Translation and Commentary by Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami

Table Of Contents
  1. Bodhinatha's Introduction
  2. 1 Samādhi pāda (Meditative Absorption)
  3. 2 Sādhana-pāda (Practice)
  4. 3 Vibhūti-pāda (Mystic Powers)
  5. 4 Kaivalya-pāda (Absolute Independence)

Bodhinatha’s Introduction

Patanjali was a Saivite Natha siddha (ca 200 BCE) who codified the ancient yoga philosophy which outlines the path to enlightenment through purification, control and transcendence of the mind. His system is one of the six classical philosophical systems (darshanas) of Hinduism and is known as Yoga Darshana.

1 Samādhi pāda (Meditative Absorption)


The first chapter is about the deepest forms of meditation which are called samadhi.

Sutra 1.1

atha yogānuśāsanam normal text italics

Now, the exposition of yoga. normal text


In Hindu scripture, the earliest usage of the term “yoga” as applied to spiritual endeavor has the meaning of  “the control of the mind and senses.” That is the sense in which the term “yoga” is used in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Sutra 1.2


Yoga is the restraint of mental activities.


Our minds are generally busy in one type of mental activity or another. We are remembering events from the past, thinking about current tasks or theorizing about possible future events. The practices of yoga are designed to enable us to eliminate these mental activities all together.  

Sutra 1.3

tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe ‘vasthānam

Then awareness abides in its essential form.


When mental activity is restrained, the soul’s faculty that witnesses thoughts, naturally turns in on itself. And it remains temporarily aware only of itself until thoughts again arise.

Sutra 1.4

vṛtti sārūpyamitaratra

At other times awareness takes on the form of the mental activities.


It is the nature of the witness consciousness of the soul that it not only observes mental activities but also identifies with those activities. A simple example is the idea of experiencing happiness. We say “I am happy.” Awareness has taken on the form of happiness. 

Sutra 1.5

vrittayaḥ pañcatayaḥ kliṣṭākliṣṭāḥ

There are five types of mental activities, and they are either detrimental or conducive to the practice of yoga.


The study of scripture, sattvic thoughts, are an example of thoughts that are conducive to the practice of yoga. Thoughts of attraction to a worldly object, a rajasic thought, are detrimental to the practice of yoga.

Sutra 1.6

pramāṇa viparyaya vikalpa nidrā smṛtayaḥ

They are correct knowledge, misconception, imagination, sleep and memory.


This five-fold division of mental activities provides a useful categorization system for analyzing and subsequently restricting one’s thoughts.

Sutra 1.7

pratyakṣānumānāgamāḥ pramāṇāni

Correct knowledge is based on perception, inference and testimony.


The first source of correct knowledge is that we can perceive something directly and correctly. For example, we see a building on fire. We’re perceiving the fire; that’s a correct perception. If it was a larger fire it could be at a distance and we could perceive the smoke. We could infer that there’s a fire. This is using inference to obtain correct knowledge. We could also meet someone we trust who tells us that there’s a fire over there. We’re getting knowledge based upon valid testimony which is the third source.

Sutra 1.8

viparyayo mithyājñānamatadrūpapratiṣṭham

Misconception is false knowledge not based on the actual appearance of something.


For example, in a dimly lit street we see an object and think it is a snake when it is actually a rope. The object exists, but we have misinterpreted its nature.

Sutra 1.9

śabdajñānānupātī vastuśūnyo vikalpaḥ

Imagination is following verbal knowledge that is devoid of an actual object. 


Fantasy is one form of imagination. If you have ever visited Disneyland, it has a separate realm called Fantasyland featuring characters such as Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell who are pure make believe. They are nonexistent. 

Sutra 1.10

abhāvapratyayālambanā tamovrittirnidrā

Sleep is the mental activity based on the absence of other mental content.


The Sutra is, of course, referring to deep sleep or dreamless sleep and what is experienced in it. 

Sutra 1.11

anubhūtaviṣayāsaṃpramoṣaḥ smṛtiḥ

Memory is the retention of the experienced objects.


As many mental activities, vrittis, are of the nature of memory, this is an important category to learn to identify and restrain. 

Sutra 1.12

abhyāsavairāgyābhyām tannirodhaḥ

The restraint of these mental activities is achieved through practice and dispassion.


If the question was asked, how do we make progress in restraining these five activities, a common answer given would be practice. This Sutra is pointing out that in addition to practice, the other important component is dispassion. In other words, the reason many of these mental activities are occurring is because of our our attraction toward someone or something.

Sutra 1.13

atra sthitau yatno ‘bhyāsaḥ

Practice is the exertion to achieve steadiness in the state of restraint.


The Sutra is defining what we’re trying to do. The point of yoga is to sit with a controlled mind without losing control. You want to achieve steadiness. Practice is the effort to achieve that.

Sutra 1.14

sa tu dīrghakālanairantaryasatkārādarāsevito dṛḍhabhūmiḥ

But this practice becomes firmly grounded only after it has been cultivated uninterruptedly and with devotion for a long time.


This Sutra is stating that we will be successful if we do the practice with devotion and consistently for long periods of time. It is not a quick process, but rather takes time.

Sutra 1.15

dṛṣṭānuśravikaviṣayavitṛṣṇasya vaśikārasamjñā

Dispassion is the knowledge of mastery of one who is without thirst for objects that are seen or heard about.


Progress in yoga is not possible if our mind is constantly externalized by objects or people to whom it is strongly attracted whether actually seen or simply heard about. Some commentators consider what is heard to mean what is described in scripture such as the heavenly worlds.

Sutra 1.16

tatparaṃ puruṣakhyāterguṇavaitṛṣṇyam

The supreme state of dispassion is the non-thirsting for the gunas which arises from the perception of the purusha. 


When the spiritual awakening takes place of the purusha experiencing its own nature, there is a natural loss of interest in all of prakriti’s manifestations. This is called paravairagya—the supreme state of dispassion.

Sutra 1.17


Samadhi that is accompanied by vitarka, vichara, ananda or asmita is samprajnata.


In ordinary  perception the subject and the object are always distinct. The distinguishing factor of the perspective of samadhi is the experiential identification of the subject and object. 

Sutra 1.18

virāma pratyayābhyāsapūrvaḥ saṃskāraśeṣo ‘nyaḥ

The other, asamprajnata samadhi, follows the former upon the practice of the notion of cessation and has only samskaras as residuum.


In these two Sutras Patanjali is introducing the focus of the chapter which is on samadhi. Samadhi is the ultimate goal of the practice of yoga, the highest attainment. Here he is introducing samadhi in a simple way. More information is given later on in the chapter.

In samprajnata samadhi when all mental activity is restricted without gross or subtle objects or even ananda and asmita present, that samadhi becomes asamprajnata. In other words, the approach to the deepest samadhi is by giving up something you are already experiencing rather than by attaining something new.

Sutra 1.19

bhavapratyayo videha prakṛtilayānām

The samprajnata samadhi of those who have merged into prakriti and of those who are bodiless is due to the notion of becoming. 


This Sutra describes the samadhi of yogis who have opted for attainments rather than renunciation. Comparing Sutras 18 and 19 it can be seen that opting for attainments is found in the phrase bhava pratyaya “notion of becoming” whereas attainment of samadhi has the phrase virama pratyaya “notion of cessation.”

Sutra 1.20

ṣraddhāvīryasmṛtisamādhiprajñāpūrvaka itareṣām

The asamprajnata samadhi of the others is preceded by faith, energy, mindfulness, samprajnata samadhi and mystical insight.


The qualities of faith, energy and mindfulness can lead to samprajnata samadhi and mystical insight which then can lead to asamprajnata samadhi.

Sutra 1.21


Asamprajnata samadhi is near to those who are intensely committed  to their practice of yoga. 


Committed is a translation of samvega. Hariharananda gives this explanation: “The word ‘Samvega’ is a technical term in the science of Yoga. We find it in Buddhist literature also. It means not only detachment, but also aptitude combined with a feeling of reverence in devotional practice and the resultant ardor to hasten forward. It is like gathering momentum as you proceed. Endowed with latent impression of detachment and full of enthusiasm and energy, when the devotee constantly engages himself with intensity in attaining the path of liberation, he acquires momentum as he advances.”

