Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga

Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga

Balvir Acharya

Yoga is control of the fluctuation of the mind, then establishment of the jivatma (human soul) in its own self leading to the realization of the Divine Supreme spirit of the universe (That is, Paramatma or God).1

In the Kathopanishad, it is said, that when the senses, mind (mana), intelligence (buddhi), i.e., the entire organs of experience are completely stilled, inversed and vested in the atma at total peace, that is the state of yoga.2

The Gita says, that the state of yoga is not only the total peace and stillness of the mind, sense and intelligence, it is also the reflection of that state of poise in action, the performance of dharmic duty without the expectation of reward, that is, the performance of duty for its own sake in God’s dispensation with expertise and balance of mind.3

Yoga that is the philosophy of being and the science of doing both:


Control of the senses, control of mind, self-realisation, God-realisation and rising of the individual atman to the state of ultimate freedom from existential bondage (Moksha). This is the progress from existence to the Essence, the ascent of the finite to the state of the infinite.

Practical or karmic

Performance of duty in the state of active living for the sake of action beyond all consideration of the reward expected in all states of life, such as loss or gain, heat or cold, praise or blame. This is freedom too, that is, action in the service of the Divine with complete faith in the Law of the Divine.


In the Indian tradition of yoga, there are seven schools: 1. Sankhya yoga or the yoga of knowledge (Jnana yoga); 2. Karma yoga or the yoga of action; 3. Bhakti yoga or the yoga of devotion to God; 4. Mantra yoga; 5. Laya yoga; 6. Hatha yoga; and 7. Raja yoga or Ashtanga yoga, the eight fold yoga of Patanjali as expounded in the yogasutras, which Swami Dayanand also follows and prescribes in his Satyarth Prakash and Rigvedadibhashyabhumika on the basis of the Vedas, especially Yajurveda, chapter 11.

A brief description of the different schools follows:

Sankhya or Jnana Yoga

The first exponent of Sankhya yoga in the Vedic tradition was Maharshi Kapila, author of the Sankhya sutras. The basis of this school of yoga is man’s discriminative knowledge (viveka) of Prakriti (Nature and its mutations in the forms of the world of change), and of Purusha (the individual soul, jivatma, and the cosmic soul, Paramatma). When man, (men and women all) realizes through knowledge and experience (vision) of Prakrti and Purusha, the difference between the world of change and the state of permance (beyond change), then man rises to the state of freedom beyond all change and the consequent suffering caused by loss or gain.

Suffering is caused by change, losses and gains, in the state of nature and the soul’s involvement with all these changes. The soul, i.e., the jivatma, is free in the essence because all changes occur in the state of Nature’s mutability, not in the atma. The evolutes of Prakrti are various: Ahankara (individuation), mana (mind), buddhi (intelligence), organs of perception, organs of volition and action, the subtle elements (sound, touch, form, taste, smell), the gross elements (space, air, fire, water, earth). Prakrti is the original material cause of all these evolutes. Sankhya philosophy says that when gets discriminative knowledge of all these and realizes the difference between these, and the individual atma and Paramatma (the cosmic spirit), and comes to the conclusion that all changes take place only in Prakrti, not in the purusha (the individual atma as well as the cosmic Atma) then he gets freedom from suffering, caused by change, and gets freedom of the ultimate order (Moksha). Discriminative knowledge is Viveka, and the opposite of Viveka is avidya (ignorance). Avidya is the cause of suffering and bondage.

Lord Krishna in the Gita says: “O Arjuna, just as blazing fire reduces, the fuel to ash,

similarly knowledge (jnana) burns off all karmas and their consequence.”4 And he also says therein: “There is nothing so sacred here in the world as discriminative knowledge, and that the yogi, tempered and perfected in yoga attains by himself in due course of time.”5

This is Jnana yoga.

Karma Yoga

To do one’s duty (karma) without personal consideration or selfish desire, non- involvement, giving up the temptation for personal gain as a result of karma, to act as only an instrument of God’s will not as a proud doer, doing duty with surrender to God, this indeed is the real and wondrous form of karma yoga. This is Nishkama Karmayoga.

When a person accepts and follows strictly the path of Nishkama Karmayoga, he rises free from the problems and sufferance of fear, anxiety, pleasure or pain. This does not mean that a person should not do any karma, because, according to karma yoga, he should not claim any fruit personally. This would be a misinterpretation of karma yoga. Karma yoga is, on its own, based on the philosophy of cause and consequence. The fruit of karma follows definitely according to the law of Nature. The message of the Gita that, when the doer concentrates on karma-phala, the fruit of karma, his karma is likely to be vitiated in character possibly by unholy means. This way, the doer would concentrate on the reward rather than on the quality of action. The will, energy and effort which should have been put in on the quality of karma might be wasted on the anxiety and fear for the result. The doer must know that the fruit of the action follows according to Nature’s law, but if the quality of action is compromised because of fear and anxiety for the fruit, then the fruit itself would be impoverished according to same law. This is the essence of the Gita.

