The Yoga-Sûtra of Patañjali
© Wim van den Dungen
The "Yoga-Sûtra" in French
also visit :The Yoga-sûtra : a Buddhist Commentary
of Patañjali (3th century A.D.)
This Sûtra is the unity of 195 mnemonic verses divided into four books. The rubrics &
their names are of the hand of the translator.
samâdhi-pâda : the path of enlightenment ;
sâdhana-pâda : the path of the yogin ;
vibhûti-pâda : the path of the powers ;
kaivalya-pâda : the path of aloneness.
Book 1 : Samâdhi-Pâda (path to union)
1.1. Now, an exposition of Yoga. 1.2. Yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of
consciousness. 1.3. Then the seer stands in his own form. 1.4. At other times there is
conformity with this flux.
1.5. This flux is fivefold & afflicted or non-afflicted. 1.6. They are : valid
cognition, misconception, conceptualization, sleep & memory. 1.7. Valid cognition is
based on perception, inference and testimony. 1.8. Misconception is false knowledge not
founded on the appearance of its object. 1.9. Conceptualization is without perceivable
object, following verbal knowledge. 1.10. Sleep is a fluctuation resting on the
non-occurrence. 1.11. Remembering is not being deprived of the experienced object.
instruments of yoga
1.12. Restrict these through practice & dispassion. 1.13. Practice is the effort to
gain stability in that restriction. 1.14. This is firmly grounded only when cultivated
properly & for a long time uninterruptedly. 1.15. Dispassion is the smart volition of
one without thirst for sensoric & revealed objects. 1.16. Superior to that is
non-thirsting for the strata of Nature resulting from the vision of purusa.
two basic types of union
1.17. Union-with-seed is called "cognitive" by being connected with cogitation, reflection,
joy & I-am-ness. 1.18. The other (union-without-seed) has a residuum of reactors &
follows the former when the thought of cessation is practiced. 1.19. The union of those who
have merged with Nature & those who are bodiless is due to their focus on the
of becoming. 1.20. Union-without-seed is preceded by faith, energy, mindfulness,
the condition of progress
1.21. This is near to him who is extremely vehement in Yoga. 1.22. Because this can be
modest, medium or excessive, the result differs.
a special way to achieve union
1.23. Or union through devotion to the Lord. 1.24.The Lord is a special purusa untouched by
the causes of sorrow, karman & its fruition and the deposit in the depth-memory. 1.25.
In Him the seed of all-knowing is unsurpassed. 1.26. He was also the mentor of the earlier
ones by virtue of His temporal non-boundedness. 1.27. His word is om. 1.28. Recite it to
realize its meaning. 1.29. Hence the attainment of inwardmindedness and also the
disappearance of the get betweens.
the get betweens to union
1.30. Sickness, languor, doubt, heedlessness, sloth, dissipation, false vision,
non-attaining the stages of Yoga and instability are the distractions of consciousness ;
these are the obstacles. 1.31. Pain, depression, tremor of the limbs, wrong inhalation
& exhalation jointly become with the distractions. 1.32. In order to counteract these
practice Yoga on a single principle. 1.33. To show friendliness, compassion, gladness and
equanimity -be they joyful, sorrowful, meritorious or demeritorious-pacifies
other paths to union
1.34. Controlled expulsion & retention of breath. 1.35. Or it comes about when a
supernal sensoric activity has arisen which holds the mind steady. 1.36. Or by the
sorrowless & illuminating. 1.37. Or when consciousness takes those who conquered
attachment as its object. 1.38. Or when resting on knowledge arising from dream &
sleep. 1.39. Or through contemplation as desired. 1.40. Mastery from the most minute to
the greatest magnitude ensues.
the essence of union
1.41. And when fluctuations have dwindled consciousness is like a precious jewel ; there
results with reference to the 'grasper', the 'grasping' and the 'grasped' a coincidence
with that on which consciousness abides & by which it is 'anointed'.
the subtypes of union
1.42. When there is conceptual knowledge based on the meaning of words, the state is
called 'coincidence mixed with cogitation' (conceptual union). 1.43. When the depth-memory
is purified, as it were empty of its essence and the object alone is shining forth, the
state is empty of cogitations (non-conceptual union). 1.44. Thus by these forms the other two
types of union, subtle & ultra-subtle are explained ; they use subtle objects. 1.45.
