Hatha Yoga and Patanjali

This unscheduled article has been induced by my short post on Facebook. A couple of days ago my sight was caught by an ad of “Hatha Yoga after Patanjali” event in Kharkov, and I could not but turn the yoga community attention to incorrectness of this word combination. They started speaking about Hatha-yoga in the… Continue reading Hatha Yoga and Patanjali

The Legend of Lost Sutra

In the course of gearing up for my big lecture on Yoga Sutra I had come across a dramatic story that even Wikipedia mentions in its entry. I’ve called it “The Legend of Lost Sutra”. If briefly, the legend tells that Yoga Sutra, a sacred text known in India from ancient times, practically sank into… Continue reading The Legend of Lost Sutra

Yoga and Gnosis

The succeeding lines of Yoga Sutras (namely, all remaining lines of the section) are dedicated to cognition. So I shall lay down a few considerations to make the reader mentally prepared. Most of Western people erroneously take yoga as a system of physical exercises. A kind of gymnastics. However, hatha-yoga is just a small element… Continue reading Yoga and Gnosis

Mind Wholeness, Absent-Mindedness and Torpid Mind. Mistakes in Meditation

Summing up the block of seven lines that Patanjali dedicated to exercising the state of mind wholeness (chitta-prasadanam), I shall try to explain why this subject has been essentially significant. One can by intuition guess that mind non-wholeness (chitta-vikshepa) correlates with vritti. And indeed, this opinion was shared by all commentators of Yoga Sutras We… Continue reading Mind Wholeness, Absent-Mindedness and Torpid Mind. Mistakes in Meditation

Difference Between Ancient And Modern Commentaries

Thorough analysis of primary sources assumes concurrent study of authentic commentarial works. Thus in the process of writing my commentary to every new sutra I usually thumb through primary classical commentaries that I here enlist. Some of them have turned into “favorites”, that is, must-reads: Vyasa, Mishra, Sankara, Bhoja, Sadashivendra. Aged 1000 years and even… Continue reading Difference Between Ancient And Modern Commentaries

Why Read Ancient Texts?

They have once again asked me: why in general read ancient texts, the more so commentaries on them? Why a person like me, a modern yogi who is rather future-focused than past-minded, the one who objects to traditionalism in all its manifestations and gives skeptical smile to talks on “paramparas” and consecrations, decided to spend… Continue reading Why Read Ancient Texts?

Sutra 1.40. Another Post About Miracles

Many people are looking for kitschy miracles but turn their blind eye to the major one The sutra 1.40 been quoted out of context gave rise to numerous twisted fantasies that I intend to dispel. This sutra completes the passage on scattered mind (chitta vikshepa) restoration and stabilization methods, and reads as follows परमाणु परममहत्त्वान्तोऽस्य… Continue reading Sutra 1.40. Another Post About Miracles

Sutra 1.38. Yoga and Interpretation of Dreams

In his developing the subject of chitta stabilization techniques Patanjali offers another group of methods, namely – the mechanisms of dreams interpretation. The corresponding sutra is very short and almost completely ignored by modern commentators, whereas classical scholiasts did not pay much attention to it as well. However puzzling it out is possible. Now, the… Continue reading Sutra 1.38. Yoga and Interpretation of Dreams

Sutra 1.36. Methods of Chitta stabilization. Part 5. Grand Thoughts and Reflections on abstract notions as a part of yoga

The next sutra can be well understood in the context of the previous ones, and it complements the earlier sutra 1.35 in terms of logic. Let me remind that the latter stated that the activity filled with an object, a target, facilitates retaining of personal wholeness. Or, to be more specific, it prevents chitta from… Continue reading Sutra 1.36. Methods of Chitta stabilization. Part 5. Grand Thoughts and Reflections on abstract notions as a part of yoga

Sutra 1.35. Methods of chitta stabilization. Part 4. Thoughtless brains beget evil ideas