“You have a right to action, not to the fruit thereof.” Quite often people

misunderstandthisphilosophyofkarma. The correct interpretation of the message is that you are free to plan the programme of the action. You do your best to arrange for all the means and instruments and finances for the action, but do you or can you, exhaust all the parameters of the infrastructure required? Can you fore see all the possibilities and difficulties on the way? You are in perfect health, your car is fine, the gas is full in the tank, but can you fore see or eliminate the chances of a traffic jam. Therefore the message is: you can plan, you can do your best, but the final result is in someone else’s hand. You can write the best paper on your own, but are you also the examiner? That is someone else. Therefore the message is : Do your best, you can do your best. But do not waste energy on anything other than doing. Not for any reason, slacken in your performance. The fruit is certain. The giver knows better than you. Therefore no worry, no fear, insist and concentrate on karma. 6

“Arjuna, be firm in the state of yoga. In the state of karma yoga, without attachment to consideration of the result, do the duty. With equanimity in the possibilities of success or no-success do your duty. Yoga is equanimity.7

“Yoga means efficiency and expertise of the performance of duty.”8 “Yoga is equanimity, equanimity, for soul.”9

Bhakti yoga

Giving up all material desires, with complete surrender to God, to celebrate, sing and pray to God, to meditate on the Divine presence, to love God with mind, act and speech without reservation, in such state of love and piety, to do all one’s duty: this is Bhaktiyoga.

Mantra yoga

To chant God essential name-word Aum (Om), or chant the Gayatri mantra, and to stabilize oneself in that chant, that is Mantrayoga.

This is also called japa yoga. Japa is of four types : Speech japa (vachika), upanshu

or quiet japa, Manasika or mental japa, and Ajapajapa or silent japa.

When you chant the name-word of God, it is ‘articulate japa’. When the word of japa is heard by none other than the doer, it is called ‘up anshu japa’, when no organ of speech is in operation and the chanter chants the name only mentally. It is called ‘mental japa’, when the chanter in if just hears, not pronounces, the word, it is called ‘japa without japa’.

Laya yoga

When the yogi is completely merged in Dhyana (meditation), it is the state of ‘laya yoga’. Walking, sitting, standing, even in sleep, the entire consciousness and attention is concentrated on God, that is ‘laya yoga’. When the yogi ‘hears’ the sound of Om reverberating in the environment all round, and his mind is completely merged in the sound (Nada), this also is laya yoga.

Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga is called Kundaliniyoga consist of two sounds : ‘ha’ and ‘tha’. Ha means the ‘surya swara’, the breath by the right nostril. Tha means ‘chandra swara’, the breath by the left nostril. ‘Surya’ means ‘sun’, and ‘Chandra’ means ‘moon’. To join these two breaths and make them flow into the central nerve, ‘Susumna nadi’, that is called hatha yoga (ha+tha). In hatha yoga, there is primary emphasis on asana (posture), pranayama (breath control), mudra (finger position of mystical meaning), nada (the cosmic sound of Om), and kriya (particular exercise). Hathayoga and Rajayoga are said to be complementary.

Rajayoga or Ashtanga (eightfold) yoga

This is the form of yoga. That is why it is called Rajayoga. It is also called ‘Samadhiyoga’. To realize the self and also to realize the presence of God in the state of Samadhi, and to attain the state of Moksha, total and ultimate freedom from suffering, that is the end and aim of Rajayoga. Maharshi Patanjali has described the complete process with steps in detail in the yogasutras. In fact, the other forms of yoga can be subsumed in the Rajayoga.


The eightfold steps of Ashtangayoga are the following10 : (i) Yama, (ii) Niyama, (iii)

Asana, (iv) Pranayama, (v) Pratyahara, (vi) Dharana, (vii) Dhyana, and (viii) Samadhi

The first five of these are called Bahiranga (external) yoga, and the other three are called Antaranga (internal) yoga. Swami Dayanand says that these eight steps of yoga are steps to Moksha, spiritual freedom from suffering.11


Yamas are five12: Ahinsa (love, non-violence, satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (sexual discipline and sanctity of man-woman relations), aparigraha (frugality, minimal things of necessity). These are values of social ethics.


Do not hurt anybody, any living being by thought, word or deed. According to Swami Dayanand Saraswati, ahinsa means no jealousy, no enmity, but love for all living beings in every way at all times.13

To nurse anger and enmity to anyone, to think ill of others, to harm any one out of revenge, all this is mental violence. Hinsa (violence) is caused by anger, fear, greed, infatuation, ignorance and weakness. In the yoga sutras there are eighty one forms of violence, either directly done, or caused to be done or approved or affirmed, etc.14

The result of non-violence is that for a man of non-violence, there is no anger, no jealousy, no dear, no enmity all round.15 In fact, when a person is confirmed in love and non- violence, even others also learn love and non-violence by his example.16

Satya (Truth)

Satya means to accept, believe or describe a thing as it is. As you know something by direct experience and observation, so speak of it, follow it, believe it, and do it, says Swami Dayanand.17 The meaning and purpose of truth is the good of all. Speak the truth but in a language which does not hurt the listener. Social and notional good is also the end and aim of truth.18

One commits four kinds of sin by words: tell lies, unnecessary chatter, back-biting and scandal, and rough and hurtful language. Avoid these. Think before you speak, be courteous, cultured, true, and socially true and helpful.

