Four Chapters on Freedom: Commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Sanskrit text, transliteration, English translation and extensive commentary)

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Item Code: IDE216
Author: Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Publisher: Yoga Publications Trust
Language: Sanskrit text, transliteration, English translation and extensive commentary
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9788185787183
Pages: 413 (Figures: 4)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5" X 5.5"
Weight 510 gm
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Book Description

Back of the Book

Four Chapters on Freedom contains the full Sanskrit text of Rishi Patanjali's Yoga Sutras as well as transliteration, translation and an extensive commentary. The Yoga Sutras, containing 196 epithets or threads of yoga, is the most respected treatise on yoga. In his commentary on each verse, Swami Satyananda Saraswati fully explains the text and the path of raja yoga.

Serious yogic aspirants and spiritual seekers will find invaluable guidance within these pages.

About the Author

Swami Satyananda was born at Almora, Uttar Pradesh, in 1923. In 1943 he met Swami Sivananda in Rishikesh and adopted the Dashnami sannyasa way of life. In 1995 he left his guru's ashram to live as a wandering mendicant and later founded the International Yoga Fellowship in 1956 and the Bihar School of Yoga in 1963. Over the next 20 years Swami Satyananda toured internationally and authored over 80 books. In 1987 he founded Sivananda Math, a charitable institution for aiding rural development, and the Yoga Research Foundation. In 1988 he renounced his mission, adopting kshetra sannyasa, and now lives as a paramahamsa sannyasin.


Two pandits entered the ashram to attend satsang. It was a cool, refreshing evening and a large mat had been laid out on the lawn. The pandits were the first to arrive and they sat on the mat directly in front of the guru's seat. Soon many other people arrived and when the guru took his seat, the satsang began.

Initially, the satsang was concerned with asana, pranayama and other yogic practices, but after some time the pandits said to the guru, "We have come here to discuss more important things; we have come to ask you about the philosophical implications of samadhi according to Patanjali." The debate began. One pandit insisted, "Asamprajnata samadhi is surely the same as nirbeeja samadhi." The other disagreed, "No, no you are totally wrong, they are different." Each began to quote widely from various scriptures to prove their point of view and soon they were having quite a furious argument.

The guru could not get a word in edgeways so he sat in silence. The pandits became oblivious to him, though at one stage one turned to him and asked, "What do you think? Is samprajnata different to nirbeeja samadhi, or not?" But before the guru could reply, the same pandit continued, "The books that I've read say that they are definitely different." The guru remained silent and the pandits continued their discussion. Eventually they started yelling at each other and almost came to blows.

The heated discussion continued for about half an hour. Then a big, fat, contented cow casually strolled onto the mat as though it owned the place. Everyone was amused at the arrival of the new visitor, everyone that is except the two pandits who were so involved in their debate that they did not see it. People moved out of the way and the cow quietly sat down behind the pandits. The cow seemed to be intently interested in the debate and seriously contemplating the meaning of every word that was spoken.

Suddenly the cow bellowed, "M-o-o-o-o-o-o-o," with full approval. The two pandits jumped with fright. For the first time in half an hour they were lost for words. Everyone laughed and the cow slowly arose and lumbered away, perhaps to find another interesting satsang elsewhere.

The cow uttered the wisest words in the satsang. Unknowingly, or perhaps knowingly, it told everyone, including the pandits, that the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali were not written for intellectual debate and speculation. They were written to explain the process and practical methods of raising levels of awareness, gaining deeper wisdom, exploring the potential of the mind and eventually going beyond the mind. The text is primarily practice-orientated; it is not intended to be an intellectual exercise on samadhi. Surely Patanjali himself would have smiled at the appropriate wise words of the humble cow.

Many of the verses indicate things that are beyond the range of normal mundane experience and comprehension. This is not done to bring intellectual understanding; it is so that a sadhaka (aspirant) who practices the yoga of Patanjali or any other system will progressively gain insight and understanding of the deeper aspects of his being. He will gradually understand Patanjali's cryptic verses through his own experience. The verses tell him if he is going in the right direction or not and also help him to proceed further. The verses can never be understood intellectually, nor are they intended to be understood in this manner. The verses were written as a map, a guide for the journey from mundane levels to higher levels of consciousness and eventually to liberation. The text shows the path to perfect freedom through sustained yogic practice.

