all is restrained.

“Nirbīja” means without seed. It is when even the subtle impressions of nirvicāra are removed.

Chapter Two, “Spiritual practice”

1. Kriyā yoga [is] austerity, self-study and devotion to God.

“Kriyā” means performance or action, so the yoga Patañjali is about to describe is a path where one does a number of things. It is unlike the yoga of shaktipat, fx., where one has to surrender to the awakened and active kundalinī-shakti. All yogas, however, have the same purpose and goal.

“Self-study”: “Svādhyāya” also means “study of sacred texts”.

2. [Its] purpose is cultivating samādhi and reducing affliction.

Interestingly Patañjali does not state the purpose of kriyā yoga to be restraint of fluctuations. This is because the fluctuations are based in the afflictions (II:11). In particular in ignorance.

The five afflictions

3. The five afflictions are: Ignorance, I AM-ness, attachment, aversion and clinging to ones existence.

4. Ignorance is the foundation of the other [kinds of affliction], whether they be dormant, suppressed or active.

5. Ignorance is seeing the ephemeral as eternal, the impure as pure, the sorrowful as joyful and the non-Self as Self.

6. I AM-ness is ascribing self-ness to the power of seeing and the seen.

“Power of seeing”: The “seer” is discussed in sῡtra I:3. In reality there is no seer, it is just pure awareness mixed up with I AM-ness. From I AM-ness follows the sense that “one” is the seer and the seen. In other words, there arises the sense that “I am this and that”. In reality you are neither the I, nor this or that. Sῡtra IV:4 states that I AM-ness is the sole origin of individuated consciousness.

7. Attachment is clinging to that which is pleasant.

8. Aversion is clinging to that which is sorrowful.

9. Clinging to ones existence is sustained by self-ness; it springs up even in the wise.

From this sῡtra we get an implied description of the state of enlightenment: Self-ness still exists. It is a myth self-ness disapears entirely, what disappears is identification with it. Since there is some self-ness, there will also be some afflictions in the enlightened one; however, there will be no identification with them.

Overcoming the afflictions

10. The subtle [afflictions] are to be overcome by following them back to their origin.

11. The fluctuations of these are to be overcome by meditation.

12. The reservoir of karma is rooted in the afflictions. [It is] to be experienced in the present and future births.

“Karma”: See sῡtra I: 24.

It is interesting that the afflictions are the root of karma, and not vice versa. This means one can overcome karma by overcoming the afflictions, that is, by getting Self-realized. Satyananda translates it the other way round, that afflictions are rooted in the reservoir of karma, but that would mean ignorance and I AM-ness were effects of karma and thus Self-realization would not be a result of overcoming ignorance and I AM-ness, which it is. If we concede that Self-realization is the result of overcoming the afflictions, but not karma, then we contradict the scriptures, and also claim that Self-realization is a result of karma, which is it not.

13. [So long as] that root exists, there is fruition [of karma] in the form of birth, life span and enjoyment.

This sῡtra underscores that the afflictions precede karma.

14. These [fruits] may be joyful or painful on account of merit and demerit.

15. To the discriminating one, all is dissatisfaction caused by the conflicting fluctuations of the gunas, and by the sorrow from the painful results of past impressions.

“Gunas”: See sῡtra I:16.

16. The sorrow yet to come is to be warded off.

The seer, the seen and ignorance.

17. The union of the seer and the seen is the cause [of that which is] to be warded off.

In other words, the way to ward off the sorrow yet to come, is to beak the union of the seer and the seen. This sῡtra should be read in conjunction with sῡtra II:23, from which we get the meaning that “perceiving the two powers of owner and owned as the Self” is “that which is to be warded off”.

18. The seen has the qualities of illumination, activity and inertia. It consists of the elements and the senses. Its purpose is enjoyment and liberation.

“Illumination, activity and inertia” are undoubtedly metaphors for the three gunas. (See sῡtra I,16).

19. The levels of the gunas are distinct, indistinct, marked and unmarked.

“Gunas”: See sῡtra I,16.

20. The seer merely sees. As such it is pure, although it beholds what is presented.

“Seer”: See sῡtra I:3.

