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Patanjali Ji

Patanjali was an Indian philosopher who lived in the second century c.e., he is credited for authoring the first systematic presentation of yoga called the Yog Sutra, it therefore reverses it's author to be the father of modern yoga. Patanjali succeeded in bringing together all the written and oral knowledge of his time into a collection of 195 sutras (aphorisms or 'terse statements') which included information on everything a yoga teacher needed to teach yoga, from how to conduct oneself in society to final enlightenment. These sutras were meant to assist the guru or teacher in his task of teaching spiritual liberation.

Patanjali was a follower of the Samkhya School before him, and so took a dualist view of reality. In his teachings (purusha) was the omni cent, omnipresent, universal consciousness, which made up of countless Atmans, or ascended individuals, who would simply passively watch the cosmos or three dimensional reality unfold before them. (Purusha) was for Patanjali, male, formless and un-manifest energy. It was equivalent to the Judeo Christian God who is male and physically un-manifest. (Purusha) attaches to nothing, it is both immobile and pervasive, it sees all and knows all. Again a remarkable similarity to how we in the west have conceived of God.

The female aspect or (Prakriti) according to Patanjali is visible, dynamic, creative, changing and created the manifest world the equivalent of what in the west we call Nature. In the west we consider nature to be a blind force without any consciousness overall nature to the western man is a result of random forces working over a long period of time. Taking the female analogy further Patanjali believed that (prakriti) was completely subservient to (purusha) and was unconscious and sentient.

Nature or (prakriti), according to Patanjali and the Samkhya philosophy, is made manifest through a subtle interplay among the three gunas, which are the visible aspects of her character. These three gunas were characterized with human emotion and each was seen to be vying for dominance in an individuals psyche.
When the energy of sattva is predominent in the psyche there are feelings are joy and harmony. A predominance of rajas produce passion and desire with feelings of deep yearning. Rajas are primarily responsible for feelings of greed and attachment to worldly things. When Tapas predominate then feelings of sloth or laziness overcomes the psyche and great despondency is felt, its energy is slow, thick and heavy.

Patanjali believed, like the Samkhya philosophers before him, that human suffering was the result of becoming attached to external phenomenon. He believed that desire and passion kept mans psyche enslaved and distracted by the phenomenal world and that only by renouncing that world could he ultimately attain enlightenment. Suffering was thought to be produced by the conflict between the gunas within the human psyche. Patanjali believed though that there was a way out of this suffering, that through hard work (karma yoga) and deep meditation (jnana yoga) suffering could be relieved and liberation or enlightenment could take place, Patanjali devised a system called the eight -limbed path of yoga (Ashtanga yoga) to bring the gunas back into balance. In his Yoga Sutras presented a version of kriya yoga, kriya yoga is an internal form of karma yoga. That is by perfecting Niyam (self disciplines) of the eight limbed path, particularly the tapas (austerity), svadhyaya (self-study), isvara pranidhana (devotion to the Lord) a yogi could erase samskara (subliminal activators) from his subconscious mind. it was believed that samskara were like karma scares that resulted from good or bad behavior.

Although later Yogis eventually rejected Patanjali Samkhya dualism entirely they did retain his eight-limbed yoga path. The combination of practices and beliefs associated with them still serve as a blueprint for living in the world and as a means of enlightenment.

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