Om Sivatathvaaya Vidhmahe

Yoganandtharaaya Dheemahi

Tanno Patanjali Guru Prachodayath


Maharishi Patanjali, lived sometime between 500 and 200 B.C.

The life of Maharishi Patanjali is an enigma to modern historians. It is only with the help of legends that one can draw inferences about him.

Maharishi Patanjali, universally acccepted as "father of yoga," codified his thoughts and knowledge of yoga in "The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali." This compilation of 195 sutras is considered to be a blueprint for living an ideal life and also incorporating the science of yoga into one’s life.

He is also the author of the Mahabhasya, a major commentary on Panini's Ashtadhyayi.


According to one legend, Maharishi Patanjali was the avatar of Adi Shesha the Cosmic Serpent upon whom Lord Vishnu rests. While watching a dance by Lord Shiva, Adi Shesha found it unbearable to support the weight of Lord Vishnu. Amazed at this, he asked Lord Vishnu the reason for the same. Lord Vishnu said that this was because of his harmony with Lord Shiva's energy state, owing to the practice of Yoga. Realizing the value and benefits of Yoga, Adi Shesha wished to be born amongst humans, to teach them the great art.

According to another legend, he fell (pata) into the hands of a woman, as an offering (anjali), thus giving him the name Patanjali.

Maharishi Patanjali's Jeeva Samadhi is within the precincts of Sri Brahmapureeswarar Temple.

Stamp issued by Indian Post and Telegraphs on 04 Aug, 2009

Yoga Sutras

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a Hindu scripture and foundation of Yoga. They are a widely respected work on Yoga, its philosophy and practice. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali prescribes adherence to eight "limbs" or steps to quieten one's mind and achieve kaivalya.

The Yoga Sutras form the basis of Raja Yoga, and are considered to be the most organized and complete definition of its Theory and Philosophy.

Patanjali divided his Yoga Sutras into 4 chapters or books (Sanskrit pada), containing in all 196 aphorisms, divided as follows:

Samadhi Pada (51 sutras) : Describes yoga and then the nature and the means to attaining samadhi.

Sadhana Pada (55 sutras) : Outlines two forms of Yoga: Kriya Yoga (Action Yoga) and Ashtanga Yoga (Eightfold or Eight limbed Yoga).

  • Kriya Yoga is the yoga of selfless action and service.

  • Ashtanga Yoga describes the eight limbs that together constitute Raja Yoga.

The eight "limbs" or steps prescribed in the second pada of the Yoga Sutras are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

Vibhuti Pada (56 sutras) : Describes the enormous powers that are acquired by the practice of yoga. Attention should be fixed only on liberation, and not on the powers.

Kaivalya Pada (34 sutras) : Describes the nature of liberation and the reality of the transcendental Self.

First Day Cover issued on 04 Aug 2009

 Ashtanga Yoga consists of the following steps: The first five are called external aids to Yoga.

Yama : refers to the five abstentions.

  • Ahimsa : non-violence, inflicting no injury or harm to others or even to one's ownself, it goes as far as nonviolence in thought, word and deed.

  • Satya : truth in word & thought.

  • Asteya : non-covetousness, to the extent that one should not even desire something that is not his own.

  • Brahmacharya: celibacy in case of unmarried people and monogamy in case of married people.

  • Aparigraha: non-possessiveness

Niyama : refers to the five observances

  • Shaucha : cleanliness of body & mind.

  • Santosha : satisfaction; satisfied with what one has.

  • Tapas : austerity and associated observances for body discipline & thereby mental control.

  • Svadhyaya : study of the Vedic scriptures, which leads to a greater awakening of the Soul and of God within,

  • Ishvarapranidhana : surrender to (or worship of) God.

Asana : Discipline of the body: rules and postures to keep it disease-free and for preserving vital energy.

Pranayama : control of breath.

Pratyahara : withdrawal of senses from their external objects.


The last three levels are called internal aids to Yoga (antaranga sadhana)

Dharana : concentration of the citta upon a physical object.

Dhyana : steadfast meditation.

Samadhi : oneness with the object of meditation. There is no distinction between act of meditation and the object of meditation. Samadhi is of two kinds :

  • Samprajnata Samadhi : conscious samadhi. This state is of four kinds:

Savitarka: the Citta is concentrated upon a gross object of meditation such as a flame of a lamp, the tip of the nose, or the image of a deity.

Savichara: the Citta is concentrated upon a subtle object of meditation , such as the tanmatras

Sananda: the Citta is concentrated upon a still subtler object of meditation, like the senses.

Sasmita: the Citta is concentrated upon the ego-substance with which the self is generally identified.

  • Asamprajnata Samadhi : supraconscious samadhi.

The citta and the object of meditation are fused together. The consciousness of the object of meditation is transcended.

 Combined simultaneous practice of Dharana, Dhyana & Samadhi is referred to as Samyama and is considered a tool to achieve Siddhi.

Related Links

The Wikipedia Page on Yogi Patanjali

The Wikipedia Page on Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Download English Meaning of Yoga Sutras from

English Translation of Yoga Sutras from