Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Chapter 2 - Sadhana Pada

Chapter 2, Sutra 1

तपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि क्रियायोगः॥२.१॥

In this sutra, the word kriya yoga is used for the first time. It usually means the action of Yoga. It has three parts.

  1. Practice
  2. Teaching
  3. Surrender to God.

In one earlier Sutra, we studied that practice and Vairagya are essential to Yoga. In addition to practice and vairagya, two more things are added to the action of yoga. One is teaching and this teaching/learning is self-learning. This is a very powerful sutra where it mentions about self-learning. We always think that we need teachers to teach us, but here the importance of self-learning through introspection is given. We have to introspect each and every action of ours, the words we speak the actions we do. Then gradually we realize ourselves as we become more and more mind full of our actions.

Surrender to God is an important aspect mentioned here. Whatever we do if we surrender the results of those actions and do not take credit for them we get better results in yoga.

Chapter 2, Sutra 2

समाधिभावनार्थः क्लेशतनूकरणार्थश्च॥२.२॥

In the first chapter, we have understood that Yoga is stopping (nirodha) of fluctuations/modifications of mind called (vrittis). Once the vrittis are stopped we reach the stage of samadhi moving from gross to subtle and to thoughtless stage. This progression can be attained by yoga which starts with practice then self-learning and surrender to God. In this sutra, it is explained that the state of Samadhi can be attained by stopping of vrittis /kleshas.

Chapter 2, Sutra 3

अविद्यास्मितारागद्वेषाभिनिवेशाः क्लेशाः॥२.३॥

This is one of the powerful sutra of Patanjali yoga system. The causes for kleshas ,the things which cause colorings of mind is given here. They are 1)avidya – ignorance, lack of knowledge 2) asmita- egoism. Importance of self 3) raga – desires for material things,sense objects 4) dvesha – hatred to others or what we don’t like 5) abhinivesha- fear of death. These three color the mind and make it difficult to see things clearly or what reality is. If we know the reality we can make correct decision. Kleshas are like colour filters or spectacles we wear to see the world. If we wear a black glass spectacles we see things as dark in color. In the same way if we are ignorant and full of desires we see the world around us accordingly. Once we wear the right glasses we will be able to see things clearly.

Chapter 2, Sutra 4

अविद्याक्षेत्रमुत्तरेषां प्रसुप्ततनुविच्छिन्नोदाराणाम्॥२.४॥

What happens when there is avaidya (ignorance) is given here. Ignorance is the breeding ground for all types of bad actions        of a person. The negative actions may be in the active stage, dormant stage, separated stage, or in an inactive stage. Ignorance causes thoughts which are in any of the stages.

Chapter 2, Sutra 5

अनित्याशुचिदुःखानात्मसु नित्यशुचिसुखात्मख्यातिरविद्या॥२.५॥

The effects of avidya on the human mind are given here. Avidya causes us to imagine non-eternal as eternal. We think that the money, power, properties, relations we hanker for are eternal and we strive for them all the time. Also because of ignorance we treat the non-self as self. We try to affiliate ourselves with the activities of non-self. We try to attach ourselves to the things that are outside of ourselves and get attached to the sensory objects.

Because of avidya, we think that sensory things are pure and they are the end objects to be pursued all the life. We think that they give us happiness and pleasure when they actually give us pain. Once the sensory pleasures are over they usually give us pain, but we pursue them all through the life as if they are real.

Chapter 2, Sutra 6


In sutra 2.03 it is mentioned that the colorings/impressions of the mind is caused by ignorance/lack of knowledge, asmita/ego,raga, dvesha and abhinivesha. In this sutra, the meaning of asmita is given here. Asmita /ego is a very powerful character of our personality. It helps in preserving the life of an individual. The same feeling helps in preserving the society, state, and country. The feeling is simply explained as “my” “mine” “I” . Here the human being assumes the role of God and behaves as if he has created a certain object and certain things belong to him.

In the animal kingdom, this feeling of asmitha helps in the preservation of a particular animal by means of securing food for the animal and protecting offsprings. The same feeling of protection we have extended to things that belong to us. in earlier days when there were wars we used to protect our most valuable possessions i.e., food. In later days we started protecting each and everything that belongs to us. Coupled with money and the concept of private property the feeling of asmita has been extended to most of the things that a person earns by his money.

As per the nature of the individual the person seeks possessions for his self. Some people affiliate themselves with money, some people affiliate themselves with power, some people affiliate themselves with work. They actually put themselves into things that are actually not them. It all happens because of the feeling of ego/asmitha.

Chapter 2, Sutra 7

॥ सुखानुशयी रागः ॥ २.७॥

Raga/desire/attachment is followed by the feeling of happiness/sukha. A feeling of comfort, happiness is felt in the brain whenever raga is fulfilled. This feeling causes attachment to the sense object and cravings in the mind for those sense objects.

The third coloring of mind is given the first stage, avidya /lack of knowledge provides the fertile field for the sowing of seeds. These seeds are those which take the person away from the real self.Once the seeds are sown, then asmitha/ego starts getting attracted to them and propagates the seeds thinking them as they are real and useful for the person. Once ego identifies as a certain object as mine, then raga starts the action. Thus a person gets addicted to sense objects and identifies with them.

