A Founding Father of Yoga – Wanderlust


After we talk about yoga observe, the inspiration we at all times come again to is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, a compilation of 196 cryptic verses that define the eight limbs of yoga.

The sutras present yogis with steerage towards main a yogic life-style and cultivating mindfulness. However simply who was this thriller sage?

Nobody is aware of precisely when Patanjali lived.

Rumor has it that the sutras had been written some 1,700 years in the past, however this has been broadly debated by practitioners, students and lecturers alike. Some consider that Patanjali lived within the second or third century CE; others declare it was the 4th century CE; nonetheless, others posit that it was about 50 CE. Whereas some consider that the sage wrote the sutras round 400 BCE—which is probably the most broadly accepted date, others nonetheless insist that they had been written 5,000 years in the past. Many of the speculations are made in correspondence with different texts of those durations, in addition to the notion that Patanjali himself had written different works on Ayurveda and Sanskrit over the course of many centuries. There may be actually no option to know which period interval is correct, so we will all conform to disagree.

Patanjali was most probably not only one individual.

It’s broadly disputed whether or not Patanjali was one man, or if the sutras attributed to him are literally a compilation of concepts from many sages and practitioners. (Assume: the Vedic Shakespeare.) A person named Patanjali has been credited with two different texts as nicely, one on Sanskrit grammar (Mahabhashya) and one on medication (Charakapratisanskrita). Due to the broadly debated time-frame of Patanjali’s life, it’s posited that the surname Patanjali refers to a lineage of many sages, lecturers, and college students, and we discuss with him as one man for comfort’s sake.

There are various myths in circulation about Patanjali’s life, considered one of which depicts the sage as a snake falling from heaven.

Being a determine of nice thriller, there are quite a few myths about how Patanjali got here into being. As one story goes, Lord Vishnu was as soon as sitting atop Lord Adisesa, the Lord of Serpents, watching the dance of Lord Shiva when his physique started to vibrate in rhythm with Shiva’s. This passing of vibrations and style enchanted Lord Adisesa, who determined that he would dedicate himself to the artwork of dance. Lord Adisesa meditated within the hopes of figuring out who could be his mom and had a imaginative and prescient of Gonika, a virgin yogini who was praying for a son onto whom she may go her data. She prayed to the Solar, and when she opened her palms she noticed a small snake that quickly reworked right into a small male type. Therefore he was named Patanjali, for Pata means falling and Anjali refers back to the prayer mudra.

Patanjali’s sutras weren’t written for mental hypothesis and debate however as sensible strategies of elevating consciousness.

Earlier than Patanjali wrote the sutras, it was customary for practitioners to memorize them of their entirety. The sutras act as tips that may solely be understood by way of private expertise and observe. They’re a path by which we might obtain liberation of the thoughts.

The sutras are brief and candy for a cause.

As per Sanskrit grammar guidelines, a sutra ought to observe the next situations:

  • Alpaaksharam – small in measurement
  • Asandgdham – clear and free from doubts
  • Saaravat – deep in that means
  • Viswatomukham – common applicability
  • Astobham – practicability
  • Anavadwayam – the topic should be a actuality

The mysteries surrounding the core textual content of yoga will stay endlessly unknown. We are able to be taught from the anomaly of the Yoga Sutras’ attribution, realizing that we’re a small a part of a larger and ever-evolving material. We attribute our understanding of yoga to our lecturers, and to their lecturers, relationship again to the origin of this observe, in as a lot as we be taught from our personal expertise of it. Maybe Patanjali was a person who wrote down teachings that had been handed all the way down to him. Maybe he’s a conceptual founder who’s a part of a larger material of thought that was developed over centuries. The transcendence of the person, bodily type of Patanjali appears becoming, as by way of observe of yogic traditions we’re in a position to transcend the constraints of the person self.


Jillian Billard is a poet, yoga trainer, cellist and avid wanderer. A local New Yorker, she is usually caught daydreaming of sprawling inexperienced fields and mountains. She educated and acquired her ashtanga yoga trainer’s certification in Goa, India and works at Laughing Lotus Yoga Middle in Brooklyn. You may typically discover her together with her head buried in a ebook, doused in lavender. 


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