By Sadhana Lele



Patanjal Yoga  sutras are a prime source of Yoga teaching .

The major characteristic features of Patanjal Yoga sutras are:

1) Popular DarshanPatanjali Yoga is sacred Darshan, authored by Sage Patanjali. Darshan is philosophical system.‘ It means perception of ‘truth’ through pure mind and intellect together (reasoning). Those are not mere collection of information and descriptions but are the essence of direct perception or experiences of Seers or Rishis.

2) Chief aim is to describe Yoga i.e. science of Self-realization or liberation.

3) A Complete condensed set of principles and techniques of Yoga. Composed in form of Lucid but mathematical aphorisms – in handy size,

195 in numbers.

Divided in 4 chapters –

Samadhi pad — 51 Aphorisms

Sadhan pad – — 55 Aphorisms

Vibhuti pad – – 55 Aphorisms

Kaivalya pad – -34 Aphorisms

4) Focus on –

Chitta (causal mind) as cause and end both, for the Klesh (pain).

Many ways and means to rule out Klesh and attain complete sense of contentment, are helpful in stress, depression, anxieties, etc.

5) ‘Sarvabhaumtva’ – i.e. Practices transcend the conditions like class, time, place, period, etc.

6) Abhyas (constant practice) and Vairagy (dispassion), Ishwarpranidhan – through pursuing Aum, path of 8 limbs,

Pratipakshbhavana, etc are important practices towards Liberation.


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The notion of Yoga, is believed to be existing since a very long time. Fundamentally, it explains the scientific path of spiritual Liberation or emancipation: Moksha. Liberation means getting rid of Karma bondage by individual soul (Jiv). Thereafter individual soul i.e. Jiv unites with the universal or supreme-being (Shiv). That union is spiritually called Yoga (Jiv-Shiv union). philosophers have said that for such union: Yoga takes several rebirths for individual soul or self.

Our ancestors have recorded that a human being feels that material pleasures lead to happiness. However in course of time he realizes that worldly life is ultimately full of sorrow. Consequently, he craves for higher level of happiness i.e. spiritual pleasures beyond material world. The individual souls who attain spiritual realization i.e. the identity of Jiv and Shiv. They actually perceived the ultimate truth. Hence they were seers: Rishis. i.e .Jiiv-Shiv union.

As per Indian tradition of knowledge, the origin of Yoga is ascribed to the Hiranyagarbh, a celestial being. In Mahabharat (Shanti parvaKrishna states, ‘Acharyas call me as Hiranyagarbh who is lauded in the verses of Vedas,’ thus, Krishna indentifies himself with Hiranyagarbh. Sanjay (Narrator – Gita) has called him Yogaeshvar in Bhagvad GitaYoga-yajnavalkya Smruti describes Hiranyagarbh as original teacher of Yoga, just as Kapil, of the Samkhya system.

Traditionally, Yoga is a precious science of wholesome life, leading to liberation or ‘self realization’. Large number of people practice Yoga either wholly or partially. During the course of time, the concept of Yoga has confined to a particular discipline, observed by handful ascetics i.e. Sanyasins, for their own goal of emancipation or self realization. Various rigorous practices like breath-regulationfasting, meditation, devotion to god, an austere and secluded life etc. cumulatively called Tapasya were practiced by them, mostly in the Himalayas. As a result Yoga was somehow alienated from the society as whole; and the number of practitioners of Yoga in society dwindled.

During last two centuries, eminent spiritual leaders as well as Yogais, such as Paramahans Yogaanand Swami Vivekanand, Bhakti vedant Prabhupad, Acharya Rajanish and Acharya Mahesh Yogai propagated Yoga: both Bahirang as well as Antaranga, especially the Yoga written by Patanjali in his Yoga-sutras. The book: Autobiography of Yogai became one of the best sellers of world. The books of Bhakti vedant of Ramkrishna and Vivekananda mission are read all over the world. Audio cassettes of all such spiritual leaders are also available.