Chapter 2, Sutra 8

॥ दुःखानुशयी द्वेषः॥२.८॥

Like comfort follows raga, in the same way, the feeling of sadness/unhappiness follows aversion. They may look opposite but they are actually two sides of the same coin. Desire and hatred are two sides of the same coin. They make the mind addicted to those feelings. The feeling of happiness makes our mind attached to the sense object, this looks easy to understand. the feeling of hatred though seems repulsive in the beginning the mind starts needing the repulsive feeling. That’s why the feeling of hatred has become universal along with love. That’s why hatred is also mentioned as a coloring of mind along with desire. Hatred clouds judgment. If we do not like someone whatever good work they do we feel like they do not do any good work.

Thus with practice and vairagya we can reduce the colorings of mind.

Chapter 2, Sutra 9

॥ स्वरसवाही विदुषोऽपि तथारूढोऽभिनिवेशः॥२.९॥

Another impression/coloring of mind is given in this sutra. The impression of abhinivesah” Fear of death” or “clinging to live”, the feeling of self-preservation. This is a very important feeling in the minds of people. The feeling of self-preservation extends to all things in life. It is the basic color which dyes many actions of a human being. The clinging to a Job though not liked by a person stems from the feeling of abhinivesha. People cannot leave their habits because of the feeling of abhinivesha, Just like we don’t want to die, we don’t want our habits to die. We should carefully observe the feelings of self-preservation in our mind to be aware of them.

Chapter 2, Sutra 10

॥ ते प्रतिप्रसवहेयाः सूक्ष्माः॥२.१०॥

In my experience (Very less experience, I just started) I found that as we meditate we keep going deeper and deeper into the mind. As we go deeper we reach the seed thought from where a particular thought pattern emerged. It is said that we are as we think. A famous quote “I think therefore I am” is quite apt here. The thinking starts from a seed thought. As we keep encouraging the seed thought (Like we provide fertilizer, water to a seed) we provide proper conditions for seed thought to grow. The seed thought sprouts, forms a plant and then the tree. Now the seed thought is no more to be seen and we can only see the big tree called the habit, character of a person.

After a certain point of time, we realize that the fruits borne out of the tree are not serving our purpose and we try to come out of the tree but its so difficult to come out that we spend our lifetimes without making any effort. To change the habit patterns, we need to go to the root of the habit, i.e., the seed thought. To reach the seed thought we need to meditate and concentrate. At one point of time, we will reach the smallest stage of the thought, the seed thought and then we can become normal again.

Chapter 2, Sutra 11

॥ ध्यानहेयास्तद्वृत्तयः॥२.११॥

After mentioning that the colorings of mind can be taken to the seed stage, the methodology of how it can be done is given here. In Sutra 1.2: it is given that yoga will reduce the modifications of the mind. In surta 1.12 it is given that within yoga practice and developing the feeling of vairagya is important. With practice and vairagya the highest state that can be reached: samadhi is given. The factors(klesha) that color the mind from reaching samadhi are given as ego, fear of death, desire, aversion, ignorance are given which can be removed by removing the seeds of those kleshas. Now in this sutra, the method by which the seeds are removed are given. It is by meditation.

The word dhyan though looks simple and often heard in India, it is quite technical. It is not just closing eyes and dreaming. It’s a very active state with higher goals. The mode we meditate actively the faster we reach the seeds of colors.

Chapter 2, Sutra 12

क्लेशमूलः कर्माशयो दृष्टादृष्टजन्मवेदनीयः॥२.१२॥

What happens when the seeds of modifications or colors reside in the mind is given here. As long as seeds are there, it is bound to sprout and produce plants, trees. In the same way, the seeds of modifications of mind which are deep-seated will always make us do actions which are visible and invisible. You can attribute to the seed color a particular action which is visible and you may not be able to attribute but all actions both visible and invisible can be attributes to these seed.

Chapter 2, Sutra 14

ते ह्लादपरितापफलाः पुण्यापुण्यहेतुत्वात्॥२.१४॥

There are three major portions in this Sutra. Consequences of Birth, life, and experiences of life are a result of samskaras. The sanskaras have the nature of either punya or apunya. And resulting from these the actions of karma are either pleasurable or pain causing. Basically, it is meant that as the seeds are the fruits are also of the same kind. If we sow good seeds, we reap good fruits. In the same way, if the seeds of our karma are good we reap good actions. So we need to take care of the seeds first. in modern times we make a lot of focus on changing the actions of people like punishing them for not doing a particular deed well etc. if we focus on actions we can make only minimal changes if we focus on changing the seeds than we can change the actions automatically.

The focus should be changing the thoughts and actions will automatically change.

Chapter 2, Sutra 15

परिणामतापसंस्कारदुःखैर्गुणवृत्तिविरोधाच्च दुःखमेव सर्वं विवेकिनः॥२.१५॥

For a person who has introspected deeply about life, one thing becomes clearer. All things in this world cause pain. Though superficially a particular thing or being might be causing comfort if a deep introspection is made, then things will become clearer that it actually causes pain in the long run.

In the same way, a person having discrimination will identify that all the comfortable things that are happening to him will cause more and more cravings initially and they become samskaras in the end which lead to lifelong wanting and also they cause pain when the thoughts are not as per the qualities of a person.

Chapter 2, Sutra 16

हेयं दुःखमनागतम्॥२.१६॥

A pain which has not yet been caused may be avoided. This means we may avoid new cravings, we may avoid new comforts before they become habits in us. Our purpose in yoga is to remove the old habits and come closer to universal consciousness. In the process we may avoid new habits, new comfort seeking behaviors.

