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Ashtang Yoga: (Yoga Sutra)

 Ashtang Yoga: Maharishi Patanjali

The purpose of human life is to be free from worldly sufferings and immersed in the supreme soul and attain blissful bliss. A Man the fascination of the world is associated with Maya, suffering from sorrow and suffering. To avoid these sorrows and to achieve a final merger with the eternal, man must adopt one of the paths of Karma Yoga, Dhyana Yoga.

These are actually different systems that lead a man to the same goal. The purpose of human life is not to be born again and again, but to experience eternal bliss or unity with supreme bliss. 

The word 'yoga' is derived from the root 'yuj' which means union or merger. Yoga is the experience of the merging of the soul with God and oneness with Him. The state of Samadhi can be attained through yoga. Such effort is possible only through control of the sense organs and through continuous practice and detachment.

'Return of the sense organs from worldly things and their control is yoga'. Samadhi is the last stage of this control.

According to the Bhagavad Gita, the practice of yoga makes God heal the mind, which gives complete peace to the soul. In such a state, a person experiences informal happiness: his mind stops wavering and worldly temptations lose all meaning for him. This state of mind is yoga. One who attains this state becomes a yogi. He attains eternal peace of mind. His mind is free from sins and worldly attachments. He then becomes free from the bondage of deeds and becomes one with God.

According to our scriptures, there are five states of mind: Moodha, kshipta, Vikshipta, Ekagra and Niruddha. The Moodha state is the . result of attachment, anger, greed and infatuation. Its chief characteristics are sleep, indolence, fear, laziness, helplessness. kshipta state is the ignorance of what is right and wrong, evil and virtuous, attachment and detachment. knowledge and delusion. This state is Rajasic state of mind. Vikshipta state is achieved through Karmayoga and through the practice of Sattvic virtues. It leads to happiness, forgiveness, devotion, tolerance, mercy and superior consciousness. Once in sattvic state, one achieves the concentration of mind. In this state one gets full realisation of everything. from an atom to the Supreme being. This is the state of what has been called "Vivek Khyati", the knowledge of the right and the wrong. One gets true knowledge of everything as also detachment from sense objects. In this state, the mind attains self-realization and the false knowledge vanishes. This is also called the state of Nirveej Samadhi. Through self-realization one sees God in all.

Yoga has theoretical as well as practical sides but more emphasis is laid on the practical aspects. Every Sadhaka perceives truth for himself during the practice of yoga. The reason why there is so much sorrow in the world is that man has befriended nature or Maya, but has forgotten his other friend, the Supreme Person. If he is able to establish his relationship with him, he would achieve the object of his life. But to establish this relationship, he has to take the path of yoga. Body is the means for achieving all virtues. In yoga, the physical aspect is not neglected but along with this, there is continuous march towards salvation.

Maharishi Patanjali has mentioned eight types of process "Ashtanga Yoga" for purification of body and mind. The purpose of which is to achieve union with the mind and soul as well as with the Supreme Being. “Ashtanga Yoga” includes – Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.


Yama means self-restraint, these are five in number. Ahinsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha.

Ahinsa: Not to cause injury to any livmg being through thought, words or deeds. In other words, love of the entire creation is Ahimsa.

Satya: Satya or truthfulness is saying exactly what one sees with one’s own eyes, hears with one’s own ears and understands through one's own brain. It means that truthfulness should not only be external, but internal also.

Asteya: Not to steal anything and not to be greedy of others’ wealth or possessions.

Brahmacharya: To keep one‘s sense organs, including the organs of procreation, under control and not to be tempted by the lustful enjoyments through thought, words and deeds.

Aparigraha: It means non-covetousness. In Asteya, one gives up stealing but may accept charity. But in Aparigraha, charity is also not accepted. Hoarding of wealth, riches and other materials of enjoyment for selfish ends is Parigraha, while the absence of these is Aparigraha.


Niyamas are also five. Shaucha, Santosha, Tapa, Swadhyaya and Ishwara pranidhana.

Shaucha: It implies purity, internal and external. The purity of mind is specially to be emphasised. The body can be kept clean and pure by Sattvic food, six types of yogic purifications etc. Mind’s purity is achieved through giving up of attachment, jealousy and other base ideas. so that man's thinking becomes pure and clean.

Santosha : It means contentment. One should be content with whatever is acquired while doing one’s duty truthfully or whatever is received through the grace of God.

Tapa: It means keeping the mind detached and under control and bear pleasure and pain. heat and cold, hunger and thirst with equanimity.

Swadhyaya: It is the study of spiritual books to gain real knowledge and Spending one‘s time in the company of good people and sages and exchanging ideas with them.

Ishwara pranidhana: It is the complete surrender of self to God in words, deeds and thought. It implies worship of God. Chanting of his name, hearing about him and thinking of him as all pervasive, omni-present and omniscient.


