“Let us divide Meditation into two sorts. First is the meditation practiced at a set time, or an occasional one, whether by design or from physiological idiosyncrasy. Second is the meditation of an entire lifetime, that single thread of intention, intentness, and desire running through the years stretching between the cradle and the grave. For the first, in Patanjali’s Aphorisms will be found all needful rules and particularity. If these are studied and not forgotten, then practice must give results. How many of those who reiterate the call for instruction on this head have read that book, only to turn it down and never again consider it? Far too many.”—W. Q. Judge, from the article “Meditation, Concentration, Will.”

We embark here upon an exploration of Patanjali’s Eightfold system of Yoga, drawn from his Yoga Sutras, with the hope of coming to an appreciation of the overall teachings as a unified whole. Patanjali’s instructions are perhaps the most specific of their kind, taking us through the entire process from regular human consciousness to final liberation in a logical, step by step sequence. While many great teachers have left their instructions seemingly vague or indirect, the Yoga Sutras are clear, distinct and concise. They allow us to see that the path is well formed before us and leave us with a sense of the utter simplicity of true spiritual progress. With Patanjali, the path to liberation is not something magical or mythic or foggy; it is a scientific discipline of exacting precision.

Let us venture on, then, with an overview of the process given in his sutras, from beginning to end.

We may start with Patanjali’s definition of Yoga, which he states at the opening of his sutras:

yogaś-citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ 1

“Concentration, or Yoga, is the hindering of the modifications of the thinking principle.” 2

This is followed shortly after with a statement of the twofold means by which this may be accomplished:

abhyāsa-vairāgya-ābhyāṁ tan-nirodhaḥ 3

“The hindering of the modifications of the mind already referred to, is to be effected by means of Exercise and Dispassion.” 4

Each of these is further defined:

tatra sthitau yatno-‘bhyāsaḥ
sa tu dīrghakāla nairantarya satkāra-ādara-āsevito dṛḍhabhūmiḥ 3

“Exercise is the uninterrupted, or repeated, effort that the mind shall remain in its unmoved state.
This exercise is a firm position observed out of regard for the end in view, and perseveringly adhered to for a long time without intermission.” 4

dṛṣṭa-anuśravika-viṣaya-vitṛṣṇasya vaśīkāra-saṁjṇā vairāgyam
tatparaṁ puruṣa-khyāteḥ guṇa-vaitṛṣṇyam 3

“Dispassion is the having overcome one’s desires.
Dispassion, carried to the utmost, is indifference regarding all else than soul, and this indifference arises from a knowledge of soul as distinguished from all else.” 4

Exercise or practice, and dispassion or desirelessness, thus mark two pillars of yoga. For the latter, the Bhagavad Gita provides all we need in the way of philosophical explanation, which is then complimented by the practical instructions contained in the regulations (yama/niyama) of Patanjali’s sutras. For the former, we have these Yoga Sutras in their completeness, which examine every key facet of the practice required by the yogi.

Our exercise is met with obstacles at every step, including such things as doubt, sickness, carelessness, laziness, addiction, etc., 5 and the remedy of each of these obstacles is ultimately to be found in the development of dispassion, through the practice of virtues, through regulations, through focus and concentration. 6 What the student is aiming for is a steadiness of mind, and in the early sutras Patanjali provides some simple tips one can utilize to overcome whatever obstacles and distractions arise in their life. Through these one may begin to develop the steady, confident and dispassionate mind that is truly necessary for further yoga practice.

From these two pillars and the preliminary lessons of the first chapter of the sutras, the yoga philosophy unfolds itself in greater degree throughout the remaining three chapters, centering on what has been called the Eight Limbs of Raj Yoga, namely:

yama niyama-āsana prāṇāyāma pratyāhāra dhāraṇā dhyāna samādhayo-‘ṣṭāvaṅgāni 7

We may translate this as: the eight (ashtau) limbs (angani) are social-regulations (yama), self-regulations (niyama), posture (asana), pranic-regulations (pranayama), withdrawal from sensory input (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), contemplation (dhyana), and true meditation (samadhi).