In the next lines Patanjali proceeds with methods of chitta stabilization and bringing together that, as you might remember, have been already said to include the development of Anahata experience and control of breath. The line 1.35 offers one method more, yet its interpretation requires that we overcome a few challenges. The first challenge is… Continue reading Sutra 1.35. Methods of chitta stabilization. Part 4. Thoughtless brains beget evil ideas

Sutra 1.34. Breath control as a method of gathering chitta up

The next line of Yoga Sutras does not involve any difficulty for translation, as well as for commentary and understanding.   प्रच्छर्दनविधारणाभ्यां वा प्राणस्य ॥ ३४॥ 1.34 pracchardana-vidhāraṇābhyām vā prāṇasya
 pracchardana (n.) – a well-known word that in terms of literature on yoga denotes “exhalation”. It consists of the prefix pra + cchardana – a… Continue reading Sutra 1.34. Breath control as a method of gathering chitta up

Sutra 1.33. Meditation for overcoming hostility

As it has been said earlier, maitri – “amicability” – comes as one of the yogi’s basic features. Yet most people, especially those brought up in the post-USSR environment, have difficulties in experiencing this feeling. For several generations they were being habituated to take counter-revolutionists, Germans, Americans, capitalists and others of the kind for foes.… Continue reading Sutra 1.33. Meditation for overcoming hostility

Sutra 1.33. Methods of chitta stabilization. Part 2. Yogi’s “Virtues” of anahata nature

In his next sutra Patanjali offers a totally different and very original approach to the issue of restoring the integrity of chitta that is grounded upon development of anahata experience: मैत्रीकरुणामुदितोपेक्षाणां सुखदुःखपुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां  भावनातश्चित्तप्रसादनम् ॥ ३३॥ 1.33. {maitrī-karuṇā-muditā-upekṣāṇāṃ} {sukha-duḥkha-puṇya- apuṇya-viṣayāṇāṃ} bhāvanātaś {citta prasādanam}
 In this line the author made use of nominal compound structures called “samasas”… Continue reading Sutra 1.33. Methods of chitta stabilization. Part 2. Yogi’s “Virtues” of anahata nature

Sutra 1.32. Methods of chitta stabilization. Part one. Totalness

Having laid down the criteria of chitta scattering (chitta-vikshepa) in shloka 31, Patanjali dedicated further 8 shlokas (32 to 39) to methods aimed at withstanding this state, while another 2 shlokas that follow (40 and 41) speak about the results of “bringing” chitta together. So far as these methods are quite applicable and highly topical, I… Continue reading Sutra 1.32. Methods of chitta stabilization. Part one. Totalness

Svarupa. Genuine Inwardness, or What Happens After Vrittis Have Been Overcome?

The subject of chitta scattered character (chitta-vikshepa) that we have investigated in the previous articles allows returning to a more thorough consideration of the term that Patanjali introduced yet in the third line. Namely, the category of “svarupa” or, making it verbatim, “own form”, “proper form”, “proper inwardness”. Let me remind that the line as… Continue reading Svarupa. Genuine Inwardness, or What Happens After Vrittis Have Been Overcome?

The Archetypes of Wholeness and “Energy Loss”

In the previous article dedicated to psychosomatics in Yoga Sutras I draw reader‘s attention to the association between the state of “chitta-vikshepa” – the scattering of chitta – and somatic responses that has been foregrounded by Patanjali. Let me remind that the word “vikshepa” in the framework of “Chitta-vikshepa” term is derived from the verbal root… Continue reading The Archetypes of Wholeness and “Energy Loss”

