Containing his Yoga Aphorisms with commentary of Vyasa in original Sanskrit, with annotations, and allied topics illustrating the theory and practice of Samkhya-Yoga with Bhasvati By Samkhya-yogacharya Swami Hariharananda Aranya Founder of the Kapila Monastery.
People gibly speak of Yoga without realizing that it forms an integral part of a composite Samkhya—yoga philosophy, the oldest philosophical system in the world. Samkhya provides the theoretical base without which one can neither fathom the terse aphorisms of Patanjali and their masterly interpretations by Vyasa nor derive full benefit through practicing them mechanically. In the last two millenniums many learned commentators have elaborated on these texts. Swami Hariharanada Aranya’s commentary with further elucidation by his disciple and worthy successor Swami Dharmamegha Aranya is refreshingly different reflecting, as it does, their own realizations, which make Samkhya-yoga a living percept today.
The book has been hailed a classic since its publication in 1963. It has gained in content and popularity with each new edition. This time additions include among others Bhasvati another unique commentary of the author in Sanskrit on the same ancient texts and its first ever English translation. His through provoking concept of Isvara in Samkhaya philosophy is also included.
Thus enriched the book should be valuable to scholars and spiritual seekers.
Swami Hariharananda Aranya (1869-1947) spent six years of his early monastic life in utter seclusion in the caves of Barabar Hills, Bihar. His possessions were the barest minimum even for a Sannyasin. A resident from the nearest village trudged miles to bring his lone meal everyday. He devoted the whole time to gain mastery over this mind which is Yoga. Having attained his goal he returned to the world of men. Continuing the secluded and austere life style and intense spiritual practice he began disseminating the message of Samkhya-yoga through books in Bengali and Sanskrit. Emanating from his own experience it was unique logical and penetrating. Not only did he delineate the path of yoga he inspired and guided seekers to tread it.
In April 1947 his body frail form age and years of penance started becoming a burden he saw the signal and at once decided against continuing further. The end came peacefully a fitting finale to a great and noble life.
It is a matter of no small satisfaction to me to see the publication if the English rendering of the Patanjala Yoga-darsana or the Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali as presented by my revered Acharya, the Sarrikhya-yogacharya Srimat Swami Hariharananda Aranya. It was a matter of great regret with him in the later years of his life that he could not arrange for this great task for which he was getting repeated requests. His exposition of the subject in Bengali bears remarkable impress of his genius as well as evidence of realisation of the subtle principle which constitute the basis of the Samkhya—yoga philosophy. This philosophy, propounded at an age when writing had not been invented, and when sacred learning was orally transmitted from master to pupil, was naturally very concise and depended for its clear exposition on the mental conception of those to whom it was communicated. A good deal thus depended on the comprehension of the principles enunciated in the form of aphorisms, to achieve which intense study, and strict habits of life were essential. With the passage of time, these became scarce and so the ancient lore would have become extinct had it not been kept alive by the commentaries of subsequent thinkers. With the event of modern age, such thinkers also became few and far between, except for the rare appearance of a savant who would go into voluntary exile and devote his life to the assimilation of those ancient doctrines which lead to the transcendental goal.
The treatise on Samkhya—yoga philosophy as framed by Patanjali, is divided into four parts : (i) On Concentration. (ii) On Practice, (iii)On Supernormal Powers, and (iv) On Liberation. Despite the extremely condensed nature and an apparent detachedness of the aphorisms there— is a logical continuity running through them and the four different parts, which makes them a complete and broad based structure. That is why this philosophy has successfully withstood the onslaught of time and still continues of infuse spiritual inspiration and show the unerring path of salvation.
Though it is called Yoga philosophy the terms Darsana and philosophy are not exactly synonymous. Yoga-Darsana is not a general theoretical dissertation on mental science, like what is meant by philosophy. Its theme is to ascertain the aim of life by finding out the ultima thule of human desires, to discover the root cause of all sorts of afflictions and then to prescribe the supreme remedy. It is notice able how that has been done in a perfectly scientific way thus making it acceptable to all irrespective of creed or sect. It is a relic of that ancient time when Dharma or religion meant only virtue and did not stand for a particular dogma.
In rendering into English this subtle philosophy with its subtler commentaries and annotations, the writer Sri P. N. Mukerji has faithfully followed the old masters and never ventured to air his own views, such attempts having, in several instances before, resulted in the presentation of a new philosophy in the name of the old.
The Samkhya—yoga philosophy visualizes a complete training of the mind and points a clear way to attainment of that sublime tranquility which is coveted by all, and it is hoped that an earnest reader will find in this book much to set at rest his doubts about the subject, ample food for reflection and what is most important he will obtain practical instruction, not in the postures and physical exercises only, but on meditation or Yoga in all its psychological bearings.
A brief account of the remarkable life of the great author and Yogin would not have been out of place here. But our revered Acharya Swamiji forbade us to write his biography, so only a glimpse of his early monastic life is given below. It is said. however, that the writings of an author indirectly reveal his own life.
Swamiji passed his early monastic life (1892-1898) in the caves of Barabar or Pravar hills in Bihar where his earthly resources consisted only of a blanket, a thick cotton sheet, a single piece of dhoti, a napkin and a wooden Kamandalu (water pot). In those days, that solitary mountainous region was the home of wild animals. So dangerous was the place that even thirty years thereafter, shepherds used to leave that hilly pasture ground with their flock and return home long before sunset. But Swamiji never took any special steps for his safety, he had only a cloth screen at the entrance to the cave to keep out the wind and the rain. There was no provision for a light to mitigate the darkness of the night.