And the subtle objects terminate in the undifferentiate. 1.46. These forms of coincidence
(conceptual, non-conceptual, subtle & ultra-subtle) verily are with seed.
on the brink of seedless union
1.47. When there is a autumnal brightness in ultra-subtle union, the state is the clarity
of the inner being. 1.48. This state of prajñâ is truth-bearing. 1.49. The scope of this
differs from that gained from what one heard & inferred ; this owing to its particular
purposiveness. 1.50. The reactor born from that binds all others.
how seedless union is achieved
1.51. When also this is restricted, owing to the restriction of all, union-without-seed
Book 2 : Sâdhana-Pâda (path to realization)
on the path : aims & means
2.1. Ascesis, self-study and devotion to Îshvara constitute the Yoga of Action. 2.2. This
Yoga aims at cultivating union & attenuating the causes of sorrow.
the five causes of sorrow
2.3. Nescience, I-am-ness, attachment, aversion, the will-to-live are the five
causes of sorrow. 2.4. Nescience is the field of the other ; they can be
dormant, thin, cut off or aroused. 2.5. Nescience is the seeing of the eternal,
pure, joyful and the Atman in the ephemeral, impure, sorrowful and the
non-Atman. 2.6. I-am-ness is the identification as it were of the seer and the
capacity of seeing. 2.7. Attachment is that which rests upon pleasant
experiences. 2.8. Aversion rests on sorrowful experiences. 2.9. Thus the
will-to-live, flowing along by its own inclination, is rooted even in the sages.
2.10. The subtle form of these (causes of affliction), namely the reactors &
thoughts during union, has to be overcome by the process of (spiritual)
counter-flow. 2.11. The crude form of these causes of
sorrow are to be left behind by contemplation.
the mechanisms of the karmic law
2.12. The causes of sorrow are the root of the action-deposit and this may be experienced
in this or in a future incarnation. 2.13. So long as the root exist there is fruition from
it in the form of birth, a span of life and enjoyment. 2.14. These have delight or
distress as results, according to the meritorious or demeritorous causes. 2.15. Because of
the sorrow present in the transformation of Nature, in its anguish, in its reactors and
due to the conflict between the movements of Nature, to the discerner all is merely
the supreme goal of yoga
2.16. What is to be abandoned is the sorrow yet to come.
the seen & the seer
2.17. The correlation made between the seer and the seen is the cause of that which is to
be overcome. 2.18. The seen has the character of brightness, activity & inertia ; is
embodied in elements & sense-organs and serves the purpose of enjoyment and
emancipation. 2.19. The strata of Nature are : the particularized, unparticularized,
differentiate & undifferentiate. 2.20. The seer is sheer seeing but though pure sees
through the mind (and its thoughts). 2.21. The essence of the seen is only for the sake of
this seer. 2.22. Although the seen has ceased to exist for he who has accomplished his
purpose, it has nevertheless not ceased to exist, since it is a common experience to all
others. 2.23. The correlation causes the seer to apprehend the own form of the power of
the owner and of the owned. 2.24. The cause of this is nescience. 2.25. When this
disappears the correlation ceases ; this is cessation, the aloneness of seeing.
prajñâ is the supreme tool
2.26. The means of cessation is the unceasing vision of discernment. 2.27. For he who possesses this
there arises, in the last stage, prajñâ, which is sevenfold.
the tool differentiated
2.28. Through the performance of the members of Yoga and with the dwindling of impurity,
the radiance of true knowledge comes about, up to the vision of discernment.
the eight phases of the process-of-evolution
2.29. Restraints, observances, posture, breath-control, sense-withdrawal, concentration,
contemplation & union are the eight.