«Obstacles to Yoga» and Defence Mechanisms of Psyche

The next two sutras of Patanjali, the lines 1.29 и 1.30, are dedicated to the so-called barriers in yoga: ततः प्रत्यक्चेतनाधिगमोऽप्यन्तरायाभावश्च ॥ २९॥1.29. tataḥ pratyakcetanādhigamo’pyantarāyābhāvaśca  व्याधिस्त्यानसंशयप्रमादालस्याविरति-भ्रान्तिदर्शनालब्धभूमिकत्वानवस्थितत्वानि चित्तविक्षेपास्तेऽन्तरायाः ॥३०॥1.30. vyādhi-styāna-saṃśaya-pramāda-ālasya-avirati-bhrānti-darśana-alabdha-bhūmikatva-anavasthitatvāni citta-vikṣepāste’ntarāyāḥ The traditional translation of these lines is as follows: 30. Disease, mental laziness, doubt, calmness, cessation, false perception, non-attaining concentration, and falling away from the state when… Continue reading «Obstacles to Yoga» and Defence Mechanisms of Psyche

Sanskrit and Mantra-Yoga

The following two lines of Yoga Sutras are dedicated to mantras and power of the sound. तस्य वाचकः प्रणवः  ॥२७॥1.27. tasya vachakah pranavah तज्जपस्तदर्थभावनम्  ॥२८॥1.28. tajjapas tad-artha-bhavanam Sutras 27 and 28 tell that “the expression of that (Isvara) is OM (pranava)” and “the repetition of it (Om) in one mind’s eye allows one to experience… Continue reading Sanskrit and Mantra-Yoga

Ishvara and the World Tree. The Metaphysics of Plato

The line 25 of Yoga Sutras compares Ishvara with a seed that contains omniscience (sarva-jnana-bidja): तत्र निरतिशयं सार्वज्ञबीजम् ॥ २५॥25. tatra niratiśayaṃ sārva-jña-bījam  25. In Him [Ishvara] is the complete manifestation of the seed of omniscience. [Engl. transl. by Swami Satchidananda – translator’s note]. This happens to be in a remarkable manner aligned with an… Continue reading Ishvara and the World Tree. The Metaphysics of Plato

Learning From the Universe. The Problem of Yoga Schools Classicality

The next line of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras that we shall today consider continues the theme of Ishvara. स पूर्वेषामपि गुरुः कालेनानवच्छेदात् ॥ २६॥1.26. sa pūrveṣāmapi guruḥ kālenānavacchedāt ॥  sa (m.Nom.sg.) – he; purveshaam (m.Gen. pl) – previous, prior, senior; with Genitive case and plural form considered – “of the previous”, “of the senior”; api (ind.) – also, even,… Continue reading Learning From the Universe. The Problem of Yoga Schools Classicality

Ishvarapranidhana (continued). Ishvarapranidhana and Purusha

In my two previous posts I have without further ado explicated to the reader my understanding of the “ishvarapranidhana” category introduced by Patanjali. Yet an attentive reader might remember that the author of Yoga Sutras tends to give the definition of the new concepts in the lines that follow their introduction. Now, does the understanding… Continue reading Ishvarapranidhana (continued). Ishvarapranidhana and Purusha

Ishvarapranidhana

In the last dozen of my blog posts I have somewhat deviated from the linear and sequential expansion of the Sutra commentary. Many issues required clarification and more detailed consideration, or they were my contemplations that were wandering in such a mysterious way – so far the format of blog allows taking such liberties, unlike… Continue reading Ishvarapranidhana

The Lessons of Mahabharata and “Traditional” Values

Have you ever paid attention to the fact that allgrand classic epicsare utterly tragic and their endingsare worlds away from thosehappy-ends of Hollywoodthat we are used to? So that even if the principal(allegedly positive) characters attain their goals they experience heavy disappointment all the same.Gilgamesh loses the magical herb of immortality andaccepts his destiny of… Continue reading The Lessons of Mahabharata and “Traditional” Values

Some More Words About Vairagya

It was the very same period the year before that I was in Varanasi and in this blog of mine I was blissfully and deliberately reflecting upon Vairagya as one of the fundamental methods of yoga. Yet the recent situation in my country [Ukraine, Dec.2013-March, 2014 – transl.note] not only encourages me to get back to this subject – this… Continue reading Some More Words About Vairagya