Chapter 2, Sutra 17

द्रष्टृदृश्ययोः संयोगो हेयहेतुः॥१७॥

This pain can be avoided by identifying the sense object with the self. If I want to avoid something then the best thing is to be away from it. In the same way sense objects can be avoided by being away from the them. We should not feed our senses with the sense objects which we know we become addicted.

Chapter 2, Sutra 18

प्रकाशक्रियास्थितिशीलं भूतेन्द्रियात्मकं भोगापवर्गार्थं दृश्यम्॥२.१८॥

In this sutra Patanjali gives the nature of sense objects. The objects that we perceive through our senses. The objects are made of the five elements of matter. Air, water, fire, ether, earth. All sense objects are made of these elements in their core. They have the nature of activity, illumination, and inertia. What is the purpose for which the sense object exists? It exists for the purpose of experience and liberation. We all remained at the stage of experiencing the sense objects but did not move from experiencing to liberation stage. The more we experience a sense object the more attached we become. We do not realize that it exists for our liberation. Once we decide that we should not be attached to the object, it leads to the liberation.

This is a good sutra which talks about the liberation aspect. Why a sense object exists in the first place. It exists for the soul to experience it. Yoga is about experiencing the universe and not getting attached to it.

Chapter 2, Sutra 19

विशेषाविशेषलिङ्गमात्रालिङ्गानि गुणपर्वाणि॥२.१९॥

In this sutra, patanjali talks about the basic things the universe is made of. The Gunas. The Gunas are the basic qualities that makeup anything in the universe. We have read that there are basically three types of Guna’s : Tamas, Rajas, and Sattva. Patanjali says the Guna’s can be experienced as particular kind(Visesa), they may not be particular (avisesa) and linga (differentiated) and alinga(undifferentiated). This is how we experience the Guna’s as we start yoga or meditation. Initially, we will be experiencing Guna’s as Specific qualities which can be easily described and differentiated from others. For example the quality of some people can be aggressive, some people get angry and some people are timid. We can easily identify them based on their gunas. This is the visesha stage. If we look a bit closer we find that these qualities are only superficial but inside all of them are human beings and they are behaving like that because of their habits. Now the Guna’s become undifferentiated and all guna’s look same.

Once we cross this stage we observe that all beings are the same. Not only human beings but all living beings are the same having same qualities. This is the stage of ‘Linga”. we tend to identify all beings same the basic qualities are present in all beings. If we move further we identify that all the things in the universe are the same. The thing for which we get attached and the things for which we do not get attached are the same as the “alinga” level. Thus if we meditate in the Guna’s we move from gross to the subtle in meditation.

Chapter 2, Sutra 20

द्रष्टा दृशिमात्रः शुद्धोऽपि प्रत्ययानुपश्यः॥२.२०॥

After talking about the outside world, the world that is experienced/seen, Patanjali talks about the seer. The thing which observes is consciousness in a living being. Consciousness is pure and it wants to experience the world. Consciousness is pure energy. Consciousness wants to experience the world and it can experience the world only through the mind. Without mind, consciousness cannot see/experience nature. We may get doubt why should consciousness need the mind to explore the world? Why can’t it stay pure? This will be explained in future sutras. Though these are quite tough metaphysical concepts, to keep things simple we can limit our selves to the thought that consciousness needs the mind to understand the world. The more the mind is pure the better it will be able to perceive the universe. The more the mind is polluted with vrittis, kleshas, then its very difficult to perceive the universe/world.

Chapter 2, Sutra 21

तदर्थ एव दृश्यस्यात्मा॥२.२१॥

In this meaning for the existence of nature is given. Nature exists for the experience of consciousness. Both are inter-related. Without consciousness, there is no nature. For example, a person when born see the nature around him lives in nature and when he dies the nature of that living being also collapses. Nature may be existent for other beings but the nature/outside external world collapses immediately during the death of a being. Outside world is there as long as life is there. Outside world is there as long as consciousness is there to perceive the world. The moment consciousness goes the outside world goes away.

Thus, in this sutra, it is given that, the outside world exists for the experience of consciousness. In-between consciousness and outside world is the mind. If the mind is clear we can see the outside world as it is and there will be the union of consciousness with outside world. The whole purpose of yoga is to clean the mind so that we experience the world clearly.

Chapter 2, Sutra 22

कृतार्थं प्रति नष्टमप्यनष्टं तदन्यसाधारणत्वात्॥२.२२॥

Patanjali Talks about perception and reality here.What happens when the person who has been liberated, does the world changes for him? The prakriti/nature does not change for anybody. Nature keeps going on as long as it will exist as per the physical laws of the universe. It does not change for purusa.Once purusa gets liberated, the prakriti stops existing, the person is no more under illusion of the world. The person gets free from the world and no more dependent on it. For other people who are not liberated (99.99999%) of the people in the world, the world exists as it is, illusion exists and people live happily without worrying about liberation and freedom. The world of maya ceases to exist for liberated person whereas it continuous to exist for a non-liberated person.

Chapter 2, Sutra 23

स्वस्वामिशक्त्योः स्वरूपोपलब्धिहेतुः संयोगः॥२.२३॥

Can Purusa attain liberation without Prakriti? We may get a doubt that why should purusa go through all these troubles of attachment, knowing things and then lead a detathed life and then attain liberation. Why can’t purusa do things alone? Patanjali says both are needed to attain liberation. The union of both Purusa and Prakriti can alone cause liberation. If both are separate then both are inert and on their own. Purusa should know Prakriti first by joining it and then get liberated from it by detachment. In Chinese, they call the forces of the universe as “Ying” and “yang”. Both are necessary for liberation.

