Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
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The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are 196 Indian sutras (aphorisms). The Yoga Sutras were compiled around 400 CE by Patanjali, taking materials about yoga from older traditions. Together with his commentary they form the Pātañjalayogaśāstra.
The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali was the most translated ancient Indian text in the medieval era, having been translated into about forty Indian languages and two non-Indian languages: Old Javanese and Arabic. The text fell into obscurity for nearly 700 years from the 12th to 19th century, and made a comeback in late 19th century due to the efforts of Swami Vivekananda. It gained prominence again as a comeback classic in the 20th century.
Before the 20th century, history indicates the Indian yoga scene was dominated by the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Vasistha, texts attributed to Yajnavalkya and Hiranyagarbha, as well as literature on hatha yoga, tantric yoga and pashupata yoga rather than the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali. In the 20th century the corporate Yoga subculture elevated the Yoga Sutras to a status it never knew previously.
Scholars consider the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali formulations as one of the foundations of classical yoga philosophy.
Author and dating 1
- Author 1.1
- Dating 1.2
- Compilation 1.3
- Eight limbs 2.1
- Yamas 2.2
- Niyama 2.3
- Asana 2.4
- Prāṇāyāma 2.5
- Pratyahara 2.6
- Dhārana 2.7
- Dhyāna 2.8
- Samādhi 2.9
- Samadhi 3.1
- Ananda and asmita 3.2
- Epistemology 3.3
- Metaphysics 3.4
- Soteriology 3.5
- God 3.6
Philosophical roots and influences 4
- Samkhya 4.1
- Buddhism 4.2
- Jainism 4.3
Translations and commentaries 5
- Yogabhashya and others 5.1
- Modern translations and commentary 5.2
- Indian traditions 6.1
- Western interest 6.2
- Christian and Islamic response 6.3
- See also 7
- Notes 8
- References 9
- Printed sources 10.1
- Web-sources 10.2
- Further reading 11
- External links 12
Author and dating
The Indian tradition attributes the work to Patañjali. Much confusion has been caused by the late medieval traditions of conflating Patañjali, the author of the grammatical Mahābhāṣya, with the author of the same name who wrote the Yoga Sūtras. Yet the two works in Sanskrit are completely different in language, style and subject matter. Furthermore, before the time of Bhoja (11th century), Sanskrit authors did not conflate the authors, and treated them quite separately. And modern scholarship shows that these two authors are separated in time by about six hundred years. A third Patañjali is sometimes also invented, an author on medicine, in order to fill out the meaning of Bhoja's verse that said a single Patañjali cured speech through grammar, the mind through yoga, and the body through medicine. However, no major work of medicine by a Patañjali is known to Sanskrit literature.[note 1]
Philipp A. Maas assesses Patañjali's Yogasutra's date to be about 400 CE, based on tracing the commentaries on it published in the first millennium CE, and a review of extant literature.
Edwin Bryant, on the other hand, surveys the major commentators in his translation of the Yoga Sūtras. He observes that "Most scholars date the text shortly after the turn of the Common Era (circa first to second century), but that it has been placed as early as several centuries before that." Bryant concludes that "A number of scholars have dated the Yoga Sūtras as late as the fourth or fifth century C.E., but these arguments have all been challenged. ... All such arguments [for a late date] are problematic."
Michele Desmarais summarizes a wide variety of dates assigned to Yogasutra, ranging from 500 BCE to 3rd century CE, noting that there is a paucity of evidence for any certainty. She states the text may have been composed at an earlier date given conflicting theories on how to date it, but latter dates are more commonly accepted by scholars.
The Yoga Sutras are a composite of various texts. They resemble the Buddhist jhanas.[note 2] According to Feuerstein, the Yoga Sutras are a condensation of two different traditions, namely "eight limb yoga" (ashtanga yoga) and action yoga (Karma yoga). The Karma yoga part is contained in chapter 1, chapter 2 verse 1-27, chapter 3 except verse 54, and chapter 4. The "eight limb yoga" is described in chapter 2 verse 28-55, and chapter 3 verse 3 and 54.
According to Maas, Patañjali's composition was entitled Pātañjalayogaśāstra ("The Treatise on Yoga according to Patañjali") and consisted of both Sūtras and Bhāṣya. According to Wujastyk, referencing Maas,
Patanjali took materials about yoga from older traditions, and added his own explanatory passages to create the unified work that, since 1100 CE, has been considered the work of two people.— 
According to Maas, this means that the earliest commentary on the Yoga Sūtras, the Bhāṣya, that has commonly been ascribed to some unknown later author Vyāsa (the editor), was in fact Patañjali's own work.
Patañjali divided his Yoga Sutras into four chapters or books (Sanskrit pada), containing in all 196 aphorisms, divided as follows:
- Samadhi Pada (51 sutras). Samadhi refers to a blissful state where the yogi is absorbed into the One. Samadhi is the main technique the yogin learns by which to dive into the depths of the mind to achieve Kaivalya. The author describes yoga and then the nature and the means to attaining samādhi. This chapter contains the famous definitional verse: "Yogaś citta-vritti-nirodhaḥ" ("Yoga is the restraint of mental modifications").
Sadhana Pada (55 sutras). Sadhana is the Sanskrit word for "practice" or "discipline". Here the author outlines two forms of Yoga: Kriya Yoga (Action Yoga) and Ashtanga Yoga (Eightfold or Eightlimbed Yoga).
- Kriya Yoga is closely related to Karma Yoga, which is also expounded in Chapter 3 of the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna is encouraged by Krishna to act without attachment to the results or fruit of action and activity. It is the yoga of selfless action and service.
- Ashtanga Yoga describes the eight limbs that together constitute Rāja Yoga.
