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Rāja yoga (Sanskrit: राज योग, / /) is a term with a variety of meanings depending on the context. In modern context, it refers to the Yoga school of philosophy in Hinduism. In historical context, it was the ultimate stage of yoga practice, one nearing Samadhi. The modern retronym was introduced in the 19th-century by Swami Vivekananda to differentiate it as the form of yoga that includes the yoga of mind. Ancient, medieval and most modern literature often refers to Yoga school of Hinduism simply as Yoga.
Yoga philosophy is one of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism. It is closely related to the Samkhya school of Hinduism. Yoga school's systematic studies to better oneself physically, mentally and spiritually has influenced all other schools of Indian philosophies.
The epistemology of Yoga school of Hinduism, like Sāmkhya school, relies on three of six Pramanas, as the means of gaining reliable knowledge. These included Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāṇa (inference) and Sabda (Āptavacana, word/testimony of reliable sources). The metaphysics of Yoga is built on the same dualist foundation as the Samkhya school. The universe is conceptualized as of two realities in Samhkya-Yoga schools: Puruṣa (consciousness) and prakriti (matter). Jiva (a living being) is considered as a state in which puruṣa is bonded to prakriti in some form, in various permutations and combinations of various elements, senses, feelings, activity and mind. During the state of imbalance or ignorance, one of more constituents overwhelm the others, creating a form of bondage. The end of this bondage is called liberation, or moksha by both Yoga and Samkhya school of Hinduism. The ethical theory of Yoga school is based on Yamas and Niyama, as well as elements of the Guṇa theory of Samkhya.
Yoga school of Hinduism differs from the closely related non-theistic/atheistic Samkhya school by incorporating the concept of a "personal, yet essentially inactive, deity" or "personal god" (Ishvara). Samkhya school suggests that jnana (knowledge) is a sufficient means to moksha, Yoga school suggests that systematic techniques/practice (personal experimentation) combined with Samkhya's approach to knowledge is the path to moksha. Yoga shares several central ideas with Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism, with the difference that Yoga philosophy is a form of experimental mysticism, while Advaita Vedanta is a form of monistic personalism. Advaita Vedanta, and other schools of Hinduism, accept, adopt and build upon many of the teachings and techniques of Yoga.
- 1 Etymology and usage
- 2 History
- 3 Practice
- 4 The eight steps of Yoga school
- 5 Philosophy
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 Sources
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Etymology and usage
Rāja (Sanskrit: राज) means "chief, best of its kind" or "king". Rāja yoga thus refers to "chief, best of yoga".
In the context of Hindu philosophy, rāja yoga is a retronym, introduced in the 19th-century by Swami Vivekananda. In all historical texts, Rāja yoga in the modern sense of its meaning, is known simply as Yoga, where it means one of six major orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy.
- One name, different practices
The historical use of the term Rāja yoga is found in other contexts, quite different than its modern usage. In ancient and medieval Sanskrit texts, it meant the highest state of yoga practice (one reaching samadhi). Hatha Yoga Pradipika, for example, refers to Hath yoga as one of the ways to achieve such Rāja yoga. However, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a text of the Natha sampradaya, is a different practice, and does not refer to modern retronym, Rāja yoga, where it means the Yoga philosophy, as taught in ancient Hindu texts such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Similarly, Brahma Kumaris, a recent religious movement, globally markets Rāja yoga that has very little to do with Yoga philosophy of Hinduism and its key text Patanjali's Yoga sutras. Modern interpretations and literature that discusses Raja yoga often credits Yogasūtras as its textual source, but many neither adopt the teachings nor the philosophical foundations of the Yoga school of Hinduism.
The first known use of the phrase Rāja yoga occurs in a 16th century commentary on a specific step in Patanjali's Yogasūtras. Alain Daniélou states that Rāja yoga was, in the historic literature of Hinduism, one of five known methods of yoga, with the other four being Hatha yoga, Mantra yoga, Laya yoga and Shiva yoga. Daniélou translates it as "Royal way to reintegration of Self with Universal Self (Brahman)". This version of Raja yoga has the same names for eight main steps, but each step is significantly different in details than either Hatha Yoga or those described in Yoga sutras of Patanjali. The Hindu scholar Dattatreya, in his medieval era Tantric work named Yogasastra explains in 334 shlokas, principles of four yoga: Mantra yoga, Hatha yoga, Laya yoga and Raja yoga.
