Why Patanjali's Yoga Sutras Have Remained Inaccessible: The Basis of the Muddle

This will be a deconstruction of the samkhya interpretative "bias" of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. It is offered, not in order to attack samkhya, but rather to show how samkhya is an imperfect tool to interpret the profound and more ancient experientially based integrative system of authentic yoga. An analogy would be the attempt to give a critique about automobile mechanics, where the author has no hands-on practical understanding or experience in auto mechanics. Hence, this deconstruction is in order, because the vast majority of Yoga Sutra translations and interpretations have been interpreted through the eyes of samkhya academicians and philosophical tradition, while missing the main points of Patanjali's yoga from the perspective of the ancient mountain yogi or forest dweller. The "Yoga Sutras As-It Is" translation and commentary, in contrast to samkhya, considers the Yoga Sutras to be wholly based in praxis, not theory. Further, if one simply wants to describe the practice of yoga as an outsider, within a philosophical context, samkhya is an imperfect vehicle, because it is not integrative. Although adherents to samkhya might claim that samkhya is infallible in explaining the entire universe, its view of the universe is disjointed, reductionist, and dead. The translation and commentary in the "Yoga Sutras-As-It-Is" will show that the proto-tantric context is better suited to glean the deeper and profound meaning of yoga fully, being devoid of ambiguity.

Here, the inquisitive seeker, looking for the unadulterated ancient yoga, will thus discover a fresh, alive, rich, and much more germane "life-positive" modern interpretation. This perspective links the ancient and the modern without being side-tracked in the trap of philosophical speculation and manmade tradition. It is the compelling of the author's heart to reveal the Yoga Sutras in its profound simplicity, naked, unadorned by dogma, universal, and accessible to modern human beings freed from samkhya's institutionalized bias.

Where samkhya saw "the world" as suffering, threatening, and perhaps overwhelming, they concocted a system to escape and isolate one from it. Of course, they inquired to a limited degree "who" it was "who" was pained and suffered, but their investigation did not go far enough, because they relied entirely on analytical and reductionist techniques. Discriminating awareness is indeed necessary at first, but it must be honed into discriminatory wisdom (viveka khyatir). Samkhya remains mired in conceptual awareness (vikalpa) and dualistic analysis, while Patanjali teaches the opposite as the path to liberation.

Yoga is praxis, not theory. Yoga is based on mutuality, union, interconnection, and integration, not separation and isolation. The Yoga Sutras act as a guide book for that practice. The attempt to understand yoga intellectually without experiential practice will only confuse the intellect or make it appear mystical or complex. Direct experience clears away all speculative doubts. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras are plain, simple, and easy to understand by any one who has practiced some degree of meditation and yoga functionally as Patanjali suggests. Just as it is difficult to understand a swimming manual, unless one has seen some water, and it is even easier if one has waded in a bit and tried to float; similarly, once one starts meditation and yoga, a "good" translation of the Yoga Sutras may prove to be a helpful adjunct (that is, if you can find one). A microscope may be a good tool to use to study amoeba, but it fails as an effective tool to study the stars. Just so, the "context" of samkhya may be helpful under some circumstances, but it fails utterly in explaining yoga.

It is not uncommon today, both in the East and the West to imagine that "reality" is complex, hence the more complex things appear, the closer it is to "reality". This translation takes the opposite tack, revealing the beauty, power, intricacies, and integrity of Sri Patanjali's Yoga Sutras without making it seem complex, hidden, or arcane. Yoga is not complex, but it may be subtle, profound, beyond the intellect's ability to grasp; it's success being the result of finesse and nuance.

Most Westerners who have become interested in hatha yoga asana practice eventually want to deepen their understanding of yoga by searching through classical yoga literature, of which Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is the most prominent (having undergone over fifty different translations into English alone). Tragically, however, because of a long standing institutionalized conventional interpretation, which was taken to be authoritative (detailed below), the Yoga Sutras have heretofore appeared needlessly frustrating, arcane, cryptic, complicated, and inaccessible to most readers. To remedy that muddle, this work is dedicated to the sincere aspirant of truth, who will not accept some body else's belief system as an adequate answer. Indeed the Yoga Sutras may "appear" cryptic to those who do not practice yoga or to those who are otherwise confused, but the Yoga Sutras are perfectly clear andunderstandable in the light of genuine yogic experience (derived from practice).

The purpose of this chapter is not to rail against linear and dysfunctional institutions and their sycophants, but rather disclose the underlying institutionalized forces that operate behind the scenes to make the Yoga Sutras less than accessible and self empowering, hence enabling the reader to recognize such bias and become free from such impositions and initiations. When that obstruction is removed, then the universal underlying principle of unlimited light and love will shine forth naturally.

Who Wrote the Sutras and When

Patanjali composed the Yoga Sutras as a compendium of an ancient and pre-existing ancient indigenous oral yoga tradition of which he was an accomplished practitioner. The date that various "historians" attribute to his compendium varies from 100 BCE to 300 CE. It is the subject of controversy. Regarding the actual time of the writings, two things can be made clear, however.The Patanjali who composed the Yoga Sutras, was not the same person as the ancient grammarian, also named Patanjali. Although the names are the same, the style and meaning of their works are entirely different. Thus we conclude that the author of the Yoga Sutras was indeed a yogi, but not a grammarian (although his Sanskrit grammar may have been excellent).

Secondly, because of the absence of any prior written commentaries (bhasya) to the Yoga Sutras that are dated before the fourth century CE, some academicians speculate that this is so because Patanjali must have written the Yoga Sutras immediately prior to the time of Vyasa's first commentary (bhasya) on the Yoga Sutras. Although it is true that no extant commentaries on the Yoga Sutras have yet to be found that predate the 4th century, such a recent date cannot be reliably justified on the basis of the otherwise equally untenable claim by samkhya scholars, that the Yoga Sutras cannot be understood without Vyasa's strongly samkhya biased commentary. The absence of yogic texts let alone written commentaries are not uncommon to the indigenous oral yoga traditions. This was true also for Buddhist sutras also, which were memorized and disseminated orally until the the beginning of the first milleniumn BCE; while not requiring commentaries. They stood very well by themselves, as long as yogis practiced the teachings. Having said that, the more recent (modern) date seems more accurate, not because of the perceived need for an adjunctive philosophical commentary, but simply because the content, especially considering chapters three and four, speaks to the post Mauryan period or Golden Era.

Given the contextual content, language, and style there is excellent evidence that the Yoga Sutras are a compilation of ancient yogic teachings stemming from pre-Buddhist times to about the dawn of tantra, placing its date of composition in India past the Mauryan period collapse and into the beginning of the Golden Age (Gupta period), which was greatly influenced by the parallel proliferation of both Buddhism and Hinduism.It must be pointed out that the ancient Yogis did not live in academia, monasteries, nor were they wont to wet their pens (if they had any) over written documents; rather they were practicing yogis. The methods and practices described by Patanjali are clearly outlined in the Yoga Sutras, none of which include philosophical study or analysis. Rather it seems clear that Patanjali wished to discourage analytical, conceptual, and philosophical approaches in order to realize the highest transconceptual (nirvikalpa) non-dual (asamprajnata) samadhi. Regarding Vyasa, and the subsequent samkhya tradition of interpretation, Georg Feuerstein writes:

"Whatever the real name`of the author of the Yoga-Bhasya may have been, it is improbable that he was a protagonist of Patanjali's school of Yoga. There is reason to believe that he in fact belonged to a particular Samkhya school. As one may expect, his knowledge of the Yoga system as outlined in the aphorisms is that of an empathetic outsider -- and this appears to be the case with all the other exegetes as well. None of the extant Sanskrit commentaries can be said to be said to be by a proponent of Patanjali's school ...There is always a slight possibility that somewhere in one of the Indian libraries, among literally thousands of hitherto unread manuscripts, there may still be a copy of a Sanskrit commentary which was written by a disciple of Patanjali."

~ Georg Feuerstein, p. 4, "The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali: A New Translation and Commentary", Inner Traditions, Rochester, VT., 1989.

Seers, or Munis living in mountain caves, forest hermitages, frequenting the banks of rivers, or in remote areas depended on an extant and vastly more relevant and adequate living oral tradition, and thus inside of that context, there existed little need for book study or written commentaries. In deed what separates yoga from mere book study, philosophy, or religion is that its success is entirely dependent upon experiential yogic practice and direct spiritual experience through the living and creative embodiment of primordial light.

Samkhya philosophers and grammarians justify their intellectual and scholarly interspersion of the Yoga Sutras despite the fact that Patanjali never once recommends the study of philosophy or grammar, nor does he even once recommend intellectual logical approaches or word meanings as a means toward realizing samadhi. In fact samadhi is the opposite process -- it is realized by clearing the mind from thought processes, mental habits, and obstructive content. In fact Sri Patanjali warns against inference, conceptualization, memorization of ideology, the use of words, and other such artifices in so far they are impediments to realizing samadhi, which becomes clear in the last stages of dhyana (meditation), which is the seventh step of Patanjali's ashtanga (eight step) yoga system. Indeed all individual conceptual thinking processes (vikalpa) have to be given up in order for yogic realization. Then the natural universal light which knows no bounds shines through the unoccluded mind.

Sutra I.3 tada drastuh svarupe avasthanam

"then, the seer dwells in his own true splendor".

translation by B.K.S. Iyengar

Tradition-bound Indian academicians, scholars, pandits, acharyas, shastries, religionists, intellectuals, and philosophers most often contend that the Yoga Sutras can not stand on its own. They assert that it was written in an arcane and terse manner intended for commentaries to explain, but many scholars like S.N. Dasgupta and T.S. Rukmani admit that Patanjali most likely lived somewhere between the 2nd century BCE and the 1st century CE, while the first commentary (by Vyasa) is dated to be somewhere between the 4th and 5th centuries CE. Thus it is wise to assume that Patanjali composed the Yoga Sutras to stand alone inside of its own integrity, verified by yogic practice. To those devoid of yogic insight, they have tried to wrap their minds around it in a conceptual manner, but such is doomed to fail as Patanjali warns. Those devoid of yogic insight will have difficulty understanding the Yoga Sutras as-it-is. Those non-yogis (see Pada 4.7) have decided that it is arcane and cryptic because of their dependence upon arcane interpretative commentaries which indeed make it appear even more arcane. In fact the Yoga Sutras is a rich and wise book emanating from a living eternal system (Sanatana Dharma) which comes very much alive when opened through yogic insight, which in turn has become activated through authentic yogic practice.

In order to justify their assertion, the samkhya scholars and grammarians, interpret the word, sutra, as meaning "terse", in a sense of being arcanely short requiring their expert commentary in order to be "correctly" interpreted; yet it is only terse in the sense that it is elegant, concise. and complete. No doubt the Yoga Sutras may appear arcane to a non-yogi, but to a practitioner it contains many instructions which are gems when not viewed through the eyes of intellectual or philosophical filters. The word, sutra, simply means thread, and Sri Patanjali has woven a thread of integrity through out the Yoga Sutras as a whole, each sutra completing each other disclosing an overall Universal Unity. Although Sri Patanjali puts out his gems in short sutras, they should not be taken as aphorisms, but rather as integral parts of a non-contradicting whole capable of standing complete in its own right. Traditionally sutras may be long or short, such as found in the Buddhist Sutras, Bhakti Sutras, Brahma Sutras, etc. One thing they should not be is arcane.

This point must be made clear, that the yoga teachings, as composed in Patanjali's compendium, stem from a very ancient pre-existing indigenous oral teaching which saw fit for many centuries not to write anything down. In fact this mountain yoga experiential tradition has existed far before samkhya philosophical systems existed Hence is not dependent upon samkhya commentaries in order to be explained. In fact transmission in this tradition was not only outside of the intellect, but was transverbal, even trans-oral; i.e., via meditation, gaze, look, touch, intent, presence, dream state, or other more subtle methods (such methods still being utilized today). In fact there were warnings about writing down the oral yoga teachings which were held secret (gupta) because of the fear that "outsiders" would misinterpret, distort, and expropriate it. Nonetheless, despite Patanjali's good intentions, his words have been widely twisted by those whose very devotion to words, books, ideology, academic debate, dogma, and religion have superseded their devotion to the omnipresent trans-rational universal truth (the latter being the authentic subject of the Yoga Sutras.

For example, a human being will tend to see "the world" through the five or six human senses, but the same world would be perceived differently by a dolphin, a bat, an ant, or an amoeba. In yoga, the goal is the union with Universal truth, not a personal or isolated truth based on any one species, sense organ, creed, bias, nationality, race, or philosophical coloring. Only if one were to free oneself from all types of prejudicial conjecture, then, truth as-it-is, could be experienced in Sat-Cit-Ananda. The Yoga Sutras are at once to viewed within a continuous unbroken trans-time/space continuum, and also simultaneously manifesting at a point within time and space. Utilizing comparative language, style, terminology, and thought patterns that are coherent to a specific location and time period, rather than through a filter of philosophical bias and belief systems, one will find both Buddhist and Jain features as well a proto-tantric ideas presented, although the orthodox religionist and dogmatist will for the most part deny such an analysis.

Therefore, due to the proto-tantric methods found in Pada 3 and the non-dual perspective found in Pada 4, one must conclude that the Yoga Sutras were completed circa 300 CE; while the grammarian, Patanjali lived some 500 years earlier. Whether the Yoga Sutras is the work of a singular man or of a group, is not possible to be determined. However, if one considers Pada 1 as a summary of the general ancient principles of yoga existing before Patanjali's time, then a singular author would be a logical deduction.

Was This an Innocent Action of Institutionalized Bias and and Predilection or Was it a Conscious Attempt to Distort and Own the Yoga Sutras Through the Institutionalization of Authoritative Commentaries

Yoga being based on experiential knowledge, it necessarilly derives "view" from experience. Here theoria is derived from praxis. Hence in the system of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, "proven theory" (pramana) which supports the common form of most belief systems serves as a severe discoloring agent whose filter places a severe limitation upon experience and authentic living. Adherence to pramana is perhaps the number one obstacle today in preventing authentic spiritual awakening. It serves bondage and restriction unless it is "view" derived from our own naked yogic experience. Authentic Yoga is not concerned with endless schemes of systemization, categorization, elaboration, enumeration, factualization, fractualization, or objectification of experience, which most often leads to further misappropriations of "self" into the further abyss of alienation, numbness, abstraction, reification, and eventual disempowerment. Sycophancy is countered by critical and creative thought honed by practice.

Professor Ian Whicher in his book, "The Integrity of the Yoga Darshana", State University of New York Press, 1998, sums up the philosophical misrepresentation of Yoga as ontology versus praxis in this way:

"This study has attempted to counter the radically dualistic, isolationistic, and ontologically oriented interpretations of yoga presented by many scholars -- where the full potentialities of our human embodiment are constrained in a radical, rigid, dualistic metaphysical structure -- and propose instead an open-ended morally and epistemologically oriented hermeneutic that frees Yoga of the long standing conception of spiritual isolation, disembodiment, self-denial, and world-negation and thus from its pessimistic image..."

