Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Book I : Consciousness and Superconsciousness (Samadhi Pada)
- Now to explain Yoga.
- Yoga is the cessation (nirodha) of the modes of
mind (chitta vritti).
- Then consciousness takes on its true nature.
- At other times consciousness is identified with the modes
- There are five such modes which can either be painful or
- The modes are right knowledge, wrong knowledge,
imagination, dreamless sleep and memory.
- The sources of right knowledge are by direct perception, or
by logical analysis, or from the testimony of authorities.
- Wrong knowledge is a false interpretation not corresponding
with the actual nature of the object.
- Imagination is the ideas which arise from knowledge
conveyed by words.
- Dreamless sleep is the mode of mind during the natural
absence of a conscious object.
- Memory is the calling up of an object from past experience.
- The control of these modes is achieved by practice (abhyasa)
and nonattachment (vairagya).
- Practice is concentrated effort to keep the mind steady.
- It becomes firmly grounded when carried out for a long time
without interruptions and with earnest attention.
- Nonattachment is the consciousness of being free from
desires for worldly things either experienced or heard about.
- The highest nonattachment comes from the knowledge of the
Soul (Purusha) which brings victory over natural processes (gunas).
- The first level of super consciousness (samprajnata
samadhi) is attained progressively in four stages. These are by
questioning, by discrimination, by the experience of supreme bliss, and
finally by the realization of the unity of the universe with consciousness.
- In the higher level (asamprajnata samadhi) there
is an absence of all modes of mind and only subconscious impressions (samsaras)
are retained in the mind. This comes from the constant practice of the highest
type of nonattachment.
- Its inferior form is attained by those who are beyond
consciousness of the body but become merged in Nature (prakritilayanam)
- For others this samadhi is attained by total trust, great
energy, recollection, regular practice of meditation,
and discriminative knowledge.
- This samadhi is soon achieved by those who practice
- Even these will gain superior results depending on whether
they do mild, moderate, or extremely intensive practice.
- Perfection is also attained by devotion to the Lord (Ishvara
- Ishvara is a special Purusha untouched by
afflictions, actions and their results, or unconscious tendencies.
- In Ishvara the seed of knowledge is developed to its utmost
- Being beyond time Ishvara is the Master of masters.
- The word expressing Ishvara is Aum (or OM).
- One should constantly repeat and listen attentively to Aum
while meditating on its meaning.
- From this comes the awakening of a higher consciousness,
and also the destruction of the obstacles to
- The obstacles, or mental distractions, are sickness,
laziness, doubt, lack of attention and enthusiasm, lack of energy, sensuality,
false perception, and failure to attain or maintain concentration.
- The symptoms of a distracted mind are grief, anxiety,
trembling, and irregular breathing.
- To overcome these symptoms one should meditate on one
particular truth (ekatattva).
- By cultivating feelings of friendship toward the happy,
compassion toward the unhappy, joy toward the virtuous, and indifference
toward the wicked, the mind becomes purified and calm.
- Also the mind becomes calm by regulating the expulsion and
retention of the breath (pranayama).
- Or the mind becomes controlled and stable through the
changes produced by extraordinary sense perceptions.
- Or by meditating on the shining Inner Light (jyotismatee)
which is beyond all suffering.
- Or by meditating on one who has attained desirelessness.
- Or by meditating on the subconscious knowledge gained from
dreams or dreamless sleep.
- Or by meditating on anything which particularly appeals.
- By such meditations the yogi gains mastery over all from
the atomic to the infinite.
- The yogi whose mind retains only one object of
concentration becomes identified with either the knowable object, the method
of knowing, or the knower, as pure crystal becomes colored by objects placed
- The first stage of this mode of concentration is when the
name, meaning, and knowledge of an object are intermingled. This is called
super consciousness "with questioning" (savitarka samadhi).
- The second stage, superconsciousness "beyond questioning" (nirvitarka
samadhi), is attained when memory is so controlled that the object of
concentration is known directly without interference from memories of it.