Chapter 2, Sutra 24

तस्य हेतुरविद्या॥२.२४॥

What is the reason for the union to prolong for a long time? Why are we attached to the union of soul and material for all through the life? In the earlier sutra, we understood that this union is necessary for liberation. This union also makes people go away from liberation. People remain in the union for eternity without working for liberation. The reason is given in this sutra, the reason why people get attached to sense objects is due to Ignorance. Why people do not strive for liberation is because of ignorance of real nature of purusa and material world. Ignorance of real purpose of life is the basic obstacle in spiritual pursuits.

Chapter 2, Sutra 25

तदभावात् संयोगाभावो हानं तद् दृशेः कैवल्यम्॥२.२५॥

The word kaivalyam is used for the first time in Patanjali yogsutra. It is the state of liberation. It is the state when complete absorption of individual purusa happens with universal consciousness. Purusa gets detached from Prakriti, the union ceases to happen and the person becomes ‘yogi’. This happens when the person gets knowledge, practices the knowledge and removes the ignorance/avidya. Its not only getting the knowledge/education but also diligently and consistently practicing it causes the removal of avidya from the purusa or the junction.

Chapter 2, Sutra 26

विवेकख्यातिरविप्लवा हानोपायः॥२.२६॥

How do we remove ignorance/avidya? It is stated that e can attain kaivalyam by the removal of ignorance. In this sutra, it is given how this avidya can be removed. Avidya can be removed by ‘uninterrupted application of discriminative knowledge”. This is a very powerful sutra, where Patanjali says that we should be using the discriminative knowledge of what is right and wrong 24/7* 365 if our lives except when we are asleep. Whenever we are awake we will be making decisions. Those decisions are all made by choices. Every second we have the possibility of choosing between two alternatives. Those alternatives are 1. Moving us towards to ultimate consciousness 2. Will move us away from the ultimate consciousness. We should be choosing the right alternatives which will move us to the ultimate goal. Once our final goal is fixed: reaching the supreme consciousness through yoga, we can watch our steps and actions every second whether what we are doing will lead us to the path or not. This we ultimately remove ignorance and if we remove ignorance the junction between purusa and prakriti is removed.

Chapter 2, Sutra 27

तस्य सप्तधा प्रान्तभूमिः प्रज्ञा॥२.२७॥

Seven kinds of insight draw on a person whose avidya is gone though discriminative knowledge. When a person practices discriminative knowledge seven insights come to him. What are insights? In yoga practice and meditation we are basically looking inwards, as we keep looking inwards we move from gross thoughts to subtle thoughts, then from gross samadhi to subtle samadhi, then we move towards the junction of purusa and prakriti, then from there, we move to purusa. This journey is possible only by the application of buddhi/intellect born out of discriminative knowledge. As we keep making the journey we keep getting insights into the deepest impressions into the mind. If we observe closely we can know from where we got particular habits. What was the basic moment we acquired a particular habit, the basic thought? So for this, we need to do constant use of discriminative knowledge.

Chapter 2, Sutra 28

योगाङ्गाऽनुष्ठानादशुद्धिक्षये ज्ञानदीप्तिराविवेकख्यातेः॥२.२८॥

With the practice of all the limbs of yoga as a ritual with the mind totally focused on the practice of yoga then the light of discriminative knowledge illuminates in the mind which will remove the impurities in the mind which will help us to see things clearly as they are.

The word anushthan is used here for the practice of yoga. Anushthan is doing something very seriously, not as a normal action. Yoga anga is not a part of yoga but all parts of yoga which include all actions when a person is awake. It is the ashthanga yoga and all the limbs have to be given equal importance. If we practice only yoga asan and do not practice other limbs then the results will also be not 100%. So we have to follow all the eight limbs of yoga with the same amount of seriousness for discriminative knowledge to come on us.

Chapter 2, Sutra 29


In the previous sutra Patanjali spoke about the different limbs(anga) of yoga. In this sutra he gives the list of the eight limbs. That is why the yoga of Patanjali is also called ashtanga yoga. Theya are:

  • yama = codes of restraint, abstinences, self-regulations
  • niyama = observances, practices, self-training
  • asana = meditation posture (from the root ~as, which means “to sit”)
  • pranayama = expansion of breath and prana, regulation, control
  • pratyahara = withdrawal of the indriyas (the senses), bringing inward
  • dharana = concentration
  • dhyana = meditation
  • samadhi = meditation in its higher state, deep absorption of meditation, the state of perfected concentration
  • ashtau = eight
  • angani = rungs, limbs, accessories, components, steps, parts, members, constituents

Taken from :

If we can practice these eight limbs then we can get discriminative knowledge. In one earlier sutra Patanjali talks about abhayasa and vairagya. Now we understand what should be followed in abhayas. In abhyasa we should be doing practice of following eight-fold path with the attitude of vairagya towards life.

Chapter 2, Sutra 30

अहिंसासत्यास्तेयब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहा यमाः॥२.३०॥

In this sutra the first pillar of yog-abhyasa is explained. “yam” has five sub-components.

Ahimsa: non-violence: Not only in terms of killing but also includes hurting others by thoughts and words. Non-violence by thoughts, words, deeds forms ahimsa. When we think badly about people we send bad vibes, and it reduces our energy. When we talk to people angrily or in a hurtful way, words hurt people. It is said that harsh words are like stones and they hurt people.