The reward of truth, according to Swami Dayanand is this: When a person is sure of the truth he knows, believes, speaks, and follows the truth in his actions, conduct and behaviour, he is blessed with success in all he ought to do, does, and wants to do.19


Asteya means ‘non-stealing’, i.e., in thought, word and deed, not to take away, by deceit or injustice, anything that belongs to others, without their agreement, will, and permission. Swami Dayanand says that not only to take away, even to wish to take away the things that belong to others without their permission is a violation of asteya. In other words,

not to take away and not even to intend or think of taking away anybody’s rights and belongings is the meaning and spirit of asteya.20

Taking bribe, getting or earning money without hard and honest work, to weigh less than the right amount in sale, accepting salary without doing one’s duty, to be careless in the performance of duty, to fix the price of goods higher than what is fair, all these are forms of theft in the business of daily life according to Patanjali and Swami Dayanand. The basics of yoga are thus real and not just philosophical as intellectual exercise.

The fruit of asteya is that when a person, in thought, word as deed, is determined and confirmed in asteya, then all the precious jewels of life attend around him.21


Complete control of the sex instinct, virility of fertility of the body system, is brahmacharya. Swami Dayanand further explains that, during student life, from childhood up to the minimum of twenty-five years of age, complete sense control and sex control is extremely important and necessary. Twenty-five years is the minimum age for marriage. Premarital or extra-marital relations are out of question. Indulgence even during married life must be avoided. During student life, and even after in one’s professional life, one must continue to observe and maintain the sanctity of one’s person, family, community and society in the context of culture and dharma.22

The reward of brahmacharya is strong, supple and handsome body, if you observe and maintain the discipline honestly, sincerely and conscientiously, in thought, word and deed. A healthy mind in a healthy body. The intelligence is fine, subtle and alert so that it is easy to comprehend serious subjects of higher significance.23 Swami Dayanand says that a person, who maintains brahmacharya in life without calculation and violation, remains free from disease, depression and vitiation of body; mind and soul and ultimately self-realises the four great ideals of life which are dharma, artha, kaman and moksha, and ever and always, in life and even after continues to be in a state of ananda (bliss). 24,25

Aparigraha (non-hoarding, frugality)

Getting, collecting, hoarding, beyond need and measure, this is parigraha. The opposite of it is frugality, prosperity and comfort as far as your need without feeling the strain of want on the anxiety of excess or the fear of loss. No attraction for the thief, no pressure or insecurity for the master.

Collect no more than you need, no expense on the safety lock, no guards for security, and no mourning for the loss if at all. Maharshi Vyasa, in his commentary on the yogasutra writes: “the collection of the insatiable, protection, preservation, loss, diminution, appetizers, violence, fearsome defectives all these are negatives, therefore all these are un-acceptable for intelligent : the rejection of these is aparigraha.26

Swami Dayanand adds: anything beyond the necessaries is rejectable. This is aparigraha. A person must be free from pride and even of his competence, because pride for the positives as well as for the negative is negative in itself. The proud is greedy, and greed is the negation of virtue. Therefore aparigraha is freedom from pride27 and freedom from greed and even self-pride.28 In short, aparigraha means rejection of the unnecessary and harmful materials and rejection of negative, harmful thoughts, ideas and attitudes of the mind and morals.

Explaining the yoga sutra on aparigraha29, Swami Dayanand says that when a person is free from selfish derives, emotions and attitudes of the mind for materials and concentrates on yogic well-being of life, he thinks on and finds answers to questions on the meaning and

purpose of life, such as ‘Who am I?’ ‘Where from am I?’ ‘What should I do?’ ‘By doing what shall I come to good?’ Such question, answers, ideas and ideals are confirmed in his mind and culture.30

The necessity of Yamas

The observation of yamas is ladder for the practitioner. The mind and senses return, revert and get stabilized internally off from the external temptations and the consciousness concentrates on self-realisation. Maharshi Patanjali says that all these yamas are universal, they are not bound by considerations of time, space or species. For the person in search of self-realisation they are the basic mantra on way to the goal. Therefore they are called mahavrata31, “the great Discipline”.

Maharshi Manu says that for spiritual realization, the observance of yamas and

niyamas both is necessary and unavoidable:

“ÿ◊ÊŸ˜ ‚flà ‚ÃÃ¥ Ÿ ÁŸÿ◊ÊŸ˜ ∑ fl‹ÊŸ˜ ’ÈäÊ—– ÿ◊ÊŸ˜ ¬Ãàÿ ∑È flʸáÊÊ ÁŸÿ◊ÊŸ˜ ∑ fl‹ÊŸ˜ ÷¡Ÿ˜”

Yaman seveta satatam na niyaman kevalan budhah, Yanam patatyakurvano niyaman kevalan bhajan.32

The practitioner must observe the yamas without break, not the niyamas only, intelligent as he/she is. One who observes only the niyamas, without observance of the yamas, falls off from the path of yoga.33

Not only for personal good of the individual, but also for the social good, for the peace, progress and order of the society, a person must observe all the five yamas. It is also the duty of the government and the society to see that every citizen observes these rules of social discipline. If it does not happen, the society and the nation would morally and organizationally fall to evil and disorder. Corruption, bribe, disunity would follow inevitably.


