Patajali. Patajalis Yoga Sktra Translation, Commentary and Introduction by Shyam Ranganathan (A Summary and Defense)

Patajali is a great sage that lived thousands of years ago. Patajali draws upon many ideas of his time, and the result is a unique work of Indian moral philosophy that has been the foundational text for the practice of yoga since- the Patajali. Patajalis Yoga Sktra.  The yoga sutras that he wrote are one of the influential spiritual writings in yoga.  These are important collection of aphorisms on yoga practice.  Yoga Sutras contain four chapters of divine spiritual kingdom and 195 verses.  It is a book intended for those who practiced meditation and wants to attain a higher self awareness.  It also consists of instructions and knowledge that have inspired yoga practitioners over centuries.  Patajali is not an inventor of yoga but rather he is known for systemizing and compiling it.  What has become popularly known as the Yoga Sutras (sutra means thread) or almost equally as common, as the Yoga Darshana (the vision of Yoga), is actually a compendium of an ancient pre-existing oral yoga tradition consisting of practical advice on the yogic path.  Yoga Sutra is included in the basic text of the nine canonical schools of Indian philosophy.  The Yoga Sutra sets out a sophisticated theory of moral psychology and perhaps the oldest theory of psychoanalysis. According to Patajali, present mental maladies are a function of subconscious tendencies formed in reaction to the past experiences. He argues that people are not powerless against such forces and that they can radically alter their lives through yoga process.  This leads to moral transformation and perfection, which brings the body and mind of a person in line with their true nature.

For the past decades up to present time, the Yoga Sutra has become quite popular worldwide for the principles regarding the practice of Raja.   Its philosophical origin-yoga in traditional Hinduism involves inner contemplation- a rigorous system of meditation practice, ethics, metaphysics, and devotion to God, or Brahman.  Patajali in his ancient time was able to acknowledge the ego not separate to entity.  Although much of the aphorisms in the Yoga Sutra possibly pre-dates Patanjali, it is clear that it is original and it is more than a mere compilation. The clarity and unity he brought to divergent views prevalent till then has inspired a long line of teachers and practitioners up to the present day.

As I read the book, I see Patajali as a technical profounder of philosophy.  As a system, the type of yoga as put forth by Patanjali, is non-theistic.  It does not promote the worships of god, deities or sacred books but it does not also contain atheistic doctrines.  I like how it was written- devoid of caste distinction, book study, guru worship, ceremony, ritual, or traditional methods of worship.  Another marvel of the Yoga Sutras of Patajali is that it is not self important, rather yogic practice is the path, while the Yoga Sutras are simply a guidebook to ones practice, not a necessity.  For me, the  interpretation of Patajali will thus remain grounded in the non-dual context of yoga, rather than the assumptions of intellectuals, academicians, ideologists, or western dualistic thinkers from which more confusion were drawn from there interpretation of these sutras. 


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