The Arabic Translation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras made by Al-Biruni. The Problem of Yoga Impact on Sufism

“And when these [Hindu] books were read to me letter by letter and I comprehended their contents, my conscience could  in no way have me fail to impart them to those yearning to read them. After all, avarice is the worst crime and the deepest sin when it is related to knowledge” . Al-Biruni It… Continue reading The Arabic Translation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras made by Al-Biruni. The Problem of Yoga Impact on Sufism

Coming Back to Nidra. Can Dreams be Referred to as a Form of Vritti?

I hope the reader remembers that in one of previous posts we have considered the category of nidra and explained why nidra had been highlighted by Patanjali as a vritti. However recently I’ve been asked about whether a dream, a night fantasy, can be referred to as a form of vritti. Since I believe the… Continue reading Coming Back to Nidra. Can Dreams be Referred to as a Form of Vritti?

Samprajnya as described by Bertrand Russell

Here is an interesting fact: Bertrand Russell, an outstanding European thinker, has advanced an idea that is almost comparable to Patanjali’s sutra 1.16 (about samprajnya:)): The mystic insight begins with the sense of a mystery unveiled, of a hidden wisdom now suddenly become certain beyond the possibility of a doubt. The sense of certainty and… Continue reading Samprajnya as described by Bertrand Russell

The Rate of Development. Spiritual Flow, Personal Power, Inner Human Core. Sutras 1.21 and 1.22

The following several sutras of Patanjali are dedicated to one’s developmental rate: तीव्रसंवेगानामासन्नः ॥ २१॥ 1.21 tivra-sanveganam asannah tivra – utmost, extreme, ultimate;sanveganam – intention;asannah – near, proximate;that is, taking into account the previous line that says that prajna is preceded by shraddha, virya, smriti and samadhi, this one can be understood and translated in… Continue reading The Rate of Development. Spiritual Flow, Personal Power, Inner Human Core. Sutras 1.21 and 1.22

A Psychophysiological and Philosophic Commentary: the Role of Emotions in the Process of Cognition

I would like to go back for a while to the line 1.16 in which Patanjali exposes the factors that accompany the process of comprehension (samprajnya) listing among them ananda – the delight. This issue is clear from the empiric point of view and it is rather difficult to say something against it, yet here… Continue reading A Psychophysiological and Philosophic Commentary: the Role of Emotions in the Process of Cognition

Sutra 1.20. Prerequisites to Cognition

So, developing his idea, in the line 1.20:   श्रद्धावीर्यस्मृतिसमाधिप्रज्ञापूर्वक इतरेषाम् ॥२०॥ 1.20. śraddhā-vīrya-smṛti-samādhi-prajñāpūrvaka itareṣām  Patanjali tells that for others (itareṣām), i.e. different from those that we dealt with in the line 1.19 and whom I have referred to as the people of [spiritual] flow, the knowledge (prajna) is preceded (pūrvaka) by four factors: śraddhā, vīrya, smṛti and samādhi. Let… Continue reading Sutra 1.20. Prerequisites to Cognition

Vyasa’s Standpoint. The Buddhist Influence upon Yoga

Having set forth my interpretation of the few latest slokas of Yoga Sutras I cannot help but consider the following issue: why and where from there occurred the opinion (that I so much subject to criticizing) about the existence of asamprajnya samadhi as the “superior” samadhithat eliminates contemplations and so on. No matter how strange… Continue reading Vyasa’s Standpoint. The Buddhist Influence upon Yoga

Comprehension and Emotions. Sutra 1.17.

In scope of discussing sloka 1.17 about samprajna and its relation to vritti-nirodhah I’ve been asked a good question about the mechanisms of such relation, that is, about the REASON of this, or rather, about the mechanism of changing one’s emotional attitude to the core of the problem within the process of its comprehension (this… Continue reading Comprehension and Emotions. Sutra 1.17.