"Our study suggests that Patanjali has far too often been misinterpreted or misrepresented due to the use of inappropriate methodology; partial and misleading definitions of Sanskrit yogic terms and reductionistic hermeneutics leading to an imposed radical dualistic finality or closure to Patanjali's perspective of Yoga. many scholars have repeatedly given ontological definitions and explanations for terms that, this study maintains, are more appropriately understood with an epistemological emphasis. Consequently the specialized sense inherent in Yoga soteriology is diminished. the soteriological intent of yoga need not preclude the possibility for an integrated, embodied state of liberated identity. A bias is invariably created within the language encountered in the translations and interpretations of the Yoga Sutra resulting in an over emphasis on content, due consideration not having been given to form, structure, and function."

"It is crucial to view Yoga contextually -- as it is understood, experienced, and embodied by the yogin -- and not simply to impute a content system to the whole system of Yoga".

This systemic blight has demeaned most every institutionalized religion, belief system, ideology, and philosophical system .Similarly in Christianity there existed a large diversity of opinions (especially between Paul on one hand and James and Peter on the other) about the teachings of Yeshua ben Josef during the formation of the Christian Church. Of course the Pauline persuasion aggressively won out and was supported by the Nicene council and the political might of the Roman Empire. Certainly there had existed contrary opinions by those who were aware of the danger of co-optation and manipulation of the "pure" teachings. In fact such self serving political maneuvers are not uncommon. There were many such as the Essenes and so called Gnostics who avoided such political maneuvering, choosing instead to keep their faith alive by practicing in remote areas and caves in the deserts and remote mountains, some of whom headed Eastward.

"And after this, let him partake of bread and salt with him who commits them to him...

James having thus spoken, the elders were in an agony of terror. Therefore James, perceiving that they were greatly afraid, said: "Hear me, brethren and fellow-servants. If we should give the books to all indiscriminately, and they should be corrupted by any daring men, or be perverted by interpretations, as you have heard that some have already done, it will remain even for those who really seek the truth, always to wander in error. Wherefore it is better that they should be with us, and that we should communicate them with all the fore-mentioned care to those who wish to live piously, and to save others. But if any one, after taking this adjuration, shall act otherwise, he shall with good reason incur eternal punishment. For why should not he who is the cause of the destruction of others not be destroyed himself?

From the Collection of the Early Church (Christian) Fathers, "The Epistle of Peter to James"

The war on truth being so widespread and pervasive it is accurate to consider such as insidious. Those who spread ignorance and deception are always deceived themselves. Such deceit may very as to conscious intent, but deceit it is regardless. Albeit distinctions between conscious lies (admitting to oneself that one is lying) as distinct from repeating a lie because that is has become one's belief or truth is a relative distinction. History is always rewritten by those in power, in an attempt to justify and consolidate its own advantage. Hence most often political intrigue, empires based on deceit, and jealous power mongers feel threatened by the truth (which empowers free men and hence a potential rival). Keeping people dumb, confused, and subservient by external authority and control systems are thus one way of maintaining security by status quo elements who are afraid of losing advantage -- who fear the people, the truth, and are steeped in greed, attachment, jealousy, arrogance, intrigue, and contempt.

Authentic yoga is designed to liberate the practitioner from their bonds of ignorance and thus is essentially self empowering. If truth were easily known, then free and enlightened societies would be pervasive on the planet. Rather when we see widespread suffering, frustration, grief, slavery, war, strife, disparity, struggle, and confusion one recognizes the absence of truth or more than likely its conscious suppression is evidenced. An effective selfish mechanism used for millennia has been to suppress the truth by advocating and propagating a self serving deception (propaganda) which in one fell swoop demonizes, demeans, and/or destroys the truth and their advocates; while at the same time establishes a self promoting belief system glorifying or justifying the lie as necessary or noble. Such empires reward their servants, while punishing those who appear to threaten their rule -- who do not "tow the line".

A proven mechanism is inhibition and punishment of creative and critical thought, curiosity, and free inquiry; while on the other hand demanding obedience. loyalty, and conformity to the standardized, approved, and "right" conventional "reality". This is done by Denying the validity of a person's own experience and feelings. Such extracts oneself from their inner wisdom and innate self confidence -- their ability to know through their own deepest heart/core experience. So first the individual must be disempowered and disconnected from their innate ability to know directly without "official" authoritarian intervention". Then having become disconnected and learned to distrust one's own feelings as "bad". wrong, or evil,the individual then places seeks externally and misplaces trust in external authority figures and institutions. Since authentic yoga is designed to bring the practitioner back in touch with their innate teacher who is within, hence it naturally may appear as a threat to systems which depend on mass confusion, fear, and dependence upon external authoritarian or totalitarian systems.

When that inner teacher is awakened, then one sees that same teaching going on in all relationships. In a society ruled by established self interest groups, it is often the case that a self promoting war on truth occurs in all sectors; in schools, "trusted" institutions, the media, publishing, academia, and organized religion. It exists when ever there exist frightened, greedy, jealous, and ignorant men.

These kind of dynamics of belief systems and socioeconomic institutions -- between church and state sanctioned institutions -- have existed in many forms of self serving empires for millennia. In an enlightened society populated by enlightened beings, such will end. Yoga thus is at one end of this spectrum of awakening the human being. Those who would obstruct this process of evolution do so of course out of ignorance and pain -- mostly because they are unconscious of their true nature -- of their highest creative potential. To a greater or more or lesser extent, the teachings teachings which reveal truth have become suppressed by the legions and lesions of institutionalized ignorance. The Mountain Yoga teachings is no exception. It has flourished extant because it exists outside of conventional societies and political boundaries, in the wildwoods and mountain caves, but only recently these natural settings have become threatened and in many cases made unsafe through political intrigue.

"The way in which the manifold emerges from the One has been the special domain of enquiry of Yoga and Samkhya ontology. In the various schools of these two great traditions, a good many cosmogenic models have been elaborated, which are, on the whole, fairly similar to each other. Contrary to general opinion, I regard these models not so much as purely speculative constructions, but as a mixture of a priori theorising and a posteriori explanations of concrete yogic experiences. These models are used by the yogin to orient himself on his inward odyssey. They are primarily practical maps for the process of involution, and secondarily desriptive accounts of the gigantic process of cosmic evolution.

Over a hundred years ago, H. T. Colerbrooke, who was one of the first orientalists to pay any attention to Yoga, argued that the philosophy of nature propounded in Yoga is that of the Classical Samkhya -- an infelicitous assumption, which even a whole century of research seems to have failed to amend. The fact is that Patanjali's cosmogonic model has not only *not* been adopted lock, stock, and barrel from the Samkhya of Isvara Krishna, but it is a quite self-reliant formulation, which, moreover, is more appealing theoretically than its Samkhya duplicate. The latter has lost much of the map character spoken of above, and has been turned into a rather formalistic structure. This difference is to be explained by the fact that has moved away from yogic experiementation which was still part and parcel of the epic Samkhya schoos, and developed a strong rationaistic bias where speculation takes the place once assigned to experience."

~ Georg Feuerstein , "The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali", 1989, pp. 14-15.

In the case of the Yoga Sutras, there exists a very long list of "classic" samkhya commentaries by philosophers, scholars, pandits, religionists, and ideologues whose colored lens often have become heavy. Some have used highly technical and mechanical grammatical approaches in order to interpret decipher the Yoga Sutras. Again we acknowledge that the most early extant (4th to 5th century CE) commentary is attributed to the samkhya philosopher, Vyasa. This in turn was followed additional commentaries upon his commentary and so forth so that the Yoga Sutras became studied as if it was only necessary to read Vyasa's commentary. Most notably the Yogasutrabhasya of Vyasa, the Yoga-sara-sangraha and Yoga-varttika of Vijnanabhiksu, the Tattva-vaisharadi of Vachaspati Mishra, the Raja-marttanda by Bhojaraja, the Yogasutrabhasyavivarana of Shankara start off with commentaries on Vyasa's interpretation. These in turn have commentaries, glosses, and so forth, so that the budding student's accuracy is sanctioned upon such memorization.

The written commentaries and glosses are quite large and continues to expand every day feeding off each other as if there is an intellectual contest (driven by the lower powers of ego; ahamkara, buddhi, manas) attempting each to outshine each other being based on the samkhya assumptions of Vyasa, and the various trains of the grammarians, pandits, academicians, priests, and other "authorities" who accept the samkhya convoluted interpretative bias as being unmistakably correct and authoritative. That vast literary tradition is acknowledged, and with that its intellectual brightness. But here we chose to understand Patanjali's Yoga Sutras through a different lens, based upon his own words and intact integrity, without reading more into it than from the mountain yoga tradition (the tradition of cave dwellers, forest meditators, and wilderness dwellers) -- through yogic insight born of yogic practice as outlined in the Yoga Sutras itself. In this new way, we will not be dependent upon the the literary or philosophical lenses of the commentators and the vast corpus of religious and samkhya literature, but rather look to that non-dual timeless source which is what Patanjali himself suggests.

Like Buddhism, the Yoga Sutras were seen as a threat to the position and authority of pre-existing orthodox ideology as well as Brahmanism, ceremony, masters trained in ritual, worshipers of idols, the caste system, and traditional institutionalized thought patterns of the of the time. This is mainly because Yoga is an independent system from such manmade traditions.

Naturally, the Yoga Sutras did came out of India; it used the Sanskrit language, and utilized some of the traditional Indian philosophical terminology such as found in conventional Vedic and samkhya philosophy, but that does not mean that it was a repeat of that. Rather the Yoga Sutras clearly advocated a non-religious path independent of scripture, priesthood, caste systems, external authority, ideology, ceremony, belief systems, and conceptual thought forms. As such it appeared as a threat to certain vested self interest groups, if allowed to stand by itself. Hence certain self protective status quo forces (orthodoxy if you will) reacted by attempting to co-opt and expropriate it. At best one could say that they interpreted Patanjali's Yoga Sutras in a way that suited their established self interests.

Since very little about the mountain yogi tradition was written down previously (being an ancient oral tradition), it was hard for the orthodoxy to attack yoga (defending their position that people needed to depend upon them) until a written text such as the Yoga Sutras became extant. But after the Yoga Sutras were written, then the orthodoxy exploited this opportunity to expropriate and divert this indigenous and self empowering movement and independent free teaching. The Yoga Sutras explain a hitherto esoteric oral spiritual teaching of developing one's intuition, inner truth, inner teacher, and self effulgent inner wisdom and being instructed from that. What was an experiential method based on self study, practice, self empowerment, and immanent universal all pervading presence had to be hi-jacked into a system that depended upon external authority, belief systems, priesthood, and reductionist analytical elaborations and gibberish which belonged to the offices of the academia, priesthoods, and grammar, not the mountain yogi.

Objective historians have found throughout time that selfish self interested power groups have historically acted out of pride, fear, jealousy, and prejudice to turn "reality" into purposes for self propagation, self promotion, pride, security, exploitation of others, control, and self enfranchisement. In this case, i am suggesting that consciously or not, the yogic teachings of Patanjali were distorted to serve ulterior status quo self interest groups. This thesis can be expanded to state that such happened to the indigenous yoga of Bharat (India), and in particular to yoga, before the Aryan invasions (circa 1700 BC).

It is undeniable that some sort of expropriation of the indigenous gods and of yoga by the Aryan Indo-European Sanskrit speaking invaders did occur. It was then accompanied by either a demonization of those who did not convert (the indigenous tribal groups, gypsies, and the munis to a great extent) and/or an attempt to expropriate and incorporate their beliefs within the Aryan purview. The caste system for example served the purpose to control and order society through a religious ideology which justified it.

The munis, recluses, non-conformists, free thinkers, and dedicated uncompromised seekers of truth (practitioners of yoga) however remained an independent movement free from caste systems, religious ceremony, customs, "isms", institutions of control and fear as the sociopolitical, cultural, and language contexts shifted in the mainstream society after the Aryan invasions. The yogis and munis being uncompromised and non-conformist free thinkers were capable of making their own decisions apart from the mainstream Hindu orthodoxy. They were not involved in or attached to "normal" socioeconomic materialistic pursuits, attachments, desire, status, greed, jealousies, competition, etc; but rather were content in the wildwoods and nature. Those who desired to practice yoga, knew where to find these recluse "drop outs" as ask them for yoga teachings..

It was thus only after Patanjali compiled the Yoga Sutras in a succinct compendium that orthodoxy was moved to expropriate and spin it to conform to their fancy; i.e., turn it into an intellectual, philosophical, or acceptable religious treatise that supports their own belief system. A careful reading of Patanjali contains absolutely no such religious or philosophical trappings, reflecting instead a universal indigenous teaching. Only when we read Patanjali's interpreters that religious paradigms become compounded and expanded. In short, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras lends itself to non-religious, non-racial, and non-nationalistic interpretations.

That is why in this new yogic translation we go to Patanjali as authority, not Vyasa or his other religious, political, or chauvinistic interpreters. Although it seems to me that the logic of the samkhya interpreters is pitiful, none-the-less it won the stamp of approval by its own authorities (authority validates itself). For example, to be able to act as an interpreter of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, one must be at the very least a practitioner of what is being taught as yoga by Patanjali. To claim authority as an interpreter one must be familiar with what is being interpreted on a first hand basis. This is akin to having a tennis professional who has never taught mathematics, claim to explain the intricacies of mathematics, or a master linguist teaching tennis.

In contrast the following study has been a critical one questioning such stubbornly held assumptions, mindsets, and beliefs. It is my thesis that confused minds and prideful arrogance kept stirring the pot of confusion up until today (within unthinking, non-critical, and "authoritative" circles). Indeed the more externally authoritative and scarred one's upbringing and conditioning, the more children and victims bend over backwards to please and appease their oft angry patriarchs and "rulers" desiring to become accepted, recognized, rewarded, and made to feel loved and secure. These scars leave residual imprints and do not heal easily.

Even today if the mainstream authorities are shown to be "mistaken" most people (lacking in critical thought) just conveniently ignore it as such contradiction appears frightening. After all they have not been taught how to do any critical or creative thinking on their own (thinking outside of the box), and hence what contradicts the box thinking disturbs and threatens one's illusory false identification -- appearing to be a threat to "self" or ego. The ego (in asmita) then tends to defined itself most often through defensive/aggressive mechanisms of self justification and denial of which the conspiracy of pride, guilt, and arrogance often gets the pathological upper hand.

