Shankara on the Yoga Sutras for Yoga Practise

Here is Trevor leggett’s original specification using links

(1) Read the Introduction for the General Reader: at this stage pass over the Technical Introduction.

Then read the following passages of the sūtra and commentaries from part 1 only:-

(2) 1.02– 1.06 then jump to

(3) 1.12 – 1.22

(4) 1.23 – 26, God. Sūtra-s only – pass over the elaborate proofs. Take it as a working hypothesis to be confirmed by experiment.

(5) 1.27 -32

(6) 1.33 – 40


(7) 1.41 – 49. Note the conditions for inspiration given in 1.43 and 1.47. Not all Samādhi-s are Truth-bearing.


(8) 1.50 and 1.51, and refer back to 1.18.


Re-read these passages till you have a good idea of the basic pattern of the Yoga.


(1) If you are cut off (say in solitary confinement) and the need is great, devote several hours a day to the basic practice of disentangling Seer from Seen (eg 2.35). When this is established and comes of its own accord sometimes, practise giving up thoughts (1.18) in meditation. The yoga then takes over (1.50).

(2) If you are relatively free from obligations, with basic needs at hand, practise at least three hours a day. Patañjali hardly mentions a guru, but without some senior adviser few can keep going without changing the rules to suit themselves. This causes many failures. Capacity for devotion to God arises naturally in anyone who meditates with serious enquiry. When developed it gives direct vision (2.44) and perfection in Samādhi (2.45).

(3) If you have commitments, you must establish a do-or-die resolution to practise Yoga of Action (2.12). It requires some heroism. Evenness of mind in all concerns of daily life is the main tapas. Then there must be determination to set aside at least an hour-and-a-half every single day to the two other elements; self-study includes holy reading. The Gītā is a summary of the Upaniṣad-s in verse ( Sir Edwin Arnold’s Song Celestial is also in easily memorable verse.) Teachers today give meditations on avatars such as Rama and Jesus; they culminate in a vision which changes the whole life. It is essential to practise hard at the Yogic action, which must be energetic but free from a claim on results; it is given in detail in the early chapters of the Gītā.

Nearly all Yogis support themselves with the OM (1.28) and Maitri (1.33) practices. These also bring out hidden natural potentialities from the mind (1.29; 3.33). But the so- called Glories are the delusive manipulations of the world-illusion and are mires of attachment.

When enthusiasm flags, read 2.15 – 17; look around you and see how anxiety, pain and death are rushing towards us like an express train. Yoga is a way to escape them.
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