21. The purpose of this is verily to make the Self seen.

22. [When that] purpose is accomplished, it is destroyed, even though it is not destroyed in general.

When the seer sees the Self, the seer vanishes, since ones identification with the seer goes away. When ones awareness goes out of the Self, however, the seer is back along with identification, hence it does not vanish in general. Identification is a more contemporary way of saying there is “union of the seer and the seen”.

23. The union [of the seer and the seen] is the cause of perceiving the two powers of master and mastered as the Self.

“Master and mastered”: could also be read “owner and owned”. Some texts identify seer and seen with owner and owned, however this verse makes the distinction between the two pairs clear. The master is the sense of willpower. Unlike the union of the seer and the seen, where one falsely concludes “I am this”, here one falsely concludes “I am the doer of this”.

Read in conjunction with sῡtra II:17 this means “perceiving the two powers of master and mastered as the Self” is “the sorrow yet to come” and to “be warded off” (II:16).

24. The cause of this [union] is ignorance.

25. In the absence of that [ignorance], union [of seer and seen] does not exist. This is escape from the seen, and is kaivalya.

“Kaivalya”: Isolation; separation of the non-Self from the Self. This happens when the seer and the seen are separated. When this separation takes place, the seer (pure awareness) becomes aware of itself and falls back into the Self.

26. The means of escape is unfaltering discriminative discernment.

27. For he [who has that unfaltering discriminative discernment] there arises the highest knowledge in seven stages.

“Seven stages”: Unfortunately we do not know what Patañjali means with this expression. It is also peculiar that Patañjali in sῡtra 25 makes it clear that there is only one step to kaivalya. So we may assume that the seven steps are seven steps in separating the seer and the seen and seven steps in the application of unfaltering discriminative discernment.

The eightfold yoga

28. From undertaking the limbs of yoga, impurities are destroyed and wisdom shines forth [along with] discriminative discernment.

29. The eight limbs are: Restraint, observance, posture, pranayama, withdrawal, concentration, meditation and samādhi.

“Pranayama” is meditative control of the breath. See II:49 ff.

30. The restraints are: Non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, chastity and greedlessness.

“Greedlessness” can also be translated as “non-posession”. What is meant is detachment from things owned, not a special lifestyle of poverty.

31. The greatest resolve is to not be bound, at any occasion, by birth, place, time and circumstance.

32. The observances are: Purity, contentment, austerity, self study and devotion to God.

33. When troubled by discursive thought, cultivation of the opposite [is prescribed].

34. Thus cultivation of the opposite [is prescribed against] discursive thoughts like violence etc. (whether done, caused or approved), justified by lust, anger or delusion (whether mild, medium or intense). [Such thoughts] have dissatisfaction and ignorance as their endless fruits.

The restraints (yamāh)

35. When established in non-violence, animosity is abandoned in ones presence.

36. When established in truthfulness, [there is] correspondence between action and its fruit.

37. When established in non-stealing, jewels appear.

38. When established in chastity, vitality is gained.

39. When established in greedlessness, knowledge of the meaning of birth [is gained].

The observances (niyāmah)

40. From purity arises distaste of ones own body and non-association with others.

41. [Furthermore arises] purity of sattva, cheerfulness, one-pointedness, mastery of the senses and fitness for the vision of the Self.

“Sattva”: See sῡtra I:16.

42. From contentment, unexcelled joy is obtained.

43. From austerity arises the destruction of impurity and the perfection of the body and senses.

44. From self-study arises connectedness with ones chosen form of God.

45. From devotion to God arises perfection in samādhi.

See sῡtra I:23.


46. Posture should be firm, yet relaxed.

Correct attitude for practice

47. From relaxed exertion arises endless unity.

48. Thus one is not assailed by the pairs of opposites.

“The pairs of opposites”: Pleasure — pain; love — hate; etc.


49. When established in this, [one should practice] pranayama, [which is] breaking the flow of the in-breath and the out-breath.

“In this”: A steady posture with a mind unassailed by the opposites and ready for relaxed exertion.

50. The fluctuations [of breath are] external, internal or obstructed. It should be regulated by time, place and number. It can be long or short.