The daily asanas are a must for keeping the body fit and pure. These have been prescribed by our rishis for the control of our body and mind. The asana has been described as sitting in a posture. which is comfortable and which keeps the body straight and firm. To impart a state of effortlessness to the body. to do away with all the effects of over-indulgence of the body in worldly affairs and to provide it necessary rest is the object of asanas.

Regular practice of asanas results in the purification of veins and nerves and promotion of general health of the body. The asanas are of two types. Those which are performed for the sake of Dhyana (meditation) such as Padmasana. Siddhasana and Swastikasana fall in the First category. The second type of asanas are meant to gain physical health. They are Sarvangasana. Bhujangasana, Chakrasana, etc. They tone up the entire body system and give it strength and vigour. There are several hundred asanas, alluded to by our sages. 


Maharishi Patanjali says: "shvaas pra-shvaas yorgativichhedah pranayamah" (2/ 49 Yogasutra). It means that Pranayama is controlling the normal breathing cycle. It helps one to get rid of worldly desires and sensual drives and thereby it leads to knowledge. “Tatah kshiyate prakashavaranam”  (2/52 Yogsutra) that is, ignorance which covers the knowledge is destroyed. “Dharanasu cha yogyata manasah” (2/53 Yogsutra) that is, the ability to perception comes in the mind.

Pranayama activates Sushumna and influences the entire nervous system thereby developing latent powers of the man. These powers are also called Siddhis. Through which miracles can be performed.


The withdrawal of the senses from their respective outside objects and projecting them inwards is Pratyahara. The senses are generally turbulent and restless. The practice of Pratyahara brings the senses under control. imparts to the body health and capability to enter Samadhi (superconscious state).

Through the practice of Yamas, Niyamas, Asanas and Pranayama. the body becomes pure and healthy. mind and senses more restrained and at peace. As a result, it is easy for him to achieve concentration. One gets a glimpse of the powers of God and starts merging himself into Him. All these developments and achievements prepare ground for Pratyahara. According to Patanjali. this is how our external senses come in close and direct contact with mind and intellect.

Our external senses obtain knowledge about external objects. pass it on to the subtle senses in the brain and they in turn communicate it to the mind. The mind submits this to the intellect which passes its judgement on whether it is right or wrong. It then makes this knowledge available to the conscious body located in the heart in the form of Samskaras.

Our conscious body or consciousness keeps collecting all these values. In this operation. Our external senses have direct contact with our mind and intellect, but they have no access to consciousness. Even in the state of sleep, only our subtle senses have contact with the mind and intellect; The external senses remain unaffected and therefore show no response. As a result, eyes cannot see even when open. The ears cannot hear, the hands do not move and the feet become inactive. Then the consciousness becomes engaged in self-analysis or it attains the state of nirguna and lies comfortably, as a result of which the mind and intellect also remain calm. When the senses discover that their master is at peace, they stop receiving their food from the outside world. In this way, the senses are separated from their objects of feeding and the mind and intellect get complete rest. This state of mind and body is called pratyahara. 

Patanjali has included Pratyahara among the external parts of Yoga. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara, these five are called the external parts (Bahirngayog) of Ashtanga Yoga. Dharana, Dhyana  and Samadhi are the three internal parts (Antarangayog) of Ashtanga Yoga.


To fix one's mind on an external object, subtle or otherwise, such as heart, lotus, nose or one's beloved deity, is called dharana. After the practice of yama, niyamas, asanas and pranayama, it becomes easier, especially after pratyahara. Pratyahara brings the mind and senses under control, so once the mind is at peace it can successfully focus on anything. According to the way stated by the scriptures, a person doing spiritual practice makes assumptions. Attains liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. And all its crises disappear. It is easier to dance on the sharp edge of a sword, than to practice perception with a restless and fearful mind. Those who want to achieve success in perception should first regularize their food. Thoughts, Words and Deeds. They should practice dharana with full dedication daily.


Continuous attention to the object of concentration is meditation. The Upanishads state that a sin, which is high and foolish like a mountain. One can be pierced only through meditation and not by any other means. Vivek Churamani states that meditation purifies the mind of the Rajas and Tamas Gunas and illuminates the mind with Sattvaguna, just as an alkali purifies gold and makes it bright and sparkling.


Samadhi is a state of unconscious and perfect calm. When the mind becomes one as the object of its concentration in meditation, it leads one to a state of Samadhi. This is the climax of meditation. When meditation attains maturity, the mind loses the sense of duality with the object of concentration (Dhyana), creating a state of Samadhi. To reach this state one has to practice meditation in its full form. In the meditative state, the practitioners of meditation, meditating and meditating themselves appear to be separate and distinct from each other. But in the state of Samadhi, the only thing is the object of meditation. Because all three become one in Samadhi, the difference between self and object disappears completely.

Dharna, Dhyana and Samadhi, all three are collectively called restraint in the language of yoga scriptures. When one attains maturity, the satvic sense of the object of meditation is the only thing that remains and the intellect is determined only by it. This helps the seeker to uncover the world of knowledge and knowledge and he reaches an unconscious state.

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