The five Niyamas34 are : Shaucha (Cleanlines and purity), santosha (contentment), tapa (austerity of discipline), swadhyaya (self-study and study of good literature), and Ishwara-pranidhama (surrender of God).

The observance of these is necessary for every-one’s personal life and personal advancement. A discussion follows:

Shaucha (Cleanliness and purity)

Shaucha means to clean, to purify, Cleanliness is twofold: external and internal. External cleanliness means cleanliness of the body, clothes, home and surroundings. Internal cleanliness means to purify the mind of all negativities, intellectual, moral, emotional and ideational dist such as jealousy, enmity, greed, infatuation, anger, selfishness of love and attachment and all causes of these negativities.

On the subject of purity, Swami Dayanand also says that purity is twofold: internal and external. You achieve internal purity by dharmic conduct. Speaking the truth, self-study and study of good books, company of good, positive and dharmic people in holy congregations. External cleanliness you can achieve by bath, washing i.e. floor or paths of movement in water and helping your food and clothes etc. by washing, sifting, sieving, proper cooking of food and by agnihotra which purifies the air and environment. 35

Maharshi Manu emphasizes cleanliness and purity, saying that the body is washed and cleansed with water, mind is cleansed by speaking the truth, by knowledge and austerity

of discipline, the atma (soul) is cleansed, and buddhi (intelligence) is cleansed by knowledge and scientific and logical thinking.36 In the same view, Swami Dayanand says that with water, the external parts of the personality are cleansed, but not the mind and the spirit because they are internal. The mind is cleansed by faith in truth, and truth in speech and action. The individual spirit (atma) by knowledge, practice of yoga and dharmic conduct, and the buddhi (intelligence) is cleansed by reason, rational thought and knowledge, not by water or clay.37

Swami Dayanand says that when a person finds that with both the means of external and internal cleansing, his own body system, in that he/she must avoid and help off from contact with external dirt and concentrate on the cleanliness of his antahkarana, i.e., mana, (mind), buddhi (intelligence), chitta (memory and ideas), and ahankara (his sense of the self and spiritual identity) with the practice of yoga. The result would be that the antahkarana (self) would be purified and he/she would experience purity and joy at heart, would win over the distractions of the senses and mind, attain mental concentration and achieve the possibility of self-realisation purely in spiritual terms.38


Explaining santosha, Swami Dayanand says : self-satisfied, if a person stays on by himself doing nothing, that is not santosha (contentment). But to do, effort at the optimum, but staying cool, without feeling too happy on success, and depressed at no-success. That is santosha.39 To do one’s best with dharmic effort, happy at heart, without excess with success, and cool at no-success, without depression. That is santosha, aquanimity of mind and spirit of course, sloth is us contentment.40 The point is: moving on the right path, doing one’s best with the heart means at one’s command and, expecting no more than what comes one’s way, without trying to grabe anything more. That is contentment.41 Santosha incase neither laziness nor intoxication, nor madness. It means best effort and most acceptance with equanimity. If you are over anxious for more than what rightly and rightfully comes your way. You are heading toward disappointment and depression, with efficiency depleting every moment.

ãÃÊ·ÊŒŸÈûÊ ÈπÊ÷ “Santoshadnuttamah sukhlabhah”, says Patnjali.42 Explaining

the sutra, Swami Dayanand says, the joy that you get from contentment as explained above is the best, nothing better or higher than that.43 By santosha, the yogi gets freedom from the ambition for what is not. By freedom from such ambition, the yogi gets freedom from suffering born of insatiable desire (trishna). This is joy supreme. This joy, Swami Dayanand describes as Moksha. Maharshi Vyasa in his commentary on yogasutra says that, the joy people get from the fulfillment of cherished desire, and also the joy that is heavenly, both of these joined together do not equal the joy – even the one-sixteenth of it. Which the yogi experiences from the elimination of trishna.44

Tapa (anterity of discipline)

Swami Dayanand has given three versions of tapa in his writings:

  1. Observance of Dharma, i.e. justice and rectitude in an objective impersonal manner, coupled with yoga practice like pranayama.45

  2. Even in sprite of unhappiness and suffering, observance of Dharma and performance of Dharmic works.46

  3. Just as the goldsmith purifies and refines gold in the heat of the furnance, similarly the yogi should purify and refine his mind and soul (mana and atma) in the austere

discipline of tapa through darhim could not and inculcation of holly ideas and virtues of life.47

According to Patanjali, tapa means performance of one’s duties and while doing so, face with equanimity of the contraries (dvvandwa) of pleasure versus pain, gain and loss, praise and insult, heat and cold.48 This is the satvica (best) form of tapa. In sacred literature also, tapa has been explained: In the Gita49, there are three orders of tapa described: mental tapa (manasic tapa); verbal tapa (vachika tapa); physical tapa (sharirica tapa).