51. The fourth [fluctuation of breath] is throwing off the external and internal.

“Throwing off”: “āksepin”: It is unclear what Patañjali means with this, since it can not be “obstructed”, as that was mentioned as the third fluctuation. Some translate “āksepin” as “transcending”, but the meaning of that is equally unclear and not in the semantics of the word. It most likely is, as Feuerstein also remarks, that the sῡtra refers to the peculiar phenomenon that breathing may stop during samādhi. This stopping is not a matter of retention, the third fluctuation, since it is entirely involuntary and it is, indeed, felt as if the in-breath and out-breath have been “thrown off”.

52. Then the covering of brightness is destroyed.

“Brightness” is most likely a metaphor for sattva guna; such has been used before, in II:18.

53. [Then] concentration and fitness of mind [arise].

54. Withdrawal of the senses from their objects imitates, as it were, the nature of ones own consciousness.

55. Then arises utmost control of the senses.

Chapter 3, “Supernatural powers”

1. Concentration is holding the mind in one place.

2. There, meditation is the prolonging of one intent.

“There”: When the mind is held in one place.
“One intent” can also be one idea.

3. The purpose of that is verily samādhi, where ones nature shines forth as if empty.

4. Samyama is the union of these three.

Samyama is used in conjunction with the sῡtras given later in order to develop supernatural abilities. It is quite simple. When one is in bliss, one concentrates on the content of the sῡtra, fx. kindness. Just recall the sῡtra with one-pointed focus, while remainig in bliss, then let go of it while retaining the meaning of the sῡtra, fx. the feeling of kindness.

5. From mastery of that, wisdom shines forth.

As we will see in the following, the supernatural powers are the result of samyama on various phrases, objects or notions, so it is interesting that Patañjali here states the result of samyama is wisdom. Even more so considering that Patañjali in sῡtra III:37 seems to state that the siddhis resulting from samyama are hindrances to samādhi.

6. It progresses in stages.

“Progresses” could also be translated: “is to be applied”. However, the meaning undoubtedly is that the result of samyama on the various sῡtras is not instantaneous, but develops in stages.

7. These three inner limbs [are distinct from] the prior ones [which are outer].

The inner limbs are: Concentration, meditation and samādhi.
The outer limbs are: Restraint, observance, posture, pranayama and withdrawal.

8. Yet these [inner limbs] are outer limbs compared to the seedless.

“Seedless”: “Nirbīja samādhi”. See sῡtra I:51.

The three transformations

9. Transformation-of-restraints is this: With emergence and restraint of samskaras, there comes a state of subjugation, and from this follows a moment of restraint of the mind.

By restraining singular samskaras as soon as they emerge, there arises a state of general subjugation of the mind. So you don’t have to restrains as much as one might think. Just restraining a few samskaras will achieve a lot more than just those few. Soon the entire mind will be restrained. This is the first transformation.

10. From the samskaras of this arises relaxed exertion.

“Samskaras”: “Impressions”: See sῡtra I:18. Restriction of samskaras creates a special category of new samskaras that give rise to composed exertion.

“Exertion” could also be translated as “flow” or “endeavor”. See II:47.

11. Transformation-of-samādhi is when the mind has achieved one-pointedness and the destruction of all object-ness.

“Object-ness”: This peculiar expression is used to convey the idea of identifying with limitations. See sῡtra I:4.

When in a state of relaxed exertion, arising from the first transformation, one easily slips into one-pointedness. This is concentration; to transform concentration into samādhi, one has to destroy all object-ness; that is: destroy all sense of being something until only pure being remains. This is the third transformation.

12. Then again: Transformation-of-one-pointedness is when uprisings in consciousness are pacified and intentions are equalized.

Achieving one-pointedness is one thing, upholding it is another. One upholds one-pointedness by pacifying all dynamics of consciousness as soon as they arise, and also by looking at all intentions, that may arise, with equanimity and neutralizing them. This is the second transformaiton.

13. By this is explained the transformation of ones essential quality, characteristica and condition, with regard to the elements and senses.

14. The holder of the essential qualities corresponds to these, whether pacified, arisen or undetermined.

You have to let go of all essential qualities.