Sutra 1.19. Supernatural Beings vs People of Spiritual Flow. Mysterious Pratyaya

Would it occur to anyone to invite tenders for the most ambiguously understood and intricate sloka of the Yoga Sutras, the line 1.19 would be the safe winner. Sorting out this case is not an easy thing to do, so that I beforehand beg the reader’s pardon for this article to be this complicated. Now,… Continue reading Sutra 1.19. Supernatural Beings vs People of Spiritual Flow. Mysterious Pratyaya

Meditation in the Context of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

The word “meditation” is one of the brands that the mass consciousness has inseparably linked to yoga, spiritual practices and person’s development. And this opinion is justified: yoga is not yoga without psycho-practices, since it was yet in Hatha Yoga Pradipika that they wrote that “All the methods of hatha are meant for gaining success… Continue reading Meditation in the Context of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Sutras 1.12 – 1.18. Vairagya and Samprajna. The Logic of the Few Latest Slokas Arrangement

I hope the reader remembers that the lines 1.12-1.16 were dedicated to abhyasa and vairagya. In particular, the line 1.15 gave an extensive definition of vairagya:   1.15 the disengagement from emotions [related to] the seen and heard objects is the sign of mastery in vairagya,    while the 1.16 defined the ultimate experience of… Continue reading Sutras 1.12 – 1.18. Vairagya and Samprajna. The Logic of the Few Latest Slokas Arrangement

Sutra 1.17. Fundamental Meaning of the Sloka 1.17. Correlation Between the Dimensions of Human Existence

Notwithstanding the apparent simplicity of the sloka 1.17 it has a fundamental value in scope of Patanjali’s concept of Yoga and in understanding the principles of spiritual advance in general. As for its application significance, this line probably comes as the second most important after the one defining Yoga as chitta-vritti-nirodhah. In fact, in this… Continue reading Sutra 1.17. Fundamental Meaning of the Sloka 1.17. Correlation Between the Dimensions of Human Existence

Sutras 1.17 – 1.18. The Legend of Asamprajna Samadhi (continuation)

Let us proceed with analysis of the line 1.18. विरामप्रत्ययाभ्यासपूर्वः संस्कारशेषोऽन्यः ॥ १८॥ 1.18 virāma-pratyayābhyāsa-pūrvaḥ saṃskāra-śeṣo’nyaḥ I shall draw several classical variants of its translation for the reader to get a better picture of what the legend is, as well as to see the difference in interpreting this sloka: 1.18 There is another Samadhi which… Continue reading Sutras 1.17 – 1.18. The Legend of Asamprajna Samadhi (continuation)

Sutras 1.17 – 1.18. Samprajna. The Legend of Asamprajna Samadhi

Let us come back to the text of Yoga Sutras. The sloka 1.17 introduces the category of Samprajna(ta). वितर्कविचारानन्दास्मितारूपानुगमात् सम्प्रज्ञातः ॥ १७॥ 1.17 vitarka-vicāra-ananda-asmita-rūpa-anugamāt samprajñātaḥ   The exact understanding of this line on the basis of translation taken “from the dictionary” shall be difficult since in fact the whole line is drawn of psycho-technical terms… Continue reading Sutras 1.17 – 1.18. Samprajna. The Legend of Asamprajna Samadhi

Conceptual Mistakes in Understanding the Category of “Dharana”

Conceptual Mistakes in Understanding the Category of “Dharana” by Yogis of Today. A Psychologist’s Opinion Instead of drawing an epigraph I shall cite an anecdote. A man is walking along the city streets and sees a queer picture: two workmen with spades are walking one by one. One is digging a pit, the second one… Continue reading Conceptual Mistakes in Understanding the Category of “Dharana”