Along with these revolutionaries some Yogais propagated other facet of Yoga i.e. Practice of postures and pranayam in India as well as in Europe, America and other continents. These fascinated those people to such an extent that, nearly 60 per cent of world population has approved and adopted it. Advanced communication, printing, information technology or in short globalization contributed to the aforesaid publicity of Yoga. More and more members of society: both, classes and masses, men and women have adopted Yoga practices as a part of lifestyle.

Somehow, Yoga appears to have become an instrument of better health and more happiness in life. Consequently, limited physical postures, breathing disciplines, contemplation, concentration, and cleansing procedures, of individual practitioner’s choice have become the sum and substance of rapid expansion of popularized Yoga. Unfortunately, in the process it has lost its original grandeur.

The entire succession of Yoga can be roughly divided in three parts viz: Ancient, classical and modern, on the basis of their own qualitative and quantitative features.


Ancient – Classical – Modern –
Composition of Moral discipline to maintain the equilibrium of the society as a whole, along with material success and attaining desires, Ideal life style, followed by – – Self realization or liberation: Moksh Ashtang Yoga: Bahirang and Antaranga: intensive practice of Dharma and Moksh, in seclusion where material success and desires were nearly neglected. Different sets of activities towards physical and mental health and human excellence, Yoga practitioners also give treatment to psycho-somatic ailments. This therapeutical aspect has led to growing research and teaching potential where moral discipline and liberation or salvationare secondary aims.
Aim – Living a complete sequence of contented life, followed by Self realization – for whole society Aim – Self realization for renounced ascetics Aim – More than self realization, gratification of demands of, health material enjoyments and social honor.


The science of Yoga evolved for millennia of years, even prior to Patanjali. Vedic Rishis or Seers of hymns have recorded their own experiences and musings. History has recorded the advancement of Yoga since Vedic days in different manners like verbal traditions, behavioral patterns of Yogais, scriptures, texts, carvings, caves, idols of gods and Seers. At present India and territories around, have a huge treasure of such records. Many literary records attest that Yoga existed since RgVedic time. Archaeological records found in Indus valley sites display some figures of ascetic postures like Padmasan etc, suggesting that Yoga was practised, well over 4000 years. (     this portion can be deleted if doesn’t suit)

India being a Yoga-hub has rich collection of scriptures like Vedas including Upanishadas, Puranas ,Darshanas, Itihas (history), Dharma-grantha (Scriptures), etc. describing different dimensions of Yoga voluminously. As Yoga has a long history, it is hard to define the accurate chronological order of different scriptures or texts, with respect to time, verity of practices and components, etc.

Here is list of some important scriptures or texts describing different facets of Yoga in part or whole. (Chart – 2)

Ved – 4 Darshan -9 Puran – 108 Itihas & others
Vedas having four   parts – Sanhita, Brahman,   Aranyak and Upanishad

Important Upanishads-108, but 10 are considered important.


6 Astika Darshans- Nyaya, vaisheshika, Mimasa (Purva and Uttara), Sankhya, Yogaa ­- &

3Nastik Darshans – Buddha, Jain & Charvak


Some highly read – Agni,

Vishnu, Shiva, Bhagwat, Garuda, Padma, Kurma, Skanda etc.

Epic Mahabharat (containing Anu Gita and Bhagwad Gita),

Shrimad Bhagwat,


Others –


Yajnavalkya Sanhita, Hatha pradipika, Gherand sanhita, etc.


Upanishads being a concluding part of Vedas, declare that the world emerged from divine sound Aum, and meditating on the same is way towards liberation and that all other worships and sacred fire performed for happiness and worldly enjoyments for any special (spiritual) power are, true cause of birth and death.

The prominent Upanishads like Kath, Kena, Prashna, Manduka, etc deal with a very fundamental question – What is relation between universe and individual being, how did both evolve, how to overrule pain and attain Self realization. These Upanishads, large in size, even contain some stories or discussions regarding philosophical or theoretical aspect of ordinary world and knowledge about truth or Self realization. Some other small Upanishads, mention very practical dimension and techniques to be practiced sincerely, leading to Self realization. Let see what these Upanishads mention about Yoga.

