[Advaita-l] Yoga Sutras (was Re: Patanjali Yoga Sutra. I.3)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Fri May 1 17:57:47 CDT 2009

--- On Fri, 5/1/09, Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:

> From: Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
> Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Patanjali Yoga Sutra. I.3
> To: "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
> Date: Friday, May 1, 2009, 8:49 AM
> On Fri, 1 May 2009, Ramesh Krishnamurthy wrote:
> > The theistic-atheistic distinction is a western
> concept that cannot be
> > directly mapped onto the Indic traditions.
> > 
> Then use the terms seshvara and nirIshvara if you like. 
> The fact is the classical Samkhya position on this topic is
> atheistic enough that the brahmasutras repeatedly criticize
> it and reject it as authoritative.  See I-4 upto 2.1.2. 
> 2.1.3 also says the criticism applies mutatis mutandis to
> yoga even though it does have an Ishvara concept.
> Again as we have discussed previously Samkhya/Yoga have
> undergone a vedantic reinterpretation and it is the
> vedantized versions that we are familiar with today. 

The Yoga school by itself may not survive today, but there is hardly any doubt that the practice of Yoga according to the Yoga Sutras, for the sake of Mukti, is highly esteemed by all advaitins (probably by all schools of Vedanta).

For example, Ramana Maharshi writes in his very first book, Self-Enquiry:


# 27

D: What are the limbs of yoga?

M: Yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana,
dhyana, and samadhi. Of these —

(1) Yama: This stands for the cultivation of such principles of
good conduct as nonviolence (ahimsa), truth (satya), non-stealing
(asteya), celibacy (Brahmacharya), and non-possession (aparigraha).

(2) Niyama: This stands for the observance of such rules
of good conduct as purity (saucha), contentment (santosha),
austerity (tapas), study of the sacred texts (svadhyaya), and
devotion to God (Isvarapranidhana).


(8) Samadhi: As a result of the fruition of the aforesaid
meditation, the mind gets resolved in the object of meditation
without harbouring the ideas ‘I am such and such; I am doing
this and this’. This subtle state in which even the thought ‘I-I’
disappears is samadhi. If one practises this everyday, seeing
to it that sleep does not supervene, God will soon confer on
one the supreme state of quiescence of mind.

RM doesn't say that the above statements on Yoga are derived from the Yoga Sutras (he actually didn't care much about providing references at all - he would freely borrow teachings from another text without attribution), but it is obvious that they precisely follow from the Yoga Sutras. The last statement quite evidently refers to Mukti that follows from the practice of Yoga: "...God will soon confer on one the supreme state of quiescence of mind."

There is however one distinction between Vedantic practice of Yoga and the Yoga Sutras: according to Vedanta, the Samadhi state also requires effort (RM talks about the "practise" of Samadhi, indicating effort in this stage) and hence cannot be considered to be the supreme EFFORTLESS state of Mukti, the final goal of Vedanta. However, RM does point out that the practice of Samadhi will eventually result in Mukti.

> But
> this just goes to prove my point that all instances of the
> words "samkhya" and "yoga" do not refer
> to the same thing.
> -- Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>



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