- Vibhuti Pada (56 sutras). Vibhuti is the Sanskrit word for "power" or "manifestation". 'Supra-normal powers' (Sanskrit: siddhi) are acquired by the practice of yoga. Combined simultaneous practice of Dhāraṇā, Dhyana and Samādhi is referred to as Samyama, and is considered a tool of achieving various perfections, or Siddhis. The temptation of these powers should be avoided and the attention should be fixed only on liberation. The purpose of using samadhi is not to gain siddhis but to achieve Kaivalya. Siddhis are but distractions from Kaivalaya and are to be discouraged. Siddhis are but maya, or illusion.
- Kaivalya Pada (34 sutras). Kaivalya literally means "isolation", but as used in the Sutras stands for emancipation, liberation and used interchangeably with moksha (liberation), which is the goal of yoga. The Kaivalya Pada describes the process of liberation and the reality of the transcendental ego.
Patanjali begins his treatise by stating the purpose of his book in the first sutra, followed by defining the word "yoga" in his second sutra of Book 1:
योग: चित्त-वृत्ति निरोध:
yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ— Yoga Sutras 1.2
This terse definition hinges on the meaning of three Sanskrit terms. I. K. Taimni translates it as "Yoga is the inhibition (nirodhaḥ) of the modifications (vṛtti) of the mind (citta)". Swami Vivekananda translates the sutra as "Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Citta) from taking various forms (Vrittis)." Edwin Bryant explains that, to Patanjali, "Yoga essentially consists of meditative practices culminating in attaining a state of consciousness free from all modes of active or discursive thought, and of eventually attaining a state where consciousness is unaware of any object external to itself, that is, is only aware of its own nature as consciousness unmixed with any other object."
- Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Nonviolence, non-harming other living beings
- Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood
- Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing
- Brahmacārya (ब्रह्मचर्य): celibacy, non-cheating on one's partner
- Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness
Patanjali, in Book 2, explains how and why each of the above self restraints help in the personal growth of an individual. For example, in verse II.35, Patanjali states that the virtue of nonviolence and non-injury to others (Ahimsa) leads to the abandonment of enmity, a state that leads the yogi to the perfection of inner and outer amity with everyone, everything.
Later scholars of Yoga school expanded this list of Patanjali, such as in the Śāṇḍilya Upanishad, as well as by Svātmārāma are: The additional recommended yamas are:
- (non-dwelling in the past or other's actions/speech) 
- Dhṛti (धृति): fortitude (non-fear, non-giving up in adversity)
- Dayā (दया): compassion (non-arrogance, non-self centeredness)
- Ārjava (आर्जव): non-hypocrisy, sincerity
- Mitāhāra (मितहार): measured diet (non-overeating, non-undereating, non-inappropriate eating/drinking)
The second limb in Patanjali's Yoga philosophy is called niyamas which include virtuous habits, behaviors and observances (the "dos"). Sadhana Pada Verse 32 lists the niyamas as:
- Śauca: purity, clearness of mind, speech and body
- Santoṣa: contentment, acceptance of others, acceptance of one's circumstances as they are in order to get past or change them, optimism for self
- Tapas: persistence, perseverance, austerity
- Svādhyāya: study of Vedas (see Sabda in epistemology section), study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self's thoughts, speeches and actions
- Īśvarapraṇidhāna: contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality)
As with Yamas, Patanjali tersely explains how and why each of the above Niyamas help in the personal growth of an individual. For example, in verse II.42, Patanjali states that the virtue of contentment and acceptance of others as they are (Santoṣa) leads to the state where inner sources of joy matter most, and the craving for external sources of pleasant ceases.
Later Yoga school scholars added the following to the above list
- Āstika: conviction that there is knowledge in Vedas/Upanishads (orthodox school), faith in Self, or belief in God
- Dāna: generosity, charity, sharing with others
- Hrī: remorse and acceptance of one's past/mistakes/ignorance, modesty, humility
- Mati: think and reflect to understand, reconcile conflicting ideas
- Huta: religious and social rituals, ceremonies such as yajna
Patanjali begins discussion of Asanas (आसन, posture) by defining it in verse 46 of Book 2, as follows,
Translation 1: An asana is what is steady and pleasant.
Translation 2: Motionless and Agreeable form (of staying) is Asana (yoga posture).— Yoga Sutras II.46
Asana is thus a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable and motionless. Patanjali does not list any specific asana, except the terse suggestion, "posture one can hold with comfort and motionlessness". Āraṇya translates verse II.47 of Yoga sutra as, "asanas are perfected over time by relaxation of effort with meditation on the infinite"; this combination and practice stops the quivering of body. The posture that causes pain or restlessness is not a yogic posture. Other secondary texts studying Patanjali's sutra state that one requirement of correct posture is to keep breast, neck and head erect (proper spinal posture).
Later yoga school scholars developed, described and commented on numerous postures. Vyasa, for example, in his Bhasya (commentary) on Patanjali's treatise suggests twelve: Padmasana (lotus), Veerasana (heroic), Bhadrasana (decent), Svastikasana (like the mystical sign), Dandasana (staff), Sopasrayasana (supported), Paryankasana (bedstead), Krauncha-nishadasana (seated heron), Hastanishadasana (seated elephant), Ushtranishadasana (seated camel), Samasansthanasana (evenly balanced) and Sthirasukhasana (any motionless posture that is in accordance with one's pleasure).
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes the technique of 84 asanas, stating four of these as most important: Padmasana (lotus), Bhadrasana (decent), Sinhasana (lion), and Siddhasana (accomplished). The Gheranda Samhita discussed 32 asanas, while Svatmarama describes 15 asanas.
Prāṇāyāma is made out of two Sanskrit words prāṇa (प्राण, breath) and ayāma (आयाम, restraining, extending, stretching).
After a desired posture has been achieved, verses II.49 through II.51 recommend the next limb of yoga, prāṇāyāma, which is the practice of consciously regulating breath (inhalation and exhalation). This is done in several ways, inhaling and then suspending exhalation for a period, exhaling and then suspending inhalation for a period, slowing the inhalation and exhalation, consciously changing the time/length of breath (deep, short breathing).
Pratyāhāra is a combination of two Sanskrit words pratya (प्रत्य, belief) and ahāra (आहार, bringing near, fetch).