  • Satya : always speak truth. Even if we make mistake, accept that we have made mistake and move on in life.
  • Asteya: non- stealing. What is not ours we should not take forcefully or in a deceiving manner. Even if we do not have great comforts we should learn to live with only what is available to us.
  • Brahmacharya: Leading the life of a bachelor. Sexual attraction and going after them will reduce the time and attention given to the spiritual world. So better to restrain urges.
  • Aparigrahah: being non-greedy. Greed makes us not to be content. We want more and more because of the tendency of greed. We do a lot of things because of greed. If we reduce it we tend to do few things in life and concentrate more in the spiritual world.

Chapter 2, Sutra 31

जातिदेशकालसमयानवच्छिन्नाः सार्वभौमा महाव्रतम्॥२.३१॥

After stating the subcomponents of “yama” or “virtues” Patanjali gives us when they are to be followed and by whom? In conclusion, he says the self-restraint has to be practiced by all. It is universal and not restricted to particular caste/creed. They have to be followed by everyone. He also says they have to be followed in all places. Some people follow these in some places like a temple or when they are in spiritual retreats. Patanjali says they are to be followed in all places. He says that these are to be followed not only in all places but also at all times. Some people will think today I will do this wrong thing and from tomorrow I will change. Usually that tomorrow comes after a long time. That’s why Patanjali says they have to be followed all the time without break.

These are the basic rules of conduct for a person and has to be followed all the time. Patanjali uses the word ‘mahavratam” means these are to be lead like a big -vrat. These things may look easy to break but once you break them under the illusion of maya it is very difficult to get back on track. Better follow them all the time and in all places with all people.

Chapter 2, Sutra 32

शौचसंतोषतपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि नियमाः॥२.३२॥

After describing what we should control in life in sutra 2.30, Patanjali takes us on to the next step of Yoga. These are called Niyama. They are saucha : Purity of mind and body, santosha: Contentment, being happy with what we have, tapah : practicing austerities and leading a simple life, svadhyaya: self-study and eswarapranidhana: living with the thoughts of God always.

  • Saucha is the purity of mind and body. The thoughts should be pure and there should not be any pollution. The moment we add any pollutant either in mind or body it destroys it in the long run. To ensure that there are pure thoughts and keep the body clean because we live in our bodies.
  • Contentment: Being content with what we have. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try for bigger things in life. We should, in fact, try for bigger things in life not out of greed but to serve other people. Aparigraha and contentment together make a man be relaxed without any tension. Basically, we need very basic necessities to lead life. Like food for 3 times, water to drink and a safe house. If we need more resources to live then we are moving away from contentment. Contentment ultimately leads to detachment.
  • Tapah: Living life as a tapa. Leading a very austere life and fewer comforts. This will also cause non-attachment towards things in life.
  • Svadhyaya: Socrates said an “Unexamined life is not worth living”. This aptly suits here. We should be mindful of our thoughts, words, and actions and keep learning lessons and keep improving. Though there is the importance of the teacher in life, his words are to be taken as a guidepost and not blindly follow him. We should use the teachings of the teacher, apply in our life and see whether they are working or not. Svadhyaya is very important for the person to look inwards and know exactly where a person stands in life.
  • Eswaraparinidhana; Keeping God, the universal consciousness always at the back of the mind and working for its realization.

Chapter 2, Sutra 33

वितर्कबाधने प्रतिपक्षभावनम्॥२.३३॥

We are all willing to lead a life as per the moral code is given by Patanjali. Basically, these morals are part of Indian society and are being taught to us since childhood and part of Indian culture. However, we find very difficult to follow the yamas (restraint) and niyamas(observances). It is because of the thoughts. In sutra 2-5, we have observed that the thoughts are the ones which take away from the universal consciousness. We can use the same thoughts to get us back to the same consciousness. How can we make our mind think the thoughts that get us to the “final goal”? Patanjali gives us a solution here. It is not suppression of the thoughts that come to our mind. Remember ahimsa: it is practicing ahimsa towards ourselves too. So we do not suppress anything forcefully as force is a kind of violence. If a negative thought comes which makes us move away from the yama and niyama we need to acknowledge the thought and then think the opposite thoughts. As we keep practicing it we will train our mind to think only those thoughts that are as per the yama and niyama.

Chapter 2, Sutra 34

वितर्का हिंसादयः कृतकारितानुमोदिता लोभक्रोधमोहपूर्वका मृदुमध्याधिमात्रा दुःखाज्ञानानन्तफला इति प्रतिपक्षभावनम्॥२.३४॥

What are the thoughts that when arise we should think of opposite thoughts? The negative thoughts are thoughts of violence to be committed by a person or support a person committing violence and approving a person committing violence.

Here Patanjali takes a one step further. he says not only a person has to be non-violent he shouldn’t approve of violence being done by others in his vicinity. He should not approve of violence being done or recruit anyone committing violence.

The same is true for thoughts of anger, greed, and lust. We should not only have these thoughts but also we should not recruit anyone in those thoughts or approve others doing these actions.

The thoughts can have different intensities. Mild, middle and extreme. We need to have appropriate opposite measures to counter these thought intensities. For mild and middle-level thoughts meditation will help. For overcome extreme thoughts we should make structures around us appropriate to overcome them. Like having friends having same principles will help us in some way overcome extreme thoughts.

The article given here gives in detail the issues raised in this sutra. Please follow the link I like the analysis of 3*3*3=27 matrix for dealing with thoughts.