The degree of arrogance which is epidemic in this age is only surpassed by the human beings general lack of critical and creative thought -- lack of depth and heart felt cognizance. If in our youth we were able to see through this mask making facade of their elders revealing the ignorance, fear, denial, and false identifications that disguised the inherent truth, then a healthy evolutionary and natural expression of abundance which is capable of reversing the tendencies toward darkness and scarcity and strife could have been widely prevented. Such would have been given space to breathe and be born. Our present day stifling institutions reflect the transgenerational ego defenses having become institutionalized into programming pathological mindsets, beliefs, everyday paranoiac psychology, and sociopathic behavior into the youth, one must rebel and throw off such suppression in order to become free. This egoic based self perpetuating oppression of mankind has served to control and oppress living systems throughout millennia. It is due to the false identification of being apart from creation and evolution rather than being an intimate part therein. As such it is reinforced by a collective associative complicity, resentment, and guilt, based on denial and ignorance. Such are the building blocks of the modern rampant denial, arrogance, and need for self justification by those who would want to live in a self deceiving delusion of suffering and conflict, rather than by bravely questioning the illusions prevalent to our day -- thus in a yogic sense preventing the victory of truth and reality over falsehood and illusion. The common insistence by samkhya adherents that the explanation of yoga belongs to them alone is entirely from an overblown ego. Although samkhya is indeed a profound analytical tool, it should bow down to the transcendent wisdom described in the Yoga Sutras.

The Background of the Sat (Six) Darshana

To be clear this author has no grudge against philosophers or grammarians, rather she is pointing out that there is harm in claiming exclusive ownership of the Yoga Sutras. Such dramas are the work of samsaric magicians and their servants, and hence not worthy to attempt an honest, unbiased, and fair interpretation. The intent here is to disclose the hidden underlying factors which have served to obscure and imprison the true yogic meaning contained in Yoga Sutras and hence make the yogic depth portrayed in the Yoga Sutras more accessible to the true seeker.

Classical Indian academia is coincident upon the assumptions of the Vedas, grammar, logic, and epistemology -- later it attempted to sanction and classify additional schools of philosophy as being methods to study, explain, and expand upon that assumption. This orthodox academia thus declared that Patanjali's Yoga Sutras be placed inside of their system of Six (Sad) Darshanas -- their categorization system of correct Philosophy in which these Six Schools were representative. As such an attempt to co-opt the unorganized Mountain yogi tradition was established -- be it innocent, naive,or not.

Because yoga is not about philosophy, logic, or religion -- or really "about' any "thing", any attempt to stubbornly maintain to pigeon hole yoga, has created another avenue that has served to distort the profound teachings of the Yoga Sutras. Patanjali did not write the oral yoga tradition down to expand upon religion or philosophy, but rather in order to write down the ancient practices of (raj) yoga in a time when the oral tradition and people's accessibility to it were beginning to wane. As we will reiterate later, "The Yoga Sutras" are neither a philosophical system nor are do they adhere to any one religious bias, nor is it samkhya philosophy. Rather the Yoga Sutras have many Agamic and Tantric qualities (which are non-religious in origin). The Yoga Sutras do not espouse a religion, nor can it be said to belong to any one religion, rather they are best viewed as Universal independent of creed, race, nationality, time or place. Lastly, the imaginative immortalization of Patanjali as being a lotus born god written by fanciful writers who lived 1000 years after Patanjali, is not addressed here.

Further speculation, distortions, and imaginative intellectual twists of the "Yoga Sutras" context and purport commonly occur when such academic scholars or ideologues attempt to interpret Patanjali in terms of samkhya philosophy. Patanjali simply used samkhya because it was the prevailing philosophic language of the time. It was a starting point, but certainly it could not be limited as being samkhya, because samkhya had different goals. If that wasn't enough of a distortion, but rather to make matters worse, orthodox Indian academia and self indulgent intellectuals contradict themselves when they classify samkhya as one of the six darshanas and yoga as yet another, so even using the academic framework, it must be made clear that yoga can not be equivocated with samkhya nor can it be successfully interpreted through such a filter. Although it uses some common terms and even ideas, the yoga system as described by Patanjali can not be contained within samkhya nor can it be adequately interpreted by such. Yoga predates samkhya and is not samkhya.

In fact orthodox academia and self indulgent intellectuals created the sad-darshana system of classification within which they place yoga, in order to "own it", but such a classification system can not even withstand its own logic. Yoga exists entirely outside of this crude contrivation. Thus the fifth skew occurs in academia's need to interpret the Yoga Sutras on their own terms, but can the splendor of the lake be contacted through a mere drop on a spoon?.

The Sad (Six) Darshana (or views) are mostly translated as the Six Philosophies or Views that expand, elaborate, and reveal the teachings of the Vedas):

  1. Mimamsa: (codes of ceremonies, rites, and duties based on the Vedas and on the Mimamsa Sutra of Sage Jaimini
  2. Nyaya: a system of pure logical analysis based on the Nyaya Sutra of Sage Gautama utilizing perception, inference, comparison, and testimony to achieve its goal of right knowledge.
  3. Vaisesika (logical epistemological theory based on the immutability of the smallest building block of matter. It is elaborated by the Vaisesika-sutra of Sage Kannada) and utilizes only perception and inference to achieve right knowledge.
  4. Samkhya Philosophy (mostly based on the Samkhya Sutra of Sage Kapila). Samkhya is a non-theistic and mostly dualistic philosophical language dominant at the time of Buddha and Patanjali, hence both the Buddhist Sutras and Yoga Sutras contain many samkhya terms. However this would not mean that Buddhism, for example, is samkhya.
  5. Yoga Darshana (based on the Yoga Sutra Patanjali)
  6. Vedanta: philosophy based on the Brahma Sutras and the Upanishads.

The above is only a short outline of the traditional classification system called the Sad Darshana or the Six Ways of Seeing. Many people say that samkhya for example is non-religious, simply describing "reality" as=it-is. One interpretation of samkhya is that it does not necessarily contradict some interpretations of Vedic orthodoxy; however one can identify many contradictions between the two. Either way a further controversy might result.

Thus comparing samkhya to Vedic philosophy is outside the scope of this discussion as is an in-depth description of samkhya itself. However according to the Sad Darshana system, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (labeled the Yoga Darshana) is imprisoned within this system by traditional scholars needlessly. The salient point is that it is a fallacious self validating argument that states, all because a self serving august body of established "experts" say that it is so, it therefore becomes true and authoritative. That is what it comes down to, really. But in reality, that does not make it real or true, rather it is only common belief subject to error and bias.

Such a belief system may not at all be fitting should this conclusion be questioned. Free thought is always about questioning, not rote memorization, conformity, and obedience. An unbiased critical study of the Yoga Sutras combined with an authentic yoga practice such as meditation will confirm that such a linear categorization system is in reality a self limiting co-option -- a self protective attempt at asserting control of the status quo; an expropriation in assuming ownership over Patanjali's system to fit ulterior motives and desires be they conscious or unconscious. If such is conscious it is dishonest thievery. Such imposters persist because of fear, insecurity, greed, pride, arrogance, and need for self protection, but such is not a noble task.

Institutionalized classification systems tend to spin Patanjali's basic message according to their particular view point of the system being utilized. To reiterate, Patanjali was not the originator of the yoga system, which not only far predated Patanjali but also predated`the samkhya philosophical system. Nor is the yoga system a philosophical system (as should be clear to any one who has sincerely studied yoga). Further, Patanjali's system is not based on the authority of the Vedas nor is its intended to expound, expand, disclose, enhance or elaborate it, although a case can be made that it does not contradict the Vedas. In fact an honest unbiased reading of the Yoga Sutras discloses that Patanjali rather stands independent from the terminology of the other darshanas in a new integrative and syncretic manner, just as Buddhism similarly created a new system free of Vedic or samkhya dependencies of tradition. Certainly the Yoga Sutras have not evolved out of nowhere, yet its profound import defies the ability of samkhya to adequately interpret, analyze, or reveal.

Institutionalized academia indulged themselves in embracing the above mistaken assumptions in a self serving and often defensive/aggressive maneuver. As such the "philosophical" commentaries which were preserved in academia that followed were also based on these same false assumptions. They merely expanded upon the earliest false assumption, ad absurdum.

The first commentary (bhasya) was by Vyasa (3rd century AD), whose bent is decidedly that of a samkhya intellectual. It makes all the above false assumptions. Since his is the first commentary which is pleasing to the intellectuals, it is considered to be the most authoritative (within the fundamentalist Indian tradition, authority is bequeathed sequentially with age). Subsequently those who were similarly approved and validated by this system were bequeathed with the titles of "knowledge" and "authority". They thus could be trusted not to dare contradict it, or else they would lose their own position of authority and status -- after all they would lose their credence with those who "know". This is called, parampara (tradition or lineage) in India, which is used to evaluate genuineness and correctness, but in its strict application it stifles creativity and spiritual evolution being as it is a self serving form of obsequiousness and self promotion. When some one receives their status, privilege, and self worth from joining an existing system, they sacrifice their critical and creative abilities on the altar of conformity and close-mindedness. Hence orthodox authorities demand parampara as proof of a genuine tradition -- as such the great creative eclectic period of yoga becomes demeaned and disparaged. In effect such says that genuine spiritual knowledge can only be obtained from old dead men in white beards -- from past authority in the form of sampradaya, passing the torch from the old generation to the new.

As such a vast body of obsequious commentaries (bhasya), commentaries about the commentaries, elaborations, glosses, and treatises have unfortunately institutionalized this distortion. Thus most translators first study grammar, logic, the Vedas, and the like, then they study the authoritative commentaries starting with Vyasa, then all his commentators attempting to place Patanjali within the veil of their preconceptions and prejudice. Thus they have become well indoctrinated into external systems of authority far before they begin their study of the Yoga Sutras.

Samkhya in short creates a drama upon its own dualistic assumptions, and consequently spends inordinate amounts of time and energy in attempting to remediate this self created drama. Samkhya lends itself well to dying, leaving the world, escaping from it, or negating it because it identifies with purusa as separate from Prakrti. The tragedy of this drama is that if samkhya dared to go even further, it would find that there is a non-dual interconnection between the two. Yoga lends itself to both living and dying -- to the continuum that is eternal, self illuminating, and knows no bounds.

It would be far more efficient to relinquish such dualistic assumptions in the first place, subsequently empowering the student to view the Yoga Sutras in an integrative wholistic light. In short, all of the above combines to severely filter, discolor, distort, and make inaccessible Patanjali's clear and concise words to a point that such interpreters often interpret Patanjali saying exactly the opposite of his own stated words. Certainly any bias will color any interpretation, so it is wise to understand the institutionalized causal factors in these traditions which have gone very far in effecting the present situation. Having identified the deception, we are able to avoid its snare.

To samkhya's credit, it has served to preserve Patanjali's Yoga Sutras in Sanskrit over the centuries. In short, there is room for new interpretations.

What Patanjali Actually Says About "Politically Correct" Belief Systems (Pramana)

We will assume that Patanjali was very specific (he meant what he said). He said that the goal of yoga is accomplished through the cessation (nirodha) the citta-vrtti (the recurring modifications, patternings, and perturbations) of the field of consciousness (citta) as found in sutra I.2.

He never said that any vrtti is desirable, but rather they are the cause of the kleshas (the afflictive emotions which are the further causative causes that produce negative karma) or they are aklishta (neutral and devoid in this respect toward creating klesha). Sutras 1.5 is a very also a very clear statement, but non-the-less institutions of academia have contrived a complicated "run around" in order to avoid the obvious interpretation implication which would destroy the very basis of traditionalist intellectual and philosophical treatises, pramana, (proven theories or correct or validated belief systems). Thus this plain statement has been manipulated and distorted, because it offends the traditionalists. They have had to circumvent the plain language of Sri Patanjali in a very convoluted and circuitous route by interpreting its purport as something so complex that only samkhya would be able to understand it. Indeed such circuitous activities have served to obscure the true yogic message of the Yoga Sutras from many, for too long.

In Pada I, Sutra 6, Patanjali categorizes the vrttis into five types. The first one being what is called Pramana, generally translated as right or correct knowledge, but in reality Patanjali means validated belief systems and so called "correct" theories based on specific types of proofs. Strangely it appears shocking to the orthodox fundamentalist and traditionalist academician that pramana (as proven theory, validated belief systems, or "correct" knowledge) could be termed a citta-vrtti (which after all are to be eliminated), because to such adherents their own belief systems are based on the cultivation of "right" knowledge, "correct" views, and authority. So such adherents directly contradict Patanjali in their translations by exempting pramana as a citta-vrtti without any reason, because on the surface such a clear statement would be unthinkable. Pramana is also the goal of the (Nyaya and Vaisesika) and thus the Sad Darshana classical theorists who have accepted nyaya and vaisesika also find it impossible to give up their blind spot in this regard. Instead of giving that up, they misinterpret the sutras in an attempt to expropriate, hi-jack, and hence corrupt them. In other words such traditionalists bent on defending their own philosophical and ideological systems say that Patanjali could not mean what he actually says. Thus they put words in Patanjali's mouth claiming that pramana is a desirable or preferred citta-vrtti, thus exempting it (and themselves).

Here Patanjali is saying (and any meditator knows this from their own experience) that clinging to rigid beliefs or theories no matter if they are supported by logic, authority, books, consensus, or even sense perception act as an impediment (vrtti) to meditation (raj yoga) and realization. Indeed, Reality which is the goal of yoga is far beyond the safe prison walls of pramana.

Patanjali prescribes non-attachment (vairagya) as the key antidote to the vrttis including pramana (sutra I-12) in order to achieve their cessation (nirodha). He does not say that beliefs based on transpersonal yogic experiences in samadhi are pramana (notice the form of perception as pratyaksha is based on duality, not an integration that is found in samadhi), but rather only pramana which is based on pratyaksha (ordinary dualistic sense perception), anumana (inference or logic), and agama (external verification from previously "trusted" sources) is a vrtti. Pointedly that includes letting go of what we think we know -- complete surrender to the truth which is neither linear, logical, or manmade..

The key here is in sutra I-7 where Patanjali really leaves no doubt about what he means.

Sutra I.7 Pratyakshanumanagamah pramanani

This vrtti [recurring waveform dependent upon the operations of the biased mind field] called pramana is constituted of pratyaksha (sense data), anumana (logic or inference), and the wavelike operation of the mental processes surrounding the validation process emanating from dependence upon scripture, authoritative teachers, gurus, accepted external authority, trusted friends, peer groups, or even consensus reality (agama) [all of which externalizes one's attention and extracts our essential power and energy].

This sutra is most often ignored by traditional scholars, fundamentalists, philosophers, and academicians as to its implications. They simply translate pramana as "right knowledge" and deny that Patanjali considers it a vrtti to be eliminated. It is misunderstood because religionists, scholars, intellectuals, philosophers, and academicians who do most of the translations themselves are addicted to pramanas, and thus they "interpret" this particular vrtti as being some how beneficial, despite Patanjali's clear statements to the contrary.