It is this eightfold system that comprises the core of Patanjali’s teachings. The first two constitute preliminary training, but in truth are principles of action that carry throughout the life of the Yogi—they are not progressive steps that one passes through in serial order but are the way of life the yogi must adopt if he is to be successful in yoga meditation, and this way of life must be maintained even after he has passed through those later steps. From this training Asana results, and from there a serial order of progression can be traced from Pranayama through to Samadhi.

Each term of this eightfold practice requires elucidation, and the whole system of Raja Yoga will begin to be seen when they are thus explored.

Yama:

Yama may be seen as those observances that relate to our interactions with others and with the world at large. Five key principles are provided, which, when understood in their true significance are applicable to our every interaction. These are given in the following verse:

ahiṁsā-satya-asteya brahmacarya-aparigrahāḥ yamāḥ 8

These may be translated as: non-violence (ahimsa), truth or truthfulness (satya), not stealing (asteya), continence or self-restraint (brahmacharya), and non-covetousness (aparigraha). Yet each of these words can hold a much wider, deeper meaning. The meanings of ahimsa and satya are well exemplified by Gandhi’s expanded use of the terms 9, whereby the meaning of violence is raised so that any injury done, whether spiritual, mental or physical is considered an act of violence. Ahimsa thus becomes satya and vice-versa, as truth or truthfulness becomes indistinguishable from non-violence. The meaning of asteya is expanded by applying it not just to physical but also to mental theft, and the mere act of desiring the possession of another is considered asteya. 10 Brahmacharya takes on a larger meaning when it is seen to constitute an entire way of life—the term may be more literally translated as “a mode of life that leads one to the ultimate reality”. Lastly, the expanded meaning of aparigraha takes on greater significance when we understand, as W. Q. Judge says, that it “applies not only to coveting any object, but also to the desire for enjoyable conditions of mundane existence, or even for mundane existence itself.” 11

In essence, these are self-imposed rules of conduct that train the disciple in right living for the purpose of the spiritual upliftment of all. They become guides by which ever his every interaction may be spiritualized. Indeed, no true spiritual advancement can be made without them.

Niyama:

Niyama may be seen as those observances that relate to oneself, or the interactions of one’s inner life. Again, five key principles are given, which provide guidance in every internal struggle of the self. These are given in the following verse:

śauca saṁtoṣa tapaḥ svādhyāy-eśvarapraṇidhānāni niyamāḥ 12

These may be translated as: cleanliness or ‘purification of body and mind’ (shaucha), contentment (santosha), austerity or self-discipline (tapas), self-study (svadhyaya), and ‘persevering devotion to the Supreme Soul’ or ‘love and surrender to the indwelling divinity’ (ishvara-pranidhana). Just as we find with the five principles of Yama, each of the principles of Niyama are likewise capable of much larger, more expansive meanings. For instance, shaucha is more than just cleanliness but is a kind of inner and outer purification that leads to disinterest towards the physical and to an inner fitness for contemplation. 13 Santosha is not simply a passive contentment, but leads to and is accompanied by unexcelled happiness, mental comfort, joy, and satisfaction. Tapas is a kind of focused effort that removes (lit. ‘burns’) impurities and impediments and in one sense is the willingness to endure spiritual suffering. Svadhyaya means much more than ‘self-study’ in that it implies lessons customized for oneself (i.e. by one’s guru or by one’s higher Self, or we might say one’s own self-devised and self-induced efforts in study and practice), while on another level svadhyaya also means ‘properly uttered invocations’ as given in the scriptures (Vedas). And lastly ishvara-pranidhana can be understood as the positive side of the elimination of attachment to the personal and the thirst for this (separate) life (tanha), in that it is the letting go and allowing of oneself to merge with the indwelling divinity—without this willingness or surrender, Samadhi cannot be attained. 14 These five principles, when properly understood and followed, provide the remedy for all internal difficulties faced by the disciple.