Sutra 1.22

mṛdumadhyādhimātratvāttato ‘pi viśeṣaḥ

Even among these, there is a further differentiation of intense commitment into degrees of modest, medium and extreme. 


This further differentiation among yogis influences how imminent the attainment of samadhi is.

Sutra 1.23


Or asamprajnata samadhi is near through devotion to Ishvara.


Commentator Vyasa explains: “Through a special kind of devotion called Isvara-pranidhana, on the part of the devotee, Isvara inclines towards him and favors him with grace for fulfillment of his wish. From such grace also a Yogin obtains samadhi and its result, the attainment of the state of liberation, becomes imminent.”

Sutra 1.24

kleśakarmavipākāśayairaparāmṛṣṭaḥ puruṣaviśeṣa īśvaraḥ

Ishvara is a special purusha because he is unaffected by the kleshas, karma and its fruition and by stored samskaras.


Though Ishvara is a purusha as are ordinary humans, Ishvara is distinct. Two distinctions are mentioned in this Sutra. The first is not being affecting by the five kleshas which are ignorance, identification with I-am-ness, attraction, aversion, and clinging to life. Karmas can each be divided into two categories: arabdha, “begun,” “undertaken,” karma that is ripening; and anarabhda, “not commenced,” “dormant,” seed or stored karma. Ishvara is not affected by either.

Sutra 1.25

atra niratiśayaṃ sarvajñabījam

In Him the seed of omniscience is unsurpassed.


This Sutra points out a further distinction which is related to knowledge. Whereas the ordinary purusha is in the process of increasing its knowledge, Ishvara is in the state of knowing everything—sarvajnana. 

Sutra 1.26

sa eṣa pūrveṣāmapi guruḥ kālenānavacchedāt

Ishvara was also the guru of those who lived earlier by virtue of His temporal continuity.


This Sutra is pointing out that the original source of knowledge concerning yoga is Ishvara, not a human being. One of the common representations of Ishvara as teacher is the murti of Dakshinamurti in which Lord Siva is depicted sitting under a banyan tree, silently teaching four rishis at His feet.

Sutra 1.27

tasya vācakaḥ praṇavaḥ

His symbol is the pranava.


As knowledge at its deepest level is omniscience, and is a description of Ishvara, sound at its deepest level is the AUM, the primal sound and is also an accurate description of Ishvara. 

Sutra 1.28


Perform japa of the pranava while contemplating on its meaning.


There are a number of meanings attributed to the mantra AUM.  One of them can be chosen to keep in mind while performing japa of the mantra.  For example, AUM is explained in the the Mandukya Upanishad as standing for the whole world and its parts, including past, present and future.

Sutra 1.29

tataḥ pratyakvetanādhigamo ‘pyantarāyābhāvaśca

Thence follows the attainment of inner consciousness and also the disappearance of the obstacles.


The simple practice of chanting AUM takes one into higher states of consciousness. Being in a higher state, many of the obstacles mentioned in the next Sutra are not present. 

Sutra 1.30

vyādhi styāna saṃśaya pramādālasyāvirati bhrāntidarśanālabdhabhūmikatvānavasthitatvāni cittavikṣepāste’ntarayaḥ

Sickness, apathy, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensual indulgence, false perspective, non-attainment of the stages of yoga and instability in these stages are the distractions to the mind and are the obstacles.


The obstacles tend to be present when an individual is uninspired about his or her yoga practice. The Sutras coming up give eight different practices for uplifting oneself to a higher state of consciousness in which the obstacles naturally fall away. 

Sutra 1.31

duḥkha daurmanasyāṅgamejayatva śvāsa praśvāsā vikṣepa sahabhuvaḥ

Sorrow, dejection, trembling limbs and ordinary inhalation and exhalation accompany these distractions.


This Sutra points out that being in an uninspired state not only affects one emotionally and mentally in a negative way but physically as well.

Sutra 1.32

tat pratiṣedhārtham eka tattvābhyāsaḥ

In order to counteract these distractions, one should practice concentrating on a single subject.


This practice for overcoming the obstacles works easiest if the subject chosen to concentrate upon is one that the individual really enjoys. It is easy to concentrate on what we enjoy and that concentration soon leads to upliftment. 

Sutra 1.33

maitrī karunā muditopekṣānāṃ sukha duḥkha punyāpunyā viṣayānam bhāvanātaś citta prasādanaṃ

The projection of friendliness, compassion, gladness, and equanimity respectively towards the joyful, sorrowful, meritorious and non-meritorious calms the mind.


Projecting friendliness, compassion and gladness to the people we interact with is a practice that uplifts us spiritually. And in the process not to let interaction with a non-meritorious person upset us, is where equanimity fits in.

Sutra 1.34

pracchardana vidhāranābhyāṃ vā prāṇasya

Or by exhaling and restraining the breath.


Pranayama, regulation of breath is a standard way in for quieting the mind. Breath and mind are interrelated. The mind can easily be calmed by regulating the breath. 

Sutra 1.35

viṣayavatī vā pravṛttir utpannā manasaḥ sthiti nibandhanī

Or focus on a sense object arises and this causes steadiness of the mind. 


Examples would be a particularly beautiful sight or a captivating smell can uplift our state of mind. 

Sutra 1.36

viśokā vā jyotiṣmatī

Or when experiencing thoughts that are sorrowless and illuminating.


The practice of vichara can give rise to mystical insights and thus the distractions naturally fall away.

Sutra 1.37

vīta rāga viṣayaṃ vā cittam

Or when the mind has as its object those who are free from desire.


Same idea as the last Sutra.

Sutra 1.38

svapna nidrā jñānālambanaṃ vā

Or when the mind is resting on the wisdom arising from dreams and sleep.


Again the same idea.

Sutra 1.39


Or through a meditation of one’s inclination.


This is the idea that we would choose a meditation that we would find interesting and would easily lead to upliftment. 

Sutra 1.40

paramāṇuparamamahattvānto ‘sya vaśīkāraḥ

His mastery extends from the most minute to the greatest magnitude.


An advanced adept of yoga can successfully focus on objects from the smallest to the largest.

Sutra 1.41

kṣīṇavṛtterabhijātasyeva maṇergrahītṛgrahaṇagrāhyeṣu tatsthatadañjanatā samāpattiḥ

When mental activities have dwindled,  the mind’s stability on and coalescence with the object of meditation, like pure crystal, whether it be the grasper, the grasping or the grasped, is called samapatti. 


Patanjali is returning to the topic of samadhi and providing further details on the vitarka and vichara stages of samprajñata samadhi.

To the phrase like pure crystal, some translators add the phrase which takes on the reflection and color of proximate objects. If you place a red flower in front of a pure crystal, the shape and color of the flower will show in the crystal. This is what happens to the mind in this practice. It is filled only with the idea of the red flower. The mind and the flower have coalesced. 

The coalescence has three aspects to it which are the subject, the process of experience and the object experienced. These are known respectively as grasper, grasping and grasped.  

Sutra 1.42

tatra śabdārthajñānavikalpaiḥ saïkīrṇā savitarkā samāpattiḥ

That samapatti in which there is intermixed a gross object’s name, the object itself and conceptual knowledge of the object is called savitarka.


The commentators use a cow as an example. “When in the mind of a yogin engrossed in the thought of a cow, there is the mingling of the word (cow), the object meant (the animal itself) and the idea of the cow , it is called savitarka samapatti.”

Sutra 1.43

smṛtipariśuddhau svarūpaśūnyevārthamātranirbhāsā nirvitarkā

On the purification of memory which has become, as it were, empty of its essence and when the object alone shines forth, that samapatti is called nirvitarka.


Eventually the cogitation process is transcended and the knowledge of the object remains without the words. This Sutra is describing the nirvitarka stage of the process. It is also explained as taking the object out of time and space or becoming the object.

Sutra 1.44

etayaiva savicārā nirvicārā ca sūkṣmaviṣayā vyākhyātā

In the same way, samapatti of subtle objects is described as savichara and nirvichara.