Keeping the mind cool and peaceful with the minds purification with positive ideas, pursuit of truth, freedom from double-speak and double-think, and purity and transparency of behaviour with all, this is mental tapa.

To speak words which bring peace, to use wants: dialogue which are true, sweet and holily encouraging, reading of good books and use of minimum words for maximum expression. This is verbal tapa.

Respect for, and service of parents, appreciation and respect for the seniors to remain clean and natural, give in a simple natural manner, to observe ahinsa and brahmacharya: This is physical tapa.

Doing mental, verbal and physical tapa to keep the mind and soul is satvic tapa.

In sacred literature, satvic tapa is recommended, but the tamasic tapa (of the lowest type) and rajasic tapa of the middle one prohibited and not recommended. The tapa which is done to earn social recognition and collect self-esteem is rajasic tapa (of the middle order). The tapa which subjects the body to strain and pain, which is performed with obstinate persistence, for example, sitting with fire all round, standing on one leg for a long time, keeping one or both arms up, these are the lowest kinds of tapa. These are of no use.50

Tapa eliminates the health problems and kafa. The body becomes strong and healthy, clean and supple, and the efficiency of the organs of perception and volition is increased.51

Swadhyaya (Self-study and study of good literature)

According to Maharshi Vyasa, swadhyaya means reading of sacred literature way forward on to Moksha and chant of Aum.52 Maharshi Dayanand too affirms the same and says: Reading of sacred literature on the subject of Moksha such as the Vedas and the Darshanas, meditation on Aum and defining the presence of God for one’s own vision and experience, that is Swadhyaya. 53

In the context of the subject on hand, the word swadhyaya has two meanings: su+dhyaya, i.e., reading of the best and holiest books which explain yoga philosophy and light the path to Moksha. Such are the Vedas, Vedanga, Upanga, Upavedad, Upanishad, Darshana, Gita, etc.

The other meaning of Swadhyaya is sva+adhyaya, i.e., study and meditation of one’s own self, that is, study of the atmas koshas, namely, annamaya kosha, pranamaya kosha, manomaya kosha, vijnanamaya kosha and anandamaya kosha; and after knowing of these planes of the personality, knowing of the subtle body (sukshama sharira), and then, on top, purist of atma-sakshatkara, self-realisation, leading, finally, to the vision of the Divine.

The person dedicated to swadhyaya is led on to the Divine vision (Ishwara sakshatkara). The person gets into the company of yogi, scholars dedicated to the Veda, and saints in pursuit of God. This company of the holy helps him or her to get on to and proceed to the divine goal.54 Explaining Patanjali’s ‘ishtadevata samprayoga’, Swami Dayanand says: By Swadhyaya, the yogi gets close to the presence of the divine object of his holy pursuit, God and, by virtue of divine grace, is led on the self-purification, self-visions, pursuit of truth, purushartha (attainment of the meaning and purpose of life), Divine love and Moksha, ultimate freedom.55

Ishwara-pranidhana (surrender to God)

Prayer, meditation and upasana with complete surrender to God, complete renunciation of worldly desires and ambitions, with only one aim of self-realization (atma sakshatkara) and through that, God realization (Ishwara-sakshatkara), doing one’s duty in respect of life, complete, unqualified, unreserved surrender to God is Ishwara-pranidhana.56

Maharshi Dayanand explains that Ishwara-pranidhana means the surrender in all faith and love, of all one’s strength, powers and virtues, all qualities, all pranas, the atma and mana (self and mind), in short, the surrendered dedication of all that is yours in this phase of existence.57

The devotee attains the state of Samadhi without difficulty.58 Elsewhere it is said that, the devotee attains the direct realization of God (Ishwara sakshatkara), and success over all obstacles to the top state of yoga.59

    1. ASANA

In meditation, that posture of the body in which you can sit comfortably with body, mine and atma in harmony, that is asana.60 In the language of Swami Dayanand asana is the posture at ease, without any discomfort.61

In yoga practice, there are two kinds of asana: one, for meditation; the other, for health of body.

For meditation: that posture in which you can sit for as long as you can, with ease, comfort, disturbance. The body, mind and atma should be one in harmony. Such asanas are padmasana, siddhasana, etc.

The other kind of asana is for the saka of exercise for good health. Such are halasana, shirshasana, and sarvangasana, etc.

There are two ways of attaining success in asana: one is prayatna shaithilya, no bodily strain and slow, successive exercise for comfortable perfection of the posture. The other is ananta samapatti, complete concentration on the presence of God.62

When success and efficiency in the asana, then the yogi attains the strength and ability to remain calm, comfortable and concentrated, all at peace, in sprit of the contraries of weather such as heat and cold, and needs of the body such as hunger and thirst.63 Maharshi Dayanand also says that, when the yogi is stabilized in the asana posture, then heat and cold of the weather do not disturb him and he does not have to strain his body or mind to sit at peace for meditation.64


After stability in asana has been attained, then in that posture, then to control and slap the movement of breath is called pranayama.65

On this subject, Maharshi Dayanand writes: The inhalation of breath is shvasa, the exhalation of breath is prashvasa. The yogi should control both by the act of thought. Never hold the nose by hand, the control (including stoppage) of the breath only by thought and will and knowledge (of the science of breath) is pranayama.