Sutra 1.16. The Gunas: Psychological Interpretation

So, as we have already mentioned earlier, the shloka 1.16 of the Yoga Sutras links the practice of vairagya to the category of gunas. तत्परं पुरुषख्यातेर्गुणवैतृष्णयम् ॥१६॥ 1.16 tatparaṃ puruṣakhyāterguṇavaitṛṣṇayam First of all let us outline the translation of the shloka. tat – that. In this case this word denotes the vairagya from the previous… Continue reading Sutra 1.16. The Gunas: Psychological Interpretation

The Modern Scientific Methods of Describing Psyche and Psychologic Experience

In order to proceed further with interpreting the Yoga Sutra text we need to take a look at different methods of describing the psyche and the object-matter of psycho-practices. I have already analyzed this issue in my monographs thus I shall not draw a new article but shall cite an excerpt from my last monograph… Continue reading The Modern Scientific Methods of Describing Psyche and Psychologic Experience

Sutras1.12 – 1.15. The Methods Abhyasa and Vairagya and Ajna Chakra Petals

Let us step back from our reflections on gunas and return to abhyasa and vairagya. Having taken another thought about these methods I have noticed an apparent analogy with the way the right and left petals of ajna chakra are unctioning. And after this I recalled my concept of right- and left-petal meditations that I… Continue reading Sutras1.12 – 1.15. The Methods Abhyasa and Vairagya and Ajna Chakra Petals

Abhyasa and Vairagya. Is There a Third Way?

Abhyasa and Vairagya. Is There a Third Way? Some Words about Samskaras and Tantra So here I am again on board the plane, on my way home, reflecting upon Yoga Sutra… The method of keeping control over one’s states (abhyasa) and the method of disengaging with them (vairagya) are the two interrelated and complementary branches… Continue reading Abhyasa and Vairagya. Is There a Third Way?

Sutra 1.6. PRAMANA: the Methods of “Valid” Cognition. Gnoseology and Ajna Development in Yoga

As we have said earlier, Patanjali has singled out pramana, or “valid”, “true” knowledge, as the first vritti. However it strikes the eye here that, unlike with all other vrittis, when speaking about pramana the Yoga Sutras author has not only provided its definition but has also listed the main concepts of traditional Indian gnoseology.… Continue reading Sutra 1.6. PRAMANA: the Methods of “Valid” Cognition. Gnoseology and Ajna Development in Yoga

Drashtar. The Inner Observer

Now that we have accumulated sufficient resource we can come closer to understanding Patanjali’s definition of Yoga as chitta-vritti-nirodha. However, for complete comprehension of this line we should pay attention to the explanation the author gives to his definition in lines 1.3 and 1.4. Especially that it is in these lines that Patanjali introduces another… Continue reading Drashtar. The Inner Observer

Sutras 1.5, 2.3. – 2.9. Klesha. A very conceptual article:)

वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टाऽक्लिष्टाः ॥५॥ 1.5. vṛttayaḥ pañcatayyaḥ kliṣṭā’kliṣṭāḥ The category of “klesha” by no means refers to the group of words that should be rather explained than translated. Moreover, the situation with this category translation is just as confusing as it is with other key psycho-technical terms. The Russian-Sanskrit dictionary offers the following translation variants:… Continue reading Sutras 1.5, 2.3. – 2.9. Klesha. A very conceptual article:)

Sutra 1.2. Nirodha. The problem of emotional content of the practice

Probably the fewest discrepancies and variant readings have been caused by the dictionary translations of the word nirodha (निरोध). 1) curb; 2) confinement; 3) encirclement; 4) holdback, hindrance; 5) difficulty, obstruction; 6) suppression, quench; 7) destruction. Some translators also used the terms “cessation”, “obedience”, “retention”, “containment”, “oppression”. It would seem that they all speak about… Continue reading Sutra 1.2. Nirodha. The problem of emotional content of the practice