Nadbindupanishad – define Yoga as – To be indulged in listing a spiritual (anahat) sound while sitting in Siddhasan is said to be Yoga.

Yogatatvopnishad – Describe four types of Yoga – Mantra (recitation), Lay, Hath and Raj.

Amrutnadopnishad – describe 6 limbs of Yoga – Pratyahar, Dhyan, Pranayam, Dharana,Tark

( logical thinking) and Samdhi. One remarkable statement is found in this Upnishad. It states that Ashitihi shat Shatam chaiv sahstrani trayodash lakchaiko-pi nih-shvasah ahoratr prmantah – 34.   It means in 24 hrs we breath 1,13, 600 it means we breath around 78 times / minute.

(Normal breath rate is around 15 to 18 /minute according to western as good as eastern health sciences) It seems author is mentioning about pulse rate, as further it says Pranvayu (life energy) is of Red color.

Dhyanbindopnishad – describes different mudras, pranayam with location and functions of different Nadis (life force carriers), bandhas, meditating upon Vishnu, contemplating on Aumkar (pranav).

Yogatatvopanishad – It mentions that individual being has many limitations or demerits like – craving, shyness, fear, anger, laziness, hunger, etc which can be overcome only by practice of Yoga of different kinds as HathYoga, LayaYoga, MantraYoga and RajYoga.                 

Generally Upanishads are meant for trained scholars, having good insight, power of reasoning and discriminative faculty and a wish to pursue path of realization, On the other hand Puranas are composed to impress and tempt masses towards devotion or worshiping a deity, through tangible examples, myths, different descriptions of different events between concerned characters, lives of saints, kings, seers, etc. It was an effective source during an oral tradition, to awake consciousness. There are number of Puranas describe Yogaic concepts directly or indirectly and following are some selected descriptions about Yoga.

Agni Puran – defines Yoga – ‘To know Brahman in total is Yoga’. The technique to conquer senses by knowledge, renunciation and Pranayam.

Kurma Puran – describes two types of Yoga – Abhav and Braham

Garuda Puran – mentions about three types of Yogai – Bhautik, Kshatr (warrior) and Anthyashrami.

Vishnu Puran – defines Yoga – ‘To unite that power of Mind(Chitta) to Brahman is called as Yoga’.

Shiva Maha puran– states about MantraYoga, sparshaYoga, BhavYoga, AbhavYoga and MahaYoga

Yogavasistha a discussion about liberation between Rev. Vasishth Muni and Bahgwan Shriram define Yoga as – Yoga is that skill which makes one i.e. Jiv (easy) to conquer (mundane) world.

However, aforesaid texts describing subject of Yoga, contain many other long stories and discussions and thus, it becomes difficult to glean Yogaic contains. When the size of the information of the subject swells high and thus compels or tempts some experts to codify or condense it, which may lead to compose short and very practical texts almost like hand book of the subject. Here is list of such texts small in size, prominently devoted to the subject of Yoga can be called as ‘Applied Yoga’. Those have concentrated on the direct practices to begin with, to purify and empower body and mind for attaining liberation than the philosophical explanations. Those texts are highly analogous to each other, emphasize on purification of physical, astral and mental bodies; practice of Pranayam and further concentration. Given below are some popular and important ones called ‘Sanhitas’ as – Shiva, Yajnavalkya, Gherand, Hatha pradipika etc.


Different text books of applied Yoga

Shiva-sanhita Yajnavalkya Sanhita Hatha pradipika Gherand sanhita
Dialogs between Bhagwan Shiva & Devi Parvati Dialogs between Yajnavalkya muni & (Wife-disciple) Gargi Composed by Yogai Swatmaram Dialogs between Gheranda muni & (disciple) Chandakapali
Chapters are named as follows in different texts and the number of verses
पटल (Patal)- total no. of Patals are Five

Total verses – 644

अध्याय (Adhyay)- total no. of Adhyas are Twelve

Total Verses 496

उपदेश (Upadesh)- total no. of Upadeshas are five

Total Verses 331

उपदेश (Upadesh)- total no. of Upadeshas are Seven

Total Verses 399


Hence, a textual succession of Yoga is of two classes – a class explaining philosophy and principles of Yoga with or without other information and stories. The other class is describing purely Yogaic practices. The texts belonging to first class are useful for all kind of readers like, common men, philosophers or