And pranayama is of four kinds: One is external (bahya-vishaya), the second is internal (abhyantara-vishaya), the third is still (stambha-vritti), and the fourth is ‘stop-out’, ‘stop-in’ by control.

The four pranayamas are like this: When the breath is exhaled, stop it out (as far as easily possible). This is the first pranayama. When the breath is inhaled, stop in and hold it in as far as possible. This is the second pranayama. The third is stambha-vritti which means

‘neither exhale nor inhale, but stop it where it is and hold as long as you comfortably can. The fourth is Bahyabhyantarakshepi, that is, when the breath is exhaled (from in, to out), stop it out in parts; and when the breath is inhaled (from out, to in), stop it in parts as long as possible.66

When the yogi successfully has practiced pranayama for sufficiently long time, then the ignorance and avidya, which veils over discriminative knowledge (viveka), starts getting reduced. The negative Sanskars (genetic impressions) as well as the future negative karmas too, of which the possibility is there, all that getting reduced.67 In addition, the mind develops the capacity for contraction (Dharana). The yogi develops the competence for concentration of the mind whenever and wherever he wants.68

Maharshi Dayanand says that the yogi who practices meditation with pranayama experiences that the veil of ignorance from over the potential jnana, discriminative knowledge, is disappearing and the light of knowledge is increasing.69

When the yogi is in control, of prana, the potential of mind and senses too comes into his control, according to his will. His strength of mind and will increases. It is intelligence (buddhi) grows fine and subtle and sharp and his understanding of the meaning and purpose of life expands. He can understand the subtle and difficult mysteries and problems of life. His vitality of body and mind increases, stability of mind, strength, potential for advancement, sense control, memory and discrimination grow so fast that he can master the shastras in a short time.70 (Let us remember that Swami Dayanand too mastered and memorized the Vedas and shastras the same way).

When man practices pranayama, then every moment on in time darkness, impurity and ignorance thin out and the light of knowledge and awareness increase and radiate until the man is free from all bondages of time and Prakriti in the state of Moksha.71 Maharshi Manu writes in Manusmriti72:

Œ„˜ÿãà ä◊Êÿ◊ÊŸÊŸÊ¥ äÊÊÃÍŸÊ¥ ø ÿÕÊ ÷‹Ê—–


Dahyante dhmayamananam dhatunam ca yatha ma lah, Tathendriyanam dahyante dosah pranasya dharanat.

Just as in the fire, the impurities of metals such as gold get burnt off, similarly, by

pranayama, the impurities of the mind and senses get burnt out to purity.73


Through long and continuous yoga practice, when the mind of the yogi becomes pure and peaceful, the business of his senses and mind too stops by themselves. The senses were, so far, wandering out to their objects by the direction of the mind. Now that the mind is still and at peace, the senses have nothing to do, so by themselves they retire and turn inwards in deference to the mind. They are silent, at peace.

Thus the return of the senses inward, in unison with the mind is called Pratyahara.74

On this Maharshi Dayanand says that Pratyaharar is that state of man’s personality when man has won over the mind with full control, then the senses are won over and controlled of themselves, because the mind is the mover and master of the senses.75

When the yogi is stabilized in pratyahara, the senses are completely under his control. There is no need to try to control the senses any further.76


    1. DHARANA

When through the external means of yoga, from yama-niyama to pratyahara, the mind is at peace in the state of purity, then to fix and stabilize the mind on any object of positive value in terms of yoga, is called Dharana: ŒÊãäÊÁøûÊSÿ äÊÊáÊÊ

Deshabandhachittasya Dharana.77 The meaning is: When the yogi, according to him own will and choice, wants to fix and stabilize his mind and attention on some object of yogic values, and fixes it there at peace, that state of yoga is Dharana.

Maharshi Dayanand’s view of Dharana is this: The mind, free from all its fluctuations, consciousness concentrated on any point such as the navel, heart, forehead, tip of the nose or tip of the tongue, and chanting Om identified with its content, Parameshwara. That is the state called Dharana.78

When the yogi stabilizes his mind on some point – heart, ajnachakra, navel, etc. and meditated on the presence of God, then God is the object of meditation, the jiva, i.e., the yogi, is the mediator, and the presence of ‘I’ (The mediator consciousness) and ‘thou’ (God, the object) both is the content of the act of meditation: This is internal-oriented Dharma.

But when the yogi, keen on knowing some doubly object in its specific identity, concentrates the mind and consciousness on that object, that is external-oriented Dharana.

    1. DHYANA

Constant continuance of the concentration of mind and consciousness, un- interruptedly, wholly and exclusively, on the object of meditation, i.e., on God, on the same point as in the state of Dharana, that is Dhyana. In simple words, Dhyana is constant continuation of meditation as in the state of Dhyana. In simpler words: Dhyana is the continuation of Dharana.