In many modern scholarly philosophical, self development, cultural, and religious literature, Yoga philosophical school of Hinduism is simply referred to as Yoga. In some modern literature, Raja yoga is considered one of the four paths to spirituality within Yoga philosophy of Hinduism. This mixing of concepts, has led to confusion in understanding historical and modern Indian literature on Yoga, particularly when the term Raja yoga is used.
Raja yoga is sometimes also branded as or referred to as "royal yoga", "royal union", "sahaj marg", "classical yoga" and "aṣṭānga yoga"; many of these, however, are different practices and have little to do with Yoga philosophy of Patanjali.
The foundational text of Yoga school of Hinduism is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. After its circulation in the first half of 1st millennium CE, many Indian scholars reviewed it, then published their Bhāṣya (notes and commentary) on it, which together form a canon of texts called the Pātañjalayogaśāstra ("The Treatise on Yoga of Patañjali").
According to Axel Michaels, the Yoga Sutras are built upon fragments of texts and traditions from ancient India. According to Feuerstein, the Yoga Sutras are a condensation of two different traditions, namely "eight limb yoga" (ashtanga yoga) and action yoga (kriya yoga). The kriya yoga part is contained in chapter 1, chapter 2 verse 1-27, chapter 3 except verse 54, and chapter 4. The "eight limb yoga" is described in chapter 2 verse 28-55, and chapter 3 verse 3 and 54.
There are numerous parallels in the concepts in ancient Samkhya, Yoga and Abhidharma schools of thought, particularly from 2nd century BCE to 1st century AD, notes Larson. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras may be a synthesis of these three traditions. From Samkhya school of Hinduism, Yoga Sutras adopt the "reflective discernment" (adhyavasaya) of prakrti and purusa (dualism), its metaphysical rationalism, as well its three epistemic methods to gaining reliable knowledge. From Abhidharma Buddhism's idea of nirodhasamadhi, suggests Larson, Yoga Sutras adopt the pursuit of altered state of awareness, but unlike Buddhism which believes that there is neither self nor soul, Yoga is physicalist and realist like Samkhya in believing that each individual has a self and soul. The third concept Yoga Sutras synthesize into its philosophy is the ancient ascetic traditions of isolation, meditation and introspection, as well as the yoga ideas from the 1st millennium BCE Indian texts such as Katha Upanishad, Shvetashvatara Upanishad and Maitri Upanishad.
Yoga philosophy and Islamic history
In early 11th century, the Persian scholar Al Biruni visited India, lived with Hindus for 16 years, and with their help translated several significant Sanskrit works into Arabic and Persian languages. One of these was Patanjali's Yogasutras. Along with generally accurate translations, Al Biruni's text has significant differences than Yogasutra manuscripts discovered in India, during the 19th century. Al Biruni's record has helped modern scholars establish that Patanjali's Yogasutras manuscript existed in India in many versions, each with multiple commentaries by Hindu scholars. Some of these versions and commentaries have been lost or yet to be found. Al Biruni's translation preserved many of the core themes of Yoga philosophy of Hinduism, but certain sutras and analytical commentaries were restated making it more consistent with Islamic monotheistic theology. Al Biruni's version of Yoga Sutras reached Persia and Arabian peninsula by about 1050 AD.
In Indian historical timeline, marking with the arrival of Islam in India in twelfth century, further development and literature on Yoga philosophy of Hinduism went into decline. By the sixteenth century, Patanjali's Yoga philosophy was nearly extinct. Yoga was preserved by sadhus (ascetics, sannyasis) of India. Some of the Hindu yoga elements were adopted by Sufi sect of Muslims in India. The Sufi Muslims at times adopted and protected the Yoga tradition of Hindus during the Islamic rule of India, and at other times helped the persecution and violence against those Hindus. The Mughal Emperor Akbar, known for his syncretic tolerance, was attracted to and patronized Yoga philosophy of Hinduism.
Yoga philosophy and modern history
During the colonial era, particularly the 19th century, a period of sustained rediscovery and study led to the re-emergence of Yoga school of Hinduism. Vivekananda, Helena Blavatsky and others played a key role in its growth.
By early 21st century, scholars had located 37 editions of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras published between 1874 to 1992, and 82 different manuscripts, from various locations in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Europe and the United States, many in Sanskrit, some in different North and South Indian languages, suggesting a wide popularity of Yoga philosophy. The numerous historical variants show contamination as these manuscripts were transmitted, with some ancient and medieval manuscripts marked with "corrections" in the margin of the pages and elsewhere by unknown authors and for unclear reasons. This has made the chronological study of Yoga school of philosophy a difficult task.