One can pick up most any translation of the Yoga Sutras and check out how they mistranslate this key sutra. Thus this is a good test to see if the translator is a parrot or a yogi. Patanjali rather is saying very straightforwardly that what we tenaciously defend and grasp onto as "right knowledge", what is politically correct, what we believe to be right, true, or good is in fact a vrtti as long as it is supported by outside authority, reductionist logic, and ordinary mental faculties of dualistic perception whose "proofs" are part of the glue which forms one's own stagnant prison of avidya. It is a neurotic substitution and imposition that is carried with us in ignorance that blocks authentic spiritual connection and thus it must be dropped.

In other words we may know people who are walking encyclopedias of external knowledge, experts in various fields of philosophy, semantics, philology, epistemology, linguistics, or religion, but who have no self knowledge -- who have no realization. Patanjali doesn't say that "correct" views or right knowledge are "bad", only that such can and do get in the way and obstruct the realization of yoga. From observation we see that it is more difficult for some one to give up their beliefs which have become veils and filters of reality because they are rigidified through straight-line reductionist logic (anumana), externalized sources of authority (smrti) or consensus reality, and surface evidence based on the objects of the sense organs (pratyaksha) that to a point that they resist positive change. This rigid way of forming a world view actually occludes the Heart and further feeds the estrangement from the authentic Self. There the theory (pramana) resists being supplanted by the Truth, but rather it ignores and denies it. Rather the type of "Realization" that Patanjali is presenting in the "Yoga Sutras" is not dependent upon such dualistic means and he is saying that such methods have to be given up in order to realize citta-vrtti- nirodha.

Here Patanjali discusses the glue (proofs) that holds together the fixation of pramana-vrtti. Pramana, because it is assumed to be "right" knowledge" and/or is otherwise most often reinforced by the group illusion of the time, group prejudice, group pride, and temporal authority and beliefs becomes more difficult to let go of than knowledge or belief that can be proved to be wrong or perverse (viparyaya). Classically the tenacious glue of pramana (fixated belief systems, conclusions, judgments, theories, rigid mindsets, and so forth) are glued together through the three agencies of:

Patanjali is not attacking the other systems, but rather he says that those who adhere to such will maintain spiritual stagnation -- they will have to give them up in order to realize the Universal Unbiased and Untainted Truth. Patanjali, in his advocacy of raj yoga, thus suggests that yoga meditation takes us considerably further beyond these limitations. So in sutra I -12, Patanjali says not to get caught up with these other means, because they reinforce the vrtti of pramana. Pramana (theory) may be helpful in studying engineering or construction, but they should be put aside when practicing yoga. Pramana is like a theory, principle, or "derived" law while agama, anumana, and pratyaksha are its apparent proofs, but Patanjali says that as such this will reinforce the vrtti. In other words walking around with such constructs in the mind, we superimpose artificially a limitation upon the potential depth of our experience. This filter or veil serves as an obstruction. Vrtti then are to be eliminated because they produce further hindrances (kleshas) for yogis - further obscuring the field of consciousness. Meditation proves Patanjali correct and he directs us to yoga (not philosophical systems nor discursive thought processes). Rather the yogi must go beyond pramana to Direct Experience -- to awaken the inborn self effulgent intelligence within.

If one contemplates upon pramana one will realize that there are many kinds of theories and beliefs. Even though one may believe the theory to be correct, even more so will that tend to close or constrict the mind toward any evidence that may contradict it or enlighten us further. Here Patanjali is calling pramana those theories and beliefs held together and/or created by pratyaksha (ordinary dualistic observation based on a separate object, a separate seer, and a separate process of seeing), anumana (inference), and agama (external authority). This type of limited belief is thus ordinarily imposed upon "Reality-AS-It-Is as a prejudicial filter which prevents the observer from seeing the truth -- i.e., it is a vrtti which creates avidya (ignorance). Pramana thus is not the firm belief that arises out of authentic direct non-dual spiritual experience in samadhi (that the former often occludes and obviates). In other words, our direct spiritual experiences should shape our views "about the world as it is", not the other way around where the previous mindset (prejudice) limits, distorts, and colors our experience.

Although it is rather innocent and seductive to think that the rules of the universe are written out for us in Shasta, this assumption can be very misleading and the source of much confusion and conflict. At the very best so called scripture and agama may be able to lead us into genuine spiritual experience, if so we would be very fortunate karma and spiritual guides to help point the way. It is extremely important that such must never replace genuine spiritual experience which is the widespread malaise which must be acknowledged. In other words our deep spiritual experience must ultimately shape our views and beliefs, while the common predicament is the reverse; i.e., that ideology, politically correct belief, preconceived theories, and assumptions (pramana) severely limit, prejudice, and shape our experiences. The latter is a tragedy that must be avoided and never supported. Certainly some books and teachers may help, but only if they bring us into direct experience. For this to occur such books and teachers must acknowledge that this potential experience lies dormant within the experiencer, not in some ancient tradition, books, or external teacher.

From the Yoga Sutras, Pada One, Sutras 47-49:

Sutra 47


Upon reaching that samadhi state of direct experience devoid even of the most subtle thought processes or reflection on a separate object (nirvicara samadhi arises); i.e., when the restlessness of the mind is completely satisfied, quieted, and rested, and still -- when the mental faculties are stilled entirely in the deep nourishing peace and clarity of grace (prasadah), a very clear and sweet lucidity and uninterrupted natural transparency (vaisharadya) is realized -- the authentic spiritual light emanating from the Supreme Source dawns which is none other than our authentic transpersonal and non-dual self (adhyatma).

Commentary: In nirvicara samadhi, the reflection process has become stilled and clarified as the peace of grace (prasadah) giving birth to the transparency (vaisharadya) of the innate light of the inner primal Source to shine forth on its own (without obscuration). All conceptual processes (vikalpa) of course also cease. Here what is often called nirvicara (free from even the most subtle thought) samadhi is described, which is pre-requisite to attaining the sacred grounds of nirbija (seedless samadhi) in the sacred continuous transpersonal state of All Our Relations. This corresponds with the last sutras in Pada 4 describing Kaivalyam (ultimate liberation).

Sutra 48

Rtambhara tatra prajna

Then Supreme Truth Bearing (rtam-bhara) Inner Wisdom (prajna) self-arises, dawns and prevails.

Commentary: Here the inner truth, knowledge, or Gnosis (prajna) which bears the truth within itself (rtambhara) shines forth on its own unimpeded. This is a pivotal statement of the most sublime goal of Yoga according to Patanjali. It should be noted that Patanjali once again states that this wisdom is intrinsic and innate, but was simply obscured. It is innate, unconditioned, and natural, not needing cultivation or contrivation. Thus yoga works on the pre-existing contrived and conditioned mental processes (the vrtti) and eliminates them (by eventually eliminating all samskara) so that the practitioner abides in their natural Self (swarupa).

Christopher Chapple and Yogi Ananda in "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" (Sri SATGURU Publications, Delhi, 1990) translate this as: "This wisdom sustains the movement of life. Ignorance is to fall from this [intrinsic] order."

Sutra 49

Shrutanumana-prajnabhyam anya-vishaya visesa-arthatvat

This innate intuitive wisdom (prajnabhyam) must be differentiated (anya) from the mere objective forms of knowledge based on anumana (inference, deduction, and logic) and shruti (scriptures, belief, faith, external or objective authoritative sources of knowledge) [no matter how "seemingly" authoritative], which is always less reliable and more coarse than this very special (visaya) [insight of direct truth bearing wisdom (rtam-bhara), which is based on inner direct spiritual experience and knowledge gleaned from practice.

Commentary: This is because the former knowledge is confined and limited to a particular object, language, limited attitude, symbols, and such dualistic perspectives, thus carrying the seed of a fractal taint, a prejudiced and particular relative "point of view", i.e., it is superficially based, externally imposed, alien, and artificial; while that Truth of Universal Reality or Infinite Mind (available only through rtam-bhara prajna) is inherent, self arising, unconditioned, omnipresent, universal, and infinite. The pre-existing state of chronic disconnection (which calls forth yoga as the remedy) is dictated by a preexisting external and over objectified knowledge where spiritual self alienation and duality are fixated; while recognition of rtambhara is the dawning of the intrinsic all encompassing universal inner wisdom. The former is artificially and objectively derived and imposed, while the latter is from our own subjective experience. There can be no comparison. Here unification, integration, and yoga reign. This is another clear statement by Patanjali that pramana-vrtti is an affliction/obscuration (see I.7).

For one to successfully continue to bathe in nirbija (seedless) samadhi, It is necessary to recognize the difference between true inherent spontaneously self arising wisdom (rtambhara prajna) on one hand, and shrutanumana-prajnabhyam on the other.

BKS Iyengar in his excellent translation of I.49 says:

"This truth bearing knowledge and wisdom is distinct from and beyond the knowledge gleaned from books, testimony, or influence."

Our experience must thus inform and instruct our world views and belief; i.e., in order for our daily beliefs and consciousness to not get in the way and extract us from a living yoga in All Our Relations -- such must correspond and coincide with our experience. Liberation does not occur the other way around where ordinary people attempt to dictate their experience according to the domination of specific belief systems, bias, prejudice, thought patterns, samskaras, kleshas, and karma all of which simply produce more suffering (duhkha). This is a mutually synergistic acceleration once this mechanism is recognized (inner wisdom is brought forth) where the now educated and vital consciousness in turn allows greater breadth of experience. Because that intelligently educated and informed consciousness in turn allows an even more greater expansion of experience, then further the education of the conscious mind even more is achieved, and so forth, until eventually synergistic synchrony coincides -- Yoga is accomplished -- All is Known and Self is Experienced in Satchitananda.

End of Quote and commentary from Pada I. Sutras 47-49


Sutra 9 Shabda-jnananupati vastu-sunyo vikalpah

Vikalpa (fabricated conceptualization processes) are based upon (jnananupati) mere word associations and are therefore empty of any true meaning (vastu-sunyo).

Commentary: Knowledge and notions (jnana) dependent upon (anupati) on language, words, or such symbols (shabda) often propel the mind into machinations (vrtti) of imaginative daydreams and fancies -- the contrived products of the conceptualization process (vikalpa). They are empty (shunyo) of real meaning (vastu) by themselves and thus are mere semantic fancy, which are entirely constructed by the mental processes, artificial fabricated patterns, and hence are mere artifice projected upon the field of awareness devoid of real meaning (vastu-shunyo).

Vikalpa are conceptual processes, thought constructs, and imagination which are for the most part built upon words and/or other symbolic representations which convey meaning in a symbolic way-- words being symbolic representations or pointers/indicators just as a map is not the territory but might lead one to it eventually or not. Vikalpa are the artificially constructed preferential propensities based on manmade words (which we will see are essentially empty) and thus carry our attention away from realizing the true profound intimate meaning of union (yoga) unless such processes are surrendered in authentic practices such as nirvikalpa types of meditation (dhyana). Vikalpa are mental constructs, ideations, discursive thought, and conceptionally based thinking processes, whom no matter how logical they may be; they remain artificial and create wavelike artifices which obscure Reality. Vikalpa are thus fabricated, "made up", and compounded by the mind; they are not the real thing. Vikalpa tends toward reification and fabricated thought constructs and are made from such, wherein their symbolic representation is taken as a substitute for the real thing.


Sutra I.42 Tatra shabdartha-jnana-vikalpaih sankirna sa-vitarka samapattih

This discoloration persists because (tatra) when knowledge (jnana) of an apparently separate object (artha) is produced through the process of mixing together (sankirna) words or naming (shabda) with processes of mere conceptualization, imputation, and logical reasoning (vikalpa), then an unsteady and vacuous state of coarse over objectification (savitarka samapatti) is produced [which prevents/interferes with the establishment of total integration in samadhi].

Commentary: Jnana-vikalpa is conceptionally based knowledge based on specific meanings derived from words (shabdartha). It is a limited kind of knowledge which may have application in certain technological applications, but is an impediment when applied in yoga practice such as dhyana. Conceptualization (built on word meanings), imagination, and daydreaming (vikalpa) is defined by Patanjali as vrttis. When fed with the fuel of words (shabda) they reinforce vrttis even more (see I-6). These are the components of vikalpa (conceptual constructs and the discursive ramblings of the monkey mind) which as all of the sutras clearly indicate must be remediated for the inner consciousness to shine forth.

Similarly, see the commentary in Sutra I.9 on on vikalpa, sutra 49, sutra 43, sutra I.7 (on pramana or belief systems), I.15, I.16, 17, 49, and also sutra III.17.

So in summary we will go over this "heresy" briefly:

Contradicting conventional wisdom, the Yoga Sutras place no emphasis on manmade traditions (as sampradaya) which admittedly is greatly stressed in other Indian religious systems. There is no mention of dependence upon traditions, gurus, lineages, scriptures, or deities, but rather the opposite (the only teacher being the attributeless isvara which is the param purusha --- the highest Self who dwells within). Yoga connects the yogi up with primordial beginningless Source beyond linear time and place directly.

Here we will approach the Yoga Sutras through a Yoga perspective/context (based on what Patanjali says, not through the eyes of his samkhya dualistic commentators). Thus this presentation is dedicated to the Yoga Sutras "As-It-Is", motto samkhya or Vedanta. The yoga system presented in the Yoga Sutras is generally termed raj yoga (although it has bhakti and proto-tantric elements). Thus what is discussed here does not apply to other yoga systems like strict karma yoga, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, the yoga of the Bhagavadgita, and so forth. The strict parochial traditionalist places faith and trust in their lineage of teachers (parampara), their teachings (specific laws, principles, or dharmas), and tradition (sampradaya). Similarly a reliance may be placed on the Gurukula system (literally the system where the guru lives with the sadhak in a spiritual family), assuming that a traditional physical guru/teacher is necessary for spiritual growth. Such translations are thus often not based on the translator's direct experience, but rather based on externally learned conformist tendencies to an external authority. They tend to be highly discursive, reductionist, and technical.

This conformity to a pre-existing "authority" is how traditionalists have defined their identity, status, and sense of security, but Patanjali recognized that there that is the precise baggage that authentic yoga is designed to overcome. The least pitfall of the conformist approach is the need for external validation due to lack of true purpose and direct connection with the living oral tradition, while the worse being jealousy, group pride, doctrinal aggressions, dependencies, conformity, fear, vanity, inhibition, and the rest of the kleshas (afflictive emotions). On the other hand a yogi goes to her practice as an act of worship and communion, for an inner living confirmation and experience of strength which is self empowering -- for healing and light. She looks inside everything as Self -- for the living Sat Guru, traces her lineage back to Originless Source. She abides inside her own church in the affirmation of the Great Continuity -- which is what yoga is. Such a one has their eyes open (vidya), has overcome avidya, and is free unconditionally (kaivalya). As such no outer statement of faith is evoked. As such conformity and parroting is not rewarded, but is known as the compensatory act of self deception, delusion, and false knowledge (avidya) where one attempts to fill the gap left by separation from Living a truthful/authentic spiritual life. This is one reason why Patanjali's Yoga Sutras were considered potentially dangerous, and so it became hijacked by Vyasa and the intellectual tradition out of their group egoic need for self preservation affirming their identity.