Hence, a textual succession of Yoga, is of two classes – a class explaining philosophy and principles of Yogaa with or without other information and stories; the other class, describing purely Yogaic practices. The texts belonging to first class are useful for all kind of readers like, common men, philosophers or counselors,

Yajnyavalkya Samhita – defines – ‘A union on Jiv and And Shiv is Yoga having eight dimensions’.

Hatha pradipika – Rev. Swatmaram a composer of Sanhita – declares that Hath-Yoga is (supporting) ladder to the RajYoga, and will help aspirants to over-rule confusion caused by multiplicity of views (regarding Yoga).

Hence, a textual succession of Yoga, is of two classes – a class explaining philosophy and principles of Yogaa with or without other information and stories; the other class, describing purely Yogaic practices. The texts belonging to the first class are useful for all kind of readers like, common men, philosophers or counselors, scholars, scientists and even Yoga aspirants. But the other class texts are more useful for the aspirants of liberation as they need such a handy set of information which carries both principles and practices together, easily accessible.

There are two such handy texts, Bhagwad Gita and Patanjal Yoga Sutras, which are highly popular texts of Yoga. It is always a subject of admiration that, Bagwan Shrikrishna and Mahamuni Patanjali have abridged, an enormous range of Yogaic knowledge to few verses, in their classical works, Bagwad Gita and Patanjal Yoga-sutra, seven hundred and One hundred ninety five verses, respectively. Both have their own glory and content, with some remarkable similarities as good as differences.

Bhagvad Gita is so popular that many people chant it, as their daily worship or praise. It is recited even in schools, colleges, religious functions with great devotion. It is regarded as a holy text of Hindu religion.At the same time it is also regarded as text on Yoga by the scholars, some of its verses can be treated as best definitions of Yoga. e.g. –

योगकर्मसु कौशलम्

Yogaah karmasu kaushalam

Yoga is technique of performing action or duty (Karm) (leading to liberation by renouncing its results or boon and not just an ordinary skillful action or dexterity)


समत्वं योग उच्यते

Samatvam Yoga uchhate

(To maintain) equanimity is said to be Yoga.

The sixth chapter of Gita: ‘Atma-sanyam‘ Yoga, is devoted to self control, an essence of Yogaic practice. Verses: 23 to 25, together define Atma-sanyam as – Yoga. It is a state beyond sorrow; and is to be attained by unwearied practice of self-control. Complete renouncement of all worldly desires, by restraining all sense organs, from all dimensions; and contemplating on one single concept of Lord and none else, with tranquil mind, is the practice.

Though, the Bhagwat Gita is revered as text of Yoga by large number of people, around the world, Patanjal Yoga Sutras are, in fact, the prime source book of Yoga teaching, as it is very precise set of selected principles and techniques leading to Self realization. Patanjali’s purpose was clear to render knowledge to ardent ascetics wish to pursue path of Self-realization, and not those, confused about their duties and life style. Gita is leading Arjuna towards his princely duties, which itself is way towards liberation. To explain him the theme Bhagwan Krishna described different Yogaic methods.

Besides, the aim of composition and its arrangement it is widely-read by erudite scholars; and mass of sincere aspirants and practitioners of Yoga as an important ‘Darshan’. i.e. direct perception of a seer.

Traditionally, there are nine Darshans: six Astik Darshanas (ie treating Vedasas authority) and three Nastik Darshanas (non-believers in Vedic authority). Astiks Darshanas are:1. Nyay, 2.Vaisheshik,3. Sankhy,4. Yoga,5. Mimamsa and 6.Vedant. Nastik Darshanas are: 1.Carvak,2. Jain and 3.Bauddh.

These are very special kind of compositions by the Rishies or Seers, who after comprehensive study, contemplation and experimentation, condensed their thoughts in the aphorisms. Those are like mathematical equations, containing great thoughts and process towards definite results.