Yoga philosophy, as conceptualized in Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, is a way of life that incorporates ethical practices, a system of training one's body, mind and spirit (called limbs of yoga), aimed at achieving a liberated, free state of existence. Patanjali includes a definition of yoga of mind.
Patanjali begins his treatise by stating the purpose of his book in first sutra, followed by defining the word "yoga" in his second sutra of Book 1:
योग: चित्त-वृत्ति निरोध:
– Yoga Sutras 1.2
This terse definition hinges on the meaning of three Sanskrit terms. I. K. Taimni translates it as "Yoga is the inhibition (nirodhaḥ) of the modifications (vṛtti) of the mind (citta)". Swami Vivekananda translates the sutra as "Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Citta) from taking various forms (Vrittis)." Edwin Bryant explains that, to Patanjali, "Yoga essentially consists of meditative practices culminating in attaining a state of consciousness free from all modes of active or discursive thought, and of eventually attaining a state where consciousness is unaware of any object external to itself, that is, is only aware of its own nature as consciousness unmixed with any other object."
The eight steps of Yoga school
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras outline eight anga (अङ्ग, limbs) to better oneself physically, mentally and spiritually:
- Yama – ethical restraints (the don'ts)
- Niyama – ethical observances (the dos)
- Āsana – a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable and motionless
- Prāṇāyāma – conscious regulation and exercise of breath
- Pratyāhāra – mastery of sensory organs, withdrawal of the senses from external objects
- Dhāraṇā – concentration, introspective focus, one-pointedness of mind
- Dhyāna – meditation
- Samādhi – the quiet state of complete forgetfulness of external world and the physical, complete blissful awareness of one's mind and liberated being, superconscious state.
- Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Non-violence, non-harming other living beings
- Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood
- Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing
- Brahmacarya (ब्रह्मचर्य): celibacy, non-cheating on one's partner
- Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness
Patanjali, in Book 2, explains how and why each of the above self restraints help in the personal growth of an individual. For example, in verse II.35, Patanjali states that the virtue of non-violence and non-injury to others (Ahimsa) leads to the abandonment of enmity, a state that leads the yogi to the perfection of inner and outer amity with everyone, everything.
- Kṣamā (क्षमा): forgiveness (non-dwelling in the past or other's actions/speech)
- Dhṛti (धृति): fortitude (non-fear, non-giving up in adversity)
- Dayā (दया): compassion (non-arrogance, non-self centeredness)
- Ārjava (आर्जव): non-hypocrisy, sincerity
- Mitāhāra (मितहार): measured diet (non-overeating, non-undereating, non-inappropriate eating/drinking)
- Śauca: purity, clearness of mind, speech and body
- Santoṣa: contentment, acceptance of others, acceptance of one's circumstances as they are in order to get past or change them, optimism for self
- Tapas: persistence, perseverance, austerity
- Svādhyāya: study of Vedas (see Sabda in epistemology section), study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self's thoughts, speeches and actions
- Īśvarapraṇidhāna: contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality)
As with Yamas, Patanjali tersely explains how and why each of the above Niyamas help in the personal growth of an individual. For example, in verse II.42, Patanjali states that the virtue of contentment and acceptance of others as they are (Santoṣa) leads to the state where inner sources of joy matter most, and the craving for external sources of pleasant ceases.
Various yoga asanas.
Later Yoga school scholars added the following to the above list
- Āstika: conviction that there is knowledge in Vedas/Upanishads (orthodox school), faith in Self, or belief in God
- Dāna: generosity, charity, sharing with others
- Hrī: remorse and acceptance of one's past/mistakes/ignorance, modesty, humility
- Mati: think and reflect to understand, reconcile conflicting ideas
- Huta: religious and social rituals, ceremonies such as yajna
Sanskrit: स्थिरसुखमासनम् ॥४६॥
Asana is thus a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable and motionless. Patanjali does not list any specific asana, except the terse suggestion, "posture one can hold with comfort and motionlessness". Āraṇya translates verse II.47 of Yoga sutra as, "asanas are perfected over time by relaxation of effort with meditation on the infinite"; this combination and practice stops the quivering of body. The posture that causes pain or restlessness is not a yogic posture. Other secondary texts studying Patanjali's sutra state that one requirement of correct posture is to keep breast, neck and head erect (proper spinal posture).