A quote from the Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.117: "Dry arguments are inconclusive. Philosophers are known for their differences of opinion. Study of the branches of the Vedas will not bring one to the correct understanding of dharma. The truth is hidden in the heart of a self-realized person. Therefore one should follow the path of such great souls."

To the orthodox this is widely interpreted, that one should follow the path, books, and teachings as laid out by such people, but to a yogi this means that one should follow the inner path of their own hearts -- to know THAT and be as one! Again we re-member -- when spirit comes into sacred presence -- HERE in the sacred hoop of All Our Relations, the living book is opened when the eyes are opened. Yoga practice is designed to open that living book where all are relatives and kin. Vasudev Kutumbhkam --the Universe is One Family.

This is not to say that we are devoid of external teachers, rather that the teaching is going on all the time -- everywhere and it is to be found ultimately as a non-dual inner/outer eternal and everpresent teacher/teaching (isvara as purvesham). Om Tat Sat.

All indeed is Vasudeva, the Eternal Reality. Indian spirituality reaffirms the importance of justice, humility and reverence for life and nature. To live within such a wholistic relationship requires our rediscovering the spiritual connection that unites us to the earth. The affirmation of the intrinsic worth and duties towards all beings and plants including habitat and ecosystems reflects our ability to act in accordance with Dharma or against it.

In truth, the world is  one family -- we are all brothers and sisters -- kin. Vasudev Kutumbhkam, means, the Universe is One Family. We are all related. All Our Relations is our truth and guiding principle.  We are all children of the same Source, no matter what our race, gender, species, planet, nationality, religion, or age. We are all on the same route to Akshar Dham. We should all help each other. We need to help others to understand the true way of life - the natural route to eternal and lasting true unconditional joyous life (ananda). Living according to these principles is dharma. Living in Sanatana Dharma is our eternal lineage of evolution -- a reunion of individual consciousness with source of consciousness (undivided/undifferentiated consciousness) here as a living expression of that unending love. All living beings on Earth and the Earth itself, galaxies, and universe are one family! Throughout the ages, the sages have emphasized the interconnected of the entire cosmos, but the egoic mind prefers to perceive "things" in isolation and fragmentation. Modern man has forgotten his true nature and place as part of the sublime majesty of the living and intelligent innate evolutionary power. Those who do not recognize such, hide, ignore, demean, and repress it (consciously or not) in ALL OUR RELATIONS.

Verily those who abide in their hearts share wise teachings. Such form a living spiritual matrix between body, breath, mind, and eternal spirit which propitiate intelligent evolution, creativity, and wise activities in life in . This living yantra of living love and wisdom which is transpersonal and non-dual in nature is what such precious authentic teachers (the Ongwhehonwhe in native Iroquois) emanate in words, in silence, in gaze, in gesture -- as sacred presence. This living oral tradition is really a living oral transmission. Here the word, oral, may be a misnomer in more than one way. Here Patanjali addresses a living transmission through practice that is not dependent upon words or sounds (sabda) nor concepts (nirvikalpa), but rather is available through practice and experience. The Ongwhehonwhe (the real or authentic people) communicate the spirit and energy behind and beyond the words which are carriers of a profound and very sacred message. In that sense of a living oral tradition/transmission there exists the true gurukulum. Here the practitioner (sadhak) lives continuously in harmony with the eternal guru and his/her spiritual family as Vasudev Kutumbhkam, meaning, The Universe is One Family. This exists in a timeless trans-dimensional realm, where all is understood as empty of separate self. Although, there have been attempts to manifest and embody such here on earth as an integral path such planetary mass awakening has not yet fully arrived in this dimension.

Authentic teachings come from many sources -- all of whom of course are emanations from the one mother/father source> They arise from other animals as well, from our sea brethren and sisters, the plant world, the sky, the breezes, sun, and stars -- from an infinite and eternal Source. HERE within each of us exists the Eternal Universal Dharma (Sanatana Dharma) where no separate dharma can be spoken about with justice and this is where Lao Tzu, Jesus, Patanjali, Buddha, and other authentic teachers come together. Nature, herself, is the primary teacher and path -- as mother of all. She is married inextricably to the lord of yogis, Siva.

J. Krishnamurti’s said in 1929:

" ‘Truth is a pathless land’. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophic knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection. Man has built in himself images as a fence of security - religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man’s thinking, his relationships, and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man. His perception of life is shaped by the concepts already established in his mind. The content of his consciousness is his entire existence. This content is common to all humanity. The individuality is the name, the form and superficial culture he acquires from tradition and environment. The uniqueness of man does not lie in the superficial but in complete freedom from the content of his consciousness, which is common to all mankind. So he is not an individual.

Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice. It is man’s pretense [and arrogant presumption] that it is because he has choice, then he is free. Freedom in yoga (kaivalya)) is far beyond the idea of individual free will, but rather embraces the divine [unconditional eternal] will. [True] freedom thus entails pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward -- free from attachment to results. Such freedom is without motive; freedom is not at the end of the evolution of man, but lies in the first step of his existence [ it is in essence birthless]. [In the observation that is pure Gnosis,] one begins to discover the lack of freedom. Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of [our daily] existence and activity.

Thought is caught up with [the illusion of objects and linear] time. Ordinary thought is born of experience and individual knowledge, which are inseparable from time and the past. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Man's ["normal"] activities are based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past. Thought [as pratyaya and the activity of manas] is ever-limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle. There is no psychological evolution.

When man becomes aware of the movement of his own thought processes [vrtti], he will see the division between the thinker and thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience. He will discover that this division is an illusion. Then only is there pure observation which is insight without any shadow of the past or of time. This timeless insight brings about a deep, radical mutation in the ordinary mind [manas revealing the timeless purusa].

Total negation is the essence of the positive. When there is negation of all those things that thought has brought about psychologically, only then is there love, which is compassion and intelligence."

The "teacher and teachings" drama has traditionally been misunderstood. Most religious ideology start by taking the living (spirit filled) teachings from the departed ancient teacher who while alive taught a living spirituality (an inspired teaching), but then these very institutions deaden the living teachings into a conformance to past authoritative and external formulations of a self serving church and "correct" authoritative hierarchy (what is mostly a hegemonic oligarchy ruled for example here by the Brahmin and Kshatriya classes). Witness the various religions of the globe. Not that a Hindu can't be a yogi, nor a Buddhist, Jain, Christian, Jew, Moslem, or Native American, if we read the Yoga Sutras as it was composed, it is universal; i.e., there can be many interpretations not just exclusively Hindu property. Although Indians are rightly proud of their great teachers such as Patanjali, Buddha, Shankara, Mahavir, Vashista, Yajnavalkya and countless others, their interpretation is neither unbiased nor universal. Rather Patanjali belongs to everybody. Yoga, as such, is not a religion. It never was, and to its true adherents it never will be a religion.

"I think that many of us, like K. M. Munshi, find it easier to remember Sri Aurobindo's early endorsement of Indian religion than his later insistence that the yoga he taught went beyond all conventional religion. By so holding on to an expression that he himself abandoned, we may be doing a disservice both to him and to Hinduism. What he offered in his major works was a means to achieve an experiential truth that surpasses the doctrines and practices [of] any religion of the past or present. He did not prohibit religious expression, but he expected those who needed it to rise above sectarianism and conventionality. For such things can only act against the full expression of his work. At the same time he offered those who were proud of their Hindu heritage an unusual opportunity. They could serve as links between an ancient religion and the new possibilities offered by his path of yoga. A Hinduism open to the transformative power of this yoga could become a force for transformation in the world."

Peter Heehs, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives and Research Library, from "Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism" (a speech given at Hyderabad, 2006).

In India the Universal Perennial tradition which spontaneously arises as the source of its genius can not be owned by any one nation, creed, sex, or caste is called the Sanatana Dharma (the Timeless Eternal Law). It contains the teachings of natural law as-it-is which has always been transmitted through the intelligent power of creation. It is known to those who know how to read its unfabricated language. It is the language of Primordial Wisdom listened to, respected, deciphered, honored, and reflected/expressed in integrity.

It may be useful to ponder what Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, a great yogi says in his magnificent book, The White Sail:

"If we write or paint or say something that is not too close to tradition, some rigid Buddhists think it is not the Buddhist point of view. They do not understand that the Buddhist tradition is to break samsara's impure traditions to attain the vastest, purest traditions. Tradition always makes limits if it is not pure. So from the beginning, we should have no attachment to tradition in order to release our mind from the habit of samsara's traditional trap. We should have an understanding of the display of many possible aspects of tradition without ignoring others' traditions in order to benefit and satisfy samsara's traditional beings. In this way, at the same time as we release our mind from tradition, we should play without accepting or rejecting in order to decorate it, as a beautiful bird and a tree each ornament the other.

If as artists we have the limited intention to express only the aesthetic forms within the limits of our tradition, which we see through the obscured eyes of our gross elements, then it is all right for us to be always bound by the limited field of our own country's tradition. If we have the vast intention to be sublime artists, to express the qualities of limitless wisdom tradition, then we must come out of our shadow corner tradition to the center, without rejecting the corner which belongs to the center; and remaining in the light space of the center, we should emanate as many forms as exist unobstructedly.

If as philosophers we have the limited intention to lecture only on gross logical form within the limits of deduction, which we analyze with the neurotic mind of our gross elements, then it is all right for us to be constantly solidifying the reality limits of ordinary beings' invisible phenomena. If we have the vast intention to be sublime philosophers, to create invisible sublime qualities through visible ordinary beings' logic, then we must avoid expectations of externally pompous internally essenceless degrees and titles, and we must pass on the wisdom treasure of our limitless knowledge like a noble river through all the universe's universities, sharing the nectar of our knowledge with all the world's student stream containers.

If as monks we have the limited intention of expressing moral forms within the limits of our tradition which we consider with the moral ego mind of our gross elements, then it is all right for us to be always bound by the useless discipline of our group's tradition. If we have the vast intention to be sublime monks, to accept the limitless tradition of wisdom purity, then we must release ourselves from the cultivated garden of traditional monk's ordinary group organization and go to the stainless vast moral island, letting our morality blossom like a lotus, whose outer and inner petals are both pure and whose unconditioned natural honey perfume emanates unobstructedly to as many fortunate follower bees as exist.

If as yogis we have the limited intention to express superstitious forms within the limits of our tradition, which we visualize through the grasping mind of our gross elements, then it is all right for us to be always bound by the limits of positive paranoia. If we have the vast intention to be sublime yogis, to create the limitless uncreated wisdom mandala, then we must escape from complaining ordinary women to join with the desireless great bliss qualities of the full-bodied wish-fulfilling Dakini. Then, drunk with wisdom wine, we can sing realization's songs and awaken wandering beings from heavy elements' ignorance to the light of their natural mind with the sound of the drum and bell.

If as meditators we have the limited intention to only express silent forms within the limits of our breathing, which we inhale and exhale through our limited karmic body's obscured nostrils, then it is all right for us to be always bound by the limited space of our traditional cushions and to be reborn as nearly silent cows, except for an occasional moo. If we have the vast intention to be sublime meditators, then we must release our mind from concentration and relax in infinite natural clear awareness spaceless space. Whatever conceptions of existence and nonexistence arise, we can release them until our thoughts, like self-liberated cloudknots, become light ornaments of traditionless display."

The institutionalized trap often reads like this:

1) Wow! That's a great teaching/teacher -- really amazing! -- truly inspiring and uplifting! -- revolutionary -- finally the "real" truth! Beyond human! We are its scribes and librarians!

2) Let us preserve it in chloroform so that we can share it with others (those not fortunate enough like us to have heard them). We are its keepers and truth holders.

3) Let's protect the church and institutions so that these sacred teachings will be saved from corruption by building up strong and powerful church/institutions and dictums to surround, defend, and protect it (empire building). We are its protectors and warriors.

4) Let's spread "our" enlightened (read superior) and better way to the unenlightened (and less better or inferior) heathens (to those "others" who are corrupted, wayward, and evil). If they do not accept it, then they are surely wicked, errant, and/ stupid, and undeserving if not evil. Those who oppose us are against the truth, goodness, and god.

Such perversion has been the perennial bane of mankind. It goes directly against the principles of love, Vasudeva Kutumbakam and Sanatana Dharma. Despite the authentic and vital teachings of Buddha, Jesus, Patanjali. Lao Tzu, and others, nevertheless churches, institutions, and empires have too often built up around them attempts to manipulate people to conform to external rules and authoritarian ideals, rather than to discover and honor the universal living spirit inside themselves. This is much what Krishnamurti was rebelling against, i.e., he wanted people to rely on themselves, to look within, to question their most cherished beliefs, slay their sacred cows, and to think for themselves. Without this ability people are not capable of their own freedom. He believed that once the false was released, then the true would arise naturally.

Unfortunately it's a long hard road for most humans to release their conditioned belief systems, limited egoic identifications, and mental patterns, because of early childhood conditioning especially in the urban milieu, where children's education is meant to make them conform to politically correct theorems, approved beliefs and values, and be it materialistic or religious an artificially induced paranoia and xenophobia is induced from early age onward; such narrow false identifications are being globally institutionalized, pitting one nation, race, religion, ethnicity, or group ego against another. This exploitation of children probably wasn't much different in the ancient past but it was less in denial. Such conditioning creates people who become afraid to let go of their own chains (as if their very survival were dependent upon it). This is simply negative conditioning/programming -- something yoga and psychotherapy is designed to unravel and defuse; i.e., the karma, klesha, samskara, vasana, and citta-vrtti becomes eliminated through effective yoga sadhana. In this way more clear minded life affirming people who have their hearts open can naturally manifest a positive change upon the earth.

The nihilist or cynic will say that there is no truth, that nothing is real. That's a convenient delusion for those who prefer to escape consequences of their actions (karma) through imaginary games that they lay upon themselves and others in similar positions. Although "reality" for one lost in delusion/illusion, one asks what would happen if that veil of ignorance were lifted unveiling the Universal truth with no taint, no bias, no limited view -- non-dual and transpersonal. Would it become a threat to those who uphold self serving delusion r would it be embraced?