Both Yoga and Smakhy share the same metaphysics and common aim of liberating purush (jiv or individual) from its bondage. Only their method is different. We find that, Yoga has many commonalities with Jain and Buddha Darshan too, except a notion of god (Ishwar) and contemplation on God (Ishwar-pranidhan)

Unfortunately, due to many reasons, during 11th to 19th century, all branches of Indian knowledge were neglected. A few sincere scholars, took efforts to preserve the scriptures and other records, but a huge part of it was either destroyed, lost or stolen.

The dawn of 20th century brought nearly all branches of Indian knowledge system to light. Many great modern Yogais who were thinkers and social reformers too, unveiled the whole treasure of the Indian branches of knowledge, especially to westerns as well as young Indians. The leading figures were: Sw. Vivekanand, Sw. Yogaanand (author of Autobiography of Yogai), Shri. Aurobindo, Sw. Shivanda, Bhakti-Vedant Prabhupada of Hare Krishna Movement, Acharya Rajanish and number of their disciples. They preached Indian knowledge especially Upanishadas, Bhagvad Gita and Yoga Sutras and other such texts.

Thus, Patanjal Yoga shot to fame in modern era. Recently, almost all degree and diploma courses of Yoga, teach Patanjal Yoga Sutras, either in part or whole. Some people recite all the 195 Sutras, every day.

Some misconceptions regarding Patanjal Yoga –

1) Patanjali is pioneer of Yoga – Concept of Yoga is introduced by Patanjali and there was no Yoga before him.

2) Deferent Yogaic practices, observed today, e.g. physical postures dynamic or static, different cleansing processes like Kapalbhati, Tratak, Neti, Dhauti etc; and especially Pranayam (disciplined breathing patterns) are described by Patanjali.

3) Patanjali prescribed many Ayurvedic medicines along with Yogaic practices for good health.


Right conception –

1) As stated before Yoga existed since a very long time before Patanjali. However, apparently there was no uniform school of Yoga, teaching Yogaic techniques (sequentially as syllabus) oriented towards a definite goal. The ideas and practices about contemplation, meditation, penance, attainments of spiritual powers etc. were discussed in different scriptures; but in an unorganized manner. Patanjali was the great seer who condensed it to handy size in 195 Sutras, eliminating the huge descriptions and insignificant part of Yoga. Some scholars treat it as a seminal text for Yoga discipline.

As stated before, Hiranyagarbh is considered to be pioneer of Yoga system. Maitrī Upanishad accepted six-limbed Yoga. The Vishnu Puran has also recorded six-limbed Yoga. Twelve Yogas and seven Dharanas are found in Mahabharat.

Patanjali, himself has accepted the previous knowledge of Yoga in very 1st Sutra. He says ‘Atha Yogaa anuśāsanam.’ ‘Now let us see how to follow a discipline of Yoga (described before)’. Anu means to follow. He is indicating to the existing discipline of Yoga, only in new format.

2) Though ‘Asana and Pranayam‘ are the fundamental limbs of Patanjali’s Ashtang Yoga, he never spelt any particular posture or breathing discipline, as people practice today. Sutras: 46 to 48 of Sadhan pada refer to Asans’ and Sutras 49 to 53 to Pranayam.

3) ‘Yogaen chittasya paden vacham Malam Sharirasya cha Vaidyaken

Yo apakarottam pravaram muninam Patanjalim pranjalir Anatosmi

‘While commencing a practice of Yoga, I salute (offer Namskar with folded palms) to one who (described science) removed the impurity of mind by Yoga; of speech by grammar and the impurity of body by medicinal treatise.

According to scholars, Patanjali has also commented on Ayurved but never prescribed any medicine (as they are popular today by his name). Raja Bhoja, in 11th century declared that Patanjali, a composer of Yoga sutras is one and the same seer who commented on Paninis grammar authorize treatise on medicine.

            ‘Patanjali’ seeming a glorious and somewhat spiritual name, some clever people choose it as ‘Brand name’ to sell their products with no relation whatsoever to Patanjali muni – author of Sutras.

