Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Patanjali, an ancient sage, wrote the yoga sutras, which are in the form of aphorisms. Many sages of yore shared their wisdom by writing aphorisms. Sutra means a thread. In the yoga sutras, yogic ideas are arranged like flowers in a garland. The book consists of four chapters.
The first chapter is called
. It mentions different types of meditative trance, and consists of 51 sutras. The chapter explains about obstacles faced during meditation, the different kinds of thoughts and ways to control them, three kinds of detachment and the nature of God. Further, the chapter details various ways of entering into meditative trance and the path to attain peace of mind.
The second chapter is called
. It consists of 55 sutras. It deals with penance, study, surrender of self to God and afflictions of the mind. This chapter also explains how to overcome the mind afflictions which prevent one from progressing in meditation. The various benefits of practising yoga are detailed clearly.
The third chapter is called
. It consists of 56 Sutras. It deals with the later stages of ashtanga yoga (the yoga of eight limbs). This chapter explains about the ways in which yogic powers can be obtained.
The fourth chapter is called
It consists of 34 sutras. This chapter explains the independence of a liberated yogi who can discriminate between the real and the unreal, and who is freed from normal human emotions. It also gives details about the mind and its turbulent nature.
Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga
Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga (the yoga of eight limbs) explains the natural steps that take the practitioner from the normal state to his or her underlying divine nature. These steps lead one from the gross to the subtle. They help one achieve the goal of raja yoga, which is liberation from the reins of the mind and from the cycle of birth and death.