In the language of yogasutra, ÃǐÊ ¬˝àÿÿÒ ÃÊŸÃÊ äÿÊŸ˜ Tatra pratyayaikatanata


Explaining this sutra, Maharshi Dayanand says: Having attained to the state of Dharana, meditation on God, with all love and thought, the yogi experiences as unearthly presence of light divine and joy in and out everywhere. To enter and merge in that light and joy just like a stream entering and merging with the sea, and to continue therein without interruption, that is Dhyana. 80

    1. SAMADHI

Samadhi is the highest state of Dhyana. When the yogi, through Dhyana, realizes the presence of God and, with mind withdrawn from all worldly objects and consciousness withdrawn even from the self, concentrates and stabilizes on God alone, that is Samadhi. In Samadhi, the yogi forgets his own self even, and merges with God-consciousness.

In the language of yogasutra, ÌոÊǐÊÁŸ÷Ê¥ SM ¬ÊÍãÿÁ ÊÁäÊ Tadeva-

arthamatra-nibhasam svarupa-shunyamiva samadhih.81

Explaining this sutra, Maharshi Dayanand says: Just as a piece of iron in the fire of the furnace becomes fire itself, similarly the yogi’s consciousness merges in the divine consciousness and divine self-refulgence, and in that state of joy (ananda) forgets even his own identity.82

Having emerged from Samadhi, the jivatma can, in the waking state, address and ask

Paramatma, like a child, of course: “Pray what is the difference between you and me?” THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DHYANA AND SAMADHI

Maharshi Dayanand explains the difference between Dhyana and Samadhi : In the state of Dhyana, the subject (The I that meditates, the yogi as an atma), the object (the Thou, Ishwara, God, on whose light and presence and ananda, the yogi meditates), and the experience (light, or joy, whatever the yogi feels during meditation), all these three are these. In the state of Samadhi, all the three merge into one.

In the language of Maharshi Dayanand, in Dhyana, the subject (who meditates), the object (Ishwara on whom the consciousness is concentrated), and ‘mana’ (the mind which is the vehicle of consciousness), all the three are there. In Samadhi, there is only One.

Just as a person dives into water, stays in there, for as long as he can, this is the state of Samadhi.83

When he emerges from water, he emerges from Samadhi, the person is a person. The water is there. The experience was, for sure, an experience.

I,thou,experience,thethreearethereinDhyana. The three are one in Samadhi. In the language of yoga, we call them “dhyata, dhyana and dhyeya.

In the language of psychology, we call them “subject, object, and experience.”

When you come to that stage in the experience of yoga-sadhana where there is no distinction between the subject, the object, and the experience, then feel that you had achieved the state of Samadhi.84


In the yogasutra, the three, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi, are called Samyama.85

Maharshi Dayanand says that the three are, at the end, not three, because the technique in excluding order, although linear in description, is actually simultaneous for the efficient yogi. It hardly takes any time to move from Dharana to Dhyana, and from Dhyana to Samadhi. Further, the equipage of all three also is identical: Realisation of the presence, refulgence and ecstasy (ananda) of Paramatma by the jivatma. The phala, end and aim of all three is the same: direct experience of the presence, power and ananda of the infinite Divinity by the finite humanity.86

Whenever you wish to follow the practical technique of yoga for God realization, follow the process this way: Below the throat, above the stomach, between the nipples. There is the divine resonance hollow, called Hridayakash, ‘The city of God’, so called among all cultures. Therein, in the heart lotus, is the divine presence of the Sacchidananda God Almighty with all His refulgence. Centre all your consciousness there, with absolute attention, persist in the practice without a break with perfect faith, and one day you will see the light. Patanjali is the guide, says Maharshi Dayanand. That is the way.

Laid out by Maharshi Patanjali, explained by Maharshi Dayanand, if. This path is followed constantly without break, for a sufficiently long time, life with food and conduct well ordered as prescribed by the sages, success is possible for sure.

Indulgence and ‘sadhana’ do not go together for success. Therefore, Yogeshwar Krishna says in the Gita:

If a person’s food and daily habits and conduct are well ordered, if the intention, will and action is well controlled, if sleep and wakeful state is well controlled, yoga would remove all his problems of pain and suffering for sure.87 Further, if a person eats too much, or

eats too little, staying hungry as a part of virtue, or sleeps too much, or keeps awake too long then too no success.88

Blessing : This is upasana yoga, Param Dharma, self-realisation through the practice of


Warning :Success in yoga does not favour the man of bad conduct, because unless a person gives up evil in thought, words and deed, unless he does not work for peace of mind, Unless he does not engage heart and soul for the attainment of “purushartha”, doesn’t purify himself in and out, let him read, listen to sermons ever so much, he cannot realize his own self, cannot realize the Supreme Atman.89

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  1. (i) Yogdarshan, 1.2; ÿʪÁøûÊÎÁûÊÁŸÊäÊ

(ii) Ibid.,1.1, Vyas Bhashya; ÿʪ ÊÁäÊ

  1. Kathopanishad, chapter-II, ÀËx.vÆ.vv

3 Gita, 2.50; ÿʪ ¸È ÊÒʘ

Ibid., 2.48; ॠÿʪ ©ǔÿÃ

4 Ibid., 4.37

5 Ibid., 4.38

6 Ibid., 2.47

7 Ibid., 2.48

8 Ibid., 2.50

9 Ibid., 2.48

  1. Yogdarshan, 2.29

  2. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya, Vedic Yantralaya, Ajmer (1951)

  3. Yogdarshan, 2.30

  4. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya,

  5. Yogdarshan, 2.34 15 Ibid., 2.35

  1. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  2. Ibid.