The second type, vichara, is focused on an internal or mental object. First is the savichara stage of the process. Eventually the reflection is transcended and the knowledge of the object remains. This is the nirvichara stage of the process. 

Sutra 1.45

sūkṣmaviṣayatvaṃ cāliïgaparyavasānam

And the subtle objects terminate in the undifferentiate. 


This Sutra is indicating that any subtle object can be traced back to its ultimate source which is the undifferentiate. 

Sutra 1.46

tā eva sabījaḥ samadhiḥ

These are the samadhis that are with object. 


The four types of samapatti given all have an object which is the focal point of the practice. Savitarka and nirvitarka utilize gross objects. Savichara and nirvichara utilize subtle objects.

Sutra 1.47

nirvicāravaiśāradye ‘dhyātmaprasādaḥ

When there is lucidity in nirvichara samadhi, there is clarity of the inner being.


The translators explain that the word for lucidity, vaisharadya, refers to the extraordinary brightness of the autumnal sky of north India. 

Sutra 1.48

ṛtaṃbharā tatra prajñā

In that state, mystical insight is truth-bearing.


This knowledge is considered truth-bearing in that it discloses the contemplated object as it is, in a flash of insight and without any mental distortions.

Sutra 1.49

śrutānumānaprajñābhyāmanyaviṣayā viśeṣārthatvāt

The scope of this mystical insight is distinct from the insight gained from scripture and inference owing to its particular purposiveness.


The particular purposiveness is explained in the next Sutra.

Sutra 1.50

tajjaḥ saṃskāro ‘nyasaṃkārapratibandhī

The samskaras born from that mystical insight obstruct the other samskaras.


Samskaras are imprints left on the subconscious mind by experience. However, they are also activators, constantly propelling consciousness into action. In this regard they are described as subliminal activators. The idea here is that through practice of nirvichara samapatti a new samskara has been created that is more powerful than others and that it is of the nature to draw us inward in deep meditation rather than outward into external activities. 

Sutra 1.51

tasyāpi nirodhe sarvanirodhānnirbījaḥ samādhiḥ

When these are restrained, the entire mind is restrained and samadhi is then without object. 


When the impulse to go deeply within is replaced by simply being deeply within, the resulting samadhi is described as objectless. 

2 Sādhana-pāda (Practice)


The second chapter is about sadhana,“effective means of attainment”, and refers to specific religious disciplines. The purpose of the practice is twofold—achieving samadhi and lessening the five wrong cognitions.

Sutra 2.1

tapaḥsvādhyāyeśvarapraṇidhānāni kriyāyogaḥ

Kriya yoga is comprised of austerity, self-study and devotion to Ishvara.


In modern Hindu teachings, the most common use of the term kriya yoga is to refer to a breathing technique, pranayama. Here, however, the term kriya yoga simply means the “yoga of action.” Kriya can have the sense of religious action and therefore kriya yoga could also be rendered in English as “the yoga of religious action.”

The concept of austerity, tapas, may bring to mind images of yogis in the Himalayas living in a cave or bathing in the winter in the freezing waters of the Ganges. Though tapas does include these intense practices, it also includes easier ones that can be done by all. A simple form of tapas is sacrifice. Sacrifice is the act of giving up to a greater power a cherished possession be it money, time, intelligence or a physical object to manifest a greater good. 

The commentators describe self-study, svadhyaya, as recitation (japa) of the sacred syllable AUM and other similar mantras and as the study of the sacred lore on liberation. (moksha shastra).

Though yoga as taught today tends to altogether leave out the concept of the Personal God, Ishvara, the Yoga Sutras give worship of and cultivating devotion to Ishvara a place of importance. 

Sutra 2.2

samādhibhāvanārthaḥ kleśatanūkaraṇārthaśca

This yoga has the purpose of bringing about samadhi and attenuating the kleshas.


Though the grammar of this Sutra gives the initial impression that the two goals of bringing about samadhi and weakening the kleshas are separate from one another, on further reflection it can be seen that to achieve samadhi it is necessary to first attentuate the influence of the kleshas. Thus another way of stating the purpose of kriya yoga is that it is the “yoga of purification” through religious observances.

Sutra 2.3

avidyāsmitārāgadveṣābhiniveśāḥ kleśāḥ

Ignorance, I-am-ness, attraction, aversion, and clinging to life are the five kleshas. 


These five kleshas can all be attenuated by the practice of kriya yoga. Ultimately, the kleshas can be completely obliterated through the experience of dharma megha samadhi.

Sutra 2.4

avidyā kṣetramuttareṣāṃ prasuptatanuvicchinnodārāṇām

Ignorance is the field of the other kleshas, whether dormant, attenuated, intercepted, or activated. 


Commentators indicate the kleshas are dormant in a baby, attenuated by yogic practices, intercepted when one temporarily blocks another, or fully activated in an average person who is not even trying to control them.

Sutra 2.5

anityāśuciduḥkhānātmasu nityaśucisukhātmakhyātiravidyā

Ignorance is the seeing of that which is eternal, pure, joyful and the soul in that which is ephemeral, impure, sorrowful and not the soul.


In common usage “ignorance” refers to not knowing how to do something such as being ignorant about caring for dairy cows. Ignorance of the type mentioned in this Sutra is different. It is referring to looking at something and totally mistaking its nature. 

Sutra 2.6


I-am-ness is the identification as it where of the powers of vision and visioner.


Visioner, of course, is the purusha. The powers of vision is referring to our intellect, buddhi. 

Sutra 2.7

sukhānuśayī rāgaḥ

Attraction is that which rests on pleasant experiences.


Of course, an individual is attracted to a multitude of objects and individuals not previously experienced. What this Sutra is saying is that one’s strongest attractions are based on memories of having experienced pleasure.

Sutra 2.8

duḥkhānuśayī dveṣaḥ

Aversion is that which rests on sorrowful experiences.


When the concept of being detached is initially thought about, it would be common to focus solely on lessening our attachment to what we consider pleasurable. However, strong attachments also exist to our memories of what caused us suffering, such as mistreatment from our parents. It is necessary to also detach from these memories of suffering.

Sutra 2.9

svarasavāhī viduṣo ‘pi samārūḍho ‘bhiniveśaḥ

Clinging to life, flowing along by its own momentum, is rooted thus even in sages.


This Sutra is pointing out that the dread of death is found in everyone, even the wisest of men. 

Sutra 2.10

te pratiprasavaheyāḥ sūkṣmāḥ

These kleshas in their subtle form are overcome by the process of involution within the individual. 


Involution takes place when kaivalya, liberation, is achieved. 

Sutra 2.11


The mental activities produced by these kleshas are overcome through meditation.


When the tendency to a worldly activity is present in our thoughts, it can be overcome through insights generated in meditation.

Sutra 2.12

kleśamūlaḥ karmāśayo dṛṣtādṛṣṭajanmavedanīyaḥ

The kleshas are the root source of the stored karma, and this may be experienced in the present visible birth or in an unseen future birth. 


The kleshas are also the causes of our actions that relate to worldly pursuits. All such actions create a karma. 

Sutra 2.13

sati mūle tadvipāko jātyāyurbhogāḥ

So long as this root source exists, there also is fruition from it of one’s class, life span and life experiences.


This Sutra is stating that our karma determines our birth status, span of life and experiences in that life. 

Sutra 2.14

te hlādaparitāpaphalāḥ puṇyāpuṇyahetutvāt

These are pleasant or unpleasant as the fruit of meritorious and non-meritorious actions respectively.


This is the traditional explanation of the law of karma. The karmic reaction created by meritorious actions are pleasant experiences in the future. The karmic reaction created by nonmeritorious actions are unpleasant experiences in the future.

Sutra 2.15

pariṇāmatāpasaṃskāraduḥkhairguṇavṛttivirodhācca duḥkhameva sarvaṃ vivekinaḥ

Men of discrimination see sorrow in all experience, whether from the sorrow of impermanence, from the anguish coming from samskaras or from the gunas causing conflicting mental activities.