- Two higher stages of super consciousness where the object
of concentration is a subtle element (suksam visayam) are explained
in a similar way. These are super consciousness "with
meditation" (savichara samadhi) and superconsciousness "beyond
meditation" (nirvichara samadhi).
- The province of the subtle elements extends up to the very
essence of Nature ( prakriti ).
- All these stages of super consciousness are called samadhis
- With the pure flow of consciousness in nirvichara samadhi
comes a spiritual clarity.
- And in this stage discriminative knowledge becomes
identical with natural law.
- Because this discriminative knowledge is specific and
complete, it differs in essence from knowledge gained from scriptures or by
- The mental impression arising from nirvichara samadhi
prevents all other impressions.
- With the control even of that impression all impressions
cease and that samadhi is called "without seed" (nirvikalpa samadhi).
Book II : Ways To Attain Yoga (Sadhana Pada)
- Practical ways to attain
Yoga (union of consciousness with the Infinite)
are through ascetic disciplines (tapas), study and
meditation on Aum (Svadhyaya), and by
devotion to the Lord (Ishvara). [Refer to Book I:23-28.] These are
the preliminary steps (kriya yoga).
- The purpose of kriya yoga is to bring about super
consciousness and to weaken the afflictions.
- The afflictions are ignorance, ego-consciousness, desire,
aversion, and the clinging-to-life instinct.
- Ignorance is the cause of the other afflictions whether
they are dormant (exist in potential form in the subconscious), weakened
(rendered non-operative through meditation), overpowered (the yogi counters
them by cultivating the opposite tendencies), or fully operative.
- Ignorance is regarding the non-eternal as eternal, the
impure as pure, the distressing as pleasurable, and the not-Self as Self.
- Ego-consciousness is the apparent identification of the
Perceiver with the instruments of perception.
- Desire is that which dwells upon pleasure.
- Aversion is that which dwells upon pain.
- The clinging-to-life instinct, springing up of its own
nature, remains even in the wise.
- When the afflictions are in potential form they should be
overcome by resolving them into their natural cause (prakriti).
- The gross effects produced by the afflictions in their
fully operative form should be overcome by meditation.
- The result of past experience of the afflictions is that
tendencies (karmas) are stored in the subconscious mind which causes
suffering both in this life and the life to come.
- As long as the storehouse of karmas exists, they will bear
fruit in the next birth, length of life, and experiences of pleasure and pain.
- These fruits will result in pleasure or pain according as
to whether their cause is from virtue or vice.
- But, to the discriminating yogi, all material experience is
considered painful since by natural processes (guna vritti) the
painful consequences of change, anxiety, and new tendencies (samsaras)
- What is to be avoided is pain not yet come.
- The cause of avoidable pain is the identifying of the
experiencer with the object of experience.
- The objective world has the nature of illumination,
activity, and stability (gunas), and comprises the physical elements
as well as the senses. Its purpose is for the sake of experience and the
liberation of the experiencer.
- The four aspects of Nature are gross (or general), subtle
(or specialized), the once resolvable (or primal) and the irresolvable (or
- The Seer (Purusha), although pure
consciousness only, sees through the senses and mind which becomes colored by
- The visible universe exists for the sake of the Seer.
- Although the visible universe has ceased to exist for those
who have achieved enlightenment, it still exists because it is common to all
- The relationship between the Seer and Nature (Prakriti)
is that of the owner and the owned, and this causes identification of the Self
- The cause of that identification is ignorance.
- When this ignorance is absent the identification is also
removed, and the Seer attains absolute freedom (kaivalya).
- This ignorance (and consequent identification) is removed
by unwavering discriminative knowledge of the Seer and Nature.
- The yogi develops this perfect knowledge through seven
- The practice of the things subservient to
Yoga gives the
light of knowledge which destroys the impurities preventing complete
- The things subservient to Yoga (called the eight
limbs of yoga) are :
- Yama - ethical restraints
- Niyama - ethical observances
- Asana - postures
- Pranayama - breath and prana control.
