Preface to the New Edition
The Yoga and Yoga aphorisms of Patanjali are some of the oldest ideas from the great wealth of Hindu culture. Is to know yoga to find God and to find a path for life? What are these ideas from the ancient sutras?
Patanjali has been credited with writing the outlines of the particular form of yoga of his day, but he himself is not a well-documented person. Whether we will ever know when these ideas were first postulated is uncertain, but in any case the wisdom imparted is of more consequence than the historical facts. The Patanjali Sutras or aphorisms are really the words of wisdom or 'threads', which provide the support.
All Hindus are familiar with the Atman, the inner godhead. This is the supreme God or spirit of God within man. By developing yoga techniques and attempting to concentrate upon consciousness itself, one aims to find union with atman, the final desire.
Yoga seeks to ignite the energy of the mind, to train the mental powers. Energy is like a muscle; it grows with more usage. The mind is ever evolving. Evolution is outward from mind to matter. Through yoga meditation methods one can delve further. "Meditation is evolution in reverse. Beginning at the surface of life, the meditative mind goes inward, seeking always the cause behind the appearance, and then the cause behind the cause, until the innermost reality is reached."
Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isher-wood have sought to open the minds of those who use yoga to find a better direction for life. Man has to grapple so many mind disturbances, he needs a focus to brush aside those thoughts and actions, which ultimately do him, harm, even though he may not be aware of those actions that do so.
"In the mind man, the gunas (principally energies and, indirectly, qualities) are found in a relationship of extreme instability, hence the many moods through which we pass in the course of a single day."
There are many paths to follow. Some advocates of yoga meditate by concentrating on a single object, hoping to find purity of motive. Others dwell more on avoiding temptations, avoiding the occult powers. Others seek to understand the processes of Karma, which is decided by previous action in other previous lives and in this life. Even the Gods are not immune from the effects of Karma.
Patanjali also introduces the idea of a supreme God, called Ishwara. He is the divine creator of the universe, the sustainer of the cosmos and, ultimately, the dissolver of the infinite entity. The greater cosmos is considered to be in perpetual motion; making, dissolving and remaking.
But who is Ishwara or Brahama or Atman; are they one and are they the 'ultimate reality' we seek? Perhaps through this manifestation of 'reality', Yoga will define a course for those who seek its greater knowledge.
About the Book
What is God, and how does Hindu philosophy seek to define the notion of the Supreme Being? Are we considering God, or are we looking for the God in a person?
This is a book about yoga and, in particular, the yoga aphorisms expounded by Patanjali. There are many forms of yoga. What are the basic ideas behind the practice of yoga, and how can we learn more about our minds and bodies through knowledge of the subject?
The yoga aphorisms of Patanjali form the basis of this book by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood. It explores yoga in its purest forms. The aphorisms are the lines and verses of the yoga wisdom. Each is examined in detail. The ways of using the knowledge and yoga meditation methods are interpreted and explained in simple layman's terms.
For anyone with a keen interest in Hindu philosophy, expanding the mind and seeking answers to many of life's basic questions, this book will be a revelation. So open your mind to yoga, find the God, and the reality you seek!
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