An ordinary person focuses on the initial enjoyment that comes from experiences. A wise man, however, looks at it from the opposite point of view which is that all experiences eventually lead to sorrow.

Sutra 2.16

heyaṃ duḥkhamanāgatam

That which is to be overcome is sorrow that is yet to come.


This is accomplished by acting free from the influences of the kleshas.

Sutra 2.17

draṣṭṛdṛśyayoḥ saṃyogo heyahetuḥ

The identity of awareness, the experiencer, with what is experienced is the cause of that which is to be overcome. 


The idea of awareness, the experiencer, mistakenly identifying with what is experienced is found in a number of Sutras each of which gives emphasis to a different aspect of this phenomena. This Sutra brings out the aspect of  the core cause of the pattern of not understanding the true nature of  actions based in ignorance, I-am-ness, attraction, aversion and clinging to life can all be traced to the mistaken identify of the experiencer for what is experienced.

Sutra 2.18

prakāśakriyāsthitiśīlaṃ bhūtendriyātmakaṃ bhogāpavargārthaṃ dṛśyam

What is experienced has the character of brightness, activity, and inertia. It is embodied in the elements and the sense organs. Its purpose is to provide both experience and liberation.


Brightness (sattva), activity (rajas), inertia (tamas) is referring to the three gunas. Note the dual nature of the world: experience and liberation. Each purusha needs a certain amount of experience in the world before it is ready to transcend the world through achieving liberation.

Sutra 2.19

viśeṣāviśeṣaliṅgamātrāliṅgāni guṇaparvāni

The levels of the gunas are the particularized, the unparticularized, the differentiate and the undifferentiate.


The process of evolution, creation, starts at the level of the undifferentiate and works outward to finally reach the particularized. The process of involution starts at the level of the particularized and works inward to finally reach the undifferentiate. 

Sutra 2.20

draṣṭā dṛśimātraḥ śuddo ‘pi pratyayānupaśyaḥ

Awareness, which is the sheer power of seeing, although pure, perceives the mind’s content. 


Awareness views the contents of the mind. In doing so, it is unchanged. 

Sutra 2.21

tadartha eva dṛśyasyātmā

The essential nature of the seen is only for the sake of awareness. 


As mentioned in a previous Sutra, the “seen” provides awareness with both experience and liberation. This Sutra is emphasizing that the “seen” has no purpose in and of itself. Its purpose comes from the purusha utilizing it to gain experience and eventual liberation.  

Sutra 2.22

kṛtārthaṃ prati naṣṭamapyanaṣṭaṃ tadanyasādhāraṇatvāt

Although what is seen ceases to exist for one whose purpose has been accomplished, it has nevertheless not ceased to exist altogether as for others it remains the common experience.


In achieving moksha we rise above the realm of prakriti and its manifestations and only experience purusha. Prakriti, for the liberated, is no more but for everyone else it is still there.

Sutra 2.23

svasvāmiśaktyoḥ svarūpopalabdhihetuḥ saṃyogaḥ

The notion of identity is the means of understanding the essential nature of the power of the owner and that of the owned.


Saying the same thing as before however this Sutra adds the idea of power, Shakti.

Sutra 2.24

tasya heturavidyā

The cause of this identity is ignorance.


Also stated before. 

Sutra 2.25

tadabhāvātsaṃyogābhāvo hānaṃ taddṛśeḥ kaivalyam

With the disappearance of this ignorance, the identity also disappears. This is total cessation of bondage, the aloneness, kaivalya, of the power of awareness.


This is the first Sutra to give a description to what happens to awareness when it no long identifies with the seen which is that the “power of awareness is alone.”

Sutra 2.26

vivekakhyātiraviplavā hānopāyaḥ

The means of attaining cessation is the unceasing vision of discernment.


This relates back to the earlier Sutra mentioning cessation and gives us a specific practice for achieving kaivalya which is the unceasing discrimination as to the difference between the seer and the seen. Subsequent Sutras give other methods. 

Sutra 2.27

tasya saptadhā prāntabhūmiḥ prajñā

For one with this unceasing vision of discernment, there arises in the last stage mystical insight which is sevenfold. 


Commentator Vyasa gives a list of seven. There is no need to go through them all. I thought just the seventh one would be enough which is: “in the seventh state the insight reveals purusha abiding in-itself, pure and alone.”

Sutra 2.28

yogāṅgānuṣṭhānādaśuddhikṣaye jñānadīptirāvivekakhyāteḥ

When the limbs of yoga are practiced, impurities are destroyed and radiant wisdom manifests leading up to the vision of discernment.


This begins the section on the limbs of yoga. Practice causes three events to happen: First, impurities dwindle. Second, radiant knowledge manifests. Third, the ability to discriminate between the the seer and the seen manifests.

Sutra 2.29


Yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi are the eight limbs of yoga.


Here all eight limbs are mentioned. As there are eight limbs, Classical Yoga is also referred to as ashtanga yoga. 

Sutra 2.30

ahiṃsāsatyāsteyabrahmacaryāparigrahā yamāḥ

Noninjury, truthfulness, nonstealing, divine conduct, and noncovetousness are the yamas.


The yamas are the “ethical restraints”  which are the necessary foundation for the other seven limbs. Without their practice, no sustainable progress can be made in the more advanced practices. Patanjali only has five yamas. This expands into ten by the time of the various Yoga Upanishads such as the Sandilya.

Sutra 2.31

jātideśakālasamayānavacchinnāḥ sārvabhaumā mahāvratam

These are valid in all spheres irrespective of one’s class, place, time, or circumstance, and constitute the great vow.


This means, of course, we have to always be upholding them—no exceptions.

Sutra 2.32

śaucasaṃtoṣatapaḥsvādhyāyeśvarapraṇidhānāni niyamāḥ

Purity, contentment, austerity, self-study and devotion to Ishvara are the niyamas.


The second limb are the religious observances. They cover a diversity of important practices. Patanjali also only has five niyamas. This expands into ten by the time of the various Yoga Upanishads such as the Sandilya.

Sutra 2.33

vitarkabādhane pratipakṣabhāvanam

For the repelling of unwholesome deliberation, one should cultivate the opposite.


Here are two examples of cultivating opposites. The first is to replace the idea of harming someone with negative words with the idea of helping them through encouraging words. The second idea is replacing the idea of coveting what another has by finding a way to give something to them such as through hospitality. 

Sutra 2.34

vitarkā hiṃsādayaḥ kṛtakāritānumoditā lobhakrodhamohapūrvakā

mṛdumadhyādhimātrā duḥkhājñānānantaphalā iti pratipakṣabhāvanam

Unwholesome deliberations, such as harming someone and so forth, whether done, caused to be done, or approved, whether arising from greed, anger or infatuation, whether modest, medium or extreme, find there unending fruition in ignorance and sorrow. This is why one must cultivate their opposites. 


Usually when karma is thought about it is in the context of an individual performing an action and that action causing a reaction in the future. This Sutra points out the subtleties that even if you don’t perform the act  yourself but have caused others to do it or approved others to do it, that also creates a reaction in the future. 

Sutra 2.35

ahiṃsāpratiṣṭhāyāṃ tatsannidhau vairatyāgaḥ

When a yogi is established in noninjury, all enmity is abandoned in his presence.


This is the first of five Sutras that shows the benefit of mastering each of the yamas. 

Sutra 2.36

satyapratiṣṭhāyāṃ kriyāphalāśrayatvam

When a yogi is established  in truthfulness, he ensures the fruition of actions.


The idea here is that the power of truthfulness makes easier the successful completion of a course of action. 

Sutra 2.37

asteyapratiṣṭhāyāṃ sarvaratnopasthānam

When a yogi is established in non-stealing, all jewels appear for him.


Again a benefit is given.

Sutra 2.38

brahmacaryapratiṣṭhāyāṃ vīryalābhaḥ

When a yogi is established in divine conduct, great vitality is acquired.


Again a benefit is given.

Sutra 2.39

aparigrahasthairye janmakathaṃtāsambodhaḥ

When a yogi is steadfast in noncovetousness, knowledge comes of the wherefore of his births. 