These two, Yama and Niyama, constitute the preparational training of the disciple. Success in the later steps of Yoga depends entirely upon the level of mastery of these ten principles of self-discipline. Without them, any attempt to reach higher states in meditation is useless, and any forced attempt at pranayama is dangerous, as the inner constitution is not adequately prepared. Just as athletes must prepare for their sport with proper diet, fitness and lifestyle, with preparatory stretching and mental focus, so too much the yogi be thoroughly prepared for the practice of Raj Yog meditation. Without adequate training for the ‘heavy lifting’ of intense meditation, injury is all but guaranteed, but while athletes risk injuring their bodies, an ill-prepared yogi risks injuring his mind.

Asana:

None of these eight limbs stands on its own; they are interrelated and interdependent.

Asana may be roughly translated as ‘posture’, but again this has an expanded meaning far beyond that of physical positioning. Posture may be thought of in the sense of one’s poise, one’s composite attitude or state—i.e. the harmonic alignment of one’s entire constitution, inward and outward. It is the ‘posture’ of the entirety of the yogi, the synchronization of the being from the very highest part of its nature down to the very lowest. Thus it can be seen that proper Asana naturally results from the practice of Yama and Niyama. The degree to which one can fully practice the ten principles determines the extent to which one is capable of attaining proper ‘posture’ as a yogi. It is a posture, inner and outer, that is steady, stable, motionless, comfortable (because such stability and steadiness has become natural), and pleasant.

If the yogi has mastered Yama and Niyama their entire being is naturally stable and steady—they are stable and healthy mentally, emotionally, physically; stable in relationships, in dealings with the world at large, stable in their commitment to the path and to their guru (and/or their higher Self, the indwelling divinity), etc.. One can easily see that if one is internally and externally unstable, no amount of forcing of posture (inner or outer) is going to produce positive results. Just as striking a physical hatha yoga pose without the proper preparation (years of practice, flexibility, balance, etc.) will be flawed and unbalanced, so too will any attempt to strike the complete right-posture of one’s entire constitution be flawed and unbalanced if such a posture is unnatural for the yogi. Thus, proper posture results from persevering in the practice of the ten principles of social and self regulation, and cannot be forced without them. No physical posture can overcome an unaligned internal constitution.

Pranayama:

Only when proper posture (in its expanded meaning) is attained is true pranayama possible or even desireable. While pranayama is often translated simply as ‘regulation of the breath’ or ‘breath control’, it’s meaning is far greater and extends into the very nature of mind (Manas). In Vedic philosophy the pranas are the ‘life-winds’ or the distinct vital living forces underlying the vehicles (upadhis) of Man’s constitution, and which are likewise intimately related to the koshas (the five sheaths of our being). This relation, between the pranas (of which there are seven) and mind (Manas) is such that each prana underlies one of the seven senses (smell, sight, taste, touch, hearing, mind and understanding), these seven senses having their seat in mind. Matter (i.e. the objects of perception) has seven characteristics corresponding to the seven senses; it has extension, colour, motion (molecular motion), taste, and smell, and when fully developed will reveal the remaining two characteristics (permeability, and the seventh, which we may see as the synthesis of the other six, relating to the neumenon of the object, or the composite object per se). 15

While the regulation of the physical breath plays its role in the production of physical nerve perception 16 and thus relates to audible thought and physical sensory input, the expanded meaning of pranayama relates to the motions of the pranas in the activity of upholding or vitally-powering the senses and in the subsequent motion of Manas as it moulds itself to that which is perceived. 17 The substance of mind (Manas) is plastic (pliable, flexible, malleable, adaptable), and when under the influence of the senses it moulds itself into that which is perceived. Sensory experience is only ever a reflection—i.e. it is not the object of perception we experience but rather the approximation of it made by the mind in its attempt to mimic that which the senses report to it. The senses are seven, the characteristics of matter are seven and the ‘divisions’ of Manas are seven, and thus the mind moulds itself according to each of these seven and a more or less complete experiential-motion-picture is presented to the Self (the true perceiver behind the mind). Thus, in our normal waking state, the mind is in constant flux, never at rest, never clear and calm, because always becoming this or that composite sensory-experience. This flux is not particularly regulated and has little sustained rhythm; instead it is haphazard, scattered, liable to fly off in any direction or to change abruptly, like a feather carried by shifting winds. In short: in our normal human waking state the modifications of the mind are not under the control of the will, which becomes passive and allows the mind to blindly follow the wandering senses. 18

