The Essence of the Yoga Sutras

The Essence of the Yoga Sutras

In October 2018 I attended a weekend workshop with Srivatsa Ramaswami at Yoga la Source in Luxembourg.

On Friday 12th October 2018 Srivatsa Ramaswami delivered a lecture on the first four verses of the Yoga Sutras.

I am sharing here the notes that I took from that lecture.

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Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta are a group and are nivritti sastras. Birth after birth there is suffering. Non-belief in rebirth does not prevent rebirth and the consequent suffering. You have to understand the true nature of the Self. Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta are Atma Vidya. The cycle of birth and death will come to an end on understanding the true nature of the Self.

The Yoga Sutras has four chapters aimed at the competent Yogi and also at the person who is interested in taking to Yoga. The interested person needs training to become a full-time Yogi who is not interested in anything else. Become an Ashtanga Yogi.

The first four sutras are important.

Verse 1 – Atha = Now. Now I will talk about Yoga.

Verse 2 – Yoga normally means union. Hatha Yoga, union of prana and apana.

Union – two things that need to be united, the method of uniting them and the outcome of this.

Ha = prana, tha = apana.

Hatha Yoga joins the pranas, brings them to the sushumna, takes prana to the crown. The united prana leaves through the crown on the death of the Yogi.

Kundalini Yoga is union of Shiva and Shakti.

Bhakti Yoga is union of Jivatma and Paramatma. Union of this nature is described in a text called YogaYagnavalkya. Bhakti is devotion to the ultimate principle. There are two bhakti groups, the first feel that you must make an effort to move towards the Lord, like a baby monkey clinging to its Mother. The second group feel that the Lord will be inclined towards helping you, Saranagati, like a kitten you are carried around by the Mother.

Raja Yoga, Raja is a lamp, it throws light. Enlightenment. There is no union of two principles, it enlightens you to understand the true nature of your Self. Yoga Sutras show the way to Samadhi. Samadhi is peace of mind, Samadhana. The Mind will become irrevocably peaceful.

Yoga Sutras Verse One. Yoga is based on the Vedas. Sasana means authoritative, written on stone. (Sasana is constitution of India.) Sasana indicates Yoga Sutra is consistent with the Veda. Yoga here is not union, this is what you have to understand. Yoga Sutra is traditional Yoga.

Yoga Sutra Verse Two. Yogah CittaVrtti Nirodhah.

Yoga – Yoga

Citta – that which appears to have consciousness. It can do a lot of activities.

Vrtti – activity (not fluctuation). Remembering, sleep etc are activities of the mind. Citta Vrtti’s keep on changing.

Nirodha – complete stoppage of this process.

There are five grades of mind. Ksipta, Mudha, Viksipta, Ekagra, Nirodha.

Subject – Object. Subject is one who is aware of object.

Rupa Tanmatra, the senses collect signals and the brain processes. The mind then projects a composite image in Citta Akasha (mind space). Citta is composed of Buddhi, Manas and Ahamkara. Cittavrtti is a subject/object composite projected in Citta Akasha. Cittavrtti is the totality of my experience in the present moment. The experiencer of this is Pure Awareness. For Patanjali the normal subject is also part of the object.

Pure Awareness is the real Self.

If you use the word fluctuation you completely lose the plot. Vrtti is not fluctuation, it is total experience.

Purusa does not change, it is Pure Awareness. If the real Self is not affected, why will I do all these things?

Cittavrtti is an object. When you get Samadhi you will be oblivious to your own body.

Yoga Sutra Verse Three. Tada – then (when cittavrtti nirodha takes place). Buddhi sees the true nature of one’s own Self. Buddhi directly experiences the Self. I shift this focus on this body as the self to awareness of Purusa as the Self. A Yogi is content with this knowledge.

I want to know who I really am. This is all I would ask Ishvara for, this knowledge. Once you are stuck with the body as self fear comes, as the body will die.

Yoga Sutra Verse Four. If I don’t achieve cittavrtti nirodha, the mind creates another impression of a self and I become identified with this. Waking state, identifies this as self. Dream, dream self is the self. Sleep, no awareness of self. Fourth state, awareness of Purusa as real Self.

Waking, dream, sleep, the mind thinks this is true. Fourth state, having seen the nature of the Self the mind remains quiet. Fourth state is Yoga, Nirodha. No waking, no dreaming, no deep sleep. Deep sleep and dreaming are not helpful. Must work on Yoga in the waking state.

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Thank you to Srivatsa Ramaswami for the succinct and inspiring lecture.

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