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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Siva meditating

The beginning, middle, and end of yoga texts is the Yoga Darshan (Yoga Sutras) of Patanjali. It has not only never been superseded, it has never been equalled. It stands alone as the sole authority on yoga outside the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. One of the best commentators on the Yoga Sutras was Dr. I. K. Taimni, who summarized Patanjali's classic in the preface to his masterly exposition of Yoga Sutras, The Science of Yoga:

The philosophy of Yoga deals with some of the greatest mysteries of life and the Universe and so it must inevitably be associated with an atmosphere of profound mystery. If the doctrines of Yoga are studied in the light of both ancient and modern thought it is much easier for the student to understand and appreciate them. The discoveries made in the field of Science are especially helpful in enabling the student to understand certain facts of Yogic life, for there is a certain analogous relationship between the laws of higher life and life as it exists on the physical plane, a relationship which is hinted at in the well-known Occult maxim ‘As above, so below’.
“In this basic literature of Yoga, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali stand out as the most authoritative and useful book. In its 196 Sutras the author has condensed the essential philosophy and technique of Yoga in a manner which is a marvel of condensed and systematic exposition.

“On account of its comprehensive and systematic treatment of the subject the Yoga Sutras is the most suitable book for deep and systematic study of Yoga. In the olden days all students of Yoga were made to commit it to memory and meditate regularly and deeply on the Sutras for bringing out their hidden meanings. But the modern student, who has to be convinced first that the study and practice of Yoga is worthwhile, needs a more detailed and elaborate treatment of the subject to enable him to understand its philosophy as a whole. Even for this purpose the Yoga Sutras is the most suitable basis, not only because it gives all the essential information about Yoga in a masterly manner but also because it is recognized as a masterpiece in the literature of Yoga and has stood the test of time and experience.”

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