Monday, February 26, 2007

a consideration of the yoga sutras (1)

The yoga-sutras (the Yoga Darshana) opens with the word ATHA, now.

This can have several meanings such as "now listen up", but two meanings seem important to consider: now without any preparation and now as the result of preparation.

I spent approximately 10 years, sometimes on and off, translating, word-for-word, the text that is available to us today. I noticed two things, that the 4th section seems to have a slightly different Sanskrit syntax from the first three sections and, probably more important, the text contains its own commentary. For example, the second sutra explains the word yoga found in the first sutra.

If you look carefully, and there are some really excellent translations available such as Taimni's, Prasada's, Deshpande's and the on-line translation by Chip Hartranft ( to name just some of the one's I have found useful, you will notice that the internal commentary is fairly easily separated from what was possibly the source text.

Obviusly, yogi's learning their trade probably didn't need the added explanations because that's what the teacher was teaching them; but later generations might have not had this benefit and thus something like footnotes were added. And then the 4th section and maybe then the two sets of highly confusing commentaries about which Boja Raj lamented that they said it was easy when it was not and not easy when it was.

So ATHA ... you can start now, or you can read the text many times as preparation to a deep understanding and, especially, practise of what is contained. But, of course, you always have to listen up.

So, what I intend to do is write about some of the things I learned from the Sutras themselves. The first thing being that what Mahesh teaches is not supported by the Sutras, but that's a long story and over the coming days/weeks I'll try to illustrate the areas that I feel support this contention.

a consideration of the yoga sutras (2)

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