Pratyahara is fetching and bringing near one's awareness and one's thoughts to within. It is a process of withdrawing one's thoughts from external objects, things, person, situation. It is turning one's attention to one's true Self, one's inner world, experiencing and examining self. It is a step of self extraction and abstraction. Pratyahara is not consciously closing one's eyes to the sensory world, it is consciously closing one's mind processes to the sensory world. Pratyahara empowers one to stop being controlled by the external world, fetch one's attention to seek self-knowledge and experience the freedom innate in one's inner world.
Pratyahara marks the transition of yoga experience from first four limbs that perfect external forms to last three limbs that perfect inner state, from outside to inside, from outer sphere of body to inner sphere of spirit.
Dharana (Sanskrit: धारणा) means concentration, introspective focus and one-pointedness of mind. The root of word is dhṛ (धृ), which has a meaning of "to hold, maintain, keep".
Dharana as the sixth limb of yoga, is holding one's mind onto a particular inner state, subject or topic of one's mind. The mind (not sensory organ) is fixed on a mantra, or one's breath/navel/tip of tongue/any place, or an object one wants to observe, or a concept/idea in one's mind. Fixing the mind means one-pointed focus, without drifting of mind, and without jumping from one topic to another.
Dhyana (Sanskrit: ध्यान) literally means "contemplation, reflection" and "profound, abstract meditation".
Dhyana is contemplating, reflecting on whatever Dharana has focussed on. If in the sixth limb of yoga one focussed on a personal deity, Dhyana is its contemplation. If the concentration was on one object, Dhyana is non-judgmental, non-presumptuous observation of that object. If the focus was on a concept/idea, Dhyana is contemplating that concept/idea in all its aspects, forms and consequences. Dhyana is uninterrupted train of thought, current of cognition, flow of awareness.
Dhyana is integrally related to Dharana, one leads to other. Dharana is a state of mind, Dhyana the process of mind. Dhyana is distinct from Dharana in that the meditator becomes actively engaged with its focus. Patanjali defines contemplation (Dhyana) as the mind process, where the mind is fixed on something, and then there is "a course of uniform modification of knowledge". Adi Shankara, in his commentary on Yoga Sutras, distinguishes Dhyana from Dharana, by explaining Dhyana as the yoga state when there is only the "stream of continuous thought about the object, uninterrupted by other thoughts of different kind for the same object"; Dharana, states Shankara, is focussed on one object, but aware of its many aspects and ideas about the same object. Shankara gives the example of a yogin in a state of dharana on morning sun may be aware of its brilliance, color and orbit; the yogin in dhyana state contemplates on sun's orbit alone for example, without being interrupted by its color, brilliance or other related ideas.
Samadhi (Sanskrit: समाधि) literally means "putting together, joining, combining with, union, harmonious whole, trance".
Samadhi is oneness with the subject of meditation. There is no distinction, during the eighth limb of yoga, between the actor of meditation, the act of meditation and the subject of meditation. Samadhi is that spiritual state when one's mind is so absorbed in whatever it is contemplating on, that the mind loses the sense of its own identity. The thinker, the thought process and the thought fuse with the subject of thought. There is only oneness, samadhi.
Samadhi is of two kinds,[web 1] with and without support of an object of meditation:[web 2]
Samprajnata Samadhi, also called savikalpa samadhi and Sabija Samadhi,[web 3][note 3] meditation with support of an object.[web 2][note 4]
Samprajata samadhi is associated with deliberation, reflection, bliss, and I-am-ness.[note 5]
The first two associations, deliberation and reflection, form the basis of the various types of samapatti:
- Savitarka, "deliberative":[note 6] The citta is concentrated upon a gross object of meditation,[web 2] an object with a manifest appearance that is perceptible to our senses, such as a flame of a lamp, the tip of the nose, or the image of a deity. Conceptualization (vikalpa) still takes place, in the form of perception, the word and the knowledge of the object of meditation. When the deliberation is ended this is called nirvitaka samadhi.[note 7]
- Savichara, "reflective": the citta is concentrated upon a subtle object of meditation,[web 2] which is not percpetible to the senses, but arrived at through interference, such as the senses, the process of cognition, the mind, the I-am-ness,[note 8] the chakras, the inner-breath (prana), the nadis, the intellect (buddhi). The stilling of reflection is called nirvichara samapatti.[note 9]
The last two associations, sananda samadhi and sasmita, are respectively a state of meditation, and an object of savichara samadhi:
- Sananda Samadhi, ananda,[note 10] "bliss": this state emphasizes the still subtler state of bliss in meditation;[web 2]
- Sasmita: the citta is concentrated upon the sense or feeling of "I-am-ness".[web 2]
- Asamprajnata Samadhi, also called Nirvikalpa Samadhi[web 1] and Nirbija Samadhi:[web 1][note 11] meditation without an object,[web 2] which leads to knowledge of purusha or consciousness, the subtlest element.[note 12]
Ananda and asmita
According to Ian Whicher, the status of sananda and sasmita in Patanjali's system is a matter of dispute. According to Maehle, the first two constituents, deliberation and reflection, form the basis of the various types of samapatti. According to Feuerstein,
"Joy" and "I-am-ness" [...] must be regarded as accompanying phenomena of every cognitive [ecstasy]. The explanations of the classical commentators on this point appear to be foreign to Patanjali's hierarchy of [ecstatic] states, and it seems unlikely that ananda and asmita should constitute independent levels of samadhi.— 
Ian Whicher disagrees with Feuerstein, seeing ananda and asmita as later stages of nirvicara-samapatti. Whicher refers to Vācaspati Miśra (900-980 CE), the founder of the Bhāmatī Advaita Vedanta who proposes eight types of samapatti:
- Savitarka-samāpatti and Nirvitarka-samāpatti, both with gross objects as objects of support;
- Savicāra-samāpatti and Nirvicāra-samāpatti, both with subtle objects as objects of support;
- Sānanda-samāpatti and Nirānanda-samāpatti, both with the sense organs as objects of support
- Sāsmitā-samāpatti and Nirasmitā-samāpatti, both with the sense of "I-am-ness" as support.