- Pratyahara - control of the senses by the
withdrawal of prana from them
- Dharana - single-point concentration
- Dhyana - unbroken concentration (meditation)
- Samadhi - superconsciousness.
- The yamas are nonviolence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya),
non-stealing (asteya), continence (bramacharya), and
- The practice of these is not limited by rank, place, time,
or circumstance. They are the universal great vows.
- The niyamas are purity (saucha), contentment (santosha),
ascetic disciplines (tapas), study and
meditation, and devotion to Ishvara.
- To counteract destructive attitudes one should cultivate
thoughts of the opposite kind.
- These destructive attitudes, as for example thoughts of
violence, whether they are done, caused to be done, or merely approved of;
whether motivated by greed, anger, or preceded by ignorance; and whether mild,
moderate, or extreme will result in infinite suffering and ignorance.
Therefore one should cultivate thoughts of the opposite kind.
- When nonviolence is firmly established then all living
beings will cease to feel enmity in one's presence.
- When truth is firmly established then all actions will bear
- When non-stealing is firmly established then all prosperity
- When continence is firmly established then vigor is gained.
- When nonpossessiveness is firmly established then knowledge
of former lives is gained.
- From purity comes protection of one's own body and
disinclination for contact with others.
- On the purification of the conscious mode of illumination (sattva)
one obtains serenity, power of single-point concentration, control of the
senses, and fitness for direct perception of Self.
- Contentment brings supreme happiness.
- Ascetic disciplines bring perfection of the body and senses
due to the destruction of impurities.
- By study and meditation comes
a direct realization of one's preferred Deity.
- By devotion to Ishvara comes the perfection of meditation (samadhi).
- Postures (asanas) should be steady and pleasant.
- Asanas are mastered by relaxed effort and remaining unaware
of the body.
- From that one is no longer disturbed by the dualities (ie.
pairs of opposites such as hot/cold, pleasure/pain, etc.)
- On asanas being mastered there follows control of the
movements of inspiration and expiration which is called pranayama.
- Modes of pranayama are when the breath is restrained
externally (ie. after expiration), or internally (ie. after inspiration), or
totally (ie. in mid-motion). Each mode is regulated by place (ie. the place in
the body the prana is held), by the length of time held, and by the
number of times performed, which can either be long or short.
- The fourth mode of pranayama is breath or prana restraint
between the outer and inner spheres. [Requires commentary]
- From the mastery of pranayama comes the removal of
ignorance covering the light of higher consciousness.
- And fitness of mind for single-point concentration (Dharana).
- When the psychic energy used by the senses is withdrawn
from their sense-objects, then it becomes identical to mental energy. This
process is called pratyahara.
- From that comes supreme control over the senses.
Book III : Powers (Vibhuti Pada)
- Dharana is focusing the attention of the mind on a
particular place or object.
- When in Dharana the flow of thought becomes continuous it
is called dhyana.
- When in Dhyana the object of concentration is seen in its
own light free from distortion by the mind it is called
- These three operating together is called Samyama.
- From the mastery of that comes the light of discriminative
- The application of discriminative knowledge is to discover
higher and higher states.
- These three constitute internal or direct means to
Yoga in comparison
with the first five limbs (called the external means).
- But these three are external means compared to the samadhi
"without seed" (nirvikalpa samadhi).
- By conscious control the non-meditative state (vyutthana)
disappears as a wave of mental control is generated. The moment of control
when the mind is concerned with both states is called the mode of control (nirodhaparinamah).
- When this mode becomes a uniform flow the mind is peaceful
due to its inherent nature.
- When the mind reaches the mode of samadhi (samadhiparinamah)
the apparent multiplicity of the universe disappears and its unity arises.
- When the mind reaches the mode of one-pointedness (ekagrataparinamah)
the mental wave that has subsided is similar to the wave that has risen.
- In a similar way the three-fold changes in form, character,
and state regarding the elements and senses are explained.
- A substance (dharmi) is that which undergoes
changes in properties (dharma) either past, present, or yet to come.
- The effects of the succession of changes becomes the cause
of subsequent changes.