Thus it is assumed that a universal system that was sufficiently bright to shine its light upon everyone's situation would not be dependent upon deciphering any one human language, bias, or predilection. . It would be free from the technical expertise of grammarians, priests, scientists, academicians, intellectuals, religious fundamentalists, and other such "authorities" once the inner wisdom has become ripened and stabilized. Hence authentic yoga must be based upon awakening the universal inner authority -- the truth of the universal omnipresent and pure cit that pervades all and every matrix of existence and non-existence simultaneously -- the universal trans-human language of the trees, the seas, the stars, and the heavens. Such a universal yogic system not dependent upon any one lineage, tradition, ethnic group, race, nationality, sex, species, etc., is based in the immanent eternal sacred presence. THAT is what authentic yoga affirms as truth in every context such true teachings are presented. All genuine true and universal yoga teachings must then affirm immanent universal presence which is the only permissible context -- that of the Great Completion. This integral context resides at the heart of yoga and that integrity should never be broken asunder or corrupted. As such the Yoga Sutras fit this qualification and as such will be presented in this light.

On Evaluating Different Translations of the Yoga Sutras

There are other reasons why the Yoga Sutras have become obtuse to the modern Westerner who does not know Sanskrit.

The other difficulties of translation have already been enumerated in the first part, above. Most translations suffer from various permutations of the above false assumptions operating simultaneously, and as such they have formed quite a large and obtuse dynamic force which has created its own tradition and of which fills volumes of books.

It doesn't require much imagination to study what the experts before us have had to say and then parrot their views and expand on them. If one studies logic, grammar, and the other five darshanas for many years and crosses their "T's", one may even convince a pandit or Shastri to give a good word toward one's "work" and/or be accepted into their club as long as ones' conclusions pleases the tradition in which they have invested. Even though these experts may not practice yoga, they continually pass themselves off as authorities in the field. This however is not what the pre-existing oral tradition of yoga that Patanjali reflects in the Yoga Sutras.

However what would make a valuable translation, is the opposite. Some one who has practiced yoga (and specifically meditation for many years). One who knows English and the Western psyche. She would have to have a good a sense of history as well as to specifically know Indian history, psychology, philosophy and Sanskrit without being limited by its agenda. What would not be of value are scholars who continuously take people out of their hearts and innate eternal source of spiritual power diverting them into a long dead past -- into a dead alienated spirituality of an alien spirit versus a living sacred presence.

An Authentic Translation

Approximately 500 years before Patanjali an Indian Yogi Shakyamuni Buddha said in the Kalama Sutra:

"Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt. When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering' — then you should abandon them."
~ The Buddha

The Kalama Sutra says  much more than advocating free will or advocating one to follow one's own interpretations. Rather it is a much more rigorous statement. Buddha is saying that traditions are not to be followed simply because they are traditions. Reports (such as historical accounts or news) are not to be followed simply because the source seems reliable. One's own preferences are not to be followed simply because they seem logical or resonate with one's feelings. Instead, any view or belief must be tested by the results it yields when put into practice; and — to guard against the possibility of any bias or limitations in one's understanding of those results — they must further be checked against the experience of people who are wise. The ability to question and test one's beliefs in an appropriate way is called appropriate attention.

Nihilists may misinterpret this sutra to mean that nothing is true except what it is that one desires to believe. Buddha, the yogi, is saying the opposite of "it's merely your own preference – whatever you want to believe". Quite the opposite of preference, the Kalama Sutra enjoins one to undergo due diligence, critical thought, not to take other people's words for "reality", but also not to just make things up to suit one's own preferences, inclinations, prejudices, or vanity. Experiment and try things out. Only then you will know what works and what does not.

If people are ignorant, confused, and do not know how to use their brains in critical thought, then they are ripe to following authorities who desire to manipulate and mislead. In that way, ignorant people perpetuate their own slavery. Blind obedience to authority without challenging sacred cows, devoid of critical thought, without first a thorough analysis based on the possibility that the perceived belief might be true or might not be true, and utilizing one's own critical thought processes, imprisons both the mind and body. Rather than simply accepting something to be true because some one in authority says it is so, rather it is far more authentic to challenge all such attachments to belief systems on the basis of one's own yogic experience.

It is crucial that one does not base their decision on preferences, vanity, or prejudice. Thus it is completely disingenuous for some one to claim authority in interpreting the Yoga Sutras who is not a practitioner of Patanjali's yoga. Anyone can memorize, imitate like a monkey,or read a script like an actor in order to conform slave-like to what is expected of them by a traditional authority. It is far more authentic to actually practice and explore the Yoga first with an open mind, and then come to conclusions that are based on one's own authentic yogic experience.

The Real Teacher and Teachings

The eternal quest is as always to cut through these matrices of delusion/illusion, ignorance, and falsehood to that Universal glorious Reality which eternally lies underneath it. However old mindsets like old habits die hard, and thus it takes some courage to embrace the sacred presence, but that is the only way toward self empowerment -- toward clarity -- toward liberation -- toward getting in touch with the innate indigenous unconditional wisdom -- who we really are (swarupa). Isn't that what authentic yoga is all about?

When Swami Rama's teacher told him to go to the West, he did not want to go initially. He wanted to stay in the Himalayas. But his teacher insisted, saying, "You have a mission to complete and a message to deliver. The message is ours [the Himalayan masters] and you are my instrument."

Swami Rama asked, "What shall I teach to the students who wish to learn from me? Shall I convert them and teach the religions of India? Shall I ask them to follow the Indian culture?"

His teacher responded, "You foolish boy."

Swami Rama asked, "Then tell me, what shall I teach them? The culture in the West is entirely different from ours. These two diverse ways of life seem to be quite apart. How can I deliver your message to the West?"

He answered, "Though these cultures live in the same world with the same purpose of life, they are each extreme. Both East and West are still doing experiments on the right ways of living. The message of the Himalayan masters is timeless and has nothing to do with the primitive concepts of East or West. Extremes will not help humanity to attain the higher step of civilization for which we all are striving.

"Inner strength, cheerfulness and selfless service are the basic principles of life. It is immaterial whether one lives in the East or West. A human being should be a human being first. A real human being is a member of the cosmos. Geographical boundaries have no power to divide humanity.

"To get freedom from all fears is the first message * of the Himalayan sages. The second message is to be aware of the reality within. Be spontaneous and let yourself become the instrument to teach pure spirituality without any religion and culture. All the spiritual practices should be verified scientifically if science has the capacity to do so." 

~ "Living with the Himalayan Masters", by Swami Rama, page 445. 

In order to understand the interpretative bias that haunts, shadows, and obscures the standardized translations of theYoga Sutras (one which the self appointed "authorities" deny), one must understand the traditional Indian academic's mind and their addiction to semantics, grammar, and logic. This fact is due greatly to two factors which have combined to form a powerful and authoritative influence in Indian society. The first, is that Indian authorities accept that Sanskrit is a sacred language written in Devanagari (literally the script of the Gods). As such it is taken literally as the language of the gods. The second factor is that orthodox Indian authority also accept the Vedas (written and spoken in Sanskrit) as the ultimate authority. It is believed to be apauruseya or trans-human knowledge.

Thus, if one accepts the absurdity that only past tradition (parampara) confers authority, then one is stuck in parroting the sayings of the past, unthinkingly following ritual, ceremony, and dogma without criticism in order to gain credence, acceptance, and respectability, and perhaps a berth which orthodoxy may bequeath today. "There" authority and knowledge is passed from guru to disciple (authority figure and lineage holder to another) through a process known as sampradaya. Such an immature self gratuitous and self serving attitude only serves the past status quo forces (authorities), while simultaneously corrupting and suppressing spiritual presence in its creative manifestation. Therein, creativity and self-empowerment is thus suppressed and the ability to find truth or knowledge within is denied. This is not to say that teachers of the past should not be honored or that there is nothing that can be learned from our elders. This does not mean that the blessings of the saints and yogis, the buddhas and the bodhisattvas, and the enlightened masters of the past are not of value. Rather, this says that truth is not limited to a tradition or the past; rather it should serve the present and the future. That is, the eternal teacher is always present here eternally. Exactly the opposite is happening here; rather the teachers did not get their wisdom from other teachers, for if that was so, who did the original teacher get it from? Rather the teachers received the teachings from the eternal teacher -- from the most ancient teacher of all teachers. Thus, Patanjali says quite clearly, speaking of isvara, the param purusha:

Sutra I.26 purvesham api guruhkalena anavacchedat

Unlimited by time (kalena) this great integrity (anavacchedat) is the primal (purvesham) eternal teacher (guru) even (api) the teacher of the most ancient teachers. Being all inclusive, unlimited, and eternal (kalena), Isvara is found within the unobscured instantaneous eternal moment -- here and now -- ever accessible to the true devotee.

This notion that truth, wisdom, and self authority is only bequeathed by masters of the far distant past creates a dysfunctional downward spiral which demeans immanence, sacred presence, living spirit, embodiment, and life itself. It creates the mind-set that in the past, there was knowledge and great knowledge holders who possessed it, but true wisdom is not property that is owned nor can it be possessed. That is a false assumption that is bankrupt and demeaning. Such is a grave alienating disservice to the creative and innovative genius which existed in medieval India at the height of the development of hatha yoga (immediately prior to the barbarian invasions which occurred in medieval India), where Indian thought, yoga, art, literature, music, dance, theater, peace, and creativity flourished in in a continuous and incomparable flowering due entirely to one's ability to align with the source of creative/evolutionary energy (which we will call kundalini shakti). If things are going right, yes, we receive the blessings of the elders and are enabled to go further, evolve, and prosper learning from both their mistakes and their successes.

Everyone has innate buddha/enlightenment potential. The Universal dharma is being taught now as it always has been. Authentic yoga is designed to connect one up to that -- one's true authentic innate nature. Such should be the sole motive, intent, dedication, and role of an authentic spiritual teacher. Of course this is not to say that teachers and teachings are not helpful. Since most people are not even on the path of truth, since they have not even awoke to the fact that they are living an illusion, they will have to make some effort. The vast majority require authentic methods (teachings) to bring them into awareness. The essential point here is that it is not helpful to point the student to the past, written scripture, tradition, ideology, belief, or external authority, but rather to show the student how to awaken their dormant inner eternal teacher.

The teacher of the teacher, the creativity of the universe,
In the midst of its uncontrived audience,
According to this inner source of all uncontrived quintessential teachings,
Describes how everything appears.
When you have understood the unified frame of reference of this core teaching,
All other frames of reference will be reflected within this creativity that makes everything else possible.
Thus, if you know me -- the intelligence of the universe --
You will know the inconceivable truth.
If you know me -- the majestic creativity within everything --
You will know and be with peace with the reality of everything else."

from You Are the Eyes of the Universe by Longchenpa, translated by K. Lipman and M. Peterson, Snow Lion, 2000

If we look at yoga as a continuous process of innovation according to changing conditions (time and place) then at the same time we affirm the ancient living oral indigenous yoga tradition of India that predated the Vedic presence in India, that interacted with the migrating Aryans from the Northwest, and which together with the Jains was responsible for numerous rich creative periods in India (including Buddhism and eventually advanced yoga tantra) which eventually spawned the Golden Age of Yoga in Medieval India sometimes often designated as the age of the Great Adepts (the Mahasiddhas) and some times called the great eclectic period of yoga, where the boundaries of religion and belief were abandoned in an age of a great universal creative celebration of the spirit of yoga.

Yogis today will look back upon that eclectic age and trace their lineage, while orthodox Brahmanism seeks to discredit and condemn that period as an experiment gone awry. What can be said of that era is that an earnest student can not deny the contributions of the great yogic masters such as Matsyendra, Goraksa, Saraha, Tilopa, Naropa, Jnaneshwar, King Indra Bodhi, Sri Simha, Dombipa, Abhinavgupta, Kabir, Padmasamhava, Luipa, and many other siddhas of that time. Although some existing yoga traditions trace their own lineages back to that time. However to trace one's lineage back to an eclectic tradition is, I suggest, perhaps an oxymoron. Indeed where did these siddhas credit their experience if not awakening that divine intelligence which resides within? Should we not look to that creative impulse as our own instructor?

Again this is not to say that teachers and teachings of the past are useless, rather only context and perspective must be maintained with integrity; i.e., that the teachings exist not to serve the tradition or status quo, pride or ideology, sect or religion, but rather to reveal the inner eternal teacher speaking through all of time and place -- the universal teacher/teachings -- the real sanatana dharma. The authentic universal eternal living teachings exist to serve the student. Although missing in the mainstream of modern culture such a living oral tradition exists both in human and non-human form, but few are blessed to bathe in the light of such transmissions. Rare indeed are those who reflect and are bathed in this profound mandala -- this living vortex of living light transmitting spiritual love and wisdom.

If however one adopts an external authoritative, devolving, and decadent system where all authority and power issues forth from a far distant past (old men with white beards), then through that skewed assumption everything else has to be evaluated, approved, and accepted in the traditional context, thus organic evolution and creativity/creation suffers. Time moves on but human thought does not synchronize with the living cosmos. This self perpetuating disempowering decadent tradition in which "traditional" Indian thought has generally subjected itself since at least the 13th century, has attempted to severely color the authentic indigenous yoga tradition which always resided outside of such naive simple mindedness. A massive attempt to expropriate and "own" yoga, the Indian mind, and its loyalty (and may I add spirit itself) by self serving Brahmanical religious traditions and traditional philosophical/academic intellectually based institutions have distorted the meaning of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras by creating a protective shield of pedantic redaction, biased discursion, intellectual over objectifications, radical reductionism, and philosophical distractions around the Yoga Sutra's core teachings. When the Yoga Sutra's self empowering core message (of innate wisdom) has become obscured (having been corrupted by a zealous self serving ersatz tradition which demands to own, color, exploit, and shape it), it then no longer appears as a threat, but now appears to act as an ally that reinforces the invader. Because the Yoga Sutras does not in anyway support ideology, dogma, religious belief, ceremony, or philosophical inquiry (rather the Yoga Sutra is about yoga experiential practice which in turn leads to an inner realization which we shall elaborate upon later is very different), the traditionalists were forced to misinterpret it, in order to expropriate and own it -- in order that they should remain in control as the authoritative experts. This is because Patanjali's core teachings focused upon the universal innate teacher (I-26 -- purvesham api guruhkalena an-avachchhedat), something that appeared fundamentally threatening to self serving hierarchical systems based upon external authority.

In this traditional but decadent traditional institutionalized self serving system, semantics in the form of Sanskrit grammar is given prominence. The pandits or shastri (experts in Sanskrit grammar) believe that truth and realization which are imbedded in the Vedas can only be reached via technical understanding the meaning of the words (via grammar and logic). Many of these same fundamentalist shastri's assert that such grammatically based study is the only way for "realization", and thus this absurd situation arises of the claim by pandits and shastri's of being experts and and capable interpreters on the subject of yoga (which is a specifically different system of self realization based on an entirely antithetical practice), but who really do not believe in yoga's basic principles as outlined by Patanjali. If they do not believe in it or practice it, how can they be an expert in it? Of course such a position appears absurd to an objective outsider, but unfortunately this absurdity has not sunk in to the average Indian scholar who is sucked into the sacredness of the Sanskrit language (and whose experts act as priests). Patanjali actually predicts this possibility and addresses it in the Yoga Sutras clearly stating that texts, beliefs, words, and concepts are ultimately impediments that must be eliminated and not followed. They are not authorities according to the Yoga Sutras.

