View Full Version : Definitions: Patanjali

13 April 2007, 07:04 PM

Patanjali is the author of the Yoga Sutras, which outline the basics of yoga practice to attain liberation. His work is also known as Patanjala Yogadarsana.

This work has 4 main sections (I) On Concentration (II) On Practice (III) On Supernormal Powers or Siddhi's and (IV) On Liberation. Maharishi Pantanjali's work is grounded in the Samkhya Yoga Philosophy, that is addressing Purusa and Prakrti and our relationship (and the cosmos) to these key attributes of Brahman.

This work contains 195 sutras (sutra = stitch, for the brevity of each sloka) outlining the science of the eightfold path of yoga. Briefly, the eight limbs discussed by Patanjali are: Yama (restraint); niyama (inner discipline/purity); asana (physical postures); pranayama (control of breath); pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses/preparation for meditation); dharana (concentration); dhyana (meditation); samadhi (absolute bliss/superconsciousness). Patanjali's yoga is associated with Raja yoga.

Patanjali's background is shrouded in mystery. Exact information about his life is hard to decipher and many accounts have been proposed. Historians place his time from somewhere between 200 BC to 200 AD ( with most sources listing 250 BC). He was considered to be a fully self-realized avatar. The Padma Purana gives clues that seem to indicate he was born in Illavrita Varsha, a realm of enlightened beings. Angira and Sati are said to be his parents. Lolupa is said to be his wife. He is sometimes represented as half serpent/half man.

The Yoga philosophy expounded by Patanjali is one of the 6 systems of Indian philosophy. Please consider this post on HDF http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=7818&postcount=1 (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=7818&postcount=1) for the list and a brief description.