- By Samyama on the three-fold change already explained one
gains knowledge of the past and future.
- By Samyama on the distinction between the name, the object
named, and its idea - three aspects normally considered intermingled - comes
understanding of the sounds of all living beings.
- By Samyama on subconscious impressions (samsara)
one gains knowledge of previous lives.
- By Samyama on mental processes one gains knowledge of the
minds of others.
- But not the contents of other minds as the aim is not to be
identified with the lives of others.
- By Samyama on the form of the body the power of observing
that form is checked as its light is displaced from the eyes of an observer.
This is called the power of concealment.
- Also by this the power of the concealment of speech is
- By Samyama on actions (karma) which will bear
fruit either soon or much later, or from the portents of extraordinary
happenings, comes knowledge of the time of death.
- By Samyama on friendliness, compassion, etc. arises the
fruits of these attitudes.
- By Samyama on various powers such as the strength of an
elephant one obtains this strength.
- By Samyama on the shining Inner Light comes knowledge of
what is subtle, hidden, or remote.
- By Samyama on the sun comes knowledge of the world.
- By Samyama on the moon comes knowledge of the star systems.
- By Samyama on the pole star comes knowledge of the motions
of the stars.
- By Samyama on the navel comes knowledge of the systems of
- By Samyama on the hollow of the throat one stills hunger
- By Samyama on the nerve called kurma (situated below the
hollow of the throat) comes complete firmness of body.
- By Samyama on the shining light from the aperture in the
skull comes direct perception of perfected beings (siddha).
- Or by Samyama on the light of intuitive knowledge (pratibhad)
comes all knowledge (ie. discriminative knowledge).
- By Samyama on the heart comes knowledge of the content of
- Enjoyment comes from a failure to discriminate between the
conscious mode of illumination (sattva) and Purusha. These are
absolutely different because sattva exists for the sake of Purusha. By doing
Samyama on the independence of Purusha comes knowledge of the nature of
- From that Samyama comes supernatural perceptions of
hearing, sensation of touch, vision, taste, and smell.
- These are obstacles to samadhi, but supernatural powers in
the non-meditative state (vyutthana).
- By the relaxation of the causes of bondage (bandha),
and by knowledge of the flow of vital currents and of the mind (chitta),
one obtains the power of entry into the bodies of others.
- By controlling the vital current udana (through
Samyama) one can pass over water, mud, thorns, etc. and leave the body at
- By controlling the vital current samana (through
Samyama) one appears surrounded by blazing light.
- By Samyama on the relationship between the ear and space (akasha)
comes supernatural hearing.
- By Samyama on the relationship between the body and space,
the body becomes as light as cotton and one can walk through the air.
- By Samyama on that mode of mental activity external to the
body, called the great disembodiedness (mahavideha), comes the
destruction of the covering of the light of consciousness.
- By Samyama on their gross nature (sthula), their
essential attributes (svarupa), their subtle nature (suksama),
their relative qualities (anvaya), and their purposes (arthavattva),
comes mastery over the elements (bhuta).
- From that mastery comes the eight great perfections (mahasiddhi),
excellence of the body, and a consciousness of its indestructible qualities.
- Excellence of the body consists in complexion, beauty,
strength, and hardness like adamant.
- By Samyama on the properties of the senses which are
specialized receptivity (grahana), their essential attributes (svarupa),
knowledge of self (asmita), their relative qualities (anvaya),
and their purposes (arthavattva), comes mastery over the senses.
- From that one obtains speed of mind (ie. power to move the
body as quickly as the mind), the power of perception without the bodily
senses, and victory over nature. [These are called the honey-like perfections
(madhupratika) - from commentary by
- By Samyama on the conscious principle (sattva) as
manifested by the internal instrument (antakarana), comes
discriminative knowledge of sattva and Purusha. From this one gains supremacy
over all existence and distinctive knowledge of all entities. [This is called
"free from suffering" (visoka) - from commentary by
- By nonattachment to even these powers comes the destruction
of the seed of bondage leading to absolute freedom (kaivalya).