Vijnana Bikshu (ca. 1550-1600) proposes a six-stage model, explicitly rejecting Vacaspati Misra's model. Vijnana Bikshu regards joy (ananda) as a state that arises when the mind passes beyond the vicara stage. Whicher agrees that ananda is not a separate stage of samadhi. According to Whicher, Patanjali's own view seems to be that nirvicara-samadhi is the highest form of cognitive ecstasy.
The epistemology in Patanjali's system of Yoga, like the Sāmkhya school of Hinduism, relies on three of six Pramanas, as the means of gaining reliable knowledge. These included Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāṇa (inference) and Sabda (Āptavacana, word/testimony of reliable sources).
Patanjali's system, like the Samkhya school, considers Pratyakṣa or Dṛṣṭam (direct sense perception), Anumāna (inference), and Śabda or Āptavacana (verbal testimony of the sages or shāstras) to be the only valid means of knowledge or Pramana. Unlike few other schools of Hinduism such as Advaita Vedanta, Yoga did not adopt the following three Pramanas: Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy), Arthāpatti (postulation, deriving from circumstances) or Anupalabdi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof).
The metaphysics of Patanjali is built on the same dualist foundation as the Samkhya school. The universe is conceptualized as of two realities in Samhkya-Yoga schools: Puruṣa (consciousness) and prakriti (matter). It considers consciousness and matter, self/soul and body as two different realities. Jiva (a living being) is considered as a state in which puruṣa is bonded to prakriti in some form, in various permutations and combinations of various elements, senses, feelings, activity and mind. During the state of imbalance or ignorance, one of more constituents overwhelm the others, creating a form of bondage. The end of this bondage is called liberation, or moksha by both Yoga and Samkhya school of Hinduism. The ethical theory of Yoga school is based on Yamas and Niyama, as well as elements of the Guṇa theory of Samkhya.
Patanjali adopts the theory of Guṇa from Samkhya. Guṇas theory states that three gunas (innate tendency, attributes) are present in different proportions in all beings, and these three are sattva guna (goodness, constructive, harmonious), rajas guna (passion, active, confused), and tamas guna (darkness, destructive, chaotic). These three are present in every being but in different proportions, and the fundamental nature and psychological dispositions of beings is a consequence of the relative proportion of these three gunas. When sattva guna predominates an individual, the qualities of lucidity, wisdom, constructiveness, harmonious, and peacefulness manifest themselves; when rajas is predominant, attachment, craving, passion-driven activity and restlessness manifest; and when tamas predominates in an individual, ignorance, delusion, destructive behavior, lethargy, and suffering manifests. The guṇas theory underpins the philosophy of mind in Yoga school of Hinduism.
Samkhya school suggests that jnana (knowledge) is a sufficient means to moksha, Patanjali suggests that systematic techniques/practice (personal experimentation) combined with Samkhya's approach to knowledge is the path to moksha. Patanjali holds that ignorance is the cause of suffering and saṁsāra. Liberation, like many other schools, is removal of ignorance, which is achieved through discriminative discernment, knowledge and self-awareness. The Yoga Sūtras is Yoga school's treatise on how to accomplish this. Samādhi is the state where ecstatic awareness develops, state Yoga scholars, and this is how one starts the process of becoming aware of Purusa and true Self. It further claims that this awareness is eternal, and once this awareness is achieved, a person cannot ever cease being aware; this is moksha, the soteriological goal in Hinduism.
Book 3 of Patanjali's Yogasutra is dedicated to soteriological aspects of yoga philosophy. Patanjali begins by stating that all limbs of yoga are necessary foundation to reaching the state of self-awareness, freedom and liberation. He refers to the three last limbs of yoga as sanyama, in verses III.4 to III.5, and calls it the technology for "discerning principle" and mastery of citta and self-knowledge. In verse III.12, the Yogasutras state that this discerning principle then empowers one to perfect sant (tranquility) and udita (reason) in one's mind and spirit, through intentness. This leads to one's ability to discern the difference between sabda (word), artha (meaning) and pratyaya (understanding), and this ability empowers one to compassionately comprehend the cry/speech of all living beings. Once a yogi reaches this state of sanyama, it leads to unusual powers, intuition, self-knowledge, freedoms and kaivalya, the soteriological goal of the yogi.
Patanjali differs from the closely related non-theistic/atheistic Samkhya school by incorporating the concept of a "personal, yet essentially inactive, deity" or "personal god" (Ishvara). Hindu scholars such as the 8th century Adi Sankara, as well many modern academic scholars describe Yoga school as "Samkya school with God."
The Yogasutras of Patanjali use the term Isvara in 11 verses: I.23 through I.29, II.1, II.2, II.32 and II.45. Ever since the Sutra's release, Hindu scholars have debated and commented on who or what is Isvara? These commentaries range from defining Isvara from a "personal god" to "special self" to "anything that has spiritual significance to the individual". Whicher explains that while Patanjali's terse verses can be interpreted both as theistic or non-theistic, Patanjali's concept of Isvara in Yoga philosophy functions as a "transformative catalyst or guide for aiding the yogin on the path to spiritual emancipation".
Patanjali defines Isvara (Sanskrit: ईश्वर) in verse 24 of Book 1, as "a special Self (पुरुषविशेष, puruṣa-viśeṣa)",
क्लेशकर्मविपाकाशयैरपरामृष्टः पुरुषविशेष ईश्वरः ॥२४॥— Yoga Sutras I.24
This sutra adds the characteristics of Isvara as that special Self which is unaffected (अपरामृष्ट, aparamrsta) by one's obstacles/hardships (क्लेश, klesha), one's circumstances created by past or one's current actions (कर्म, karma), one's life fruits (विपाक, vipâka), and one's psychological dispositions/intentions (आशय, ashaya).
Philosophical roots and influences
The Yoga Sutras incorporated the teachings of many other Indian philosophical systems prevalent at the time. Samkhya and Yoga are thought to be two of the many schools of philosophy that originated over the centuries that had common roots in the non-Vedic cultures and traditions of India.[note 13][note 14] The orthodox Hindu philosophies of Samkhya, Yoga, Vedanta, as well as the non-orthodox Nastika systems of Jainism and Buddhism can all be seen as representing one stream of spiritual activity in ancient India, in contrast to the Bhakti traditions and Vedic ritualism which were also prevalent at the same time. The Vedanta-Sramana traditions, iconolatry and Vedic rituals can be identified with the Jnana marga, Bhakti marga and the Karma marga respectively that are outlined in the Bhagavad Gita.
The Yoga Sutras are built on a foundation of Samkhya philosophy, an orthodox (Astika) and atheistic Hindu system of dualism, and are generally seen as the practice while Samkhya is the theory. The influence of Samkhya is so pervasive in the Sutras that the historian Surendranath Dasgupta went so far as to deny independent categorization to Patañjali's system, preferring to refer to it as Patanjala Samkhya, similar to the position taken by the Jain writer Haribhadra in his commentary on Yoga. Patañjali's Yoga Sutras accept the Samkhya's division of the world and phenomena into twenty-five tattvas or principles, of which one is Purusha meaning Self or consciousness, the others being Prakriti (primal nature), Buddhi (intellect or will), Ahamkara (ego), Manas (mind), five buddhindriyas (sensory capabilities), five karmendriyas (action-capabilities) and ten elements. The second part of the Sutras, the Sadhana, also summarizes the Samkhya perspectives about all seen activity lying within the realm of the three Gunas of Sattva (illumination), Rajas (passion) and Tamas (lethargy).
The Yoga Sutras diverge from early Samkhya by the addition of the principle of Isvara or God, as exemplified by Sutra 1.23 - "Iśvara pranidhãnãt vã", which is interpreted to mean that surrender to God is one way to liberation. Isvara is defined here as "a distinct Consciousness, untouched by afflictions, actions, fruitions or their residue". In the sutras, it is suggested that devotion to Isvara, represented by the mystical syllable Om may be the most efficient method of achieving the goal of Yoga. This syllable Om is a central element of Hinduism, appearing in all the Upanishads, including the earliest Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads, and expounded upon in the Mandukya Upanishad.
Another divergence from Samkhya is that while the Samkhya holds that knowledge is the means to liberation, Patañjali's Yoga insists on the methods of concentration and active striving. The aim of Yoga is to free the individual from the clutches of matter, and considers intellectual knowledge alone to be inadequate for the purpose – which is different from the position taken by Samkhya.
However, the essential similarities between the Samkhya and Patañjali's system remained even after the addition of the Isvara principle,[note 15] with Max Müller noting that "the two philosophies were in popular parlance distinguished from each other as Samkhya with and Samkhya without a Lord...." The Bhagavad Gita, one of the chief scriptures of Hinduism, is considered to be based on this synthetic Samkhya-Yoga system.
Scholars have presented different viewpoints on the relationship between Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and the teachings in Buddhist texts.
Karel Werner writes, "Patanjali's system is unthinkable without Buddhism. As far as its terminology goes there is much in the Yoga Sutras that reminds us of Buddhist formulations from the Pāli Canon and even more so from the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma and from Sautrāntika." He adds, "upon the whole it [Patanjali's Yoga sutras] is more elaborate and summarizes the actual technique of Yoga procedures more exactly than the Buddhist exposition". However, states Werner, "The Buddha was the founder of his system, even though, admittedly, he made use of some of the experiences he had previously gained under various Yoga teachers of his time. Patanjali is neither a founder nor a leader of a new movement. (...) The ingenuity of his [Patanjali's] achievement lies in the thoroughness and completeness with which all the important stages of Yoga practice and mental experiences are included in his scheme, and in their systematic presentation in a succinct treatise." Werner adds that the ideas of existence and the focus on "Self, Soul" in Patajali's Yogasutra are different from the "no Self" precepts of Buddhism.
According to David Gordon White, the language of the Yoga Sutras is often closer to "Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, the Sanskrit of the early Mahayana Buddhist scriptures, than to the classical Sanskrit of other Hindu scriptures". He adds, historical evidence suggests that yoga philosophical systems influenced, and were influenced by, other philosophical systems in India such as early Buddhism and Jainism. White mentions controversies about the Yoga Sutras. A significant minority of scholars, notes White for example, believes that Vyasa lived a few centuries after Patanjali and his "Hindu-izing" commentary subverted Yoga Sutras' original "Buddhist" teachings; while the majority scholarly view disagrees with this view.
Other scholars state there are differences between the teachings in the Yoga Sutras and those in Buddhist texts. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras for example, states Michele Desmarias, accept the concept of a Self or soul behind the operational mind, while Buddhists do not accept such a Self exists. The role of Self is central to the idea of Saṃyoga, Citta, Self-awareness and other concepts in Chapters 2 through 4 of the Yoga sutras, according to Desmarias.
According to Barbara Miller, the difference between Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and teachings in Buddhist texts is, "In Samkhya and Yoga, as in Buddhism and Jainism, the most salient characteristic of existence is duhkha or suffering. According to Buddhism, the origin of suffering is desire; according to Yoga, it is the connection between the observer (Purusha) with the observed (Prakrti). In both systems, the origin of duhkha is ignorance. There are also similarities in the means of deliverance recommended by the two systems. In Buddhism, the aspirant is asked to follow the eightfold path, which culminates in right meditation or samadhi. In Yoga, the aspirant is asked to follow a somewhat different eight fold path, which also culminates in samadhi. But the aim of yoga meditation is conceived in terms that a Buddhist would not accept: as the separation of an eternal conscious self from unconscious matter. The purpose of Patanjali's Yoga is to bring about this separation by means of understanding, devotion and practice."
Robert Thurman writes that Patañjali was influenced by the success of the Buddhist monastic system to formulate his own matrix for the version of thought he considered orthodox. However, it is also to be noted that the Yoga Sutra, especially the fourth segment of Kaivalya Pada, contains several polemical verses critical of Buddhism, particularly the Vijñānavāda school of Vasubandhu.
The five yamas or the constraints of the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali bear an uncanny resemblance to the five major vows of Jainism, indicating influence of Jainism. Three other teachings closely associated with Jainism also make an appearance in Yoga: the doctrine of "colors" in karma (lesya); the Telos of isolation (kevala in Jainism and Kaivalyam in Yoga); and the practice of nonviolence (ahimsa), though nonviolence (ahimsa) made its first appearance in Indian philosophy-cum-religion in the Hindu texts known as the Upanishads [the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, dated to the 8th or 7th century BCE, one of the oldest Upanishads, has the earliest evidence for the use of the word Ahimsa in the sense familiar in Hinduism (a code of conduct). It bars violence against "all creatures" (sarvabhuta) and the practitioner of Ahimsa is said to escape from the cycle of metempsychosis/reincarnation (CU 8.15.1). It also names Ahinsa as one of five essential virtues].
Translations and commentaries
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali was the most translated ancient Indian text in the medieval era, having been translated into about forty Indian languages and two non-Indian languages: Old Javanese and Arabic.
- In early 11th century, the Persian scholar Al Biruni (973-1050 CE) visited India, lived with Hindus for 16 years, and with their help translated several significant Sanskrit works into Arabic and Persian languages. One of these was Patanjali's Yogasutras. His translation included the text and a hitherto unknown sanskrit commentary. Al Biruni's translation preserved many of the core themes of Yoga philosophy of Hinduism, but certain sutras and analytical commentaries were restated making it more consistent with Islamic monotheistic theology. Al Biruni's version of Yoga Sutras reached Persia and Arabian peninsula by about 1050 AD.
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali was translated into Old Javanese by Indonesian Hindus, and the text was called Dharma Patanjala. The surviving text has been dated to about 1450 CE, however it is unclear if this text is a copy of an earlier translation and whether other translations existed in Indonesia. This translation shares ideas found in other Indian translations particularly those in the Śaiva traditions, and some in Al Biruni translation, but it is also significantly different in parts from the 11th century Arabic translation. The most complete copy of the Dharma Patañjala manuscript is now held at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin.
By early 21st century, scholars had located 37 editions of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras published between 1874 to 1992, and 82 different manuscripts, from various locations in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Europe and the United States, many in Sanskrit, some in different North and South Indian languages. The numerous historical variants show that the text was a living document and it was changed as these manuscripts were transmitted or translated, with some ancient and medieval manuscripts marked with "corrections" in the margin of the pages and elsewhere by unknown authors and for unclear reasons. This has made the chronological study of Yoga school of philosophy a difficult task.
Many commentaries have been written on the Yoga Sutras.[note 16]
Yogabhashya and others
The Yogabhashya is a commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali which has traditionally been attributed in the discourse of the tradition to the legendary Vedic sage Vyasa who is said to have composed the Mahabharata. This commentary is indispensable for the understanding of the aphoristic and terse Yoga sutras, and the study of the sutras has always referred to the Yogabhashya. Most scholars see Vyasa as a later 4th or 5th century CE commentator (as opposed to the ancient mythic figure). Other scholars hold that both texts, the sutras and the commentary were written by one person. According to Philipp A. Maas, Patañjali's composition was entitled Pātañjalayogaśāstra ("The Treatise on Yoga according to Patañjali") and consisted of both Sūtras and Bhāṣya. which means that the Bhāṣya was in fact Patañjali's own work. These research findings change the historical understanding of the yoga tradition, since they allow us to take the Bhāṣya as Patañjali's very own explanation of the meaning of his somewhat cryptic sūtras.[note 17] The Yogabhashya states that 'yoga' in the Yoga Sutras has the meaning of 'samadhi'. Another commentary (the Vivarana) by a certain Shankara, confirms the interpretation of yogah samadhih (YBh. I.1): 'yoga' in Patañjali's sutra has the meaning of 'rest'. This Shankara may or may not have been the famed Vedantic scholar Adi Shankara (8th or 9th century). Scholarly opinion is still undecided on this issue. Another later writer is Vācaspati Miśra (900–980 CE) who composed the commentary Tattvavaiśāradī on the sutras.
The interpretation of the word 'yoga' as union is the result of later, external influences that include the bhakti movement, Vedanta and Kashmiri Saivism . But "Svaroopa-pratishthaa" (last sutra of last chapter in Patañjali's Yoga-Sutra), i.e., "resting in one's real identity" is the ultimate goal of Yoga, and it can also be expressed as "union with one's real identity, after putting to rest all movements in the mind", because 'Yoga' literally means 'Union'.
Other commentaries on the Yoga sutras include:
- Bhoja Raja's Raja-Martanda, 11th century.
- Vijnanabhiksu's Yogabhashyavarttika ("Explanation of the Commentary on the Yoga Sutras" of Vyasa). The writer was a Vaishnava philosopher and exegete who tried to harmonize Samkhya and Vedanta and held the Bhedabheda view.
- Ramananda Sarasvati's Yogamani-Prabha (16th century)
- Swami Hariharananda Aranya's Bhasvati
Modern translations and commentary
Countless commentaries on the Yoga Sutras are available today. The Sutras, with commentaries, have been published by a number of successful teachers of Yoga, as well as by academicians seeking to clarify issues of textual variation. There are also other versions from a variety of sources available on the Internet.[note 18] The many versions display a wide variation, particularly in translation. The text has not been submitted in its entirety to any rigorous textual analysis, and the contextual meaning of many of the Sanskrit words and phrases remains a matter of some dispute. Some modern translations and interpretations are:
- Ganganath Jha (1907) rendered a version of the Yoga Sutras with the Yogabhashya attributed to Vyasa into English in its entirety. This version of Jha's also include notes drawn from Vācaspati Miśra's Tattvavaiśāradī amongst other important texts in the Yoga commentarial tradition.
- Raja Yoga - an 1896 book by Swami Vivekananda which provides translation and an in-depth explanation of Yoga Sutra.
- Shri Shailendra Sharma, relying on his own experience as a practitioner of Karma yoga, translated the Sutras into Hindi and included a commentary on them.
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, taught a course in December 1994 on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the substance of which was published as a new commentary.
- Barbara Stoler Miller, The Yoga Sutras Attributed to Patanjali; "Yoga – Discipline of Freedom". University of California Press, Berkely, 1996.
- Swami Satchidananda, "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali". Integral Yoga Pub., Yogaville.
- Swami Prabhavananda, "Patanjali Yoga Sutras", Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras, India.
- B. K. S. Iyengar's "Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali"
- Edwin F. Bryant's "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: A New Edition, Translation, and Commentary"
- Georg Feuerstein PHD, The Yoga-Sûtra of Patanjali: A New Translation and Commentary, Inner Traditions International; Rochester, Vermont, 1989.
- Swami Kriyananda, "Demystifying Patanjali: The Yoga Sutras - The Wisdom of Paramhansa Yogananda". Crystal Clarity Publishers, Nevada City, CA, 2013.
Patañjali was not the first to write about yoga. Much about yoga is written in the Mokṣadharma section of the epic Mahābhārata. The members of the Jaina faith had their own, different literature on yoga, and Buddhist' yoga stems from pre-Patanjali sources.
Some of the major commentaries on the Yoga Sutras were written between the ninth and sixteenth century. After the twelfth century, the school started to decline, and commentaries on Patanjali's Yoga philosophy were few. By the sixteenth century Patanjali's Yoga philosophy had virtually become extinct. The manuscript of the Yoga Sutras was no longer copied, since few read the text, and it was seldom taught.
Popular interest arose in the 19th century, when the practice of yoga according to the Yoga Sutras became regarded as the science of yoga and the "supreme contemplative path to self-realization" by Swami Vivekananda, following Helena Blavatsky, president of the Theosophical Society.
According to David Gordon White, the Yoga Sutras popularity is of a very recent date. They were
[v]irtually forgotten in India for hundreds of years and maligned when it was first discovered in the West, the Yoga Sutra has been elevated to its present iconic status--and translated into more than forty languages--only in the course of the past forty years.— 
It was with the rediscovery by a British Orientalist in the early 1800s that wider interest in the Yoga Sutras in the West arose.
Christian and Islamic response
There has recently been considerable debate in non-dharmic contexts regarding the philosophical debt that Yoga owes to the Hindu civilizational milieu that it arose in. Controversy has arisen from the claims by Christian and Muslim religious leaders that the practice of Yoga violates the core tenets of Christianity and Islam owing to its unmistakably Hindu content. This was attempted to be overcome by promoting Yoga as divorced from Hindu spirituality, which in turn led to protests from Hindu and Indian groups.
- Radhakrishnan and Moore attribute the text to the grammarian Patañjali, dating it as 2nd century BCE, during the Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE): see Radhakrishnan and Moore, p. 453. Scholars such as S.N. Dasgupta, (Yoga-As Philosophy and Religion Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1924) claim this is the same Patañjali who authored the Mahabhasya, a treatise on Sanskrit grammar. For an argument about the philosophical nature of Sanskrit grammarian thought see: Lata, Bidyut (editor); Panini to Patañjali: A Grammatical March. New Delhi, 2004. Against these older views, Axel Michaels disagrees that the work was written by Patañjali, characterizing it instead as a collection of fragments and traditions of texts stemming from the 2nd or 3rd century: see Michaels, p. 267.
- See also The Yoga Sutra: a handbook on Buddhist meditation?theravadin.wordpress.com (2010), , and Hindun and Buddhist techniques of Attaining SamadhiEddie Crangle (1984),
- The seeds or samskaras are not destroyed.[web 3]
- According to Jianxin Li Samprajnata Samadhi may be compared to the rupa jhanas of Buddhism. This interpretation may conflict with Gombrich and Wynne, according to whom the first and second jhana represent concentration, whereas the third and fourth jhana combine concentration with mindfulness. According to Eddie Crangle, the first jhana resembles Patnajali's Samprajnata Samadhi, which both share the application of vitarka and vicara.
- Yoga Sutra 1.17: "Objective samadhi (samprajnata) is associated with deliberation, reflection, bliss, and I-am-ness (asmita).
- Yoga Sutra 1.42: "Deliberative (savitarka) samapatti is that samadhi in which words, objects, and knowledge are commingled through conceptualization."
- Yoga Sutra 1.43: "When memory is purified, the mind appears to be emptied of its own nature and only the object shines forth. This is superdeliberative (nirvitaka) samapatti."
- Following Yoga Sutra 1.17, meditation on the sense of "I-am-ness" is also grouped, in other descriptions, as "sasmita samapatti"
- Yoga Sutra 1.44: "In this way, reflective (savichara) and super-reflective (nirvichara) samapatti, which are based on subtle objects, are also explained."
- See also Pīti
- Without seeds or Samskaras[web 1] According to Swami Sivananda, "All the seeds or impressions are burnt by the fire of knowledge [...] all the Samskaras and Vasanas which bring on rebirths are totally fried up. All Vrittis or mental modifications that arise form the mind-lake come under restraint. The five afflictions, viz., Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (egoism), Raga-dvesha (love and hatred) and Abhinivesha (clinging to life) are destroyed and the bonds of Karma are annihilated [...] It gives Moksha (deliverance form the wheel of births and deaths). With the advent of the knowledge of the Self, ignorance vanishes. With the disappearance of the root-cause, viz., ignorance, egoism, etc., also disappear."[web 1]
- According to Jianxin Li, Asamprajnata Samadhi may be compared to the arupa jhanas of Buddhism, and to Nirodha-Samapatti. Crangle also notes that sabija-asamprajnata samadhi resembles the four formless jhanas. According to Crangle, the fourth arupa jhana is the stage of transition to Patanjali's "consciousness without seed".
- Zimmer: "[Jainism] does not derive from Brahman-Aryan sources, but reflects the cosmology and anthropology of a much older pre-Aryan upper class of northeastern India - being rooted in the same subsoil of archaic metaphysical speculation as Yoga, Sankhya, and Buddhism, the other non-Vedic Indian systems."
- Zimmer's point of view is supported by other scholars, such as Niniam Smart, in Doctrine and argument in Indian Philosophy, 1964, p.27-32 & p.76, and S.K. Belvakar & R.D. Ranade in History of Indian philosophy, 1974 (1927), p.81 & p.303-409. See Crangle 1994 page 5-7.
- Zimmer (1951), p. 280.These two are regarded in India as twins, the two aspects of a single discipline. Sāṅkhya provides a basic theoretical exposition of human nature, enumerating and defining its elements, analyzing their manner of co-operation in a state of bondage ("bandha"), and describing their state of disentanglement or separation in release ("mokṣa"), while Yoga treats specifically of the dynamics of the process for the disentanglement, and outlines practical techniques for the gaining of release, or "isolation-integration" ("kaivalya").
- For an overview of the scope of earlier commentaries: Complete Commentary by Sankara on the Yoga Sutras: Vivarana Sub-commentary to Vyasabhasya on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Tr.fr. Sanskrit, Trevor Leggett, Rev. Ed. Routledge (1990) ISBN 978-0-7103-0277-9.
- See , archive.orgThe yoga-system of Patañjali; or, The ancient Hindu doctrine of concentration of mind, embracing the mnemonic rules, called Yoga-sutras, of Patañjali, and the comment, called Yoga-bhashya (1914)James Woods, for a complete translation
- A list of 22 Classical commentaries can be found among the listings of essential Yoga texts at mantra.org).Fundamental Texts of YogaMantra.org.in,
- Wujastyk 2011, p. 33.
- Feuerstein 1978, p. 108.
- Tola, Dragonetti & Prithipaul 1987, p. x.
- Wujastyk 2011, p. 32-33.
- White 2014, p. xvi.
- White 2014, p. xvi-xvii.
- White 2014, p. xvi-xvii, 20-23.
- Ian Whicher (1998), The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana: A Reconsideration of Classical Yoga, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791438152, page 49
- Stuart Sarbacker (2011), Yoga Powers (Editor: Knut A. Jacobsen), Brill, ISBN 978-9004212145, page 195
- Tola, Dragonetti & Prithipaul 1987, p. xi.
- Bryant 2009, p. xxxiv.
- Bryant 2009, p. 510, notes 43-44.
- Michele Desmarais (2008), Changing Minds: Mind, Consciousness and Identity in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120833364, pages 16-17
- Pradhan 2015, p. 151-152.
- Woods 2003.
- Iyengar 2012.
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- Radhakrishnan and Moore, p.454
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- Translation 2: The Yoga-darsana: The sutras of Patanjali with the Bhasya of Vyasa GN Jha (Translator), with notes; Harvard University Archives;
- Translation 3: The Yogasutras of Patanjali Charles Johnston (Translator)
- For text and word-by-word translation as "Yoga is the inhibition of the modifications of the mind." See: Taimni, p. 6.
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- The Yoga-darsana: The sutras of Patanjali with the Bhasya of Vyasa GN Jha (Translator); Harvard University Archives, page 89
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika P Sinh (Translator), pages 33-35
- Mikel Burley (2000), Haṭha-Yoga: Its Context, Theory, and Practice, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120817067, page 198
- prAna Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Koeln University, Germany
- AyAma Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Koeln University, Germany
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- pratya Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Koeln University, Germany
- AhAra Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Koeln University, Germany
- Gary Kissiah (2011), The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali-Illuminations Through Image, Commentary and Design, ISBN 978-0615388441, pages 356-359
- GS Iyengar (1998), Yoga: A Gem for Women, ISBN 978-8170237150, pages 29-30
- Charlotte Bell (2007), Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice, Rodmell Press, ISBN 978-1930485204, pages 136-144
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- dhR, Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary (2008 revision), Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon, Germany
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- Jones & Ryan 2006, p. 377.
- Jianxin Li year unknown.
- Wynne 2007, p. 106; 140, note 58.
- Crangle 1984, p. 191.
- Maehle 2007, p. 177.
- Maehle 2007, p. 156.
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- Haney 2002, p. 17
- Isaac & Dangwal 1997, p. 339
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- Mike Burley (2012), Classical Samkhya and Yoga - An Indian Metaphysics of Experience, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415648875, page 39-41
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- Hariharānanda Āraṇya (2007), Parabhaktisutra, Aporisms on Sublime Devotion, (Translator: A Chatterjee), in Divine Hymns with Supreme Devotional Aphorisms, Kapil Math Press, Kolkata, pages 55-93;
- Hariharānanda Āraṇya (2007), Eternally Liberated Isvara and Purusa Principle, in Divine Hymns with Supreme Devotional Aphorisms, Kapil Math Press, Kolkata, pages 126-129
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- Practice and commentaries
- Govindan, Marshall. Kriya Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Siddhas, Babaji’s Kriya Yoga and Publications,2000, 2nd edition 2010, ISBN 978-1-895383-12-6
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- Master, E. K. The Yoga of Patañjali Kulapathi Book Trust ISBN 978-81-85943-05-3
- Swami Satyandanda Four Chapters on Freedom: Commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali ISBN 81-85787-18-2
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- The yoga-system of Patañjali; or, The ancient Hindu doctrine of concentration of mind; Yoga-sutras, of Patañjali (1914)James Woods, Harvard University Press
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- and related yoga textsYoga Sutras, at sanskritdocuments.org
- Yoga bhashya
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- by Charles JohnstonThe Yoga Sutras of Patañjali. Read Online at LibriPass
- Yoga SutrasAudio lectures on the , by Swami Harshananda, at archive.org
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