“Pat” which in Sanskrit means, “to fall” was created when Adisesa, the snake who served as lord Vishnu’s bed was sent down to Earth to resolve the miseries of people and answer their prayers to solise. He fell into outstretched arms which was in the form of Anjali Mudra and hence was called, Patanjali.
The Father of Yoga, Sage Patanjali was described by few, to be human from feet to shoulders and had a thousand-headed serpent head above with four hands, which hold a disk, a conch, a a mace, and a sword. He was depicted a half-man and half-serpent for upon his hood he bore the entire weight of the universe and served as the bed of Lord Vishnu. It is these two qualities of stability and alert relaxation that combines for the perfect execution of a Yogic asana.
Hint, hint! Sthiram Sukham Asanam ring a bell for you Yogis?!
Wanna see what he looks like?
Check out our first blog post called Patanjali"s Invocation to hear us chant and read more detail on his description.
Patanjali discovered three sources of suffering that the world needed cure for and so, he made it his mission to work out solutions for it!
He created Ayurveda- the medical system for body ailments , Vacca- Sanskrit grammar for proper speech and Yoga- for the mind. Thus, he is honoured as the sage who freed humanity from “impurities of mind, body and speech”. This is how the yogasūtra-s became the thesis of Yoga and the basis for all other practices which also is another reason why it’s called Raja Yoga.
The treatise was written between 400 BC and 200 BC and consists of 195 aphorisms divided into 4 chapters. It is the most demanding of all literary forms for expressing wisdom in Sanskrit language. Deeper understanding of its richness takes a lifelong study and contemplation on its multiple layers of meaning. The Yoga Sutras describe the nature and workings of human mind; techniques for its mastery; the acquisition of heightened, even super human capacities and progression towards tranquility and unlimited comprehension.
The Four Chapters or Pada-s
Samadhi Pada- The Thought of Yoga ॥ प्रथभ् सभाणधऩाद् ॥
Sadhana Pada- The Practice of Yoga ॥ णितीम् साधनऩाद् ॥
Vibhuti Pada- The Powers of Yoga ॥ ततृ ीम् णवबणूतऩाद् ॥
Kaivalya Pada- The Goal of Yoga: Freedom ॥ चतथु् य क ै वल्यऩाद् ॥
Patanjali's Yoga Sutra - An Introduction by TKV Desikachar
About The Chapters
These four chapters are symbolic to four different stages of Yogic development. according to Sri. T Krishnamacharya. The first chapter lays out all the characteristics of Yoga, its obstacles and the way to deal with them. Patanjali provides practical solutions to questions of human existence.The word Samadhi means absolute union of the individual’s being and the object of contemplation which is the goal of chapter one.
In the second chapter Patanjali addresses those who are blocked by certain obstacles and unable to comprehend and move forward with learning. The sutras describe components through which impurities of the body, mind and attitudes can be taken away. In this chapter he describes the first few limbs of the eight limbs or Ashtanga Yoga as a solution.
In the third chapter, owing to the accomplishments that have been achieved after mastering the first two chapters, a student has acquired greater qualities of the mind and is ready to master certain special powers called Siddhis.
In the final chapter, the student reaches a state of mind that has been wholly refined and is ready to become the master and not a servant of the individual.
This was just a nibble at the cherry, we’re yet to lick the cream to get to the cake!
So allow Kelsey and I to gradually introduce to you, in simple and colloquial ways, some of the fundamental Sutra-s that you can relate to and find meaning with in your daily yoga practice and begin to understand life as it is.
Reference and Further Reading:
Health, Healing and Beyond by T. Krishnamacharya
The Song of Truth: An Essence of the Yogasutras of Patanjali by D.V Sridhar and Alaghu Muthu