These institutionalized self serving tendencies to corrupt the core yoga teachings tends to make Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, inaccessible to most foreigners, as the widely available translations have almost without exception have bought into academia's authoritative, orthodox, and corrupt viewpoint, which has become almost thoroughly institutionalized in the modern era, except for a diminishing and minuscule remaining tribe of recluse munis and yogis who are not dependent upon written words or external teachings. In the past, authentic yogis were not bothered by the folly that was contained in books- nor did they bother to debate the fools who were so possessed. That was in an age where the mountains and natural wilderness were plenty and undisturbed. That was a time where sincere seekers could seek out and find such reclusive teachers of the universal indigenous oral tradition (which necessarily could not be owned by race, ethnicity, nationalism, religion, manmade language, nor any other manmade contrivances. Such was the universal teachings of the unconditional mind that knew no bounds -- timeless and eternal. Such is the endogenous teachings contained within the dna, within the earth, the universe, and all of creation as they are all manifestations of Originaless Spirit -- unborn and eternally present. However we live in a unique age. Given the over population, ecological destruction and political violence in the mountain/forest regions which served as the past environment of the rather reclusive oral yogic tradition, it is perhaps more valuable today to make available a translation that is faithful to Patanjali, rather than to his philosophically and ideologically bent commentators who have become his interpreters.

How to Find a Clear Unbiased Translation of the Yoga Sutras

The Yoga Sutras were not composed as a philosophical treatise for the intellectual community to expand upon, but rather it was intended as a user guide for practicing yogis/yoginis in order to find the "authentic guide" within. If one reads it as it was composed, it does not seem terse, but rather an outline (sort of like notes a student may have taken from a long term stay with a master teacher or simply notes gleaned from one's own practice).

As we know the word, sutra, merely means thread. It is woven together with integrity nicely. It has its own integrity and thus it does not necessitate a call for Vedic authority or academicians in order to make sense out of it, just like the Jain Sutras or Hinayana Buddhist Sutras (which were quite popular in Patanjali's era) neither required Vedic nor Buddhist commentary. In traditionalist circles it is heresy to suggest that Patanjali was writing down a pre-Vedic indigenous yogic tradition, albeit with the language of his time, but when we strip away the skew of the Samkhya and grammarian commentaries, such an interpretation reveals a living testimony -- it shines in a new light. Another similar point that may support this heretical proposal, is that the "Sad Darshana" system was created only after Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras, as an attempt to expropriate yoga similar to traditional Indian attempts to incorporate Buddhism as a branch of Hinduism. The "Sad Darshana" system is entirely contrived and artificial. Here I am saying that Patanjali can stand independent of such institutional attempts, and if it is read in that light, the Yoga Sutras provides a much more relevant yogic message.

2000 years ago yogis did not live in universities nor in monasteries, but rather as recluses in caves and forests. Students would seek out teachers and receive individualized oral instruction (such as what supposedly Krishnamacharya, Swami Rama, Matsyendranath, Tilopa, Milarepa, Nityananda, Ramana, and/or other great siddhas received from their teachers as a living energetic transmission). Then after receiving individual instructions/transmissions, the student was instructed to practice, only returning to their teacher for additional points until the sadhana was completed/mastered. For example, in the tenth century AD when Buddhist monasteries were blooming, the great Buddhist yogi, Naropa, did not wake up until after he left the monastery.

This is another characteristic that differentiates the yoga tradition from that of the monastic, Brahmanical, and academic traditions. Granted benefit can be derived from some written instruction as long as it does not preclude/prevent one's own direct experience/realization. Thus this author is not saying that academics or intellectuals are somehow precluded from success in yoga, but rather what is being stated is that intellectual and philosophical techniques and pursuits are separate disciplines utilizing quite different methods as compared to an experiential discipline such as Patanjali's yoga. If for example, one goes to a grammarian, one will receive great exactitude on language structure and meaning in an intellectual and technical sense which may or may not be helpful, but will that mean that that grammarian is a yogi, have they any yogic realization, do they meditate, or practice this or that? Maybe or maybe not.

A philosopher may know a lot "about" one practice or another, but they may not have any yogic realization or personal experience, but rather simply book knowledge. To a yogi there is a large difference. This is part of what Patanjali was saying when he called pramana (conventional, correct, and accepted belief systems) a vrtti, and thus a very real trap and stumbling block to be avoided. More commonly than not, almost everywhere, we see many people whose fixed beliefs, stubborn mindsets, ideology, and dogma have gotten there through pramana (pratyaksha, anumana, and agama). Right or wrong, their spiritual evolution has become stalled because of it. In short we see the world through the distorted lenses by following old books and external leader/authorities of the past (such as pramana) which create a spin (vrtti) of the unconditional pure mind (citta). Attendant upon that spin is the dark mosaic which causes suffering and bondage.

That is why Patanjali says that nirodhah occurs through practice and release (1.12), rather than by holding onto thoughts or beliefs. For a yogi through the practices of vairagya and abhyasa all things come together -- (citta-vrtti-nirodha). When we approach the Yoga Sutras after many years of yoga practice by asking the question what does "this" or "that" mean in light of our own personal practice, then the book comes alive for us. Here the Sanskrit acts as a supplement, as long as we do not get too carried away in the reductionist technical direction. Rather we must let practice and vairagya guide us -- and such is to be applied to our practice as well. Having said that, it is suggested that a healthy balance must be found between studying for example the Yoga Upanishads, Siva Samhita, Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and other yogic texts, alongside the light that our daily practices so that each may reveal the other as a mutually synergistic process. Study can be a practice by itself, but it can't substitute for a practice that is practiced/experience based. That is what distinguishes yoga from philosophy, objective curiosity, and intellectual game-man-ship. The average man is in need to remind themselves about not getting carried away too much in the dualistic mind.

Most English translations of the Yoga Sutras have been done by scholars, academicians, grammarians, and intellectuals who were not necessarily yogis. Then one can also find translations done by practitioners of yoga, but many did not understand English or Western philosophical or psychological terms very well. The vast majority of the above types of translations also fell victim to taking the past bias or bent of previous translators (traditionalists) as authoritative, having them do their thinking for them. Then they simply repeated that as "correct/authoritative doctrine" without exercising critical thought or their own inner wisdom or direct experience. Those who conformed to the "system" were rewarded and promoted, but those who did not "get with" the program were chastised, demeaned, or punished.

This is how dysfunction and bondage becomes institutionalized. The Yoga Sutras unfortunately were not immune to such expropriation, despite Patanjali's original clarity. What occurred was one of the earliest recorded attempts of co-option (rip off) and hi-jack of an indigenous self empowering movement by status-quo reactionaries bent on mind control, manipulation, and self preservation. This is a lesson to future Patanjali's, Yeshua ben Josefs, and other non-conformists; i.e., to make it absolutely clear from the start that the true teacher is innate and transpersonal -- non-dual, within as well as in all things. This Reality being the final authority and thus all authentic teachings should be evaluated whether or not the teachings bring us closer or further away to THAT divine integrity -- direct and intimate Divine Gnosis.

But yes, yogis can also be academics as long as they are not dominated by such academic methods. They have intellects and just like any other tool it has its appropriate and inappropriate uses. So in yoga, it is a question of where one goes for proof or authority. Is it to observation through the sense organs (pratyaksha), inference and logic (anumana), and authoritative scriptures (agama) such as in pramana on one hand, or does one go to their practice, experiential evidence, and direct experience on the other hand? It is my understanding that Patanjali says that the latter is what constitutes yogic knowledge while the former is the vrtti called pramana. So I say if we depend upon the intellectual, academic, or agamic methods in yoga, then it seems that we place as a higher value system than what Patanjali recommends. In other words is it fair to evaluate Patanjali's Yoga Sutras in terms that he himself has rejected?

This is a salient distinction; i.e., between philosophical, religious, and technical/mechanical analytical systems on the one hand, where principle and belief dictate; and on the other hand an experiential system where our experience dictates and shapes our beliefs (where analysis comes secondary at best). This can be called the yoga of taking the path into the view. Taking "the view" into the path only works if that view is enlightened.

Likewise Ramakrishna, Swami Nityananda, Swami Kripaluananda, Swami Muktananda, Swami Satchitananda, Sri Aurobindo, Ananda Mayi Ma, Naropa, Milarepa, Swami Rama, and the Maha Siddhas had direct experience, while some may have been also well educated. Their authority certainly did not come from academia, grammar, or philosophical study (not that they were against it), but rather they gained realization through practice and direct experience.

Never-the-less (except in the case of the most loyal parrots) most translations have some "thing" unique to offer, either in terms of poetical renditions, special insight, or technical exposition. The problem is not only obtaining a truly unbiased translation, but more so in not getting dis-information, dogma, prejudice, and needless confusion/distraction. Given the existing situation, that is another good reason to learn Sanskrit. The accompanying translation has attempted to head in that direction. Having both familiarity with both Sanskrit and English cultures and languages while maintaining a steady yogic practice for a long period of time helps us read Patanjali's timeless message to us.

As such, this translation purposely avoids using Vyasa's commentary (the first known commentary on the Yoga Sutras). It avoids word for word translations from Sanskrit to English (which are for the most part are impossible to match as the overall structure of both languages are very different). It avoids a literal word for word sequential translation as the sentence structure is different. To attempt such produces meaningless sentences that are unreadable to the Westerner although they may have grammatical value. A fresh offering in this translation is to interpret Patanjali within a Buddhist, proto-tantric, and eclectic context wherein he lived and practiced.

Perhaps one day I will cease to be amazed on how Patanjali's Yoga Sutras could be at all interpreted as being an external guide book, where in fact throughout it affirms the internal teacher and dissuades one from external guidance. That the author of the Yoga Sutras has been turned into an object of supplication by various yoga schools is even more perverted, since no where did Patanjali enjoin the value of guruism, scripture, ceremony, deity, prayer, supplication, or conformism.

How to Spot Bias Versus an Authentic Translation

It's actually not hard to spot a superficial translation. A short perusal of some key sutras will quickly become very revealing.

Sutra I.2 is the first place to look. "yogash citta-vrtti-nirodhah"

It is most often translated as: "Yoga is the control of the mind" or something very close to that. This displays an intellectual slant favoring "active control" as distinct from a "passive surrender". It also displays the left brain bias (of will, intellect, and ego). For example one may ask "who" it is that controls the mind? A more accurate translation would be that yoga is the control of the spin, bias, perturbations, and machinations (vrtti) of the citta (mind-field). The salient point is that it is not the mind (citta) that is being controlled, but rather the vrtti (conditioned modifications and recurring mental patterns which distort the inherent and birthless mind) are moving into stillness (nirodah).

More accurate still is taking the word, nirodhah, as passive, not active. Thus it can't be translated as control, but rather as cessation. For example a translation such as; "yoga occurs when the spins and bias of the mind cease", or "yoga is the process where the bias, fluctuations, and perturbations of the mind are still so that our true self nature can shine forth" (see also I.3) are in effect very different translations from that "yoga is the control of the mind". Such validation comes from direct experience derived from of a personal and functional yoga practice which reveals this truth.

This bias of "control" of the mind, breath, or body can be found throughout the fundamentalist, academic, and intellectual oriented translations which can be simply called left brain bias or dominance. However Patanjali repeatedly advocates abhyasa-vairagyabhyam (the continuous application of nonattachment to results, surrender (isvara-pranidhana), swadhyaya (self study), tapas (the generation of the inner heat), meditation and similar awareness practices such as found in astanga yoga which bring forth samadhi. These practices bring forward and reveal our natural uncontrived state (swarupa) as our true form, which is ever-present, inherent and within, but remains obscured through the operation of the kleshas and vrtti.

This type of inquiry can be applied here to the practice of Brahmacharya as well as to any other practice sutra, i.e., does Patanjali mean control (through individual will power) and restriction (left brain) or does he mean rather more of a let go, release, and surrender to our inherent innate potential utilizing the passive aspects of isvara pranidhana, vairagya, nirodha, and the like? A careful reading of the Yoga Sutras alongside with a consistent practice of meditation will reveal that the latter is certainly the more accurate approach.

Thus in order to evaluate to find a decent translation one may first look at I.2 and I.3 to identify the prejudice, bias, or slant of the translator from the beginning. Then one can look at I.5 and I.7 (covered in detail above), but such bears a short repeating.

The fluctuations (vrtti) cause negative emotional afflictions or they can be neutral (klishta/aklishta) in that regard. They can be categorized into five (pancha) types (pramana, viparyayah, vikalpa, nidra, and smrti).

The left brain translators translate klishta/aklishta as painful or not painful or anguish, but such is not an accurate translation. The correct word for pain would be dukha. Rather klishta refers to the five kleshas or emotional afflictions (avidya or ignorance being the chief klesha) which Patanjali discusses in detail later. Certainly the kleshas cause pain and suffering, but that is covered in other sutras. This error is due to the fact that such translators believe in pramana; i.e., they do not want to consider it contributing to the kleshas, or as a vrtti to be disposed of (in nirodha).

What is being pointed out here is that first Patanjali says that yoga is the cessation (nirodha) of the vrtti. That some vrtti are associated with the afflictions and some are neutral in regard (aklishta). He does not say that any vrttis are beneficial (i.e., rather he says unreservedly that in yoga, the vrtti must cease. The reason this is all brought up here is that incredulously over 95% of the translators then say that pramana, proven theories or more commonly translated as "right beliefs, the first of the five vrtti are somehow good and beneficial. It's incredulous because it is "the" obvious telltale to an institutionalized bias and denial so deep that the translators contradict the very author (Patanjali) and all he has said up to this point, while claiming to be his translator. In other words, the true seeker who has realized the universal fruits of yoga no longer grasps onto ideology, pride, prejudice, culture, nor artificial human constructs, but one has realized that one has to give up the imposition of belief systems in order to experience Reality. He doesn't say all beliefs are afflictive, but rather they can not be clung to if the spiritual seeker desires to go all the way to receive the spiritual benefits of authentic yoga. This is why that Patanjali then in Sutra I.12 starts immediately upon vairagya, letting go of attachments, as the main vehicle to effect nirodha (cessation). This subject is covered above in greater detail and in the translation of sutras I.5- I.12 at www.Rainbowbody.com/HeartMind/Yogasutra1.htm if readers desire more details (especially about pramana).

