Yoga is now widely accepted in every corner of the world and yet people do not realize the depth of its philosophical merit. Modern day practitioners talk about it glibly without comprehending its potency to explore our deep pysche, and facilitate personal and spiritual transformation. It is a striking contribution of the traditional Indian mind to the world. Marked by a highly sophisticated approach to the human mind, it is no surprise that it has withstood the test of time, and is as relevant today as it was millenia ago.
Despite unknown origins, Yoga was documented for the first time in the form of the Yogastura, authored by the great Yogi Patatjali. Presented in the form of pithy statements, this text documents the entire philosophical system of Yoga in four logically arranged chapters. The aphorisms are simple in their rendering, yet pregnant with layers of meaning. The profound worth of this work has kept it alive through history, and every succeeding master of Yoga has always considered the Yogasutra as the definitive source of reference.
Despite its intrinsic value in guiding people for so many generations, the genius of Patanjali is not easy to comprehend, especially for the casual reader. This is why so many translations and commentaries on the Yogasutra have been written by great teachers, each offering different insights into its rich teachings.
Liberating Isolation is an English translation and commentary on the Yogasutra by Frans Moors, a long time pupil of the renowned Yogacarqa TKV Desikachar. It presents the essence of Yoga philosophy to international readers, and features the aphorisms in both the classical and simplified forms in Devanagari script, their transliterated version, word-to-word meaning, and a concise translation and commentary. The text also includes a comprehensive word index to aid readers in their reference and studies, and a booklet with chant notations.
Liberating Isolation: The Yogasntra of Patanjali will be a great asset to every serious student and teacher of Yoga intending to delve deep into this significant teaching.
The Yogasutra of Patanjali, is perhaps the most significant text of Yoga, and should be mandatory study for all teachers of this discipline. It has been the guiding document for Yogi-s, of the past and present, and will probably be so for future generations as well. Yet its presentation style makes it difficult to grasp, without proper instruction from a competent and practicing mentor.
Frans Moors is a long-standing friend. He is fully engaged in Yoga. He gave up high status and a well-paid job in a large company to study and teach Yoga on a full time basis.
Frans has studied the Yogastura-s with me, many times over the last three decades. He is a very good example of the Yoga seeker. Having known him for a long time, I want to say that I am very proud of him, as he is a yogasadhaka in the truest sense.
It is only fitting that he has brought out a translation and commentary of this timeless classic. His presentation of the Yogasutra-s is honest and sincere, and comes straight from his heart. I know that this version will give you much fodder for reflection, and much scope for taking the philosophy of Yoga into practice.
Having already published his work in Europe, I have become aware of its usefulness to readers in the French language. This English version will be a blessing to many more who will now be able to access this precious teaching of Maharsi Patanjali.
The word Yoga is much used around the world, but is Yoga generally well understood? This may be doubtful. The media praises its ability to make people more relaxed or more flexible. For the general public and even in the eyes of many Yoga teachers, Yoga is synonymous with a set of postures involving a certain amount of contortion.
The most ancient text of Yoga is the Yogaeutra-s of Patanjali; it talks about Yoga in the best and the most comprehensive manner. To this day, it remains the most remarkably clear and precise treatise on the human psyche. It shows that Yoga practice can deeply transform one's mental functioning, for the purpose of living in harmony with others and within oneself, thus helping one on the path of universal spirituality.
It is usually said amongst scholars that the Yogasutra-s were composed a few centuries before our common era, but many signs indicate that Yoga was in existence several millennia before that.
Patanjali did not "invent" Yoga; he merely (so to speak) globally synthesised the forms of Yoga which flourished at that time.
From the very beginning (sutra I.1) he indicates that Yoga was transmitted from generation to generation (anusasanam.) This is not, therefore, a recent theory, but the expression of experiences repeatedly verified throughout centuries.
Yoga is a system open to all: Hindu, non-Hindu, believer, atheist and agnostic. We can be on a Yoga path without necessarily embracing the idea that God is the creator. The path of devotion is only recommended to those for whom it is suitable. Patanjali'e Yoga is at the same time rigorous, tolerant and accessible to all sincere seekers.
The text is composed of one hundred and ninety-five aphorisms (sutra-s) grouped into four chapters. When it is understood properly and applied correctly, Yoga is a precious aid for human and social evolution. It suggests that a reflective, respectful behaviour, a responsible outlook and a peaceful way of performing actions pave the way towards harmony amongst men and a constructive future.
We know very little about Patanjali, A few legends try to shed some light on his mysterious life. A well-established tradition purports that once upon a time, chaos reigned on earth because men were unskilled in communication, afflicted with multiple physical ailments and great mental disturbance.
Some wise men settled down to meditate and begged for help from higher forces. A special envoy was sent, half man, half snake. "Patanjali" means "the one who came down (pat) into pleading hands in the shape of a vessel (anjali)".
The following invocation salutes him:
"To the one who relinquished his primary form to become an incarnation in this world, to purify mankind and diminish their sources of suffering klesa-s), He possesses antidotes for these poisons. From his many faces and hoods he brings forth knowledge. He is the Lord of an assembly of snakes [who are] ever ready to fulfil his wishes, because he is eternal, he holds the light. Let him who is tranquil and flawless protect us. He possesses [mastery of] Yoga, he gives Yoga."
Another classical invocation highlights Patanjali’s contribution in three areas:
yogena cittasya padena vacam malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena |
yo' pakarottam pravaram muninam patanjalim pranjaliranato'smi ||
"I salute Patanjali, highest among the seers, who has given us Yoga to eliminate imperfections in the mind, [Sanskrit] grammar (Pada) to eliminate imperfections in language, and medicine (Vaidya) to eliminate imperfections in the body."
The text on Yoga is written in sutra style. The word sutra is usually translated as "aphorism", but it also means "thread". From stura to sutra, following the thread of a logical succession of ideas, we are led to unravel the fabric of Yoga. The concision of sutra rendition makes it easy to chant; this is an excellent way to memorize and understand them, yet this brevity also brings the need for a commentary. The serious study of any text written in this format will sustain a relationship between teacher and student for many years.
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