Biography of Patanjali –

There are different stories about the life of Patanjali, but the one popular is as follows.

There was a saintly woman Gonika, who attained the high truth, the highest knowledge, which she wanted to propagate for the well being of mankind. Hence, she was searching a right person for it. Once, offering a holy water to Sun, while praying, a small fish emerged in her palms and as the water dropped down, it turned into a human child figure. Thus as fallen from palms, he was named as Patanjali (Word – Patan – fallen down Anjali – Palms).

He was an incarnation of Shesha i.e. Hooded Cobra, having uncountable skulls (brains or centres of knowledge).


or centres of knowledge). 

Patanjal Yoga Sutra –

Patanajal Yoga sutra has both oral as well as textual tradition of Yoga. It is acknowledged by traditional Vedic schools as the authoritative source on Yoga. It is bouquet with everlasting fragrance, contrast to its modern western transplanted forms, containing classical Indian ideas about:

  • Definition of Yoga, Features of Chitta (causal mind) and its modifications, the techniques and practices of restraining Vritties and meditation, culminating into super consciousness.
  • The nature and function of Chitta during the states of consciousness and super consciousness.
  • Mechanisms of ‘karma‘ or action in the world: here and hereafter (consequent rebirth) and

the metaphysical foundation and description leading to mystical powers.

  • Different spiritual powers as a result of Yogaic practices and how to renounce them while leading Liberation.

Considering available space here, it is difficult even to enumerate all the 195 sutras: aphorisms, so let us have glance at some important aphorisms (especially those are applied part) and subjects dealt in sets of aphorisms in different chapters.


Q – 1 Samadhi pada – deals with Definition of Yoga, Chitta vrittis (modifications of causal mind) and techniques of restraining them, different levels of ‘Samadhi‘ etc.


योग: चित्तवृत्ति निरोध: 2/1

Yogaah chitta vritti nirodhah

Yogaa is restraint or inhibition of modifications of causal mind.

Generally Chitta is translated as mind, but in real sense it is a causal depository of function of mind. When individual self is united with Brahman: own fundamental nature of Jiv, the Chitta remains absent or inactive. But when it starts functioning in form of Vrittis, there emerges Samsar, an ordinary world (of birth and death) of Drushya: visible and tangible objects.

Vashishth muni defined Yoga in Yoga-vashistha as – technique of conquering world.

Gita defines it as: equanimity is Yoga. Many such definitions are seen in philosophical works. Patanjali’s definition strikes directly to the core of the subject.

In next sutra, he states that when one can inhibit such modifications, he or she would attain Self or fundamental character (spirit).

तदा दृष्टु: स्वरूपेsवस्थानम् – 3/1

Tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam

Then the ‘Drashta‘ i.e. seer realizes or establishes in his own vital or fundamental character (spirit) or Brahman.

When an actor is playing some dramatic role and has a makeover, it is difficult to recognize him or her, but when the makeover and drapery is put off, it is very easy to notice the person. In the same way, when a seer is not associated with any Vritti, he or she can realize his or her Self or fundamental character.

An actor can put off the makeover within couple of minutes, but it is not easy to dissociate or restraint Vrittis. It takes a long time, even many lives to realize ‘Self’. Patanjali has prescribed two chief instruments of this restraint as:   

अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोध: 12/1

Abhyas vairagyabhyam tannirodhah

‘Abhyas’ and ‘Vairagy’ are those two chief means of restraint (self-restraint).

Abhyas means a persistent repeated practice (of anything). Vairagy is disinterestedness and dispassion.

Patanjali further describes these two faculties as:

तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोsभ्यास: 13/1

Endeavor to settle in that (self or fundamental character) state, is Abhyas or in state of Chitta vritti nirodh.

द्रष्टानुश्रविक विषयवितृष्णस्य वशीकार संज्ञा वैराग्यम् 15/1

तत्परं पुरुषख्यातेर्गुणवैतृष्ण्यम् 16/1

Patanjali has mentioned two levels or types of Vairagy –

15/1 – Vahsikar Vairagy – A perfect mastery over craving towards any object (or subject) either tasted (experienced) or not.