Later yoga school scholars developed, described and commented on numerous postures. Vyasa, for example, in his Bhasya (commentary) on Patanjali's treatise suggests twelve: Padmasana (lotus), Veerasana (heroic), Bhadrasana (decent), Svastikasana (like the mystical sign), Dandasana (staff), Sopasrayasana (supported), Paryankasana (bedstead), Krauncha-nishadasana (seated heron), Hastanishadasana (seated elephant), Ushtranishadasana (seated camel), Samasansthanasana (evenly balanced) and Sthirasukhasana (any motionless posture that is in accordance with one's pleasure).
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes the technique of 84 asanas, stating four of these as most important: Padmasana (lotus), Bhadrasana (decent), Sinhasana (lion), and Siddhasana (accomplished). The Gheranda Samhita discussed 32 asanas, while Svatmarama describes 15 asanas.
After a desired posture has been achieved, verses II.49 through II.51 recommend the next limb of yoga, prāṇāyāma, which is the practice of consciously regulating breath (inhalation and exhalation). This is done in several ways, inhaling and then suspending exhalation for a period, exhaling and then suspending inhalation for a period, slowing the inhalation and exhalation, consciously changing the time/length of breath (deep, short breathing).
Pratyahara is fetching and bringing near one's awareness and one's thoughts to within. It is a process of withdrawing one's thoughts from external objects, things, person, situation. It is turning one's attention to one's true Self, one's inner world, experiencing and examining self. It is a step of self extraction and abstraction. Pratyahara is not consciously closing one's eyes to the sensory world, it is consciously closing one's mind processes to the sensory world. Pratyahara empowers one to stop being controlled by the external world, fetch one's attention to seek self knowledge and experience the freedom innate in one's inner world.
Pratyahara marks the transition of yoga experience from first four limbs that perfect external forms to last three limbs that perfect inner state, from outside to inside, from outer sphere of body to inner sphere of spirit.
Dharana (Sanskrit: धारणा) means concentration, introspective focus and one-pointedness of mind. The root of word is dhṛ (धृ), which has a meaning of "to hold, maintain, keep".
Dharana as the sixth limb of yoga, is holding one's mind onto a particular inner state, subject or topic of one's mind. The mind (not sensory organ) is fixed on a mantra, or one's breath/navel/tip of tongue/any place, or an object one wants to observe, or a concept/idea in one's mind. Fixing the mind means one-pointed focus, without drifting of mind, and without jumping from one topic to another.
Dhyana (Sanskrit: ध्यान) literally means "contemplation, reflection" and "profound, abstract meditation".
Dhyana is contemplating, reflecting on whatever Dharana has focussed on. If in the sixth limb of yoga one focussed on a personal deity, Dhyana is its contemplation. If the concentration was on one object, Dhyana is non-judgmental, non-presumptuous observation of that object. If the focus was on a concept/idea, Dhyana is contemplating that concept/idea in all its aspects, forms and consequences. Dhyana is uninterrupted train of thought, current of cognition, flow of awareness.
Dhyana is integrally related to Dharana, one leads to other. Dharana is a state of mind, Dhyana the process of mind. Dhyana is distinct from Dharana in that the meditator becomes actively engaged with its focus. Patanjali defines contemplation (Dhyana) as the mind process, where the mind is fixed on something, and then there is "a course of uniform modification of knowledge". Adi Shankara, in his commentary on Yoga Sutras, distinguishes Dhyana from Dharana, by explaining Dhyana as the yoga state when there is only the "stream of continuous thought about the object, uninterrupted by other thoughts of different kind for the same object"; Dharana, states Shankara, is focussed on one object, but aware of its many aspects and ideas about the same object. Shankara gives the example of a yogin in a state of dharana on morning sun may be aware of its brilliance, color and orbit; the yogin in dhyana state contemplates on sun's orbit alone for example, without being interrupted by its color, brilliance or other related ideas.
Samadhi is oneness with the subject of meditation. There is no distinction, during the eighth limb of yoga, between the actor of meditation, the act of meditation and the subject of meditation. Samadhi is that spiritual state when one's mind is so absorbed in whatever it is contemplating on, that the mind loses the sense of its own identity. The thinker, the thought process and the thought fuse with the subject of thought. There is only oneness, samadhi.
Yoga school, like Samkhya school, considers Pratyakṣa or Dṛṣṭam (direct sense perception), Anumāna (inference), and Śabda or Āptavacana (verbal testimony of the sages or shāstras) to be the only valid means of knowledge or Pramana. Unlike few other schools of Hinduism such as Advaita Vedanta, Yoga did not adopt the following three Pramanas: Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy), Arthāpatti (postulation, deriving from circumstances) or Anupalabdi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof) .
