Three Foundational Texts
‘Take just one sentence from The Bhagava-Gita, The Yoga Sutras or The Hatha Yoga Paradipika and fix your mind upon it until its meaning is revealed’
– Sri Dharma Mittra
The ancient roots of yoga philosophy and practice lean on three main texts: The Bhagavad Gita , The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and The Hatha Yoga Paradipika. The latter two are the primary sourse for the practical knowledge of thethe Yoga technique.
While there are earlier mention of YOGA in the Upanishads, these are fleeting and do not privide us with a picture of the yoga practice.
The Bhagava- Gita
The Bhagava – Gita (or Song of God) is just a small section of the Mahabaharata, the longest epic ever written. It contains 18 chapters and about 700 Stanzas, and is primarly a discussion between prince Arjuna and Lord Krishna about moral duty and one’s Dharma.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Now begins the study of yoga
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are considered by most to be the foundation of yoga as we understand it today. It primarily relied on the Samkhya philosophy, which was the prevalent school of thought at the time Patanjali composed the Sutras.
The Vedas were passed down for years from mouth to ear. Patanjali was the first that gathered and displayed the inheritance of ancient yoga to the future generations. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is such a deep and detailed research, it has become the main epos of this subject.
B.K.S Iyengar writes that the Yoga Sutras are the deepest, most clear research of the human soul. In only 196 verses he explains how “by practicing Yoga, we can transform, gain control over the thoughts and feelings, overcome obstacles in our path to spiritual development, and gain the purpose of Yoga: Kaivalya, the freedom from enslavement to earthly desires.”
The first sutras are:
1.2 Yoga is a cessation/quieting of the movement of the awareness (extinguishment of the mental activity)
1.3 Then, in the state of rest, the subject is in its isolated, natural whole being.
1.4 In other circumstances (when there is no extinguishment of the mental activity) the subject is painted by the objects (those he comes in contact with).