- When allured by celestial beings [ie. beings who have
become "merged in Nature" - see Book I:19] one should neither form any
attachments nor show amazement as this could again lead to ignorance.
- By Samyama on indivisible moments of time and their order
comes discriminative knowledge.
- From that one can discriminate between two similar objects
which cannot be distinguished by class, particular properties, or position.
- This saving (ie. from the bondage of ignorance)
discriminative knowledge includes all objects and every aspect of them
- When the conscious principle sattva and
Purusha have equal purity, then absolute freedom (kaivalya)
Book IV : Absolute Freedom (Kaivalya Pada)
- Supernatural powers may be obtained either through birth,
or by using drugs, or through (sacred) chants (Mantra),
or by ascetic disciplines (tapas), or from the superconscious state (samadhi).
- Change from one class to another comes from the inflow of
- Deeds are not the actual cause of this change, but they
break the obstacles holding back the flow of nature just as a farmer can open
an irrigation gate allowing the water to flow through.
- Mindstuff (chittam) is created from the material
of self-consciousness (asmita). [Requires commentary.]
- The multiple activities of the numerous created minds are
controlled by the original mind.
- Only the mind attained through
meditation is free from desires.
- The actions (karma) of yogis are neither pure nor
dark; for others they are either pure, pure and dark, or dark.
- From the storehouse of drives (karmas) only those
tendencies arise which are able to bear fruit.
- There is a consecutiveness between memory and subconscious
impressions (samsara), which are not different, although separated by
class, space, and time.
- These impressions have no beginning since desires are
- All these impressions are hold together by cause (the
afflictions and their results [refer to Book II:3]), effect (experiences of
pleasure and pain, substratum (the mind itself which "supports" the
impressions), and object (the sense-objects which give rise to the
impressions); in the absence of these the impressions are destroyed.
- Objects retain their essential nature, but there is a
change in qualities from past to future.
- The qualities are either manifested or subtle, being of the
nature of the natural processes (gunas).
- Because of the unity of changes in the gunas, there is
unity in all objects.
- Objects remain the same although perceived differently by
- And an object cannot be said to be dependent on a single
mind, since in the absence of that mind what would then happen to the object?
- An object is either known or unknown to the mind according
as the mind is affected or not affected by its coloring.
- Because Purusha - the master of mind - is not affected, all
modes of mind are always known to it.
- Mind is not self-luminous because it is knowable.
- And it is not possible for the mind to perceive both itself
and sense-objects at the same time.
- If part of the mind was knowable by another part then that
part would be knowable by a third part and so on, which would result in a
confusion of memories.
- The Purusha, although itself changeless, is reflected in
the understanding mind which thereby takes the form of the pure intelligence
- The mind colored by the Seer (Purusha) and the seen is able
to understand all the objective universe.
- Although equipped and variegated with innumerable
tendencies and impressions, the mind exists for the sake of another (ie. the
Purusha) because it operates in association.
- For one with subtle perception the (false idea of the )
identity of mind and Purusha completely ceases.
- Surely at that time the mind of one with such
discriminative knowledge becomes serene and directed towards absolute freedom
- The other thoughts that arise in the intervals of that mind
are from the subconscious impressions (samsaras).
- The removal of these is in the same manner as described for
the afflictions. [Refer to Book II:10]
- When one is free from desire for any fruit even in the
state of highest illumination, then from constant and continuous knowledge
comes that state of consciousness called "the cloud of virtue" (dharmameghah
- From that comes the cessation of the afflictions and the
fruits of works.
- And at that time because of the infiniteness of the
knowledge of that mind free of all coverings from the afflictions, the
knowable universe appears small.
- Then, having fulfilled their purpose, the successive modes
of the natural processes (gunas) comes to an end.
- The succession of changes consists of an uninterrupted
sequence of moments which are recognized as distinct at the end (of a series)
- Absolute freedom (kaivalya) is when the gunas, no
longer needed for the sake of
resolved into their original state (Prakriti),
or when the energy of consciousness is established in its own nature.
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