15. The cause of the difference between the transformations is the difference in their succession.

First calm the mind and achieve relaxed exertion → Then become one-pointed and uphold one-pointedness → Then enter samādhi.

The supernatural powers

16. From samyama on the three transformations there is knowledge of past and future.

17. Words, meanings and intentions overlap and this creates confusion. From samyama on the distinctions between them there is understanding of the utterances of all beings.

18. Through direct perception of samskāras, there arises knowledge of previous births.

“Samskāras”: See sῡtra I:18.

19. Of another persons presented ideas, there arises knowledge of the others consciousness.

It is unclear whether direct perception or samyama is meant.

20. But this is not with support [because of] this non-objective beingness.

21. From samyama on the form of the body, there follows invisibility. This is through suspension of the power to perceive by disjunction of the light and the eye.

22. Karma can be active or passive. From samyama on that arises knowledge of death or misfortune.

23. From samyama on friendliness, etc., arises the corresponding quality.

24. From samyama on the strength of an elephant, etc., arises such strength.

25. [From samyama on] inner light arises knowledge of concealed and distant things.

26. From samyama on the sun arises knowledge of the solar system.

27. [From samyama on] the moon arises knowledge of the arrangement of the stars.

28. [From samyama on] the pole star arises knowledge of the movement of the stars.

29. [From samyama on] the navel chakra arises knowledge of the ordering of the body.

30. [From samyama on] the hollow of the throat arises cessation of hunger and thirst.

This is trachea.

31. [From samyama on] kurma-nadi arises stability.

32. [From samyama on] the light in the head comes visitations of perfected beings.

33. Or [from samyama on] intuition, everything.

What is referred to by the one word “everything” (“sarvam”) is unclear.

34. [From samyama on] the heart arises understanding of consciousness.

35. Experience comes from the inability to differentiate between sattva and the Self, which are absolutely apart. From samyama on the sense of self arises knowledge of the Self.

This is perhaps the most interesting practice, since samyama on the sense of self (“svārtha”) leads to knowledge of the Self (“purusha-jñāna”). You observe I AM-ness and perform samyama on the I-ness of it.

36. Then arises intuitive hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling.

37. These are obstacles to samādhi, but are perfect abilities in the waking state.

“These”: This refers to the previous two sῡtras and states that while the first samyama is beneficial, the intuitive senses are undesirable.

It could also be understood in a general sense: While performing samyama, you are hindered in further developing samādhi. Also as the results of samyama manifest, ones attention is drawn to these phenomena, thus bringing one out of samādhi.

38. From the relaxation of the cause of bondage and the perception of appearance, the mind enters another body.

39. From mastery of udana one is unafflicted by water, mud, thorns, etc. and can die at will.

“Udana”: The upwards moving vital-force; kundalinī rising up the spine.

“Die at will” may also be translated “levitate”, but since there is a sῡtra dealing with levitation (III:42), this translation is unlikely here..

40. From mastery of samana, there is radiance.

“Samana”: The middle breath.

41. From samyama on the relation between the ear and space, one acquires divine hearing.

42. From samyama on the relation between the body and space, and lightness as cotton, one moves through space.

The siddhis develop gradually (III:6). The first manifestation of this practice is to jump around like a frog.

43. A genuinely outer fluctuation is indeed discarnate, hence follows destruction of the covering light.

44. From samyama on the significance of the connection between ones physical and subtle body, there is mastery of the elements.

45. Hence arises the appearance of minuteness etc., perfection of the body, and the indestructibility of its essential qualities.

“Minuteness etc.”: “Anima” is one of the eight traditional superpowers, where the body can be made minute, large, light, heavy, etc.

46. Perfection of the body is beauty, gracefulness and adamantine stability.

47. From samyama on the significance and connectedness of the power of understanding, the body and I AM-ness, there arises mastery of the senses.

48. Hence arises swiftness of mind, freedom from the senses and mastery of the original source of manifestation.

49. Merely [from samyama on] the discernment of the distinction between sattva and the Self, [there is] rulership over all states of being as well as knowledge of [them] all.