Chapter 2, Sutra 35

अहिंसाप्रतिष्ठायां तत्सन्निधौ वैरत्यागः॥२.३५॥

The benefits of non-violence are given here. It is observed that when a person has given up violence then the hostility of others will subside. Practicing non-violence as we have read yesterday should be at 9 levels. At level of thought, word and deed. The thoughts of violence should be countered when they are mild, middle and intense and we should not only do violence but we should not let anyone do on our behalf and approve anyone of doing it. Also practicing non-violence has two levels, not only doing violence to self but also to society. We should not be self-criticizing. We should not blame ourselves for not being able to do certain things. From there we should practice non-violence with society. It can be done at level of thought, word and deed. As said earlier we have make our thoughts have no anger or ill will towards anyone. Words it has been mentioned earlier are like rocks. We have to use them softly and positive words. If we use them negatively they will hurt others and it comes as violence. Its not that we should not criticize others. We should criticize others like a mother who does this out of love for her children for their welfare.

By actions it is meant that we should not harm fellow human beings or animals. If we practice all these then the world starts looking more lovable to us and it will loose its hostile appearance to us.

Chapter 2, Sutra 36

सत्यप्रतिष्ठायां क्रियाफलाश्रयत्वम्॥२.३६॥

In this sutra the benefits of practicing truthfulness is given It is said that for a person practicing truthfulness then the fruits of his work will come on their own.

If we see why we lie and why we are not truthful we can understand the importance of this sutra. We usually lie to ourselves and society to escape the immediate situation and make the present situation comfortable. We do not think of the long-term consequences of lying. We may not do the work properly, or afraid that the boss will scold, or want the praise of others (whatever all short-term consequences) we lie and become untruthful.

What happens when we lie? We usually lose integrity and trust of the people. If we cannot honor our words then people will stop respecting us in long-term. The hollowness created by a lie in our mind will cause stress ultimately. It is just like drinking a coke. Though it feels that the thirst has gone immediately, but in the real sense it makes the body more thirsty for water.

So, if we speak the truth always and every time and with everybody what happens is we start gaining the trust of the people and people will start respecting our words and people will take us seriously. Ultimately, they will do whatever we desire because they know that it is for not our benefit we utter those words but for the benefit of the situation and long-term consequences.

We also feel good when we speak the truth, it makes us complete. Thus, we should measure our words and speak. We should not shoot out the words as it is that comes from our mouth.

Chapter 2, Sutra 37

अस्तेयप्रतिष्ठायां सर्वरत्नोपस्थानम्॥२.३७॥

We can see the benefit of non-stealing in terms of thought, words and deeds. Non stealing as a mild, middle and high intensity. Non-stealing practiced not only by us but also not approving stealing by someone else on our behalf or not approving stealing done by someone. Patanjali says if we do this then all treasures will be ours. We will learn to be happy with what ever we have (contentment) and also removes envy from our heart towards anyone. This is a very powerful quality to develop. We may think that stealing only in big terms. But even the smallest things matter and it is to be practiced in smallest things that the higher things are taken care of.

Chapter 2, Sutra 38

ब्रह्मचर्यप्रतिष्ठायां वीर्यलाभः॥२.३८॥

The real meaning of Brahmacharya is clear to me now. There are basically two interpretations of word Brahmacharya. One meaning is the behavior of a person who is involved in realizing the ultimate reality. The other meaning is staying as a bachelor as per ashrama dharma and practicing celibacy.

I feel the first meaning is correct in this context. For a person whose goal is to find the Brahman or feel that uniting with Brahman is his ultimate goal then he gets a kind of energy in his body. This energy a person gets because he does not waste his energy on any other thing or person. He need not waste time and energy for deriving pleasure from other human beings. He gets it from the practice of brahmacharya.

For a clear understanding of what brahmacharya is, readers can look into – Wikipedia

Chapter 2, Sutra 39

अपरिग्रहस्थैर्ये जन्मकथंतासंबोधः॥२.३९॥

The benefits of not having greed, the benefits of not having non-possessiveness are given here. Once the sense organs feel the non-greediness for things of the material world, they will put their energy in the search of knowledge regarding the real nature of existence of a person.

Chapter 2, Sutra 40

शौचात् स्वाङ्गजुगुप्सा परैरसंसर्गः॥२.४०॥

I did not understand at first when I read this sutra, but as I kept on reading material on the internet, and after some thought things started getting clear. Practicing Purity at the body ultimately leads to the realization that the body is impure.

If we realize that the bodies of other people are also impure we will stop hankering for those bodies. A child wants some chocolate but if he realizes that the chocolate taste is bitter he will not try for that anymore.

We should not misunderstand that applying soaps, deodorants is cleanliness. If cleanliness is practiced seriously we keep realizing how dirty our own body is and from this, we get the realization that how dirty other bodies might be and we will stop hankering for other bodies.

Chapter 2, Sutra 41

सत्त्वशुद्धिसौमनस्यैकाग्र्येन्द्रियजयात्मदर्शनयोग्यत्वानि च॥२.४१॥

The continued benefits of being pure are given here. It is mentioned that if we practice purity of body and mind, action and thought, then the following benefits occur:

  • Will be in a state of sattva: calmness.
  • In a state of purity 
  • Cheerfulness 
  • Concentration 
  • conquest over senses 
  • Qualification for self-realization.

These are all great benefits and I did not know that we can achieve all this by the practice of purity. We should study more this sutra and the earlier one as to exactly what Patanjali meant by “saucha”cleanliness. The earlier sutra basically talks about the feeling of vairagya towards the body. as we develop the feeling of vairagya towards our body and the body of others we gradually start distancing ourselves from the sensual pleasures.