Everything that needs to be said is contained within the verses of Patanjali and in the commentary. The purpose of this introduction is to:

§ Give basic background information. § Highlight the incredible consistency and perfection of the verses so that the reader can more easily and clearly see the yogic, scientific and psychological truths contained within the main text.

§ Point out the things that you should notice, but which you may otherwise so easily miss in the simplicity of the verses.

Structure of the text

This book is a commentary on the Yoga Sutras, a scripture of 196 sutras (verses) written by the sage Patanjali. In English the text can be called 'Verses on Yoga', but actually the word sutra means 'thread'. The word implies that the written words carry an underlying continuous thought; the various ideas connect together like the beads on a mala to form a complete philosophy.

The scripture is also called Yoga Darshana, which is widely translated as 'Philosophy of Yoga', but actually the word darshana has a much deeper meaning. Literally, it means 'to see'. It is derived from drish, meaning 'the seer'. Darshana is the process of seeing. Therefore, Yoga Darshana means 'a process of seeing through yoga', but it does not mean seeing with the eyes, nor does it mean seeing with any other senses in the outside world. It means to see something beyond the senses and beyond the mind. It is a process of seeing with the eyes and other senses closed, and with the mind under complete control. Yoga Darshana is a method of higher perception; it is a means 'to see the invisible' or 'to see with spiritual insight'.

The scripture is regarded as the most precise and scientific text ever written on yoga. It is divided into four chapters:

1. Samadhi Pada

Chapter on samadhi consisting of 51 verses. This chapter is concerned with the following subjects:

Definition of yoga
Purpose of yoga
Vritti (mental modification)
Practice and detachment
Samprajnata and asamprajnata samadhi
Means of attaining experience
Ishwara (pure consciousness)
Obstacles to progress
Methods of harmonizing the mind
Sabeeja and nirbeeja samadhi

2. Sadhana Pada

Chapter on practice consisting of 55 verses. It discusses the following subjects:

Klesha (basic tensions of life)
Removal of klesha
Purpose of destroying klesha
The knower and the known
Awareness and lack of awareness
The path to prajna (intuitive knowledge)
The eight limbs of Patanjali yoga
Yama (social code)
Niyama (personal code)
Method of controlling negative thoughts
Results of perfecting yama and niyama
Asana (sitting position)
Pranayama (control of prana)
Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)

3. Vibhooti Pada

Chapter on psychic powers consisting of 56 verses. It discusses the following subjects:

Dharana (concentration)
Dhyana (meditation)
Samadhi (superconsciousness)
Samyama (concentration, meditation and samadhi)
Parinama (transformations of consciousness)
Nature of external appearance
Psychic powers

4. Kaivalya Pada

Chapter on onlyness consisting of 34 verses. It discusses the following subjects:

Means of attaining psychic psychic powers
Cause of individuality
The individual and the cosmic mind
Karma (predestined actions and thoughts)
Unity of all things
Theory of perception
The mind as an unconscious instrument
The path to kaivalya

All the verses are in methodical sequence; each has its place for a specific purpose. Patanjali moves from one verse to the next, from one topic to the next, with faultless logic.

Each Sanskrit word has an exact meaning in the context of the scripture. Many technical words are precisely defined within the text itself. This minimizes misunderstanding and confusion that can arise through words changing their colloquial meaning over the course of time. Many words have no exact equivalent in English; occasionally, two or more Sanskrit words have the same literal meaning in English, but have vastly different implications in the context of yoga practice and experience. The translation has overcome these problems whilst retaining the meaning and flow.

The text is a masterpiece of brevity and clarity. Patanjali has removed all unnecessary words for the following reasons:

§ To allow easy memorization by disciples; remember, there were no printing presses at that time.
§ To allow the verses to be the object of enquiry; too many words would confuse.
§ To Prevent misquotation and misinterpretation.

Though brief to the utmost, the verses contain the essence of Patanjali yoga from start to finish, for they contain maximum information in minimum words.

The verses are sheer poetry combined with sublime scientific precision. To gain the best understanding form this book, we suggest that you first of all carefully read both the verses and commentary together, then slowly read the verses alone, one after the other. This will allow you to follow the wonderful sequence and flow of Patanjali's exposition.


Patanjali called his system yoga. He did not give it a specific title to differentiate it from other yogic paths. Since the time of writing the Yoga Sutras, however, his method has come to be called Patanjali yoga (the yoga of Patanjali).