Again a benefit is given.

Sutra 2.40

śaucāt svāṅgajugupsā parairasaṃsargaḥ

Through purity one develops a distaste for one’s body and for physical contact with others.


This is the first of the niyama list. As with the yamas, a benefit for each is given.

Sutra 2.41

sattvaśuddhisaumanasyaikāgryendriyajayātmadarśana-yogyatvāni ca

Furthermore, purity of the buddhi, one-pointedness, mastery of the sense organs and the capability of atma darshana are achieved.


Further benefits are listed. The last statement, fitness for atma darshana, conveys the necessity of purity for experiencing the nature of the purusha.

Sutra 2.42


Through contentment unsurpassed joy is gained.


Again the benefit is given.

Sutra 2.43

kāyendriyasiddhiraśuddhikṣayāt tapasaḥ

Through austerity, due to the removal of impurities, perfection of the body and the sense organs is gained. 


Again the benefit is given.

Sutra 2.44

svādhyāyād iṣṭadevatāsaṃprayogaḥ

Through self-study a connection is established with one’s chosen Deity. 


Svadhyaya includes repetition of mantras. This Sutra is pointing out that you will develop greater closeness to a Deity by repeating that Deity’s mantra. 

Sutra 2.45


Through devotion to Ishvara samadhi is attained.


This Sutra means that effort and dedication can be supplemented by the blessings or grace we receive due to our intense devotion to God. In other words, it’s not just the devotion to God, its that the devotion to God opens an individual to receiving God’s blessings, God’s grace. And it’s the grace that transforms you. Or the blessings that transform you. It’s a two step process. The more devotion you have the more open you are to grace so the more blessings you’re able to receive which in this case can help you to move toward samadhi.

Sutra 2.46

sthirasukham āsanam

Asana should be steady and comfortable.


One’s meditation posture is directed related to how deep one’s meditation is. It is important to take time to find a posture that is comfortable. Once that has been achieved, then it is important to remain as motionless throughout the meditation as possible.

Sutra 2.47


Such posture can be obtained by the relaxation of effort and samapatti upon the infinite.


Ananta samapatti is described as feeling you have the qualities of infinite space, that you extend out beyond your physical body into the surrounding environment, and then beyond that, etc. That is the visualization to focus on while at the same time simply relaxing.

Sutra 2.48

tato dvandvānabhighātaḥ

Thence comes imperturbation by the pairs of opposites.


Once properly established in asana, the meditator is no longer affected by conditions such as heat or cold. This relates to the soon to come practice of pratyahara which is more effective if the body is properly relaxed.

Sutra 2.49

tasminsati śvāsapraśvāsayorgativicchedaḥ prāṇāyāmaḥ

When this is achieved, pranayama follows which consists of the regulation of inhalation and exhalation. 


This refers to inhaling and delaying the subsequent exhalation as well as exhaling and then delaying the subsequent inhalation. 

Sutra 2.50

bāhyābhyantarastambhavṛttirdeśakālasaṃkhyābhiḥ paridṛṣṭo dīrghasūkṣmaḥ

In pranayama the movements of breath are external, internal and restrained. These are drawn out and subtle in accordance to place, time and number.


Places denotes the location chosen in the body to remain focused upon. Time denotes the length of the inhalations and exhalations. Number stands for the number of repetitions.

Sutra 2.51

bāhyābhyantaraviṣayākṣepī caturthaḥ

The pranayama which transcends the external and internal sphere is the “fourth.”


The result of consciously regulating the breath for a period of time leads to the stage where the breath remains regulated without needing to consciously do so. It also can slow down significantly. 

Sutra 2.52

tataḥ kṣīyate prakāśāvaraṇam

Thence the covering of the inner light disappears. 


The practice of pranayama internalizes the yogi enough so that the inner light that is always there is visible. 

Sutra 2.53

dhāraṇāsu ca yogyatā manasaḥ

And the fitness of the mind for dharana is gained.


The inner light is a sign post that the mind is sufficiently internalized that the practice of concentration will come easily.

Sutra 2.54

svaviṣayāsaṃprayoge cittasvarūpānukāra ivendriyāṇāṃ pratyāhāraḥ

Pratyahara is the imitation as it were of the mind abiding in its essential nature on the part of the sense organs disuniting themselves from their objects.


We do something similar every night when we fall asleep. The difference is that in pratyahara after closing down the senses we remain conscious.

Sutra 2.55

tataḥ paramā vaśyatendriyāṇām

Thence results supreme self-control over the sense organs.


This Sutra is pointing out that the practice of pratyahara not only causes the senses to close off but gives the yogis self-control over them as well.

3 Vibhūti-pāda (Mystic Powers)


The third chapter finishes the descriptions of  the balance of the eight limbs of yoga and presents information on samyama and the attainment of certain paranormal powers.

Sutra 3.1

deśabandhaḥ cittasya dhāraṇā

Dharana is the binding of the mind to a single object.


When the mind’s focus on a single object is uninterrupted and sustained, that is dharana or concentration. 

Sutra 3.2

tatra pratyayaikatānatā dhyānam

Dhyana is the one-pointed direction of the thoughts towards the object of concentration.


The process of meditation is often compared to the pouring of oil from one vessel to another, in a steady, unbroken stream. In dharana the flow of knowledge can be compared to a succession of similar drops of water. In dhyana the flow of knowledge is continuous like the pouring of oil from one vessel to another, in a steady, unbroken stream. 

Sutra 3.3

tadevārthamātranirbhāsaṃ svarūpaśūnyamiva samādhiḥ

Samadhi is when the mind is empty of all sense of self and only the object of concentration shines forth.


When the state of meditation becomes so deep that only the object stands by itself, obliterating, as it were, all traces of reflective thought, it is known as samadhi.

Sutra 3.4

trayamekatra saṃyamaḥ

The three practiced together on the same object is samyama.


The idea of practicing together is to first start with dharana on the chosen object. This will eventually lead to dhyana which will finally lead to samadhi.

Sutra 3.5


Through mastery of samyama there ensues the flashing-forth of mystical insight.


Prajna, translated as mystical insight, refers to wisdom obtained from being in the state of samadhi. It is quite distinct from knowledge gained by inference or from tradition. It is based on direct perception (sakshatkara).

Sutra 3.6

tasya bhūmiṣu viniyogaḥ

Samyama is to be applied in progressive stages.


Commentator Hariharananda states that there are four stages beginning with the objects of knowledge. 

Sutra 3.7

trayamantaraṅgaṃ pūrvebhyaḥ

These three are the inner limbs in relation to the previous limbs.


The previous five are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama and pratyahara. These comprise the external, foundational practices. Dharana, dhyana and samadhi (samprajnata) are the internal practices. 

Sutra 3.8

tadapi bahiraṅgaṃ nirbījasya

Yet they are outer limbs in relation to the objectless samadhi.


More internal than even dharana, dhyana and samprajnata samadhi is the objectless asmaprajnata samadhi.

Sutra 3.9

vyutthānanirodhasaṃskārayorabhibhavaprādurbhāvau nirodhakṣaṇacittānvayo nirodhapariṇāmaḥ

Restraint transformation is when the externalizing samskaras are subjugated by the appearance of restraint samskaras. These emerge in the mind at the moment of restraint. 


This is similar to the idea presented at the end of chapter one which focused on the samskaras generated in nirvichara samadhi. This is more general in saying that whenever restraint is employed new samskaras are generated which subjugate the externalizing (i.e. worldly) ones.

Sutra 3.10

tasya praśāntavāhitā saṃskārāt

A tranquil flow of consciousness is produced by these restraint-samskaras.


Restraint samskaras influence the mind to be without mental activity and therefore remain in a tranquil state.

Sutra 3.11

sarvārthataikāgratayoḥ kṣayodayau cittasya samādhipariṇāmaḥ

The dwindling of all-objectness and the rising of one-pointedness is the samadhi transformation of the mind.


This Sutra is pointing out another aspect of the influence of the restraining samskaras which is the mind’s tendency to be dispersed is lessening while its tendency to be drawn only to one object is increasing.