In the same way, as we keep cleaning our mind with good thoughts, positive thoughts we keep becoming pure and pure. Basically, its clearing all the junk we accumulated in the mind. As we keep observing the thoughts it becomes clear that its all junk we accumulated and we develop the feeling of disgust towards the feeling of junk.

Chapter 2, Sutra 42


It is described as how we can achieve unexcelled happiness if we are content. Contentment is the key to happiness. We will not be suffering from envy to others, we will be happy about what we have and no more striving for things which make us happy. We will be striving for only things which will make society happy and not for individual happiness. We should understand clearly that contentment means “happy about what we have for individual happiness” and aspire in work for benefit of society.

Chapter 2, Sutra 43

कायेन्द्रियसिद्धिरशुद्धिक्षयात् तपसः ॥ २.४३॥

Here in this sutra the meaning of Tapas is given. What exactly is meant by tapas. People usually mean austerities/becoming poor or going to forest/mountains and meditation. The real meaning of “tapas” is attaining mastery over body and sense organs by removal of impurities.

If we remove the impurities ( already present in the mind and avoid new impurities going into the body and mind then it is called tapas. This can be done in many ways and no one method is the same for all human beings. A person has to discover what impurities are stopping him in the practice of yoga, practice removing them and that practice is called tapas.

Chapter 2, Sutra 44

स्वाध्यायाद् इष्टदेवतासंप्रयोगः ॥ २.४४॥

Self-study gets us connected with our favorite God. Another difficult sutra to understand in the first go. At many places, it is interpreted that if we keep repeating the mantra we will get closer to our God. I feel that svadyaya is the study of the self. Instead of relying on what other person has said we should do our own contemplation and come to a conclusion. For example, if someone says this path is good to follow it. we should not immediately accept it. We have to study the path, have knowledge about it and then come to a conclusion. We should not blindly follow what others say or what society says we should analyze and see what suits us. Like fingerprints are unique, every person is unique. For some people apple may be good for health, for some, it may cause allergy. Unless we know what is good for us after our own effort we cannot follow it totally. Once we know what is good for us we do that activity with full passion thus we come closer to our God.

Chapter 2, Sutra 45

समाधिसिद्धिरीश्वरप्रणिधानात् ॥ २.४५॥

In this sutra Patanjali gives the benefits of complete surrender to Ishwar (God). How does this help in Samadhi? When we sit in meditation we usually think about the problems and in one of the sutra, Patanjali says we should think the opposite thoughts. When we are worried, if we think about God and feel that our problems will be taken care of by him, a lot of this tension goes away and we can meditate.

Also, complete surrender to God helps in removing a lot of fluff in life. If we surrender to God, then we feel that we do not need any material pleasures on this earth and we will be pursuing him. Thus, surrender to God helps in removing material desires.

Surrender to God helps in pursuing the path of light instead of darkness whatever it is. It keeps our mental level stable, keeps us content and not worry much about future.

As we live in society, there are a lot of things which are beyond our control. Lot of works we do are beyond our control. If we surrender to God we will be least worried the nature of result of those works and keep pursuing our works without worry.

Chapter 2, Sutra 46

स्थिरसुखम् आसनम् ॥२.४६॥

After describing the two limbs of yoga ( Yama, Niyama) here the third limb of Yoga is described. Yoga is usually misunderstood as the third limb (asana) when other parts are usually not practiced. People just practice the third limb and expect the results of Yoga. Results will come only when all the limbs are practiced in life. It is said how an asana should be. An asana or posture should be stable (movement less) comfortable. The posture of a person should be stable, not moving. For this, the mind should be stable. For the mind to be stable our lives should be peaceful. The Yama and niyama help in making life peaceful so mind becomes stable.

Chapter 2, Sutra 47

प्रयत्नशैथिल्यानन्तसमापत्तिभ्याम् ॥ २.४७॥

This is an important sutra where it is explained how to get control of the asana. This can be obtained by prayatna. Trying. We should be constantly trying to achieve mastery of the posture. How do we know we achieved master? This can be known when the effort to perform asana becomes less. Once the effort becomes less we should concentrate on the infinite energy.

Chapter 2, Sutra 48

ततो द्वन्द्वानभिघातः ॥ २.४८॥

The three sutras (2.46,2.47 and 2.48) should be read in continuity. Here it is explained what will happen if we spend energy, effort in perfecting an asana. It is mentioned that as we keep attaining mastery over asana, it becomes comfortable and we can concentrate on the infinite energy. In this sutra, it is explained what happens in the mind. In the mind, the dualities of the world regarding yoga vanish. For example, if we start with any new posture or work, initially it is very difficult to practice. As we keep spending effort it keeps getting easy. Initially, there is duality in mind, why should I try this yoga posture? what will I get? We may even feel what is the advantage of doing all this. The inner voice tries to keep us close to our comfort zone and not try new things. As we overcome the pressure of inner voice we will be more and more concentrated on the task. The inner voice also starts speaking the same language of the practice and the dualities vanish. To make all this happen we should practice asana+yama+niyama to remove dualities and focus single-mindedly on our goal.

Chapter 2, Sutra 49

तस्मिन्सति श्वासप्रश्वासयोर्गतिविच्छेदः प्राणायामः ॥ २.४९॥

In this Sutra Patanjali introduces the fourth Limb of yoga, Pranayama. After the posture is mastered then we should proceed towards regulation of breathing. Prana means air, the energy of air. How we take the prana and exhale it outside is directly correlated with our mental state. If we are agitated or tense we have fast breath and if we are relaxed we have softer breath.