Patanjali yoga is widely identified as being the same as raja yoga (the royal path of yoga). We, however, prefer to define Patanjali yoga as a specific system within the wider framework of raja yoga. According to our definition, raja yoga includes the following systems:

§ Kundalini yoga; also called laya yoga
§ Kriya yoga
§ Mantra yoga
§ Dhyana yoga as described in the Bhagavad Gita
§ Patanjali yoga

Raja yoga (including Patanjali yoga) is the science of the mind. Instead of exploring the outer world like other sciences, raja yoga is concerned with exploring the inner world and unleashing the power and knowledge contained within. It is the science of mental discipline and includes various methods of making the mind one-pointed. Patanjali himself defines his method of yoga as 'the elimination of mental fluctuations'. We prefer to call the mind 'the visible tip of pure consciousness', which encompasses the conscious, subconscious and unconscious layers of being. Therefore, we translate Patanjali's definition as follows: "Yoga is the control of the patterns of consciousness."

Specifically, Patanjali yoga is that system which consists of eight stages: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. It is therefore widely called ashtanga yoga (the yoga of eight stages).


  Introduction 1
Sutra Chapter One: Samadhi Pada Page
1. Introduction to yoga 31
2. What is yoga? 33
3. The culmination of yoga 42
4. What happens otherwise to purusha? 43
5. Vrittis – Main classification 44
6. Five kinds of vrittis 47
7. (i) Pramana – sources of right knowledge 49
8. (ii) Viparyaya - misconception 51
9. (iii) Vikalpa – unfounded belief 52
10. (iv) Nidra – state of sleep 54
11. (v) Smriti - memory 56
12. Necessity of abhyasa and vairagya 58
13. Abhyasa means constant practice 59
14. Foundation of abhyasa 60
15. Lower form of vairagya 62
16. Higher form of vairagya 65
17. Definition of samprajnata samadhi 68
18. Definition of asamprajnata samadhi 71
19. Past merits needed for asamprajnata samadhi 75
20. Otherwise, merits needed for asamprajnata samadhi 76
21. Quicker is intensity of eagerness 78
22. Three degrees of eagerness 78
23. Or by devotion to Ishwara 80
24. Definition of Ishwara 82
25. Attribute of Ishwara 84
26. Ishwara is the Jagatguru 84
27. Pranava is verily Ishwara 84
28. Sadhana for Ishwara 85
29. Result of this sadhana 90
30. Obstacles in the path of yoga 91
31. Other obstructions 93
32. Removal of obstacles by one pointedness 94
33. (ii) Or by cultivating opposite virtues 96
34. (iii) Or by controlling opposite virtues 98
35. (iv) Or by observing sense experience 102
36. (v) Or by inner illumination 104
37. (vi) Or by detachment from matter 105
38. (vii) Or by knowledge of dream and sleep 106
39. (viii) Or by meditation as desired 107
40. Fruits of meditation 108
41. Oneness of chitta with object 110
42. Savitarka samadhi 113
43. Nirvitarka samadhi 117
44. Other forms of samadhi 121
45. Extent of samadhi 123
46. Samadhi with seed 125
47. Then spiritual light dawns 127
48. Cosmic experience 129
49. Characteristics of this experience 131
50. Dynamic form of consciousness in samadhi 133
51. Then one attains samadhi without seed 135
Sutra Chapter Two: Sadhana Pada Page
1. Discipline for sadhana 139
2. Why discipline? 142
3. Causes of pain 143
4. Avidya is the root cause 145
5. (i) Avidya - ignorance 147
6. (ii) Asmita –'I-feeling' 149
7. (iii) Raga 152
8. (iv) Dwesha 152
9. (v) Abhinivesha – clinging to life 154
10. Kleshas can be reduced 156
11. By meditation 156
12. Karmashaya and reincarnation 160
13. Fruits of karmashaya 161
14. Fruits depend on past merits 164
15. Pleasure and pain are both painful 165
16. Future pain avoidable 167
17. Cause of heya 168
18. Properties of nature 169
19. Four stages of the gunas 171
20. The seer defined 173
21. Prakriti is only for purusha 175
22. Prakriti after liberation 176
23. Why union? 178
24. Avidya is the cause 180