“Regulation of prana” therefore is the rhythmic regulation of the vital forces underlying the senses, such that the chaotic motions of the substance of manas becomes as steady and directed as the inhalation and exhalation of breath. When these forces are brought into synchronistic rhythm with one another the underlying power (Prana) comes increasingly under the control of the will, which steadily lessens the instinctive wandering of the mind through the influence of the senses. The vital power that has been allowed to flow in haphazard fashion is re-harnessed by the will and the tendencies of thought, identification, sense-delight, etc., that have developed over lifetimes are slowly but steadily weakened. 19

So the chaotic modifications of the mind are first reigned into rhythmic, predictable, regular motion, after which they can be steadily calmed or stilled, which is the next of the Eight Limbs.

Pratyahara:

The interaction of the mind (manas) with the objects of perception (matter) is mediated by the vital life-energy (Prana – or the synthesis of the pranas). This mediation is, in essence, a connection between the seven divisions of manas and the seven characteristics of matter in any object of perception, and the bridge by which this connection is made is called ‘sense’. Sense is, ultimately, a function of the mind (manas) in its operation through a vehicle (upadhi). Within that vehicle are sense-organs, but the senses themselves are seated in manas.

When manas is functioning in its habitual human state of sensory-perception, the pranas are directed outwards through the senses and then back inward through the same channels. This moving outwards and moving inwards may be said to be the ‘breath’ of the mind, or the true flow of Prana in its sevenfold nature. The impressions made when the pranas are directed outwards are returned to the mind, from which it moulds itself into the sevenfold-experiential-picture (complete with image, smell, sound, touch, taste, thought, etc.). When this ‘breath’ is regulated (i.e. when the senses are directed by the will into controlled rhythmic motion) not only can the habitual tendency of the mind to mould itself into the received impression be reduced, but the very motion itself of the vital life-energy is calmed and increasingly stilled. Just as regulation of the outer breath in yoga practice can result (among adept practitioners) in the reduction of the quantity and interval of inhalation and exhalation until the breath is (nearly) stilled, so too can the ‘breath’ of the mind be lessened until stilled.

Pratyahara is often translated as the ‘withdrawal of the senses’, and in this what we see is that when the ‘breath’ of the mind is regulated and subsequently calmed, the vital energy can be willingly directed to either move more towards objects of perception (resulting in heightened sensory experience) or to move less towards objects of perception and thus return with less impressions to the mind. In the latter scenario (which is pratyahara), the sense-organs continue to operate as usual, but the connection or the bridge between the mind and those organs is reduced and ultimately stopped altogether. While the vital energy is still moving outwards and back inwards, connecting the mind with the objects of perception, the mind may find a certain degree of disinterest in those objects, but it cannot truly become free of them so long as that motion of vital energy continues. It is only when that motion is completely stilled, and the inherent energy of the senses is brought back to rest in the mind (its source) that the mind can come to a state of perfect calm stillness.

Only when this state of complete ‘withdrawal’ is reached is samyama possible, and this samyama constitutes the three remaining limbs: dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

Dharana:

Dharana is introduced in the following verse:

deśa-bandhaḥ cittasya dhāraṇā 20

This may be translated as: concentration (dharana) is the binding or holding (bandha) of the mind or consciousness (chittasya) to a singular point or place or object (desha).

In The Voice of the Silence, H. P. Blavatsky defines Dharana as: “the intense and perfect concentration of the mind upon some one interior object, accompanied by complete abstraction from everything pertaining to the external Universe, or the world of the senses”, and further states that: “in the sixth stage of development which, in the occult system is Dharana, every sense as an individual faculty has to be ‘killed’ (or paralyzed) on this plane, passing into and merging with the Seventh sense, the most spiritual.”

