- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Integral Yoga Publications; Reprint edition (September 14, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781938477072
- ISBN-13: 978-1938477072
- ASIN: 1938477073
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 364 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Paperback – September 14, 2012
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Sri Swami Satchidananda was one of the first Yoga masters to bring the classical Yoga tradition to the West. He taught Yoga postures, meditation, a vegetarian and more compassionate lifestyle to westerners when he was invited to America in 1966 by the iconic pop artist Peter Max. The distinctive teachings he brought with him blend the physical discipline of Yoga, the spiritual philosophy of Vedic literature and the interfaith ideals he pioneered. These techniques and concepts influenced a generation and a spawned Yoga culture that is flourishing today. The organization founded on his teachings, Integral Yoga International, is now a leading institute for Yoga teacher certification. Integral Yoga is the foundation for Dr. Dean Ornish's landmark work in reversing heart disease and Dr. Michael Lerner's noted Commonweal Cancer Help program. Sri Swami Satchidananda is the author of many books on Yoga and is the subject of the 2008 documentary, \"Living Yoga.\"
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The breathing exercises are called Pranayama (Breathing) Exercises. One can find more about it from various sources. The true knowledge dates back to Patanjali - the original text dates back to approximately 2200 years ago. Interpretation of Patanjali Sutras has also been done by Harvard professor. His book contains 900 plus pages.
This book should be read a few pages at a time and contemplate. There is high degree of correlation between mind, stress, body and its functions. It must start with your faith in a system like a mustered seed mentioned in Bible. If one wants to calm their mind - then it a step in the right direction. One need to understand attachment to things around us. Having all you can have may be OK - worrying about loosing them is a problem.
The Swami gave really good down to earth explanations of the sutras which I found to be the defining element that makes this book a winner.
Although I continued to pay attention to Satchidananda and IYI, I had little interest in Satchidanananda’s teachings, which I found remedial compared to Krishnamurti’s, Ramana Maharshi’s, Adi Da’s, and the traditions of Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. When, a few months ago, the idea to write a book on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali hit me, I decided to revisit the teachings of Satchidananda by including his text on the Yoga Sutras as one of the books I would look at before writing my own on the subject.
I’ve taught Raja Yoga and have read seven different versions of the Yoga Sutras, so I bring a critical eye to any translation/commentary of Patanjali’s aphorisms. Given my familiarity with Satchidananda’s teachings, his version of the Yoga Sutras was pretty much what I expected it to be – engaging, uplifting, and flawed.
Satchidananda’s commentaries in this text are informal and copacetic – providing a reader-friendly experience. The commentaries are permeated with uplifting stories and sagely yogic advice that most readers will find both educational and inspiring. Satchidananda was a down-to-earth Capricorn, and his feet are planted firmly on the ground as he describes the particulars of Integral and Raja yoga practice.
The real problem with Satchidananda’s translation and commentary is that it is flawed and superficial. Those new to Yoga philosophy and the Yoga Sutras probably will not notice this – but to spiritual esotericists, this problem stands out like a sore thumb.
First off, his definitions of important Sankrit terms are poor. He doesn’t clearly explains any of the various samadhis that Patanjali mentions, and he defines samadhi as “contemplation,” which is ridiculous. He describes asamprajnata samadhi as “indistinguished,” and samprajnata samadhi as “distinguished.” Again, these are lousy descriptions. He’s not clear on other important terms like “citta,” which he defines as “mind-stuff.” Citta is simply universal Consciousness (Cit) functioning as human consciousness, which means consciousness in conjunction with mind, or “manas.” Moreover, Satchidanada provides us with an improper definition of manas: “the desiring faculty of mind-stuff.” “Manas” is simply mind in general, and to say that “mind-stuff” has a desiring faculty is absurd. A human being, or soul, could be said to have a desiring faculty, but not “mind-stuff.”
Beyond his faulty definitions, Satchidananda makes too many flawed statements. At the very beginning of the text, he states, “Once you have made the mind thoughtless, you have attained the goal [of Yoga]. This is wrong. Even if the practice of Yoga involves stilling the mind, this is simply a means to eventually attaining Self-realization. Satchidananda knows this very well, but his sloppy writing doesn’t always reflect his understanding.
Elsewhere he writes, “Every desire binds you and brings restlessness. To get to liberation you have to be completely desireless… Is it possible to be desireless? No.” That makes liberation impossible – but then he tries to weasel out of this statement by rationalizing selfless service as the way beyond desire. But his rationalization fails to undo the contradiction.
With his background in Hindu spiritual philosophy, one would think that Satchidananda would be very familiar with Siva and Shakti in Hindu tantra, yet he writes, “The Tibetan tantric system speaks of Siva and Shakti. No, it doesn’t. Moreover Satchidananda displays his ignorance of Siva and Shakti when he reduces them to “positive and negative forces within each individual.”
I could go on and on pointing out problems with this text, but I’m sure you get the picture by now.