What is Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga?- Part(I)
By Premansu Chand
The Sanskrit word 'Yoga' has two meaning, because it is derived from two roots - one is 'yujir yoge' and other is 'yuj samadhou'. The root 'yujir yoge' means to join or to unite. Religious leaders accept this meaning because their philosophy is based on dualism. They always try to project an external God and become Gog's representitives. By this they rule over their followers.
However the other root 'yuj samadhou' means to concentrate. Patanjali tried to preach that Yoga where mind is concentrated in order to realise the true self(svarup). Mind is concentrated when thoughts arising in mind is controlled through yogic practice. Total concentration(samadhi) is that state where mind is free from all worldly thoughts and a seer rests in his true self.
Patanjali's Yoga is called 'Ashtanga Yoga' for it is divided into eight parts or limbs. These are - Yama(abstention), Niyama(discipline), Asana(posture), Pranayama(breath control), Pratyahar(withdrawal), Dharana(to hold), Dhyana(meditation) and Samadhi(concentration)(II.29). Yama and Niyama are the external limbs which are to be observed in social life, while others are the internal limbs which are to be practiced in order to concentrate mind.
There are five kinds of Yama; these are - Ahimsa(nonviolence), Satya(truth), Asteya(not to steal), Brahmancharya(to think about Brahman) and Aparigraha(not to accept)(II.30).
Ahimsa - A Yogi should give up violence and cruelty against men and animals. When one gives up violence completely in thought as well as in action and remains firm in nonviolence, animosity disappears(II.35). Then one realises the unity of all.
Satya - While leading social life, one should be truthful. He who follows truthfulness none of his actions goes in vain(II.36).
Asteya - We should not steal or plunder other's wealth. Then we learn how to lead a modest life within our income or we learn how to increase our income. For this by remaining firm on Asteya, a Yogi receives all kinds of wealth(II.37).
Brahmancharya - A Yogi who has given up violence, is truthful always and depends upon his own wealth feels greatness. He thinks about his true self or soul(atman) and its great potential. The Upanishads describe this Atman as Brahman, the ultimate reality and truth. The task of a Yogi is to bear this highest knowledge in mind and proceed further in the practice of Yoga. By bearing knowledge of Brahman firmly one achieves vigour(II.38). This vigour makes his body and mind powerful. Brahmanchrya is not abstention from sex as believed by most people. The great saints of ancient India were married and at the same time practiced Yoga and realised the ultimate truth.