Why do we chant the Yoga Sutra of Maharishi Patanjali? When we write things out and work with the written word, we are dealing with external forms. The written form is the grossest level of interpretation of oral traditions. When we chat we use our vocal apparatus to produce the sound. This process brings us into the eternal now. When we write, a long lapse of time can pass between the time of writing and our re-reading. When we chant, the act8ion brings us in the present moment. There is also the question of resonance. Chanting evokes and invokes resonance in letters and words. All mantra can be chanted in three forms: the manasika form (chanting in the mind) is the subtlest of forms, the vachika form (chanting externally, uttering sound) is in between, and the litika (writing) is the grossest. The subtlest way to approach the sutra would be to chant them at the level of the mind. Yet, this requires full knowledge of what one is doing. It follows that when we chant we are in the Now, we are vibrating, and we know what we are uttering so that when we move to the subtlest plane and we chant without uttering sound, in our mind, we are as close as possible to the most perfect sound.
One of the greatest minds of human history is the sage Maharishi Patanjali, the codifier of the yoga darshan (a reverential view of the highest reality through the art and science of yoga). He must have been indeed an amazing man, for he is credited with giving us:
• Yoga for the purification of the mind (as Patanjali)
• Grammar for the purification of our language and speech (as Panini) and
• Ayurveda (ancient Indian medicine) for purification of the gross physical
body (as Charaka).
These three-pronged aspects of his personality are well brought out in the classical shloka found in the Bhoja commentary on the Sutras that is addressed to him as follows:
It boggles our mind to even contemplate this great humane being who lived only for the welfare and spiritual growth of his fellow brethren. Maharishi Patanjali was surely an enlightened soul who had experienced the highest state and yet stayed back because he wanted others to also have that darshan of the divine and attain the ultimate goal of kaivalya.
The eternal concepts of the yoga darshan have been codified in a nutshell through his yoga sutra. These sutra must have been composed and then transmitted by the oral tradition since at least 1000 1500 BC but came into the written form much later in around 500 BC 300 AD that is the commonly quoted date for them.
The Patanjli ala Yoga Sutra consists of short succinct sutras that run together as if they were making a garland of pearls on a string. This unique method common to the oral tradition of yoga helps us grasp the intricacies of this greatest science of inner experience that has been defined by Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Girl as the “mother of all sciences”. The sutra were always kept short as they were intended to be learnt, memorized and chanted with reverence and understanding in order to facilitate the development of a deep sense of quiet, inner contemplation. The yoga sutras are an efficient tool to help the sincere sadhaka remember and understand the subtleties of the great art and science of yoga and were never meant to be a mere instruction manual.
Arrangement Of The Sutra:
The 195/196 sutra (the number depends on the two different versions that are available today that defer on the addition of one sutra that is actually an expansion of the idea presented in the previous one) are arranged in a logical form and placed into four pada.
The pada may be said to be the main chapter division of the yoga sutra, but we must also consider that the term pada refers to feet and this may indicate the step-by-step approach advocated by Maharishi Patafijali.
The four pada are:
I. Samadhi Pada: this chapter is an exploration of the dfferent aspects of samadhi and gives us a clue about the process of introspective contemplation.
2. Sadhana Pada: this chapter lays out the path of yoga sadhana in the form of a bahiranga sadhana though the first five limbs of ashtanga yoga.
3. Vibhuti Pada: this chapter deals with the antaranga yoga and details the siddhi or psychic accomplishments that may be attained through the practice of samyama on various aspects of the Universe.
4. Katvalya Pada: This chapter deals with the attainment of the highest state of kaivalya (liberation) that ensues when we finally go beyond the kiesha (afflictions) and karma (action-reaction entwinement) to ultimately become one with the Divine.
Maharishi Patañjali has arranged all the sutra in a deductive and logical manner with numerous cross-references to various important concepts such as the kiesha, karma, antaraaya, siddhi, guna, and more.
A Meditative Excperience
• Invocation to Maharishi Patanjali
• 108 OM chants
A Learning Experience
• Invocation to Maharishi Patanjali
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