Until Pratyahara is mastered, perfect concentration (Dharana) is not possible, as the mind will continue to be drawn in more than one direction in any single instant. When mind (Manas) is operating through the senses it becomes seemingly divided into seven distinct functions, each relating to a sense perception. It thus ceases to operate as one but rather as a hierarchy of seven. Furthermore, when each of these functions is connecting with its particular characteristic of matter through the bridge made by each particular sense, the focus of mind becomes fanned-out or scattered. When one is perceiving an object through the senses one is only perceiving but the reflection of a partial impression of each of the seven characteristics of the substance that composes the form of that object, but not the object itself. It is only when the vital energies have been withdrawn from the operations of the senses and returned to their unified seat in manas that true perception of that object, in and of itself, is possible, because only then can the mind be directed wholly and with one-directional focus onto that object itself, instead of but towards its form through an intermediary.

As we saw earlier, the seventh sense is commonly translated as ‘understanding’. What we may say is that this seventh sense marks the pinnacle of Manas, or the synthesis of the sensory functioning of manas. In normal waking consciousness (sensory perception) this functioning is divided, but when all senses are merged into the seventh the functioning is once more unified into a singular perception independent of organs of sense belonging to Man’s upadhis. This singular perception is rooted in the vahana of the being—the essential vehicle (Buddhi) of the Self (Atma)—which contacts directly the object of interest. The withdrawing and subsequent merging of the senses, or the functioning of manas through the intermediary of vital energy, thus brings the yogi into consciously willed direction of its highest faculty (Buddhi), allowing the yogi to connect with the object of interest and thus to truly understand it, in and of itself. And this perfect concentration is Dharana.

However, Dharana can be, and most certainly is, in the beginning, but a fleeting or momentary connection which may be experienced as a flash of insight or understanding, but which is not maintained. The maintenance or holding of that concentration is the next limb of Raja Yoga, known as Dhyana.

Dhyana:

Dhyana is introduced in the following verse:

tatra pratyaya-ikatānatā dhyānam 21

This may be translated as: maintaining continuous singular flow or attention (ekatanata) of the perceiving or knowing consciousness (pratyaya) in that place or point or with that object (tatra) is called true contemplation (dhyana).

The term pratyaya also carries with it the sense of confidence and trust in knowing, demonstrating that the type of connection made with the object of interest in this state leads to true understanding of that object, and such understanding can be trusted.

There are said to be degrees of dhyana, from the lower to the higher, and that climbing this ladder of contemplation is what leads to samadhi—i.e. the yogi may find themselves able to enter into the state of dhyana and yet remain well short of samadhi. We may distinguish ranges of dhyana based on what it is that is being contemplated. For instance, true focused and intent contemplation on a mundane object may be seen as one level of dhyana; the same when directed to an abstract philosophical concept may be said to be another; the same when directed towards a high religious or spiritual concept or ideas of universal morality may be said to be another; the same directed towards the source of all being, the One Reality, may be said to be another. We can also look at the degrees as a moving through the grades or levels of an object of interest, which has a gross, a subtle, a mental and a spiritual aspect.

As we saw earlier, Manas assumes the qualities or characteristics of that which is interacts with. When this interaction is mediated by the senses, the modification of the mind is based on the impressions returned to it by the sense perception. When the interaction is direct perception, through Buddhi—which is a direct contact with the object itself—then the modification of the mind takes on the character of the true nature of that object. There is an old saying that in order to truly know something one must become it; and perhaps we may say that this is the nature of Dhyana. The mind becomes, for all intents and purposes, the object that is being directly perceived through sustained and one-pointed concentration upon it. Thus, dhyana of various degrees may bring with it knowledge of the gross, the subtle, the mental or the spiritual aspects of that which is being contemplated. Or similarly, dhyana of a lower nature may bring direct understanding of the nature of a mundane object; dhyana of a higher nature may bring direct understanding of the true nature of a philosophical concept; dhyana of an even higher nature may bring direct understanding of the true nature of a religious or spiritual ideal; and dhyana of the highest nature may bring with it understanding of the true nature of the One Reality. In each of these, the understanding is arrived at by a ‘becoming at one with’ that which is contemplated, or that aspect of that which is being contemplated, and through these degrees of Dhyana, the yogi attains to true scientific, philosophic and religious understanding, which three ultimately merge into the fourth or true spiritual understanding.