- Pratyakṣa (प्रत्यक्षाय) means perception. It is of two types in Hindu texts: external and internal. External perception is described as that arising from the interaction of five senses and worldly objects, while internal perception is described by this school as that of inner sense, the mind. The ancient and medieval Indian texts identify four requirements for correct perception: Indriyarthasannikarsa (direct experience by one's sensory organ(s) with the object, whatever is being studied), Avyapadesya (non-verbal; correct perception is not through hearsay, according to ancient Indian scholars, where one's sensory organ relies on accepting or rejecting someone else's perception), Avyabhicara (does not wander; correct perception does not change, nor is it the result of deception because one's sensory organ or means of observation is drifting, defective, suspect) and Vyavasayatmaka (definite; correct perception excludes judgments of doubt, either because of one's failure to observe all the details, or because one is mixing inference with observation and observing what one wants to observe, or not observing what one does not want to observe). Some ancient scholars proposed "unusual perception" as pramana and called it internal perception, a proposal contested by other Indian scholars. The internal perception concepts included pratibha (intuition), samanyalaksanapratyaksa (a form of induction from perceived specifics to a universal), and jnanalaksanapratyaksa (a form of perception of prior processes and previous states of a 'topic of study' by observing its current state). Further, some schools of Hinduism considered and refined rules of accepting uncertain knowledge from Pratyakṣa-pranama, so as to contrast nirnaya (definite judgment, conclusion) from anadhyavasaya (indefinite judgment).
- Anumāṇa (अनुमान) means inference. It is described as reaching a new conclusion and truth from one or more observations and previous truths by applying reason. Observing smoke and inferring fire is an example of Anumana. In all except one Hindu philosophies, this is a valid and useful means to knowledge. The method of inference is explained by Indian texts as consisting of three parts: pratijna (hypothesis), hetu (a reason), and drshtanta (examples). The hypothesis must further be broken down into two parts, state the ancient Indian scholars: sadhya (that idea which needs to proven or disproven) and paksha (the object on which the sadhya is predicated). The inference is conditionally true if sapaksha (positive examples as evidence) are present, and if vipaksha (negative examples as counter-evidence) are absent. For rigor, the Indian philosophies also state further epistemic steps. For example, they demand Vyapti - the requirement that the hetu (reason) must necessarily and separately account for the inference in "all" cases, in both sapaksha and vipaksha. A conditionally proven hypothesis is called a nigamana (conclusion).
- Śabda (शब्द) means relying on word, testimony of past or present reliable experts. Hiriyanna explains Sabda-pramana as a concept which means reliable expert testimony. The schools of Hinduism which consider it epistemically valid suggest that a human being needs to know numerous facts, and with the limited time and energy available, he can learn only a fraction of those facts and truths directly. He must cooperate with others to rapidly acquire and share knowledge and thereby enrich each other's lives. This means of gaining proper knowledge is either spoken or written, but through Sabda (words). The reliability of the source is important, and legitimate knowledge can only come from the Sabda of reliable sources. The disagreement between the schools of Hinduism has been on how to establish reliability. Some schools, such as Carvaka, state that this is never possible, and therefore Sabda is not a proper pramana. Other schools debate means to establish reliability.
The Samkhya-Yoga system espouses dualism between consciousness and matter by postulating two "irreducible, innate and independent realities: Purusha and Prakriti. While the Prakriti is a single entity, the Samkhya-Yoga schools admit a plurality of the Puruṣas in this world. Unintelligent, unmanifest, uncaused, ever-active, imperceptible and eternal Prakriti is alone the final source of the world of objects. The Puruṣa is considered as the conscious principle, a passive enjoyer (bhokta) and the Prakriti is the enjoyed (bhogya). Samkhya-Yoga believes that the Puruṣa cannot be regarded as the source of inanimate world, because an intelligent principle cannot transform itself into the unconscious world. This metaphysics is a pluralistic spiritualism, a form of realism built on the foundation of dualism.
Yoga school of Hinduism adopts the theory of Guṇa from Samkhya. Guṇas theory states that three gunas (innate tendency, attributes) are present in different proportions in all beings, and these three are sattva guna (goodness, constructive, harmonious), rajas guna (passion, active, confused), and tamas guna (darkness, destructive, chaotic). These three are present in every being but in different proportions, and the fundamental nature and psychological dispositions of beings is a consequence of the relative proportion of these three gunas. When sattva guna predominates an individual, the qualities of lucidity, wisdom, constructiveness, harmonious, and peacefulness manifest themselves; when rajas is predominant, attachment, craving, passion-driven activity and restlessness manifest; and when tamas predominates in an individual, ignorance, delusion, destructive behavior, lethargy, and suffering manifests. The guṇas theory underpins the philosophy of mind in Yoga school of Hinduism.