Sutra 3.12

tataḥ punaḥ śāntoditau tulyapratyayau cittasyaikāgratāpariṇāmaḥ

Then again when the quiescent  and the uprisen thoughts are similar, this is the one-pointedness transformation of the mind.


This Sutra is explaining what one-pointedness means. It is when our previous thought and our new thought are about the same subject.

Sutra 3.13

etena bhūtendriyeṣu dharmalakṣaṇāvasthāpariṇāmā vyākhyātāḥ

By this are also explained the transformations of form, time variation and condition with regard to the elements and the sense organs.


These three types of change are universal and apply to mental activity as much as to material objects and the sensory receptors by which we perceive them.

Sutra 3.14

śantoditāvyapadeśyadharmānupātã dharmã

The substance is that which underpins the form of the quiescent past, uprisen present and indeterminable future.


Dharmî is the unchanging substance, as opposed to the changeable form (dharma). This is a key element of Patanjali’s theory of transformation (parinama). 

Sutra 3.15

kramānyatvaṃ pariṇāmānyatve hetuḥ

The differentiation in the sequence is the reason for the differentiation in the transformations.


Sequence refers to the temporal succession of forms of the same substance. This sequence is broken up into infinitely short intervals. 

Sutra 3.16


Through samyama on the three forms of transformation, knowledge of the past and future can be acquired.


Identify the underlying substance of the object (dharmi) and then meditate on its transformations in form, time variation and condition. 

Sutra 3.17

śabdārthapratyayānāmitraretarādhyāsātsaṅkarastatpravibhāgasaṃyamāt sarva bhūtarutajñānam

There is a natural confusion of word, object, and the idea thereof on account of their superimposition on one another. Through samyama on the distinction between them, understanding of the sounds uttered by all creatures is acquired. 


The idea is to clearly understand the difference between the word, the object and the idea thereof. Take as an example the cow. The word is cow; the object is the physical animal; the idea thereof is the distinctive features of that animal versus others. Eventually samyama of this type makes the yogi supersensitive to what is meant by any sound produced by any being. 

Sutra 3.18


Through direct perception of one’s samskaras, knowledge of one’s previous births is acquired.


All past actions have left an impression, samskara, on the mind. By samyama on the impressions created, the actions which created them become apparent.

Sutra 3.19

pratyayasya paracittajñānam

Through direct perception of the thoughts of another, knowledge of that person’s mind is acquired.


The thoughts of another, though subtle, can also be an object of samyama. This leads to understanding the individual’s current state of mind. 

Sutra 3.20

na ca tatsālambanaṃ tasyāviṣayãbhūtatvāt

But that knowledge does not have as its object those thoughts together with the objective support of those thoughts, since the object is not present in that person’s mind.


However, what led the person to have those thoughts is not knowable as it is not currently present in the person’s mind.

Sutra 3.21

kāyarūpasaṃyamāttadgāhyaśaktistambhecakṣuḥprakāśāsaṃprayoge ‘ntardhānam

Through samyama on the form of one’s body, upon the suspension of the capacity to be perceived—that is to say upon the disruption of the light traveling from that body to the eye—invisibility is acquired. 


This is saying one can become invisible by preventing another’s eyes from receiving the light normally reflected from your body.

Extra note: some versions have an extra Sutra next on sound and other perceptions of the body also disappear.

Sutra 3.22

sopakramaṃ nirupakramaṃ ca karma tatsaṃyamādaparāntajñānamariṣñebhyo vā

Karma is of two kinds: fructifying now or waiting until later to fructify. Through samyama thereon, or by studying omens, knowledge of one’s death is acquired.


Karma that will fructify in this life is called prarabdha karma. Different portions of it are allotted to different time periods in the lifespan. By samyama on the respective portions that will happen sooner versus later, knowledge of one’s death is acquired. This can also be known through the reading of signs such as a specific external event coinciding with an unspoken thought.

Sutra 3.23

maitryādiṣu balāni

Through samyama on friendliness and other such virtues, various strengths are acquired.


This Sutra refers to the virtues listed in Sutra I.33. The best way to learn a quality such as friendliness is from a friendly person. Through a psychic osmosis we can absorb that quality from them. This is a form of samyama. 

Sutra 3.24

baleṣu hastibalādãni

Through samyama on strength, one acquires strengths comparable to an elephant and others.


In the same way it was explained in the last Sutra that we can take on human virtues, we can also take on the positive quality of an animal through samyama on it.

Sutra 3.25


Through focusing the inner light on an external object, knowledge about the object’s subtle, hidden, and distant qualities is acquired.


This is a specific form of samyama which involves focusing the inner light toward an external object. 

Sutra 3.26

bhuvanajñānaṃ sūrye saṃyamāt

Through samyama on the sun, knowledge of the planes of existence is acquired.


Vyasa states that “sun” refers to the point in the body known as the solar entrance and that the knowledge is of the planes of existence which are the earth plane, the six heavenly planes above it and the seven hellish planes of lower consciousness.  

Sutra 3.27

candre tārāvyūhajñānam

Through samyama on the moon, knowledge of the arrangement of the stars is acquired.


The commentators state that “moon” refers to the point in the body known as the lunar entrance.

Sutra 3.28

dhruve tadgatijñānam

Through samyama on the polestar, knowledge of the motion of the stars is acquired.


A pole star is a visible star, preferably a prominent one, that is approximately aligned with the Earth’s axis of rotation; that is, a star whose apparent position is close to one of the celestial poles, and which lies approximately directly overhead when viewed from the Earth’s North Pole or South Pole. In practice, the term pole star usually refers to Polaris, which is the current northern pole star, also known as the North Star. While other stars’ apparent positions in the sky change throughout the night, as they appear to rotate around the celestial poles, pole stars’ apparent positions remain virtually fixed.

Sutra 3.29

nābhicakre kāyavyūhajñānam

Through samyama on the navel chakra, knowledge about the constitution of the body is acquired.


By taking the plexus of nerve -organs round the navel as the central point, knowledge can be gained of the body as a whole.

Sutra 3.30

kaṇṭhakūpe kṣutpipāsānivṛttiḥ

Through samyama on the trachea, the cessation of hunger and thirst is accomplished.


Commentators say that when by samyama on the trachea a calm and placid feeling is gained, the feelings of hunger and thirst are also conquered. 

Sutra 3.31

kūrmanāḍyāṃ sthairyam

Through samyama on the kurma nadi, steadiness of the body is acquired.


The kurma nadi is an upaprana of vyana. It circulates in the skin and bones and is responsible for the movement of the eyelids. (closing and opening of the eyes).

Sutra 3.32

mūrdhajyotiṣi siddhadarśanam

Through samyama on the light in the head, a vision of the siddhas, perfected beings, is achieved.


Focusing on the intense inner light in the head, the realm of the siddhas can be accessed. 

Sutra 3.33

prātibhādvā sarvam

Or through spontaneous awakening, all these attainments are acquired.


Pratibha refers to the awakened state preceding discriminative knowledge—viveka khyati.   

Sutra 3.34

hṛdaye cittasaṃvit

Through samyama on the heart, understanding the nature of the mind is acquired.


The heart plexus is the center of cognition— knowledge reached through intuitive, superconscious faculties rather than through intellect alone.

Sutra 3.35

sattvapuruṣayoratyantāsaṅkãrṇayoḥ pratyayāviśeṣobhogaḥ parārthatvātsvārthasaṃyamātpuruṣajñānam

Experience consists of a notion based on the non-distinction between the absolutely unblended purusha and the buddhi.  Through samyama on that which exists for itself, which is distinct from that which exists for another,  knowledge of the purusha is acquired.


Whereas the world exists to provide the purusha with experience and eventual liberation, the purusha simply exists for itself. 

Sutra 3.36

tataḥ prātibhaśrāvaṇavedanādarśāsvādavārtā jāyante

Thence occur spontaneous awakenings in the sensory areas of  hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting and smelling.


When the knowledge of purusha is acquired, these faculties are developed involuntarily, i.e. without the application of samyama. 