2.30. Non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, chastity and greedlessness are the
restraints. 2.31. Valid in all spheres, irrespective of birth, place, time and
circumstance are these. They are the great vow. 2.32. Purity, contentment, austerity,
self-study and devotion to the Lord are the observances. 2.33. For the repelling of
unwholesome thoughts cultivate the opposite. 2.34. Thoughts such as harming et cetera,
whether done, caused to be done or approved, whether arising from greed, anger or
delusion, whether modest, medium or excessive - these find their unending fruition in
nescience and sorrow ; so cultivate the opposite. 2.35. When grounded in non-harming, all
enmity is abandoned in one's presence. 2.36. When grounded in truthfulness, one masters
action & its fruition. 2.37. When grounded in non-stealing, all jewels appear. 2.38.
When grounded in chastity, vitality is obtained. 2.39. When settled in greedlessness one
secures knowledge of the wherefore of one's births.
2.40. Purity gives a distance towards one's limbs and the desire of non-defilement by
others. 2.41. Also purity of beingness, gladness, one-pointedness, mastery of the
sense-organs & the capability of seeing one's âtman are achieved. 2.42. Through
contentment unexcelled joy is gained. 2.43. Through austerity, as impurity dwindles, power
over body & sense-organs. 2.44. Through self-study a contact with the chosen deity.
2.45. Through the devotion for the Lord, union.
2.46. Posture is steady and comfortable. 2.47. This is accompanied by the relaxation of
tension & the coinciding with the endless. 2.48. Hence the pairs of opposites are
unable to strike.
2.49. When this is achieved, breath-control (the cutting off of the flow of inhalation &
exhalation) should be practized. 2.50. Breath-control is external, internal & fixed in
its flux, it is regulated by place, time & number, it can be protracted or contracted.
2.51. Transcending the external and the internal sphere is called 'the fourth'. 2.52. So
the covering of the (inner) light disappears. 2.53. And the mind is fit for concentration.
2.54. Sense-withdrawal is the imitation as it were by the sense-organs of the own form of
consciousness by disuniting from their objects. 2.55. Hence the supreme obedience of the
Book 3 : Vibhûti-Pâda (path to power)
3.1. Concentration is the binding of consciousness to a single spot. 3.2. Here, the
one-directionality of the thoughts related to the object of concentration is contemplation.
3.3. That, shining forth as the object of concentration -as it were empty of its own form-
is union. 3.4. The three together are constraint. 3.5. Through mastery of that prajñâ
flashes forth. 3.6. Its progression is gradual. 3.7. Compared with the previous members
these three are inner. 3.8. Yet in relation to union-without-seed they are outer members.
the three transformations
3.9. The restriction-transformation connected with consciousness in its moment of
restriction is the subjugation of the reactors of emergence & the outgoing of that of
restriction. 3.10. The calm flow of this is effected through reactors. 3.11.
Union-transformation is the dwindling of all-objectness and the uprising of
one-pointedness. 3.12. Then, when the quiescent and the uprisen thoughts are similar, the
one-pointedness-transformation of consciousness occurs. 3.13. By this are explained the
transformations of form, time-variation & condition with regard to the elements and
the sense-organs. 3.14. The form-bearer is that which follows the quiescent, the uprisen
or the indeterminable. 3.15. The cause of the difference in the transformations is the
differences in the sequence.
objects of constraint
3.16. Through constraint on the three forms of transformation comes knowledge of past
& future. 3.17. The sound, the object & the thought are superimposed on one another
in a confused way. Through constraint on the distinction of these, there arises knowledge
of the sounds of all living beings. 3.18. Through a perception of the reactors, knowledge
of previous births. 3.19. Through the thoughts of another, knowledge of his consciousness.
3.20. But not of that which supports this, for it is absent from it. 3.21. Through
constraint on the form of the body, upon the suspension of the capacity to be perceived,
meaning the disruption of the light travelling from that body to the eye, invisibility.
3.22. Karman is acute or deferred. Through constraint thereon, or from omens, knowledge of
the time of death. 3.23. Through constraint on friendliness etc, the powers of that
quality. 3.24. Through constraint on the power of the elephant etc, the strength of it.
