The Study and Practice of Yoga
An Exposition of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
by Swami Krishnananda
This is a compilation of the 110 lectures that Swami Krishnananda delivered from March to August in 1976 on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras are a manual on mind control, meditation and mental discipline-a manual for spiritual freedom. Crisp and pithy in rendition, the sutras have an aphoristic quality and urge deeper reflection and dedicated application.
Across various philosophies the denotation of yoga varies. Patanjali uses the term 'yoga' to denote a complete cessation of mental modifications so that consciousness rests within itself in the state of moksha or liberation. This teaching has been delivered through emphasis on practice rather than mere philosophy. This is verily a manual for us to operate the mind and thus our life.
The Yoga Sutras are divided into four padas or chapters. The first chapter, the Samadhi Pada on which this volume is based, focuses on concentration of the mind and the practical aspects necessary for attaining meditative absorption. The second chapter, the Sadhana Pada, is about attaining and holding that single-pointedness through reining in the agitations of the mind by cultivating dispassion, discrimination and dedication. The third chapter, the Vibhuti Pada, focuses on the technique of samyama which is the combination of concentration, meditation and communion for the liberation of the spirit, while the fourth chapter, the Kaivalya Pada, is a metaphysical disquisition which deals with various subjects as a sort of explanation of some of the themes dealt with in the earlier chapter.
It is fitting to draw the reader's attention to the clarity and simplicity with which Swamiji Maharaj comments on these sutras. Swami Krishnananda was the living embodiment of that awareness to which the sutras and all spiritual texts guide. It is commonly said that Sanskrit, the language of the Gods, is by far the only one that has transcended, to some extent, the limitations of vivid expression and bears in it the ability to express the nuances of spiritual processes and the resultant experiences that the great Sages and Masters have experienced and conveyed to us. That Swamiji Maharaj is able to bend the limited English language to yield to his knowledge is a completely humbling experience.
These Yoga Sutras of Patanjali spoken by Swami Krishnananda are being made available to the public for the first time. It is our desire to retain the original lectures in their spoken form to a large extent. There are some unique twists of phrases and application of words that are uniquely Swamiji in origin and it has been sought to allow those to be as they were intended, without undermining the reverence to the English language. Consequently the lectures have been edited in very few places to render them the way Swamiji Maharaj himself spoke them.