There are many spiritually elevated people in the world, but not many levitating yogis; and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Maharishi are meant to elevate the spirit of every man, not to teach him to levitate. This is clearly the gospel of enlightened living; neither an escape from life, nor a hallucinatory 'light'. The attempt in this little book has been to expose that gospel, to avoid technicalities, and to relate the whole yoga-philosophy to the ordinary and simple daily life of everyone.
There are many very excellent translations of the Sutras; this, however, is an interpratative translation. An extraordinary feature of the Sutras in the avoidance of direct commands, dogmatic assertions, and the use of active voice. Whereas every effort has been made to retain the structure of the text, in a few cases, slight changes have had to be made to sustain the easy flow of the thought.
The words which represent the translation of the text are in blue.
Anyone who translates a text which is in the sanskrit language is confronted by two difficulties:
(a) not all languages have concide words or phrases which accurately convey the exact sense in which the sanskrit word is used in the text; and
(b) the sanskrit word itself has a number of meanings, and it is easier to choose the correct meaning when the word is used in a structurally complete prose or verse, than when it occurs in the Sutras.
From a cursory glance at the very many available translations of the Sutras, it is easy to see that each one has translated some Sutras differently, without being unfaithfull to the text.
Some translators, eager to build a 'philisophycal system' on the foundation of the sutras, have treated some words in the text as proper names of specific philosophycal categories. Such a treatment inevitably limits the understanding of the purport of the text. The text seems to use two or more words to refer to a single factor. For example: samadhi and samapattih are used synonymously. There is a danger of regarding words as names; for then they create forms or images which perpetuate ignorance while creating an illusion of knowledge. This pitfall has been avoided in this book, and the actual meaning of the words has been sought, regardless of how the 'philosophycal systtem' has classified them. When this is done, it is discovered that there is a continuous and smooth flow in the sequence of the sutras.
Where the text clearly warrants another meaning, such alternative meaning also has been given.
The gospel of yoga suggests not a withdrawal nor an escape from the world, but the abandonment of the mental conditioning which creates a division between the 'me' and the 'world', including the world of psychological experiences. Meditation is the vigorous search for the true identity of the 'me', not a psychic jugglery, nor a technique for deep relaxation. Seen from this angle, the fundamental categories of yoga take on a character completely different to the one that prevails in the minds of most practicants of yoga. It is hart to tranlate citta and vrtti, and the student has to discover the meaning in himself, as Patanjali's message saturates his whole being. Nirodha does not imply suppression, restraint, or control, in the usual and brutal connotations of those words, but a vigilantly watchfull understanding of the movements of thoughts in the mind - which is stillness of a different kind.
The reader will not fail to notice that the teachings of yoga are unversal, and they do not interfere with one's religious faith or occupation or life-style. Everyone who lives is entitled to enlightment, which instantly transforms daily-life into enlightened living.