50. From dispassion to even this, is destroyed seed-form impediments to kaivalya.

“Kaivalya”: See sῡtra II:25.

51. Invitations from high beings are no cause for attachment or pride, [since there is danger of such] renewed undesirable inclinations.

52. From samyama on a moment and its succession, arises wisdom born of discrimination.

53. Hence there is perception of difference between similarities that can otherwise not be separated with respect to birth, time-variation and place.

54. And thus wisdom born of discrimination liberates, in every way, from all conditions and non-successive objects.

55. Thus when there is equal purity of sattva and the Self, one arrives at kaivalyam.

“Sattva”: See sῡtra I:16.

“Kaivalya”: See sῡtra II:25.

Chapter 4

1. The siddhis are the result of birth, drugs, mantras, austerity or samādhi.

“Siddhis” means “perfections”, but usually refers to supernatural abilities, like those described in the preceding chapter. It is peculiar that Patañjali does not mention samyama as a means.

“Mantra”: A simple word or phase to be repeated mentally. Such could be: Om, aing, hring, kling, or: om namah shivaya, ram ramaya namaha, Shakti om, so-ham. There are thousands of mantras.

On transformation

2. The transformation into another state of existence, is from the flow of nature [prakriti].

“Another state of existence” means both another birth as well as a different state of consciousness.

3. Hence, the incidental cause does not instigate nature, but, like a farmer, removes obstacles.

The results of sādhana are not a direct result of the afore mentioned practices. The practices merely remove obstacles for the results to develop. The ignorant self reaces out to the Self, then the Self reaches back and grants liberation; it is not the ignorant self that liberates itself and becomes enlightened. Enlightenment is the state of the Self as it is, ignorance is an illusion; illusions don’t get enlightened, they have to be removed as they are obstacles to enlightenment. Sadhana removes obstacles, it does not create enlightenment.

Karma, cause and effect

4. I AM-ness is the sole origin of individuated consciousness.

I AM-ness is one of the afflictions. Next to ignorance, it is the basic affliction since it causes the identification of the seer and the seen (II:6).

5. The individuated consciousness is the instigator of distinct activities.

This makes it clear, that it is the consciousness in a state of ignorance, that instigates the process of removal of obstacles.

6. Therein, what is born of meditation is without deposit.

“Therein”: In the individuated consciousness.

This sῡtra is remarkable, it clearly states that though activities in and of the ignorant self normally create deposits, what is born of meditation does not. Meditation is thus not a source of bondage, but of liberation.

7. The karma of the yogi is neither black nor white, of others it is threefold.

“Black nor white”: Neither bad nor good, but neutral.

“Threefold”: Bad, mixed or good.

8. Of these [karmas of the yogi] only those come to fruition that correspond with subliminal traits.

“Subliminal traits”: “Vasanas”; The singled out possibilities that make up the present birth.

“Only that comes to fruition”: Out of the enormous amount of karma one has, only a suitable portion will come to fruition in ones life. The suitable portion is that which corresponds with the subliminal traits.

The accomplished yogi does not create new karma since he has broken the unity of seer and seen and thus does not identify with the actor anymore.

9. Even though [past] birth, place and time are concealed, there is succession [of births] due to the unity of memory and past impressions.

“Past impressions”: “Samskāras”. See sῡtra I:18.

10. And these are without beginning, since primordial will is eternal.

“These” could refer both to births as well as to past impressions. In fact this distinction does not matter much here, since past impressions and births form a unity.

11. Based on the correspondence between cause and effect, it follows that when one is destroyed, the other is also.

The causes referred to here are the instances of union of the seer and seen (II:17). Also the afflictions. If you disidentify from the seen, the seer will automatically begin to break down. If you disidentify from the seer due to samādhi, then identification with the seen will also go away.

12. Past and future exist according to their own nature [and have] different paths [due to their different] qualities.

13. These [qualities], whether manifest or unmanifest, are composed of the gunas.

“Gunas”: See sῡtra I:16.

Objects and consciousness

14. From the uniformity of transformations arises the unique substance of an object.

“Unique substance”: “Tattva” literally means “that-ness”. In Sāmkhya, 24 such unique substances are recognized, but here tattva is undoubtedly to be understood in a more general sense.