As we have seen in earlier sutras, Patanjali always moves from Gross to subtle. Here also in the eight limbs of yoga, we first need to master our lifestyle in a better way ( yama and niyama) then we need to master our body in a perfect way through asana. Then we should proceed to pranayama, the mastery of which will lead us to mastery of the mind.

Chapter 2, Sutra 50

बाह्याभ्यन्तरस्तम्भवृत्तिर्देशकालसंख्याभिः परिदृष्टो दीर्घसूक्ष्मः ॥२.५०॥

We all know that breathing is necessary for life. It is the source of energy in the body and that’s why it is called prana. The oxygen of the breath is the source necessary for the formation of Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) in the cells, which is the driving force of cells.

Also, breath eliminates carbon dioxide, which is the by-product of energy synthesis in the body. if carbon dioxide is not eliminated then it becomes carbonic acid in the blood and the person will die.

To ensure this mechanism goes uninterruptedly we have to breath in and breath out. Patanjali wants us to observe this basic life forming, life-sustaining process happening continuously in our body. In fact, there are only two things which happen regularly in our body, whether we are awake or asleep, whether we are happy or unhappy, in whatever situation. They are heartbeat and breathing. We cannot measure or feel heartbeat unless we see the pulse of person but we can easily perceive our breathing.

Patanjali wants us to observe the exhalation, inhalation and the pause in the breath in-between. To make breathing subtle and long he prescribes three methods: concentrate on any place where we can feel the perception of breath. It can be at the tip of nostrils or inside the nostrils. We can also make the breath longer and subtle by keeping counts. Breathing for long counts will increase the length of the breath. Also, we can keep time as a measurement to increase the length of the breath.

Why is the emphasis given to long and subtle breath? I feel that length of breathing and amount of thoughts in the brain are directly related. More (short) breaths, means more thoughts in mind and we have the feeling of disturbance. Long breaths mean fewer thoughts and a single thought for a long time. Thus, in longer breaths our concentration increases.

AS we keep taking longer breaths, the thoughts also become subtle and subtle and we move from gross to the subtle parts of the brain.

Chapter 2, Sutra 51

बाह्याभ्यन्तरविषयाक्षेपी चतुर्थः ॥२.५१॥

In this sutra a fourth type of Pranayama is explained which is beyond the three types of pranayama explained in the earlier sutra. Here it is mentioned that as the person keeps observing the three breaths, inhalation, pause and exhalation then after sometimes he goes beyond these three stages. He will see that breath becomes softer and softer and a stage will reach when the person can no longer feel he is breathing. Though the body is breathing the mind cannot perceive the breath anymore. In that state, the practitioner of yoga can glimpse the absolute silence in the world. That state is called the fourth state. It is achieved after a considerable practice of meditation breath.

Gautam Buddha taught meditation technique called “ana-Pana” meditation which is focused on the breath. More information can be found at

Chapter 2, Sutra 52

ततः क्षीयते प्रकाशावरणम् ॥ २.५२॥

The advantages of Pranayama re given here. Constant practice of the fourth stage of pranayama (meditation on breath) will lead to removal of covering/ viel from the inner light. During my childhood there used to be lanterns. If the glass of lantern is covered by soot then how ever bright the light from the wick is, the light was not bright from the lantern. Then we used to clean the glass and then we could see the light from the lantern clearly. In the same way we can say that there is an inner light in all individuals. The light is not seen by the person because it is covered by maya. As the person advances in pranayama the viel of maya starts getting removed gradually and the person can see the inner light.

Chapter 2, Sutra 53

धारणासु च योग्यता मनसः ॥ २.५३॥

The eight limbs are arranged so that as we keep getting perfect on one step it helps in achieving the next step in a better way. Here it is said that practice of pranayama helps in achieving better concentration.

Chapter 2, Sutra 54

स्वविषयासंप्रयोगे चित्तस्वरूपानुकार इवेन्द्रियाणां प्रत्याहारः ॥२.५४॥

Now we move on to the fifth limb of ashtanga Yoga. Its is pratyahara. It is one of the most important limb where we move from external to internal environment. Pratyahara means basically fasting of the sense organs. We all fast on certain days and we know that it is good for the body. Through pranayama we regulate the energy entry into our body. In this sutra we know that not only food, breath but also there should be fasting for sense organs. Fasting of sense organs from both external stimuli, internal past thoughts, and fantasies about future.

This sutra really opened my thoughts about how we totally forgot about sense control and indulge in feasting of the senses with various type of stimuli. The more the person stops looking outside for stimuli, the more he travels inside of him. The simple rule is to travel inside. In case of this sutra, it goes a bit farther, which says that not only form external senses but also we should not think much about the thoughts that are already there in our mind. Our mind keeps throwing good and bad thoughts from the past. We need to ignore them equally instead of feeling sad about past actions or good about some good events of the past. We should also not indulge in future fantasies. Fantasizing is equal to feeding the senses with visual stimuli about the external environment.

For more understanding about this sutra please read:…/pratyahara-yogas…

Chapter 2, Sutra 55

ततः परमा वश्यतेन्द्रियाणाम् ॥ २.५५॥

What happens when pratyahara is followed seriously. It brings about the clarity of mind clears the past junk in mind and helps us to see things clearly. Clarity of mind and increasing the will of the mind are the main advantages of pratyahara.

Also, when the weight of the mind gets reduced with fewer impressions then it becomes light and is able to concentrate well.

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