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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Paperback – September 14, 2012
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Text: English --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
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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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.
If you are the type of person who would be happy being told that there is "mind stuff" taking place inside your brain and it is far too complicated for you to understand then by all means buy this book. Otherwise, try the Four Chapters of Freedom. It offers much more thorough explainations and it treats its audience with respect.
I quit yoga when i realised that in fact it is worshiping of demonic gods through many different ways and it is dangerous for your physical and psychological health. For more information google for kundalini symptoms or similarities of yoga and satanism!!!
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