When one arrives at the true fundamental or absolute essence of that which is contemplated one may be said to have arrived at the state of Samadhi. As the absolute essence of any object of interest is ultimately One, ultimately derived from a singular source, the One Reality, the Absolute, we may say that Samadhi is an arriving at that source through concentration on any object of interest when such concentration is sustained with enough intensity and duration to have passed through that object inwardly until one reaches the One All. Thus contemplation (Dhyana) is the means by which Samadhi is ultimately attained.

Samadhi:

Samdhi is introduced in the following verse:

tadeva-artha-mātra-nirbhāsaṁ svarūpa-śūnyam-iva-samādhiḥ 22

This may be translated as: when only (matra) that same (tadeva) object (artha) appears (nibhasam), even as though empty (shunyam) of its own form or nature (svarupa), this is called true meditation (samadhi).

In The Voice of the Silence, H. P. Blavatsky defined Samadhi as: “the state in which the ascetic loses the consciousness of every individuality including his own. He becomes—the ALL.”

Contrast this with her definition of Dhyana in the same work: “in this state [dhyana] the Raj Yogi is yet spiritually conscious of Self, and the working of his higher principles. One step more, and he will be on the plane beyond the Seventh (or fourth according to some schools).”

In Dhyana there is still a Self-recognized differentiation between the Self that is contemplating and the object of interest that is being contemplated. We may say that in Dhyana, the mind (Manas) is experiencing modifications the subtlety of which is determined by the depth (degree) of the contemplation of the object. Yet while that contemplation is singularly intent upon an object, it is not yet a complete meditation or absorption in the essence of that object—i.e. the mind’s modifications are still yet to conform to the ultimate root of the object of interest.

That root is the ALL. We may say that the constitution of every object of possible contemplation (whether seemingly subjective or seemingly objective) is like a set of tracks that leads inevitably to the One Cause. And that One Cause is non-modification; it is the homogenous singular being of all objects, at one with the fundamental be-ness of the Absolute. As the constitution of the contemplator himself is also like a track that leads inevitably to the One Cause, the deeper his contemplation on any given object of interest the closer to his own fundamental unity with that object he comes.

When in contemplation that One Cause underlying the object of interest is reached there comes a natural cessation of the duality of subject and object. To the contemplator there is a complete merger between himself and the object; he becomes it, or it becomes he, or both become the ALL. Better yet, we might say that both always were, are and will be the ALL, and Samadhi is simply the complete experiential realization of this. Thus “the ascetic loses the consciousness of every individuality including his own.” How can there be a contemplator in a state wherein there is no distinction to be made between subject and object?

In terms of the modifications of the mind (Manas), we can say that this arrival at the ALL represents non-modification; the singular one-directional concentration of the mind, sustained as contemplation, passes through a series of increasingly subtle modifications until such a level of subtlety is reached that for all intents and purposes the mind is absolutely at rest at what is the highest pinnacle of homogeneity of its own substance.

The entirety of this process (concentration (dharana) through to contemplation (dhyana) and into true meditation (samadhi)) constitutes samyama, and the practice of samyama is capable of revealing the truth of any facet of Nature, from the true nature of any object, to the complete past and future of that object, to the true nature of any sound (vibration), to the nature of the mind of another, to the knowledge of past lives, and so on. 23 Furthermore, the whole spectrum of siddhis (powers) opens itself to the yogi, 24 who, given his extensive training in yama/niyama is in a position to wisely and benevolently wield such powers. However, these powers themselves may become obstacles to Samadhi if the yogi is not beyond the possibility of attachment to them, which is why the yogi must ever be vigilant in the practice of yama/niyama. 25

So while Samadhi is a merging with the ALL, the procedure (samyama) is one that can be directed towards any facet of Nature in such a way as to reveal the fundamental truth underlying that facet. The ultimate goal is union, liberation, but along that path true understanding and mastery over life are attained.