Sutra 3.37

te samādhāvupasargā vyutthāne siddhayaḥ

These siddhis are attainments for the mind that is outgoing but are obstacles to samadhi. 


Clearly they are not to be used.

Sutra 3.38

bandhakāraṇaśaithilyātpracārasaṃvedanācca cittasya paraśarãrāveśaḥ

Through relaxing the causes of attachment to one’s body and through the experience of going forth, the mind is capable of entering another’s body.


Extreme detachment from one’s own body is needed for this to occur.

Sutra 3.39

udānajayājjalapaṅkakaṇñakādiṣvasaṅga utkrāntiśca

By mastering the udana nadi, the power of nonadhesion to water, mud, thorns, and other obstacles and the power of rising up from them is acquired.


The udana nadi is situated in the throat with its movement poised upwards. It helps the soul leave the body at the time of death. 

Sutra 3.40


By mastering the samana nadi, effulgence is acquired.


The samana nadi is situated in the central region of the body and is responsible for digestion or assimilation of food.

Sutra 3.41

śrotrākāśayoḥ saṃbandhasaṃyamāddivyaṃ śrotram

Through samyama on the relationship between the ear and akasha, divine hearing is acquired.


Akasha is the gross element that is related to the hearing organ of perception.

Sutra 3.42

kāyākāśayoḥ saṃbandhasaṃyamāllaghutūlasamāpatteścākāśagamanam

Through samyama on the body’s relationship to akasha and samapatti on the lightness of objects such as cotton, the ability to travel through the akasha is acquired.


An advanced yogi is able to travel through the akasha in three different ways: by projecting himself to the destination, by sitting and bringing the destination where he is or by traveling in his astral body and actually being there.

Sutra 3.43

bahirakalpitā vṛttirmahāvidehā tataḥ prakāśāvaraṇakṣayaḥ

The mental activity projected outside of the body which is non-imaginary is called the great out of body experience. By this, the covering of the inner light is destroyed.


It is possible to project your consciousness to a location outside the body and perceive what is occurring at that location. This Sutra points out that when this is done the inner light is uncovered. 

Sutra 3.44


Through samyama on the gross nature, the essential nature, the subtle nature, the constitution and the purposiveness of objects, mastery of the elements is acquired.


An object has five aspects to it as delineated in this sutra. Samyama on all five leads to mastery of the elements.

Sutra 3.45

tato ‘ṇimādiprādurbhāvaḥ kāyasaṃpattaddharmānabhighātaśca

Thence results the manifestations of the power to shrink to the size of an atom, other powers, perfection of the body and the indestructibility of its constituents.


Some commentators ascribe these powers to the subtle rather than the physical body.

Sutra 3.46

rūpalāvaṇyabalavajrasaṃhananatvāni kāyasaṃpat

Beauty, gracefulness and adamant robustness constitute the perfection of the body.


This is acquired as a result of first attaining mastery over the elements as described in Sutra 3.44.

Sutra 3.47


Through samyama on the sense organs’ process of perception, essential nature, identification with I-am-ness, constitution and purposiveness, mastery over them is acquired.


The greater the understanding of the deeper aspects of the function of the sense organs, the greater the control over them. 

Sutra 3.48

tato manojavitvaṃ vikaraṇabhāvaḥ pradhānajayaśca

Thence comes about quickness as of the mind, the state lacking sense organs and mastery over pradhana.


These are the further attainments of a profound understanding of the functioning of the sense organs.

Sutra 3.49

sattvapuruṣānyatākhyātimātrasya sarvabhāvādhiṣñhātṛtvaṃ sarvajñātṛtvaṃ ca

One who has merely the vision of the distinction between purusha and the buddhi gains supremacy over all states of existence and omniscience.


Supremacy over all states of existence refers to omnipotence. Omnipotence and omniscience, though, are not the final goal and must also be given up.

Sutra 3.50

tadvairāgyādapi doṣabījakṣaye kaivalyam

Through dispassion towards even this, with the destruction of the seeds of imperfection kaivalya is attained.


This Sutra gives a method for achieving kaivalya which is nonattachment to omnipotence and omniscience.

Sutra 3.51

sthānyupanimantraṇe saṅgasmayākaraṇaṃ punaraniṣñaprasaṅgāt

Upon the invitation of celestial beings, one should not become attached or proud as that could renew undesirable tendencies.


Achieving great powers brings with it two possible obstacles to achieving moksha—the thought of utilizing them and pride in having them.  

Sutra 3.52

kṣaṇatatkramayoḥ saṃyamādvivekajaṃ jñānam

Through samyama on the moment of time and its sequence, wisdom born of discrimination is acquired.


The power to discriminate between purusha and sattva is strengthened by samyama on time as a series of moments in the present.

Sutra 3.53

jātilakṣaṇadeśairanyatānavacchedāttulyayostataḥ pratopattiḥ

Thence arises an understanding of the difference between similar objects which cannot normally be distinguished due to an indeterminateness of the distinctions of category, characteristics and location.


The heightened  power of discrimination is able to discern between objects that others cannot distinguish between.

Sutra 3.54

tārakaṃ sarvaviṣayaṃ sarvathāviṣayamakramaṃ ceti vivekajaṃ jñānam

The wisdom born of discrimination is the deliverer and is of all objects, in all circumstances and is nonsequential.  


This is clearly the highest state of knowledge. The commentators indicate, however, that this discrimination, taraka viveka, is not liberating. It is only the knowledge of discernment, viveka khyati, that is liberating.  

Sutra 3.55

sattvapuruṣayoḥ śuddhisāmye kaivalyam

When the purity of the buddhi becomes equal to that of the purusha, kaivalya ensues.


The spiritualized intellect has become so pure it is like a mirror that simply reflects the purusha. 

4 Kaivalya-pāda (Absolute Independence)


The fourth chapter is about the final attainment of kaivalya which is the term in Yoga Darshana for moksha.

Sutra 4.1

janmaoṣadhimantratapaḥsamādhijāḥ siddhayaḥ

The siddhis are the result of birth, herbs, mantras, austerity or samadhi.


There are five different possible causes for attaining paranormal powers. In this Sutra birth means that the powers come at the time of birth because of practice in previous lives.

Sutra 4.2

jātyantarapariṇāmaḥ prakṛtyāpūrāt

The transformation into another category of existence is due to the filling in by prakriti.


The term jati is a broad one referring both to class by birth and species. In either case the Sutra is indicating that a major change in the outer nature comes from a change in the inner nature. The next Sutra completes the idea.

Sutra 4.3

nimittamaprayojakaṃ prakṛtīnāṃ varaṇabhedastu tataḥ kṣtrikavat

The incidental cause does not put prakriti into motion but merely creates possibilities like a farmer breaking down barriers to irrigate his fields.


The transformation into this form or that is not driven by the causes proximate to it, just oriented by them, the way a farmer breaks down a barrier to let the water flow in for irrigation.

Sutra 4.4


The individualized consciousnesses proceed from the primary I-am-ness.


Again the vagueness of the Sutra has given rise to some complicated theories of yogis creating a mind. The simplest idea is that the principle of I-am-ness, asmita matra, is the basis for all individualized consciousnesses. 

Sutra 4.5

pravṛttibhede prayojakaṃ cittamekamaneṣām

Although the multiple individualized consciousnesses are engaged in distinct activities, the one consciousness is the originator of them all.


Again the vagueness of the Sutra has given rise to some complicated theories of yogis creating a multiplicity of minds from his mind. Again, the simplest idea is that all minds are created from the same “blue print” so to speak which is the principle of “I-am-ness.” 

Sutra 4.6

tatra dhyānajamanāśayam

Of these, only one born of meditation is without stored karma.


Again the vagueness of the Sutra has given rise to the interpretation that a yogi is creating another mind through his meditation. The simpler idea is that the practice of meditation changes the mind so that it eventually eliminates stored karma.

Sutra 4.7

karmāśuklākṛṣṇaṃ yoginastrividhamitareṣām

A yogi’s karma is neither white nor black; others’ karma is threefold.


Karma is white meaning positive, black meaning negative or a mixture of both. The non-yogi has all three categories of karma. However, when an advanced yogi acts, the karma is created and simultaneously dissolved. 