25. Definition of hana 181
26. The means for hana 182
27. Stages of enlightenment 183
28. Necessity of yoga discipline 184
29. Eight parts of yoga discipline 185
30. The five yamas 187
31. The great discipline 188
32. The five niyamas 188
33. Way to remove disturbances 189
34. Their degree and nature 190
35. Fruits of (i) ahimsa 192
36. Fruits of (ii) satya 194
37. Fruits of (iii) asteya 196
38. Fruits of (iv) brahmacharya 197
39. Fruits of (v) aparigraha 199
40. Fruits of (vi) shaucha 201
41. Shaucha 202
42. Fruits of (vii) santosha 203
43. Fruits of (viii) tapas 204
44. Fruits of (ix) swadhyaya 206
45. Fruits of (x) Ishwara pranidhana 207
46. Asana 208
47. How to master asana 209
48. Result of this mastery 210
49. Pranayama 212
50. Three kinds of pranayama 214
51. Fourth kind of pranayama 216
52. Removal of the veil 217
53. Mind becomes fit for dharana 218
54. Pratyahara 219
55. Mastery over the senses 220
Sutra Chapter Three: Vibhooti Pada Page
1. What is dharana? 225
2. What is dhyana? 228
3. What is samadhi? 229
4. What is samyama? 231
5. Result of samyama 232
6. Its application 233
7. These three are internal 235
8. Yet external to nirbeeja samadhi 236
9. Nirodha parinama 238
10. Fruits of nirodha parinama 242
11. Samadhi parinama 244
12. Ekagrata parinama 245
13. Application of these parinamas 246
14. Dharmi – the common substratum 248
15. Cause of difference 249
16. Knowledge of past and future 250
17. Knowledge of all speech 251
18. Knowledge of Previous births 253
19. Knowledge of others minds 254
20. But not of the mental image 255
21. Invisibility 257
22. Disappearance of the tanmatras 259
23. Knowledge of tiem of death 260
24. Powers of friendliness, etc. 262
25. Attainment of strength 263
26. Hidden knowledge 264
27. Knowledge of the solar system 266
28. Knowledge of the stars 268
29. Knowledge of their movements 268
30. Knowledge of the body 269
31. Cessation of hunger and thirst 269
32. Power of steadiness 270
33. Spiritual vision 271
34. Intuitive knowledge 272
35. Awareness of chitta 273
36. Knowledge of purusha 274
37. Intuitive perception 276
38. Psychic powers are obstacles 277
39. Entering another's body 278
40. Levitation 280
41. Aura 281
42. Divine hearing 282
43. Moving through space 284
44. Univeral state of mind 286
45. Mastery of the bhutas 288
46. Attainment of anima, etc. 290
47. Perfection of the body 292
48. Mastery of sense organs 293
49. Conquest of prakriti 295
50. Omnipotence and omniscience 296
51. Vairagya and knowledge 297
52. Causes of downfall 298
53. Awareness of ultimate reality 300
54. Knowledge of distinctions 301
55. Transcendental knowledge 302
56. Attainment of kaivalya 303
Sutra Chapter Four: Kaivalya Pada Page
1. Sources of siddhis 307
2. Fundamental transformation 309
3. Instrumental causes 311
4. Created mind 313
5. Natural mind directs 315
6. And is free from impressions 316
7. Influence of karma 317
8. Manifestation of vasanas 318
9. Memory and impressions 320
10. Source of vasanas 321
11. Disappearance of vasanas 323
12. Past and future exist 325
13. Factor of existence 327
14. Essence of object 328
15. Theory of perception 329
16. Mind and object 330
17. Reflection of object 332
18. Purusha knows the mind 333
19. Chitta not self-illuminative 334
20. Limitation of mind 335
21. Confusion of memories 336
22. Knowledge of its own nature 337
23. Apprehension of mind 339
24. It works for purusha 341
25. Cessation of distinction 343
26. Heading to kaivalya 345
27. Pratyayas still arise 347
28. Their removal 349
29. Dharmamegha samadhi 350
30. Freedom from kleshas 352
31. Infinity of knowledge 355
32. Gunas retire 357
33. Krama apprehensible 358
34. Kaivalya 360
  Appendices 363
  A: Phonetic Pronunciation Guide 364
  B: Freedom in a Nutshell (Sanskrit) 366
  C: Freedom in a Nutshell (Transliteration) 374
  Glossary 382
  Index 399


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