The remainder of the Yoga Sutras deal with the subtle transitions during the process of yoga meditation, with the powers associated with the successful yogi and how they are accessed, and with the details of final or perpetual liberation through true discrimination between Mind and Self. But samyama, it would seem, is the key to all these.

It is true liberation when the pure consciousness resides once more in its true nature, where all things are known in their simplest essence, and the multitudinous reality is recognized as a simple and easily understood unity. This is the goal and yoga is the means. But when the goal is reached, means and end merge and yoga (union) is revealed as the essence of being—yogi and yoga are One.


1. Yoga Sutras, I:2.

2. Translation is from William Quan Judge’s interpretation. His version can be compare with several other English translations, for example:

Union, spiritual consciousness, is gained through control of the versatile psychic nature.—Charles Johnston

Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Chitta) from taking various forms (Vrittis).—Swami Vivekananda

[Yoga is] “the neutralization of the alternating waves in consciousness,” [or alternatively, the] “cessation of the modifications of the mind-stuff.”—Paramahansa Yogananda (see Yogananda’s detailed examination here).

Patanjali begins his Yoga Sutras with the definition of yoga as “the neutralization of the alternating waves in consciousness” (chitta vritti nirodha—I:2). This may also be translated as “cessation of the modifications of the mind-stuff.” I have explained in Autobiography of a Yogi, “Chitta is a comprehensive term for the thinking principle, which includes the pranic life forces, manas (mind or sense consciousness), ahamkara (egoity), and buddhi (intuitive intelligence). Vritti (literally ‘whirlpool’) refers to the waves of thought and emotion that ceaselessly arise and subside in man’s consciousness. Nirodha means neutralization, cessation, control.”—Paramahansa Yogananda (from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, p. 70)

See also: detailed analysis of the verse.

3. Yoga Sutras, I:12-16

4. Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali, interpretation by William Quan Judge.

5. Yoga Sutras, I:30-31

6. Yoga Sutras, I:32-40

7. Yoga Sutras, II:29

8. Yoga Sutras, II:30

9. See The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, by Rhagavan Iyer.

10. See, for instance, the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus also makes it clear that it is not only outer actions that are considered “sin,” but even the mental counterparts to such actions.

11. See comment on yoga sutra II:39 in WQJ’s interpretation of the Yoga Aphorisms.

12. Yoga Sutras, II:32

13. See Yoga Sutras, II:40-41

14. See Yoga Sutras, II:45

15. See The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 96 & 251

16. See comment on yoga sutra II:51 in WQJ’s interpretation of the Yoga Aphorisms.

17. See Yoga Sutras, I:4

18. See Katha Upanishad, I, 3, 3-6:

Know the Higher Self as the lord of the chariot, and the body as the chariot; know the soul as the charioteer, and the mind and emotional nature as the reins.
They say that the powers of perception and action are the horses, and that objective things are the roadways for these; the Self joined with the powers through the mental and emotional nature is called the enjoyer of experience by the wise.
But he who is without understanding, with mind and emotional nature ever uncontrolled, of such a one his powers of perception and action are not under his command, like the unruly horses of the charioteer.
But he who is possessed of understanding, with mind and emotional nature controlled, his powers of perception and action are under his command, like the well-ruled horses of the charioteer.
—tr. Charles Johnston

19. See Yoga Sutras, II:12-25, etc.

20. Yoga Sutras, III:1

21. Yoga Sutras, III:2

22. Yoga Sutras, III:3

23. Yoga Sutras, III:16-20

24. Yoga Sutras, III:21-37

25. Yoga Sutras, III:38