  3. Yogdarshan, 2.30, Vyas Bhashya

  4. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya; cf. Yogdarshan, 2.36

  5. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  6. Ibid., Yogdarshan, 2.37

  7. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  8. Yogdarshan, 2.38

  9. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Satyarth Prakash, chapter-III, Vedic Yantralaya, Ajmer (1925)

  10. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  11. See Yogdarshan, 2.30, Vyas Bhashya

  12. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  13. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Satyarth Prakash, chapter-III

  14. Yogdarshan, 2.39

  15. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  16. Yogdarshan, 2.31

  17. Manusmiriti, 4.204

  18. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Satyarth Prakash, chapter-III

  19. Yogdarshan, 2.32

  20. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  21. Manusmiriti, 5.109; ÁjªÊ¸ǐÊÊÁáÊ ÊÈäÿÁãÃ, Ÿ àÿŸ ÊÈäÿÁà ÁlÊìÊïÿÊ¥ ÷ÍÃÊàÊ, ÈÁhôÊʸŸŸ ÊÈäÿÁÃ

  22. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Sanskarvidhi, Ghriyashram Sanskar, Vedic Yantralaya, Ajmer (1968)

  23. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya; cf. Yogdarshan, 2.40-41

  24. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Satyarth Prakash, chapter-III

  25. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  26. Yogdarshan, 2.30, Vyas Bhashya

  27. Yogdarshan, 2.42

  28. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  29. Yogdarshan, 2.41

  30. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Sanskarvidhi, Sanyas Prakarnam

  31. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Satyarth Prakash, chapter-III

  32. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  33. Yogdarshan, 2.32 49 Gita, 17.14-17 50 Ibid., 17.5-6

  1. Yogdarshan, 2.43; ÊÿÁãŒ˝ÿÁÁhÊÈÁhˇÊÿÊûʬ

Rigvedadibhashyabhumika Upasana Vishya; ¬ÍʸÄà ì ©Ÿ ÊË ÊÒ ßÁãŒ˝ÿÊ° ÊÈÁh ˇÊÿ ŒÎ Ê

ŒÊ ʪÁà ÃË Ò¥

  1. Yogdarshan, 2.32, Vyas Bhashya

  2. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  3. Yogdarshan, 2.44

Please see, Vyas Bhashya; ŒÊ v ·ÿ ÁhÊø SÊäÿÊÿÊËSÿ ŒÊ¸Ÿ¥ ªǔ¿Áãà Êÿ¸ øÊSÿ øãà ßÁÃ

  1. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  2. Yogdarshan, 2.32, Vyas Bhashya

  3. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  4. Ibid.

  5. Yogdarshan, 2.29 60 Ibid., 2.46

  1. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  2. Yogdarshan, 2.47 63 Ibid., 2.48

  1. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  2. Yogdarshan, 2.49

  3. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  4. Yogdarshan, 2.52, see Vyas Bhashya

  5. Yogdarshan, 2.53

  6. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  7. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Satyarth Prakash, chapter-III

  8. Ibid.

  9. Manusmiriti, 6.71

  10. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Satyarth Prakash, chapter-III

  11. Yogdarshan, 2.54

  12. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  13. Yogdarshan, 2.55; Ãà ¬Ê ÿÃÁãŒ˝ÿÊáÊʘ ß ÍǐÊ Ê Õ¸ Ã È Á·¸ Œÿʟ㌠SÃË Áπà ҥ Á à ŸÈcÿ Á¡ÃÁãŒ˝ÿ Ê ¡Ê° ¬Ÿ Ÿ Ê ÊŸÊ øÊŸÊ øÊ, ©Ë ¥ Ê ÊÒ øÊ ÃÊ Ò ÊÒ Á» © Ê ôÊÊŸ Ê ¡ÊŸ ŒÊ àÿ ¥ ¬˝ËÁÃ Ê ¡ÊÃË Ò ÊÒ àÿ ¥ ÷Ë ŸË¥ Rigvedadibhashyabhumika Upasana Vishya

  14. Yogdarshan, 3.1

  15. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  16. Yogdarshan, 3.2

  17. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  18. Yogdarshan, 3.3

  19. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

  20. Ibid.

  21. Bhwanilal Bhartiya ed., Dayanand Shashtrarth Sangrah, Ramlal Kapoor Trust, Bahalgarh, Sonepat (1970)

  22. Yogdarshan, 3.4

  23. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya

87 Gita, 6.17

88 Ibid., 6.17

89 Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Rigvedadibhashyabhumika- Upasana Vishya Kathopanishad, ÀËw ãǐÊ wy

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