3.25. By focusing the flashing-forth of mental activities on any object, knowledge of its
subtle, concealed & distant aspects.
special objects of constraint
3.26. Through constraint on the sun, knowledge of the world. 3.27. Through constraint on
the moon, knowledge of the arrangement of the stars. 3.28. Through constraint on the
pole-star, knowledge of their movement. 3.29. Through constraint on the navel wheel,
knowledge of the organization of the body. 3.30. Through constraint on the throat wheel,
the cessation of hunger & thirst. 3.31. Through constraint on the tortoise duct,
steadiness. 3.32. Through constraint on the light in the head, vision of the perfected
ones. 3.33. Or in a flash-of-illumination all is known. 3.34. Through constraint on the
heart, understanding of consciousness.
the cause of nescience & knowledge of purusa
3.35. Experience is a thought based on the non-distinction between absolutely unblended
purusa & beingness. Knowledge of purusa comes from constraint on the own-purpose of
purusa, apart from the other-purposiveness of Nature. 3.36. Hence a flash-of-illumination
in hearing, sensing, sight, taste & smell. 3.37. These are obstacles to union but
attainments in the waking-state.
the powers attained through constraint
3.38. Consciousness can enter another's body on relaxation of the cause of attachment and
through the experience of going forth. 3.39. Through mastery of the up-breath, one gains
the power of non-adhesion to water, mud & thorns and levitation. 3.40. Through mastery
of the mid-breath one acquires effulgence. 3.41. Through constraint on the relation
between ear and ether, the divine ear. 3.42. Through constraint on the relation between
body and ether and through the coincidence with light objects such as cotton, the power of
traversing the ether. 3.43. An external, non-imaginary fluctuation is the 'great
incorporeal' from which comes the dwindling of the coverings of the light. 3.44. Through
constraint on the coarse, the own form, the subtle, the connectedness and the
purposiveness of objects, mastery over the elements. 3.45. Hence the manifestation of
powers such as atomisation, the perfection of the body and the indestructibility of its
constituents. 3.46. Beauty, gracefulness and adamant robustness are the perfection of the
body. 3.47. Through constraint on the process of perception, the own-form, I-am-ness,
connectedness & purposiveness, mastery over the senses. 3.48. Hence fleetness of mind
lacking sense-organs & mastery over the matrix of Nature.
omnipotency & omniscience
3.49. For he who has merely the vision of discernment between purusa & beingness the
supremacy over all states and omniscience ensues. 3.50. Through dispassion even to that,
with the dwindling of the seed of the defects, aloneness.
warning to those already very evolved
3.51. The invitation of the high-placed gives no cause of attachment or pride, because of
the renewed and undesired inclination.
the supreme constraint
3.52. Through constraint on the moment and its sequence, knowledge born of discernment.
3.53. Hence the awareness of the difference between similars which cannot normally be
distinguished due to the continuity of the distinctions of class, appearance &
position. 3.54. The knowledge born of discernment is the 'deliverer' and is
omni-objective, omni-temporal and non-sequential. 3.55. Thus, with the equality in the
purity of beingness & purusa, aloneness.
Book 4 : Kaivalya-Pâda (path to aloneness)
the possible causes of para-normal powers
4.1. The powers are the result of birth, herbs, mantra, ascesis or union.
the metapsychology of conscious evolution
4.2. The transformation into another category of existence is possible because Nature is
superabundant. 4.3. The cause without measure does not initiate Nature but -as a farmer-
singles-out possibilities. 4.4. Individualized consciousness proceeds from the primary
I-am-ness. 4.5. These individualized consciousnesses are engaged in distinct activities,
but the one consciousness is the originator of the others. 4.6. Of these, that born out of
contemplation is without subliminal deposit.
karmic effects of yogic evolution
4.7. The karman of the yogin is neither black or white ; that of the others is threefold.
4.8. Hence the manifestation only of those subliminal traits corresponding to its
fruition. 4.9. On account of the uniformity between the depth-memory and the subliminal
activators there is a causal relation, even though separated in terms of place, time &
birth. 4.10. These are without beginning because of the perpetuity of the primordial will.
4.11. Because of the connection with cause, fruit, substratum and support, it follows that
with the disappearance of these, the disappearance of those is brought about.
does time still exist ?
4.12. Past and future as such exist, because of the difference in the paths of the forms.
4.13. These are manifest or subtle and composed of the gunas.
do objects still really exist ?