15. An object is a unit, distinct from consciousness. [Hence] they are on separate paths.

16. And it is not so that an object depends on a single consciousness; that is unprovable. Besides, how could that be?

An object exists in itself, distinct from consciousness.

17. An object is known or not known depending on its required coloring of the mind.

Fluctuations and consciousness

18. The fluctuations of the mind are always known due to the immutable superiority of the Self.

19. That [mind with its fluctuations] has no self-luminosity due to it’s seen-ness.

“Seen-ness”: This means the mind is the seen, not the seer. Since the minds fluctuations are objects (purely seen), they can not cognize themselves.

20. And it is impossible to cognize both [the fluctuations and the Self] simultaneously.

This means that in order to auto-cognize the Self, awareness has to forget about the fluctuations. In other word not only restrict fluctuations but transcend them altogether.

21. If consciousness [in itself] was seen by another [part of itself], cognition would rely on cognition in infinite regress, leading to confusion of memory.

“Consciousness”: “Citta”: This expression is impossible to translate since it is more than simply consciousness as understood in the West.

22. When awareness takes the form of consciousness, ones own cognitions are experienced.

23. [When] consciousness is colored by the seer and the seen, any object or meaning [can be cognized].

24. That [cognizing consciousness] is riddled with countless tendencies, [yet it] has a higher purpose of activity in association [with the Self].

Gaps between seer and seen

25. One who sees distinction [between the seen and the Self] becomes the Self, by cutting under fluctuations.

“The seen”: The objects, thoughts or feelings one identifies with.

26. Then, inclined towards discrimination, the mind is not far from kaivalya.

“Kaivalya”: Isolation – of the Self from the non-Self.

27. In these gaps [from under-cut fluctuations], other impressions are formed.

28. These are destroyed in the manner described for the afflictions.

“Afflictions”: See II:3-9, and for destroying them: II:10-16.

Dharmamegha samādhi

29. Indeed, in that meditative state with discrimination, detached at all times, [there arises] the samādhi known as “the cloud of dharma”

“The cloud of dharma”: “Dharmamegha”: It is unclear what this expression means, since it is metaphorocal and there are no textual references to unlock its meaning. But some observations are relevant:

“Dharma” in this context does not refer to virtue, but to the gunas which, as the following sῡtras explain, still impede final enlightenment (kaivalya).

“Cloud” refers to dharma, so perhaps the meaning is that dharma stands as a cloud before final realization. It could also mean that dharma gets clouded and dissolved, as the following two sῡtras suggest, since dharmamegha samādhi is that which dissolves residual afflictions, karma, dharma and gunas.

30. From this follows the cessation of both afflictions and karma.

31. Then as all coverings of imperfection are removed, little remains to be known due to the infinitude of the [acquired] wisdom.

Cessation of the gunas and kaivalya

32. Thereafter, as the succession of transformations terminates, the purpose of the gunas is fulfilled.

33. Succession is the sequence of moments, it ends with the termination of the transformations.

34. Kaivalya is when the gunas are emptied of purpose for the Self, and have returned to their origin. Then there is steadfastness in the Self and in the shakti of pure being.



Chapple, Christopher & Viraj, Yogi Ananda: The Yoga-sῡtras of Patañjali, Sri Satguru, Delhi, India 1990.

Dvivedi, M. N.: The Yoga-sῡtras of Patanjali, Sri Satguru, Delhi, India 1983 (1890).

Feuerstein, Georg.: The Yoga-sῡtra of Patañjali, Inner Traditions, Vermon, USA 1989 (1979).

Prabhavananda, Swami & Isherwood, Christopher: How to know God, Vedanta Society of Southern California, USA 1981 (1953).

Saraswati, Swami Satyananda: Four Chapters on Freedom, Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihan, India 1989 (1976).

Vivekananda, Swami: Raja Yoga, Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, India 1982.

From –click here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

I'm just starting out; leave me a comment or a like :)


Follow me on Twitter

type="text/javascript" data-cfasync="false" /*/* */
%d bloggers like this: