Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

free essayCurrently, the yogic philosophy has become an integral part of people’s lives. The majority of yoga followers and amateurs use yoga sutras as the ideological base of their lifestyles, principles, and life norms. Researchers consider Patañjali as the most well-known scribe of the yoga sutras as he has made a sufficient contribution to the development of the yogic philosophy. His authentic work reveals the universal message of the yoga. Thus, the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali consists of four chapters, written in the Sanskrit language 2000 years ago in Northern India. The scientific and cultural value of the Yoga Sūtras is proved by the current availability of numerous researchers’ translations and interpretations.

Sutra’s Interpretation and Analysis

Each sutra of Patañjali reveals a deep philosophical and educational sense in the context of the yogic and human being’s philosophy after analyzing its structure, text, and ideological context. Bryant suggests the following translation of the yoga sutra # 24:

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क्लेश कर्म विपाकाअशयैःअपरामृष्टः पुरुषविशेष ईश्वरः ॥२४॥ – kleśa karma vipāka-āśayaiḥ-aparāmr̥ṣṭaḥ puruṣa-viśeṣa Iśvaraḥ. Isvara is a special soul untouched by the obstacles (to the practice of yoga), karma, the fructification (of karma), and subconscious predispositions. (409)

Another researcher, Swami Vivekananda, interprets the sutra as “Ishavara is a special being that is unaffected by the obstacles of the spiritual aspirant (klesha), specific actions and consequences (karma), or recollections or desires” (28). Therefore, the structure of the sutra is simple. However, authors’ translations differ. Thus, based on the suggested scientific interpretations, the research will explore the basic notions of the analyzed sutra: ishvara, klesha, karma, and subconscious predispositions.

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Ishvara

Ishvara can be interpreted as the authentic, pure consciousness that is free of life circumstances, personal influence, principles, and usual deeds, ordinary perspectives and individuals’ predispositions. White states that Ishvara is beyong person’s perception (26). However, it is available through the direct experience to balance the person’s inner and outer microworlds. Ishvara has become a philosophical concept in Hinduism. Thus, Indian philosophy interprets Ishvara as supreme soul, ruler, lord, king, queen or husband, God, Supreme Being, personal god, or special self (Bryant 77). According to the sutra’s meaning, the special and supreme form Ishvara will help to open the one’s inner world free of sufferings, life consequences, and personal predispositions. In the sutra, Patañjali introduces the idea of God and individuals’ devotion to him. Bryant considers dedication to Ishvara as the essential teaching of the yoga system in general (303). People should dedicate their time, deeds, and life to God, which will bring numerous benefits to all followers. However, in the objective point of view, Isharava can be interpreted as the special, inner, and supreme state of each individual, when persons purify their body, reflections, thoughts, feelings, and perception of the world and other notions in it. Therefore, the followers of yoga philosophy should aim to reach Ishvara that is the supreme power in accordance with this philosophy.

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Klesha

Patañjali interprets Klesha as the burden to reach Ishavara. Vivekananda states that klesha is the obstacle of the spiritual aspirant (29). In the context of Hinduism philosophy, kleshas are the reasons of people’s suffering that distort people’s mind and perceptions, effecting actions and feelings. Patañjali distinguishes certain types of klesha: spiritual ignorance, attraction, aversion, and clinging to life (Bryant 411). Thus, kleshas are individual notions typical to a certain person. Moreover, people have a direct connection and interaction with kleshas since their birth. They are responsible for the development or latency of the kleshas in their lives. Individuals influence the development of kleshas by performing their daily activities, cooperating with others, taking care of themselves, and other people. White interprets people’s intention to reduce the impact of kleshas as overcoming disease, dullness, doubt, procrastination, laziness, desire for pleasure, delusion, lack of concentration, and mind agitation (87). Therefore, in accordance with Patañjali, kleshas are obstacles that hinder one’s way to achieving Ishvara. It is a complex notion that comprises the influence of the surroundings on the humans and their reactions to it.

Karma

The researchers of yogic philosophy interpret karma as the action that causes certain effect. According to White, karma connects everything that concerns human beings’ thoughts, feelings, sayings, and actions (65). It is the considerable notion of Hinduism. Karma concerns people’s soul and consciousness. Thus, the analyzed sutra considers ideal Ishvara as the being free of karma. Therefore, it is the absolute notion that concerns humans’ intention, power of will, and consideration. According to Hinduism’s philosophy, karma depends on the individuals’ intentional actions that will leave an imprint in their consciousness and experiences. However, in the subjective point of view, karma depends on people’s perception of their deeds and reactions to certain vital circumstances. Thus, humans’ perceptions differ. Some may treat a deed as a good one, while others consider the same action as bad. Accordingly, the influence of people’s actions on their karma depends on their consideration and life’s perception. Therefore, some scholars consider karma as individual actions. However, it is appropriate to relate it with the person’s inner world and subjective interpretation of their deeds and actions.

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Subconscious Predispositions

The notion is interpreted by researchers as the power of the mind (Bryant 409). Patañjali explains various levels of the mind that are the subconscious, conscious, and intuition (Vivekananda 56). Thus, Hinduism philosophy considers subconscious predisposition as a key notion of yoga followers and practitioners. It is the true mind of humans. Thus, subconscious mind stores the ideal information, talents, and authentic experiences. However, it is an ambiguous notion of yogic philosophy. Therefore, analyzing the context of the sutra #24, Ishvara is the being that is higher than human’s mind and subconsciousness that contains both positive aspects as well as those things that prevent people from knowing the truth. White states that the subconscious mind contains many confusing issues that concern person’s unfulfilled desires, thought waves, memories, and wishes (65). Thus, the textual analysis of the sutra shows that Ishvara is free of those negative sides, mentioned by White. According to Bryant, yogic techniques aim to develop positive aspects of people’s subconscious mind (35). The most valuable options of the subconscious predispositions concern the opportunity of personal realization and development of instinct. Instinct within the subconscious mind constantly directs people towards the experience of their senses. Thus, individuals improve their feelings. Subconscious predispositions help to evaluate person’s true inclinations, find their place in the world, and live in harmony with the surrounding and other individuals.

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Conclusion

Therefore, the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali is one of the mandatory instructions concerning yogic philosophy. Currently, the work of Patañjali is researched, taught, and practiced considerably. The analyzed interpretations of the yoga sutra reveal the knowledge about the highest power of Hinduism philosophy known as Ishavara. The conducted structural, textual, and contextual analyses of the sutra show the mechanisms to achieve the pure state of the mind and body by analyzing and considering the philosophical notions of klesha, karma, and subconscious predispositions. Ishavara is treated by the researchers as the Supreme Being that the followers of yogic philosophy should aim to achieve. The paper proposes to interpret Ishavara as the highest pure state of human beings, achieved by the devotion to God, self-improvement, positive perception of the world, and helpful individual activity.