The early scholars of Yoga philosophy, posits that the Puruṣa (consciousness) by its nature is sattva (constructive), while Prakriti (matter) by its nature is tamas (chaotic). It further posits that individuals at birth have buddhi (intelligence, sattvic). As life progresses and churns this buddhi, it creates ahamkara (ego, rajasic). When ego in turn is churned by life, manas (temper, mood, tamasic) is produced. Together, buddhi, ahamkara and manas interact and constitute citta (mind) in Yoga school of Hinduism. Unrestrained modification of citta causes suffering. A way of life that empowers one to become ever more aware of one's consciousness and spirituality innate in buddhi, is the path to one's highest potential and a more serene, content, liberated life. Patanjali's Yoga sutra begins, in verse 2 of Book 1, by defining Yoga as "restraining the Citta from Vrittis."
Yoga school of Hinduism holds that ignorance is the cause of suffering and saṁsāra. Liberation, like many other schools, is removal of ignorance, which is achieved through discriminative discernment, knowledge and self awareness. The Yoga sūtras is Yoga school's treatise on how to accomplish this. Samādhi is the state where ecstatic awareness develops, state Yoga scholars, and this is how one starts the process of becoming aware of Purusa and true Self. It further claims that this awareness is eternal, and once this awareness is achieved, a person cannot ever cease being aware; this is moksha, the soteriological goal in Hinduism.
Book 3 of Patanjali's Yogasutra is dedicated to soteriological aspects of yoga philosophy. Patanjali begins by stating that all limbs of yoga are necessary foundation to reaching the state of self awareness, freedom and liberation. He refers to the three last limbs of yoga as sanyama, in verses III.4 to III.5, and calls it the technology for "discerning principle" and mastery of citta and self-knowledge. In verse III.12, the Yogasutras state that this discerning principle then empowers one to perfect sant (tranquility) and udita (reason) in one's mind and spirit, through intentness. This leads to one's ability to discern the difference between sabda (word), artha (meaning) and pratyaya (understanding), and this ability empowers one to compassionately comprehend the cry/speech of all living beings. Once a yogi reaches this state of sanyama, it leads to unusual powers, intuition, self knowledge, freedoms and kaivalya, the soteriological goal of the yogi.
The benefits of Yoga philosophy of Hinduism is then summarized in verses III.46 to III.55 of Yogasutras, stating that the first 5 limbs leads to bodily perfections such as beauty, loveliness, strength and toughness; while the last 3 limbs through sanyama leads to mind and psychological perfections of perceptiveness, one's nature, mastery over egoism, discriminative knowledge of purity, self and soul. This knowledge once reached is irreversible, states Yogasutra's Book IV.
God in Yoga school of Hinduism
Yoga philosophy allows the concept of God, unlike the closely related Samkhya school of Hinduism which is atheistic/non-theistic. Hindu scholars such as the 8th century Adi Sankara, as well many modern academic scholars describe Yoga school as "Samkya school with God."
The Yogasutras of Patanjali use the term Isvara in 11 verses: I.23 through I.29, II.1, II.2, II.32 and II.45. Ever since the Sutra's release, Hindu scholars have debated and commented on who or what is Isvara? These commentaries range from defining Isvara from a "personal god" to "special self" to "anything that has spiritual significance to the individual". Whicher explains that while Patanjali's terse verses can be interpreted both as theistic or non-theistic, Patanjali's concept of Isvara in Yoga philosophy functions as a "transformative catalyst or guide for aiding the yogin on the path to spiritual emancipation".
Patanjali defines Isvara (Sanskrit: ईश्वर) in verse 24 of Book 1, as "a special Self (पुरुषविशेष, puruṣa-viśeṣa)",
Sanskrit: क्लेश कर्म विपाकाशयैःपरामृष्टः पुरुषविशेष ईश्वरः ॥२४॥
– Yoga Sutras I.24
This sutra of Yoga philosophy of Hinduism adds the characteristics of Isvara as that special Self which is unaffected (अपरामृष्ट, aparamrsta) by one's obstacles/hardships (क्लेश, klesha), one's circumstances created by past or one's current actions (कर्म, karma), one's life fruits (विपाक, vipâka), and one's psychological dispositions/intentions (आशय, ashaya).
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