16/1 – Par Vairagy – It is highest level of non-desire, even for the virtues (possible only), when one attains the ultimate ‘Purush’ i.e. supreme being.

By explaining different levels of Samadhi, obstacles to the same and some very effective techniques to overcome them, especially ‘Ishwar-pranidhan Patanjali has defined the destination of whole mission or journey.

Ch – 1 Samadhi pada
Verse 1 to 4 Introduction and definition of Yoga
5 to 11 Five Vrittis
12 to 16 Abhyas and Vairagy
17 to 22 Samadhi – Levels
23 to 29 Ishwar pranidhan
30 to 31 Obstacles to Yoga
32 to40 Solutions to obstacles
41 to 46 Sabeej samadhi
47to 51 Adhyatma prasad to Nirbija


Ch -2 Sadhan pada – deals with different techniques and disciplines to be persuaded as to achieve the goal: Samadhi.

In this chapter, he states the ‘Kleshas’ (psychological dispositions)are the cause of pain experienced by an individual and which ultimately leads to an endeavour for overcoming the same. He assures that, Ashtang Yoga is a perfect set of instruments to eradicate the ‘Avidhya‘ (a chief ‘Klesha‘ – idea contradicting to truth) and to know the ‘Purush’, the ultimate truth.

योगाङ्गानुष्ठानादशुध्दिक्षये ज्ञानदिप्तिराविवेक ख्याते: 28/2

The perfect awareness of Purush the fundamental reality is attained, when spiritual illumination arises after eradicating all impurities, by (persistent) practicing eight limbs of Yoga.

Ashtang Yoga –

यमनियमासन प्राणायाम प्रत्याहार धारणाध्यान समाधयोSष्टावङ्गानि 29/2

Yam, Niyam, Asan, pranayam, pratyahar, Dharana, Dyan and Samadhi are eight limbs of Yoga.

Ashtang Yoga is complete set of 8 instruments, which are called as Angas (limbs). Though Patanjali has put them in a sequence, it doesn’t mean that it is to be practiced one after the other, each limb has its own separate as good as collective significance. The whole set is divided in two parts, Bahirang and AntarangIt is general convention that, first five Limbs i.e. Yam, Niyam, Asana, Pranayam and Pratyahar form a Bahirang and last three limbs i.e. Dharana, Dhyan and Samadhi form AntarangBut some scholars, Acharyas consider Pratyahar as a part of AntarangBahirang means exterior set of limb and Antarang is an interior set, having their own features as –


Bahir-ang Antar-ang
Getting free from external disturbances (in following ways) – Concentrating mind on (any) single aspect
Yam: self restraint from evil tendencies due to interaction with other people (entities or even objects)

Niyam: abiding by rules of behaviors of body and mind

Asan: postures mending physical i.e. body limbs

Pranayam: breath regulation and prevention of mal effects due to irregular function of astral (Pranic) body

Pratyahar: retrieval of faculties of sense organs affected by unholy perceptions

Dharana – Concentration on one single aspect

Dyan – Uninterrupted contemplation

Samadhi – Equipoise: Union of Jiv and Shiv

Demonstration of these aspect is possible to some extent No demonstration, no exterior help is available
Secondary practices with respect of spiritual liberation Primary practices with respect to Liberation
It can be judged by outsiders Beyond judgment of outsiders except liberated Jivas.
There are some exterior activities No exterior activity
To some extent physical body is put into Yogaic exercises No physical activity or mental and even of causal mind.


Limb 1 – five yamas

अहिंसासत्यास्तेयब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहा यमा: 30/2

Components of Yama:Ahinsa, Saty, Astey, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha are five Yamas

Five disciplines to be observed to maintain good and harmonious relations to all other constituents of universe. Ahinsa= Non violence, Saty= observance of truth, Astey= non stealing, Brahma-chary = celibacy and A-parigraha= abandoning collections or gifts. 

Limb 2 – five Niyams

शौचसंतोषतप:स्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि नियमा: 32/2.