4.14. The 'that-ness' of an object derives from the homogeneity in the transformation.
4.15. In view of the multiplicity of consciousness as opposed to the singleness of an
object, both belong to separate levels. 4.16. And the object is not dependent on a single
consciousness. This is unprovable. Besides, what could this possibly be ? 4.17. An object
is known or not by reason of the required coloration of consciousness by it.
4.18. Because of the immutability of purusa, the fluctuations of consciousness are always
known by its 'superior'. 4.19. That fluctuating consciousness has no self-luminosity
because of its seenness. 4.20. And so it is impossible to cognise both consciousness and
its object simultaneously. 4.21. If consciousness were perceived by another this would
lead to a regress from cognition to cognition, confusing memory. 4.22. When the
awareness assumes the shape of that consciousness, experience of one's own cognitions
becomes possible. 4.23. Provided consciousness is coloured by the 'seer' & the 'seen', it
can perceive any object. 4.24. That consciousness, though speckled with countless
subliminal traits, has its own other-purpose due to its collaborate activity.
the realized yogins
4.25. For him who sees the distinction, there comes about the discontinuation of the
cultivation of the false self-sense.
reaching union without seed
4.26. Then consciousness -inclined towards discernment- is borne onwards towards
aloneness. 4.27. In the intervals of that consciousness, other thoughts may arise from the
reactors. 4.28. Their cessation is achieved in the same way as described for the causes of
moving beyond Nature
4.29. Always non-usurious even in that consciousness & through the vision of
discernment, a union designated as 'cloud of dharma' ensues. 4.30. Hence the
discontinuation of the causes of sorrow and of karman. 4.31. Then, when all coverings of
imperfection are removed, little remains to be known because of the infinity of
the final exit from the natural realm
4.32. Hence the termination of the sequences in the transformation of the gunas, whose
purpose is fulfilled. 4.33. Sequence means that which is correlative to the moment,
apprehensible at the terminal point of a transformation.
ultimate, final liberation
4.34. The process-of-evolution of the gunas, devoid of the purpose for purusa, is
aloneness, the establishment of the power of awareness in its own form.
Short Bibliography :
Âranya : Yoga Philosophy of Patañjali, Calcutta University Press - Calcutta,
Ballantyne & Shastri : Yoga-sûtra of Patañjali, Parimal - Nagar, 1983.
Eliade, M. : Yoga : immortality and freedom , Bollingen - Princeton, 1954.
Evans-Wentz, W.Y. : Tibetan Yoga , Oxford University Press - Oxford, 1958.
Evans-Wentz, W.Y. : The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, Oxford University
Press - Oxford, 1968.
Feuerstein, G. : The Yoga-sûtra of Patañjali , Dawson - Kent, 1979.
Feuerstein, G. : The Yoga-sûtra of Patañjali : an Exercise in the Methodology of
Textual Analysis , Motilal - Dehli, 1979.
Feuerstein, G. : The Philosophy of Classical Yoga , Manchester University Press -
Feuerstein, G. & Miller, J. : A Reappraisal of Yoga , Rider & Company -
Leggett, T. : Sankara on the Yoga-sûtra , Routledge & Kegan - London, 1981
& Motilal - Dehli, 1992.
Mishran S.R. : Fundamentals of Yoga, Lyrebird Press - London, 1972.
Rivière-Marquès, J. : Le Yoga Tantrique - hindou et thibétain , Véga - Paris,
Sadânanda Sarasvati : Les Yogasûtras de Patañjali, Le Courrier du Livre - Paris,
Taimni, I.K. : The Science of Yoga , Theosophical Publishing House - London, 1961.
Woods, J.H. : The Yoga-system of Patañjali ,
or the Ancient Hindu Doctrine of
Concentration of Mind, embracing :
- the mnemonic rules, called Yoga-Sûtra , of Patañjali (A.D.300 and 500) ;
- the comment, called Yoga-Bhasya , attributed to Veda-Vyâsa (between A.D. 650 -
- the explanation, called Tattva-Vaisaradi , of Vachaspati-Misra (A.D. 800 - 850),
Harvard Oriental Series, vol 17, 1914.
initiated : 1997 - last update : 05 IX 2013
- version n°3