The nearest habitation was about two miles from the cave. A devout and generous villager provided Swamiji with the means of his subsistence, which was brought to him once every noon. In the absence of utensils, that frugal meal was deposited on a partially level block of stone which is still there, and the sparkling waters of a nearby mountain spring satisfied his thirst.
Most of the Barabar caves hollowed out of granite boulders are much more than two thousand years old. They are of the period of Emperor Asoka whose inscriptions can still be seen in some of them. In those days the range of hills was known as Khalatik and every cave bore a name our Swamiji lived in any of them as the season permitted.
Apart form his biography there was another interdiction and that was about building any monument over the place of his interment. The distinctly noble sentiment underlying these two prohibitions will however leave a far deeper and more hallowed impression on the heart of all then any material edifice.
In the foregoing description only a faint idea of that extraordinary personality has been attempted to be gives. The reader will however be able to discover herein the fountain head of that stream of inspired spirituality in which all his works are so thoroughly steeped.
It is heartening to find that interest in Samkhaya-yoga is gathering momentum all over the world. the feedback we have had from both academic circles and genuine seekers for peace seems to indicate that publication of Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali in 1963 has been one of the key factors in this regard.
In bringing out the new edition we have hollowed the guideline set by revered Swami Dharmamegha Aranaya for the earlier editions to see how best and how much of Patanjala yoga-darsana the author’s magnum opus in Bengali can be made available to the English reading public in a form that is easy to comprehend and yet true to the original. With this end is view articles on allied topics were added in the earlier editions.
Apart form thorough revision of the whole text with appropriate alterations and additions we have included translations of four more articles by the author Vigil over self Realisation of pure I-Sense concept of Isvara in Samkhya philosophy and A garland of Matchless gems. The first two are corollaries of Jnana-yoga or practice of yoga through self-consciousness an existing article in the book. These offer specific advice both to aspirants to spirituality and practicing Yogins guiding them gradually up to a state equivalent to that of the lord of the universe who is ever established in his pure I-sense.
The article concept of Isvara in Samkhya philosophy will benefit both scholars and aspirants practicing either the path of devotion or of transcendental enlightenment. It explains many of the prevailing misconpcetions about Samkhaya Yoga which have grown because Samkhya Yoga did not have a proper exponent for centuries before Swami Hariharnanada Aranya arrived on the scene.
The fourth addition A garland of Matchless gems was written in Sanskrit and first published in 1903. It features the author’s recommendations on a variety of topics falling under the overall ambit of the philosophy of liberation. Its range is wide, from the Vedas and the Upanisads to the later Primus, covering both theoretical and practical aspects of the subject. There is no ambiguity or vagueness, for he has picked up only the very best from a vast knowledge base. His aim is obvious to help the serious student mature into a practicing Samkhya—yogin.
All the articles have been grouped under Allied Topics. A new item Citations from Ancient Texts in the Commentary of Vyasa has been added in the Appendix. it provides information on source or author ship of the citations which would be useful to the discerning academic.
The most significant addition in the present edition is ‘Bhasvati’. The author wrote this commentary in Sanskrit on the Yoga aphorisms and their masterly interpretation by Vyasa decades after the publication of his Bengali commentary in Yoga—darsana. Published from Varanasi in 1934 along with some of the other generally accepted Sanskrit commentaries, ‘Bhasvati’ is refreshingly different from all of them and even from his earlier Bengali commentary. It elucidates some of the difficult sections in a manner more acceptable to the modern reader. ‘Bhasvati’ was rendered into Bengali by Swami Dharmamegha Aranya and has since then formed an important and integral part of the author’s Yoga-darsana. Swami Dharmamegha Aranya incorporated some useful additional elucidations in the Bengali ‘Bhasvati’ which have been retained in our English translation.
It is difficult to explain the phenomenon that was Swami Hariharananda Aranya. He met his Guru only briefly and after his initiation as a Sannyasin, he chanced upon an old text of Samkhya-yoga in a library. He could immediately grasp its superlative quality which prompted him to pursue the path of spiritual practice enjoined by Samkhya—yoga to its very end. A rare combination of out standing intellect, profound scholarship and most importantly lifelong spiritual practice with one-pointed devotion enabled him to revive almost single-handedly Samkhya—yoga with its long tradition dating back to the age of the early Upanisads and restore it to its rightful position of honor. Dr. Ramshankar Bhattacharyya in his Preface to an earlier edition of this book had aptly quoted a statement of J. N. Farquahar from ‘The Religious Quest of India’: "Samkhya Sannyasins are so rare that it is of interest to know that as early as 1912 a learned Samkhaya Yati named Hariharananda was alive and teaching in Calcutta.
That was however knowing him form afar. To those who were fortunate to come in closer proximity he was veritably a living example of the ideals of Samkhya-yoga. So was his disciple and successor Swami Dharmamegha Aranya who was the inspiration behind publication of this book. He was equally remarkable because the long period of seven and half decades that he donned the mendicant’s robe he devoted himself entirely to spiritual practice. Only deviations were dissemination of the teachings of his master and advising and guiding genuine seekers. The commentary and interpretation of the doctrine of Samkhya-yoga by the author and the elucidations added by Swami Dharmamegha Aranya reflect their realized perceptions and are not mere philosophical discourses.
We hope that the new edition will be found more useful in appropriate circles both in academic institutions and among aspirants for lasting peace.
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