Sutra 4.8


Thence follows the manifestation of those vasanas only which correspond to the fruition of their particular karma.


Actions produce two types of latent impressions. The latent impression of the action itself is called karmâshaya, karmic deposit.  The latent impression of the feeling occurring at the time of the action is called vasana. When a karma fructifies the vasana corresponding to it also manifests. 

Sutra 4.9

jātideśakālavyavahitānāmapyānantaryaṃ smṛtisaṃskārayorekarūpatvāt

On account of the uniformity between memory and samskaras, there is a causal relation even though there may be separation in terms of birth, place, and time.


The nature of a person in one life carries over into a subsequent one through samskaras being brought forward. This occurs even though the person may be born in different circumstances.

Sutra 4.10

tāsāmanāditvaṃ cāśiṣo nityatvāt

And these samskaras are without beginning because of the eternal nature of the desire to live.


The process of samskaras carrying forward from one life to the next has always been in existence.

Sutra 4.11

hetuphalāśrayālambanaiḥ saïgṛhītatvādeṣāmabhāve tadabhāvaḥ

Since samskaras are connected to the cause, fruit, substratum, and support, when these factors disappear the samskaras also disappear.


Under the influence of the kleshas (cause), an individual acts with a purpose (fruit) toward the object (support) presented to consciousness (substratum). If these are not present, the samskara will not be present. 

Sutra 4.12

atītānāgataṃ svarūpato ‘tyadhvabhedāddharmāṇām

Past and future as such exist in an object because of the visible difference in the paths of the forms.


Normally when we look at an object, we only see its present form. However, it is also possible to see the object’s past and future. 

Sutra 4.13

te vyaktasūkṣmā guṇātmānaḥ

These forms are manifest or subtle and composed of the gunas.


The past and future may be of a physical or mental nature.

Sutra 4.14


The that-ness of an object stems from the homogeneity in the transformations of the gunas.


Objects change their form in consistent patterns.

Sutra 4.15

vastusāmye cittabhedāttayorvibhaktaḥ panthāḥ

In view of the fact of the multiplicity of minds as opposed to the singleness of a perceived object, both belong to separate levels of existence.


This Sutra is a proof that objects exist independent of the minds that perceive them. 

Sutra 4.16

na caikacittatantraṃ cedvastu tadapramāṇakaṃ tadā kiṃ syāt

And the object is not dependent on a single mind for its existence; if it were, what happens to it when it is not perceived by that mind?


This Sutra is also a proof that objects exist independent of the minds that perceive them.

Sutra 4.17

taduparāgāpekṣitvācittasya vastu jñātājñātam

An object is known or not known by reason of the required coloration of the mind by it.


Though an object’s existence is not dependent on a mind observing it, the mind’s knowledge of the object depends on whether or not the mind is colored by it. 

Sutra 4.18

sadā jñātāṣcittavṛttayastatprabhoḥ puruṣasyāpariṇāmitvāt

The mental activities are always known by their superior, the purusha, due to its unchanging nature.


It is the fact that purusha does not change that allows it to perceive the changes that take place in the mind. 

Sutra 4.19

na tatsvābhāsaṃ dṛśyatvāt

The mind is not self-luminous since it is an object of perception.


For the mind to be self-luminous it would need to be seeing itself which is not the case. 

Sutra 4.20

ekasamaye cobhayānavadhāraṇam

Furthermore, the mind and its object cannot be perceived simultaneously.


This is another argument to prove the mind is not self-luminous.

Sutra 4.21

cittāntaradṛśye buddhibuddheratiprasaïgaḥ smṛtisaïkaraśca

If the mind were perceived by another mind, this would lead to an infinite regress from cognition to cognition and the confusion of memory.


This Sutra shows the logical impossibility that one mind is perceiving another.

Sutra 4.22

citerapratisaïkramāyāstadākārāpattau svabuddhisaṃvedanam

When the unchanging awareness assumes the shape of that mind, experience of one’s own cognitions becomes possible.


This Sutra is showing the source of the consciousness of the buddhi is the purusha. This and ver 4.34 are the only two Sutras to use the term cit.

Sutra 4.23

draṣṭṛdṛśyoparaktaṃ cittaṃ sarvārtham

The mind colored by both the seer and the seen knows all objects.


This is developing the idea in the previous Sutra. Two reflections are necessary to perceive an object—that of the purusha and that of the object.

Sutra 4.24

tadasaïkhyeyavāsanābhiścitramapi parārthaṃ saṃhatyakāritvāt

That mind, though variegated with countless vasanas, is other-purposed due to acting collaboratively.


The mind is able to function because of the presence of the purusha. It is a collaborative event that involves the purusha. 

Sutra 4.25

viśeṣadarśina ātmabhāvabhāvanānivṛttiḥ

For him who sees the distinction between the purusha and the mind, there comes about the discontinuation of the projection of the self-sense.


Thoughts of mind as purusha cease forever.

Sutra 4.26

tadā vivekanimnaṃ kaivalyaprāgbhāraṃ cittam

Then the mind, inclined toward discrimination, is borne onward towards kaivalya.


This is an automatic next step after the discontinuation of the projection of the self-sense.

Sutra 4.27

tacchidreṣu pratyayāntarāṇi saṃskārebhyaḥ

Any lapses in discrimination may allow other thoughts to arise from the samskaras.


Any lapse in viewing the real you as the purusha and not the mind can allow the mind to dwell on past worldly activities.

Sutra 4.28

hānameṣāṃ kleśavaduktam

Their cessation can be accomplished in the same manner as was explained for the kleshas.


This refers to the use of involution and meditation as explained in aphorism II.10.

Sutra 4.29

prasaṃkhyāne ‘pyakusīdasya sarvathā vivekakhyāterdharmameghaḥ samādhiḥ

For one who has no interest even in omniscience, there follows through the vision of discernment the samadhi called dharma cloud.


The term dharma megha samadhi is not explained by Patanjali. This causes the translators to differ widely in their interpretation of what it is. Hariharananda’s take on it is: “It is known as virtue pouring cloud. As a cloud pours rain so this samadhi pours the highest virtue, i.e. success is then attained without effort. That samadhi is the highest achievement through yoga practice and constitutes perpetual discriminative enlightenment.”

Sutra 4.30

tataḥ kleśakarmanivṛttiḥ

Thence follows the discontinuation of both the kleshas and of karma.


Yogic disciplines have temporarily suspended the kleshas. The state of dharma mega samadhi eliminates them altogether. It also eliminates any remaining stored karma.

Sutra 4.31

tadā sarvāvaraṇamalāpetasya jñānasyānantyājjñeyamalpam

Then all the coverings of imperfections are removed and little remains to be known because of the infinity of the resulting wisdom.


Another aspect of the attainment of dharma mega samadhi is infinite wisdom. 

Sutra 4.32

tataḥ kṛtārthānāṃ pariṇāmakramasamāptirguṇānām

Thence comes the termination of the sequences in the transformations of the gunas whose purpose is fulfilled.


The normal functioning of the mind comes to a natural conclusion. 

Sutra 4.33

kṣaṇapratiyogī pariṇāmāparāntanirgrāhyaḥ kramaḥ

Sequence refers to correlative to the moment of time, recognizable at the final end of a particular transformation.


A sequence cannot be recognized until the end of it has been reached.

Sutra 4.34

puruṣārthaśūnyānāṃ guṇānāṃ pratiprasavaḥ kaivalyaṃ svarūpapratiṣṭhā vā citiśaktiriti

The involution of the gunas, which are now devoid of purpose for the purusha, is what is called kaivalya or the establishment of the power of awareness in its essential nature.


The purpose of the gunas is two-fold—to provide experience and finally liberation to the purusha. In kaivalya, prakriti is permanently gone; only purusha exists turned in on itself. As stated at the beginning of chapter one, when mental activity is restrained, the soul’s faculty that witnesses thoughts, naturally turns in on itself. However, this is temporary and only lasts until thoughts again arise. Whereas in kaivalya, the power of awareness is permanently established in itself.