Thursday, 6 December 2012

Patañjali’s Yogasūtras Vibhūtipāda 3:38

On popular demand, in the coming weeks, I'll be translating verses from Patañjali’s Yougasūtras, which form the philosophical foundations of Yoga. As a literary genre, sūtras are situated between the early (prose) upaniads and  metrical śāstric literature. While dating ancient Indian texts is notoriously difficult, most scholars agree that the sūtras were in vogue around the 2nd cen BCE. In a sūtra, all unnecessary words are discarded, keeping only those which are essential to the concept.

Let's make a start by looking at a very basic translation. I start with the vibhūtis - or siddhis, special powers that accrue to the yogī as a result of the practice of yoga. You can read my blog post about siddhis here:

Before we go on to describe the siddhis, an unequivocal warning from Patañjali - siddhis are an obstacle on the path to samādhi

PYS 3:38

ते समाधावुपसर्गा व्युत्थाने सिद्धयः 

ते समाधौ उपसर्गाः व्युत्थाने सिद्धयः  
सिद्धयः ते  समाधौ उपसर्गाः व्युत्थाने 

[The] unusual skills, they (are) obstacles with respect to samādhi, in [taking the mind] opposite from it's inward path*

सिद्धयः the powers = feminine nominative, plural noun

ते - they = masculine, plural, nominative pronoun agreeing with उपसर्गाः  
उपसर्गाः- misfortunes, seizures, troubles = masculine, nominative, plural noun. In prose, here we would supply सन्ति (are)  ते  उपसर्गाः सन्ति 
समाधौ - locative singular of समाधि = with respect to samādhi, a masculine noun meaning here, intense application of the mind, profound meditation 
व्युत्थाने - in rising up, opposing = locative, neutral noun व्युत्थान from vi+ut +sthā 

*The inward path of the mind is assumed, in trying to reach samādhi. The sūtras are mnemonic devices used to condense masses of information that students learning from a teacher would be familiar with. It makes the complex ones very difficult to read, and through the ages many commentaries have been written on them. The most famous being the Yogabhāśya attributed to Vyāsa; the Tattvavaiśāradi of Vācaspati Misra, and of course one by the Adi Śankarācarya. 

Yoga is one of the 6 schools of ancient & medieval Indian philosophy, and twinned with and distinguishable from Sāṃkhya  only in the fact that it admits a god. Sāṃkhya is an atheist philosophical system.In more recent centuries, every scholar and philosopher of repute has written a commentary, from his own philosophical standpoint. More than ever, then, it is recommended that you read at least 3-4 commentaries to get to the soul of the sūtra.  

My favourite commentary is Rāja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda. For translation I use "The Science of Yoga" by I.K Taimini.

If you wish to listen to and memorise the sūtras you can listen to them here:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rohini -
What a dynamo you are! I have the Vivekananda and Taimini on my piano just now - so will take a look and be back with more words soon. I am especially grateful for the link to listen

having recited these sutras hundreds and hundreds of times, a check point is appreciated.
Will spread the word that you are doing this work to any of those who follow my twitter account who are interested in learning Sanskrit, or learning more of the details of the concepts and substance of the texts.