Similarly Sutra I.12 is translated as the practice (abhyasa) of vairagya (non-attachment to results) not as a negation, an aversion, or an unfeeling indifference? Is it translated as the practice of vairagyabhyam or as practice and vairagya. These interpretations tell a story between a world view which is governed by love and integrative wisdom versus one governed by raga (attachment) and dvesa (aversion).

Similarly we may ask whether or not I.19 is considered a continuation of I.18 -- as the embodiment of asamprajnata samadhi (as in raga-vita), or is it considered as a spurious intellectual comment (samkhya)?

Likewise what about swadhyaya (II.2 and II.44)? Is it translated as self study or study of the scriptures (such as by religious fundamentalists)? Is isvara pranidhana translated as surrender to the universal attributeless intrinsic all pervading creative power or as devotional practices to idols, books, and/or old white men with beards?

Is tapas translated as the practice that generates heat, spiritual fire, and divine passion or is it translated as self control, self abnegation, sacrifice, negation, renunciation, and/or inhibition/restraint? (Pada II.2 and II.43)

Likewise Brahmacharya -- is it sexual restraint, control, or conservation of hormones, or on the other hand is it the acknowledgement and pledge to walk in harmony with the creative evolutionary impetus in ALL Our Relations. (Pada II.38)

Likewise kaivalya is widely translated as isolation, escape, and withdrawal by the traditional samkhya intellectuals and fundamentalists; but here it is certain that Patanjali means absolute and unconditional (natural) liberation -- a freedom from ignorance (mukti) -- freedom from conditions (karma) and the illusion of phenomenal existence (read subject/object duality). In short Patanjali does not mean isolation, separation, or freedom "from" any "thing", but rather an unconditional absolute boundless freedom which is all inclusive and free from any grasping or attachment whatsoever, free of even the most subtle objects of mind (nirvicara) being the embrace of absolute love. It is not a freedom from some "thing", an escape from something, nor an aversion from any "thing", but an all inclusive, attributeless, unqualified, unconditional, and natural freedom, which is the true nature of pure creative awareness -- the Universal Mind. (See Pada IV)

In this way, we can ascertain if the translator exhibits a samkhya anti-nature bias in their interpretation i.e., mistaking yoga to be a process of endless dualistic objectifications, escape, fragmentation, denial, isolation, and separation from nature and embodiment while mistaking such escapism and aversion, as freedom. On the other hand, we can ask whether the translator take a more nature positive (right brain), non-dual, wholistic, earth friendly, and healthy body/mind approach, where nature and spirit (shakti/shiva) work as mutual synergists so that yoga can be defined as the embodiment of universal absolute spirit? The existence of any interpretive bias and prejudice can be revealed by studying multiple translations coupled with a consistent personal practice which provides insight -- which activates the intrinsic wisdom. The sadhak (practitioner) must chose wisely as to which translation will help based on their own yogic experience; i.e., whether it rings true from one's own direct experience. Again, such difficulties can be avoided through learning Sanskrit coupled with a joyful inspired personal and focused practice.

Paramahansa Yogananda said in his commentary to the Bhagavad Gita regarding verse IV.26:

"It is not the intellectual 'walking scriptural dictionary' who knows the wisdom of the prophets; it is rather the man of meditation and application whose scriptural knowledge shines forth everyday in his face and actions.

Knowledge of the scriptures is beneficial only when it stimulates a desire for practical realization; otherwise theoretical knowledge gives one a false conviction of wisdom. Unrealized knowledge of scriptures may thus become a detriment to the practical realization of spiritual truths. But when theoretical scriptural knowledge is continually converted into inner perceptions of wisdom that knowledge is a source of redemption. Many pundits and learned professors -- for all their mental acumen -- daily demonstrate by their uncontrolled lives their failure to put [their] philosophy to any practical use.

A man without scriptural knowledge or inner realization is sadly ignorant. A person with a theoretical knowledge of scriptures but without self-realization is like a man who eats much food but cannot digest it. The man with divine realization even if lacking scriptural knowledge has attained God and is a worthy example to society. A man possessing both scriptural knowledge and Self-realization has not only attained God but is an admirable teacher for imparting God-consciousness to others.

My guru never permitted his disciples to read the stanzas of the Bhagavad Gita or Patanjali with a merely theoretical interest. 'Meditate on the scriptural truths until you become one with them' he would say. After I had mastered a few scriptural stanzas in the deeply perceptive way under his tutelage, he refused to teach me further. 'You will see', he said, 'that you now possess a true key to the scriptures, a key of inward intuitive perception rather than that of mere reason and conjecture. All scriptures will open their doors to you'.

Reading Patanjali or the Gita or the Bible with no more than intellectual insight may enable a man to pass examinations on them brilliantly, but will not provide an infallible access to true meaning. The kernels of truth in the scriptural sayings are covered by the hard shell of language and ambiguity..."

"The Bhagavad Gita: Royal Science of God-Realization" by Paramahansa Yogananda, Self Realization Fellowship, Los Angles 1999

If a sutra does not appear to make sense, it may well be worthwhile to contemplate on it in the context of the preceding and succeeding sutras as Patanjali's Yoga Sutras have an extraordinary integrity to it. One thus can see an overall intelligence at work from beginning to end.

The astute reader will notice that the translation that is available at www.Rainbowbody.com/HeartMind/Yogasutra.htm has lengthy commentaries in those areas that strongly contradict the orthodox institutionalized samkhya interpretations. Although the author is convinced that the Yoga Sutras can stand on their own feet without commentary, such commentary was done in order to attempt to inject fresh juice, revitalize, and elucidate the profound advice of Sri Patanjali and offer an alternative to the popular but never-the-less limited view of samkhya philosophy in such a situation. Certainly "The Yoga Sutra As-It-Is" contains inadequacies and errors, but the author hopes it is a start in bringing fresh light to young aspiring yogis so that they may take advantage of Patanjali's profound insight.-- that it may serve as a backdrop to a future more freely flowing, more easily readable, accessible, cogent, and even poetical translations in common English.

So to sum up, no, the Yoga Sutras are by themselves not necessarily confusing, complex, nor are they contradictory; rather it is entirely the skewed and biased translations as well as the institutionalization which has arose around it, which attempts to expropriate its yogic meaning to fit its own twisted self serving ends, which has made the Yoga Sutras "appear" abstract, arcane, and obscure. Too often students are indoctrinated into the "standard", authoritative, and politically correct bias/context as "reality' by traditionalists, while they are punished for doing their own critical thought which might contradict the institutionalized authorities of the past. Thus there is a danger that any book can add to the confusion and reinforce the walls of ignorance, rather than provide more clarity which leads to ultimate liberation. Certainly much which is called "scripture" unfortunately only rigidifies the former scripts and artifice, while hindering and tainting (klishta) the true goal of yoga as unconditional liberation (kaivalyam).

However, I have confidence that knowledge of a little Sanskrit combined with a dedicated inner directed yogic practice, which catalyzes insight and inner wisdom will in any case reveal the living truth underlying Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, so that it will act as a guidebook that reveals the universal inner guide/teacher/teachings that is inherent and accessible in all of creation once our eyes have been opened.

The common sorry state of man (in avidya) is that he has replaced "inner self knowledge" with external things (including external authorities). He will not ever be happy nor will he find a truly non-neurotic happiness and sense of deep well being until he turns his pursuit inside (through the authentic techniques of yoga such as meditation). Here he will find out who he really is, how his mind works, and eventually come into his evolutionary creative power of true Self expression and fulfillment. Through our own consistent practice (as it progresses) without attachment to results, the important lessons in life that are beneficial will "ring true" and be self-revealed precisely because the intuition, the inner teacher, and inner wisdom which reside within has become awakened.

The Yoga Sutras has been an invaluable guide and sounding board for me since first studying it 48 years ago. Of course the purpose of yogic sadhana is to become liberated from (nirodha), the prison of limited mental processes (citta-vrtti), and hence true Self empowerment and actualization is realized as distinct from understanding books correctly (the book is here to serve our sadhana, not the other way around), doing book reports, or intellectual inquiry. So for the yogi, I suggest an approach of study of the Yoga Sutras to the extent that it serves as a tangible synergistic aide to one's daily practice. In short praxis must rule over theory. Then will such time and study become worthwhile and bear fruit. That is the author's sincere wish.

Eternal Teacher, Teaching, and the Well taught. I bow down to you in great gratitude -- Mahalo -- in All Our Relations (Ohana) May this Union BE Complete Forever -- Ema-ho! It is sacred.

The Tamil Siddhar Saint, Ramalingar, praises Saint Manikkavasagar

One with sky Manikkavasagar,
your words...
One with me when I sing
Nectar of sugarcane
One with honey
One with milk
and one with the sweetness
of the fertile fruit
One with my flesh
One with my soul
is that sweetness!

Translated by Layne Little, from his book, "Little, Layne. Shaking the Tree: Kundalini Yoga, Spiritual Alchemy, & the Mysteries of the Breath in Bhogar's 7000."


Translation of the YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI in four chapters (padas) with commentary:

Chap. I.     Samadhi Pada - Absorption, Mergence, Linking, Getting in Touch, Union through realizing Harmony, Interconnectedness, Integrity, and Indigenous Belongingness -- the Reality of ALL OUR RELATIONS

Chap. II.   Sadhana Pada - Practice, Processes, Methods, and Technique

Chap. III. Vibhuti Pada - Proficiency, Progress, Fruition, Success, and Ability

Chap. IV.   Kaivalya Pada - Complete, Unconditional, and Absolute Liberation

Related Book List:

Books by Swami Sivananda, Swami Venkatesananda, Swami Rama, Swami Muktananda, Swami Laksmanjoo, and Sri Aurobindo.

"The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali with Commentary by Swami Venkatesananda", 389 pp. This book with commentary can be obtained at http://www.swamivenkatesananda.org or at the Divine Life Bookstore of Maryland. In India it can be obtained at Divine Life Society, India, 1998, 389 pp. This is a most excellent insightful book by a great being who was educated in the oral tradition, practiced yoga diligently, mastered Sanskrit, and lived and taught in both the East and the West having penetrated the Western psyche. The translation is also found (without commentaries) on the web at http://dailyreadings.com/sutras_1.htm for download and also is available in a pocket edition (translation without commentary) as "Enlightened Living" by Swami Venkatesananda published by Anahata Press (Richard Miller).

"Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Samadhi-Pada): Volume I", Pandit Usharbudh Arya (Swami Veda Bharati), Himalayan Institute Press; ISBN: 0893890928; (June 1986) Honesdale, PA. 510 pp. (Pandit Usharbudh Arya was later renamed, Swami Veda Bharati, by Swami Rama.) This is a translation and commentary of Pada One only and again it addresses in great detail Vyasa's commentary of Pada One.)

"Yoga Sutras of Patanjali with the exposition of Vyasa: Translation and Commentary, Volume II: Sadhana Pada, Swami Veda Bharati, Motilal Benarsidass, Delhi, 2001. 861 pp. (This is an in-depth translation and commentary of Pada Two spending more time on Vyasa's commentary then on Patanjali. Swami Veda Bharati exercises impeccable scholarship and intellectual ability without losing yogic insight -- a very rare and welcome combination also by an author who was educated in the oral tradition, practiced diligently, mastered Sanskrit, and taught and lived in both the West as well in India, and has penetrated to a certain degree the complexity of Western conditioning upon the psyche. The book can be obtained via the bookstore at www.bindu.org or swamiveda.org

"The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali", Christopher Chapple and Yogi Ananda Viraj, Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, 1990, 133 pp. (An excellent literal translation).

"Kriya Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Siddhas", Marshall Govindan, Kriya Yoga Publications, 196 Mountain Rd., PO Box 90, Eastman, Quebec, Canada, J0E1P0, 2000. 283 pp. (A refreshing, creative, and insightful translation within the kriya yoga perspective.)

"The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana: A Reconsideration of Classical Yoga", Ian Whicher, Suny Series in Religious Studies, State Univ of New York Press; ISBN: 0791438163; 1998. 426 pp. This is a very excellent and insightful study exercising much integrity of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (but not a translation) by a Western academician based on a non-dual (advaita) stance.

"Yoga: The Indian Tradition", by Ian Whicher, RoutledgeCurzon; March 2003, ISBN-10: 0700712887 ISBn-13: 978-0700712885

A re-appraisal of Patanjali's Yoga-sutras in the light of the Buddha's teaching, by S. N. Tandon, Vipassana Research Institute, 1995, iSBN-10: 8174140247; ISBN-13: 978-8174140241

"Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali", BKS Iyengar, Aquarian Press, 1993. Although respectfully traditional to a great extent, this translation offers considerable integrity, personal insight, and boldness due to authentic experience.

Tim Miller Introduces Chapter One of the Yoga Sutras (Samadhi Pada). This is an excellent and very insightful MP3 audio production produced by iHanuman.com


Table of Contents of the "Yoga Sutras As-It-Is

An Introduction to the Yoga Sutras

Foreword to The Yoga Sutras As It Is

A Short History of the Yoga Sutras

Yoga Sutras FAQ

An Ashtanga (Eight Limbed) Yoga Meditation Practice

Beloved Yoga Teacher, Sri Dr. G. K. Pungaliya Essay on Patanjali and Jnaneshwar Sri Pungaliya was an ardent student of yoga, and subsequently became a modern master. Here Sri Pungaliya shares his insight on Samkhya, Patanjali, and Sri Jnaneshwar.

Yogiraj Shyamacharan Lahiri's Translation of the Yoga Sutras A more classic but inspired translation by the Grandson of Lahiri Mahasaya. This is very long download in PDF format.

Yoga Sutra Translation by Chester Messenger A refreshing, little known, and sincere work of a life-long meditator.

Links to over 25 Different Web Based English Translations of the Yoga Sutras. at HRIH.NET. Most of these translations are unoriginal and offer little insight. They are mostly an exercise in grammar, semantics, and epistemology.

A Sanskrit to English Annotated Glossary

Professor Whicher's commentary on Prakrti and Purusa

Countering World-Negation: The World Affirming and Integrative Dimension of Classical Yoga by Ian Whicher

Alien Gods: Samkhya Interpretation of Nature (using Brahmacarya as the example)

A Review of S. N. Tandon's. A Re-appraisal of Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutras in the Light of the Buddha’s Teaching by Georg Feuerstein

A Review of Ian Whicher's. The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana: A Reconsideration of Classical Yoga by Georg Feuerstein

Yoga as seen in the Light of Vipassana by S. N. Goenka

"Is Yoga a Religion": an astute and concise article by Georg Feuerstein

An article entitled "Is Yoga a Religion", by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati 

Yoga is not a Religion, by Shakti Das

The Variety of Yoga Teachings and Teachers: the Inner Teacher, and How to Find Her

The Guru and the Light Within by Swami Rama Tirth

Neti Neti: The Teacher is in All

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