Shauch = Purity, 2. Santosh= Satisfaction, 3.Tapas=Penance, 4. Swadhyay= Self study and 5. Ishwar-pranidhan= Contemplation on god are five Niyams. Are


Limb 3 – Asan

स्थिरसुखम् आसनम् 46/2

Sthir sukham asanam

Asan (posture) is to remain steadfast and at comfort.

Limb 4 – Pranayam

तस्मिन् सति श्वासप्रश्वासयोर्गतिविच्छेद: 49/2

Tasmin sati shwas prashwasyoho gatir vicchedah

After it, (attaining posture), there is possibility of cessation of inhalation and exhalation of breath. 

Limb 5 – Pratyahar

स्वविषयाSसम्प्रयोगे चित्तस्वरूपानुकारइवेन्द्रियाणां प्रत्याहार: 54/2

Swa vishaya sampraYogae chittah svaroopanukar ivendriyanam pratyaharh

Pratyahar is to withdraw sense organs from their respective objects of pleasure.


Ch -2 Sadhan pada
1 to 2
Kriya Yoga
3 to 9 six Kleshas
10 to 11 Solutions to Klesh
12 to27 Heya Dukha
28 to 55
Eight fold – Bahirang
Ch -3 Vibhuti   pada – deals elaborately with Sanyam or Antaranag Yoga and different spiritual achievements as result of it.


Limb 6 – Dharana

देशबन्धश्चित्तस्य धारणा1/3

Desh bandh chittasy Dharana

Dharana is confinement of causal mind in particular area (object)


Limb 7 – Dhyan

तत्र प्रत्यैकतानताध्यानम् 2/3

Tatr pratyaiktanta dhyanam

Meditation is uninterrupted flow (of mind) towards one and single object.

Limb 8 – Samadhi

तदेवार्थमात्रनिर्भासं स्वरूपशून्यमिव समाधि: 3/3

Tadevarth matr nirbhas swaroop shoonyamiv Samadhi

When there remains only a consciousness of object of meditation (not of anything else) is Samadhi.


त्रयमेकत्र संयम: 4/3

Trayamekatra sanyamah

These three together is Sanyam.

Ch -3 Vibhuti pada
1 to 8 Sanyam – Antarang
9 to 15 Threefold effects of restraint
16 to 55 Vibhuti – Achievements
Q Ch -4 kaivalya pada – deals with the law of Karm or action, effects of passions here and hereafter, Jivanmukti and Videhamukti the two states of liberation.

Ch -4 kaivaly pada
1 to 3 Other Achievements
4 to 6 Conception of diff. Citta and bodies
7 to 11 Action, Passions and their effects
12 to 24 features of Drushy and its relation with knower
25 to 34 Jivan-mukti and Videh-mukti
     As stated before Patanjali has focused on the applied part of Yoga which helps in all kinds of achievements, either ordinary (worldly) or spiritual.


Following are some important verses describing such applied part of Yoga.



Applied Yoga

Samadhi pada: 12 to 16 Abhyasa and Vairagy
Samadhi pada: 23 to 29 Ishwar pranidhan
Samadhi pada: 32 to39 Solutions to different obstacles in Yoga
Sadhan pada: 1 to 2 Kriya Yoga – for destruction of Klesh and to make Practice of Samadhi easier
Sadhan pada: 28 to 55 Eight fold – Bahirang and Antaranga
Vibhuti pada: 1 to 4 Sanyam – Antarang









Thus, the generations of spiritual aspirants as well as common men and women respect and pray sage patanjali, for composing a ‘handy set’ of aphorisms, as an essence of earlier Yoga scriptures. Sutra – is thread, with which a flowers are put together to make garland, a symbol of love, respect or intimacy. Patanjali put, the chosen principles and techniques of Yoga (flowers) in aphorisms (own woven thread), and presented it to mankind. The fragrance and beauty of this garland will last for ever as long as the future generations will keep, the principles and techniques of Yoga suggested by him, in practice.

Yopa karottam pravaram muninam, Patanjalim pranjalirantosmi

Om shanti