The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali is a collection of 196 Sanskrit sutras on the theory and practice

Yoga Philosophy:

The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali is a collection of 196 Sanskrit sutras on the theory and practice of yoga. It was compiled around 500 BCE by the sage Patanjali, and is the most translated ancient Indian literature. Patañjali divided the Yoga Sutras into four books, containing all 196 sutras/verses.

Purpose of Yoga:

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः ॥२॥
yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ                              — Yoga Sutras 1.2

This verse translates as “Yoga is the inhibition (nirodhaḥ) to the modifications (vṛtti) of the mind (citta)”.

Trikaya and Panchkosha

The Trikaya:

Yoga philosophy, tells us that our body is actually made up of three bodies:

  1. The physical body/etheric body
  2. The astral body/emotional body
  3. The causal body/mental body

The Trikosha:

Within these three bodies are five sheaths or ‘kosha’:

  1. Annamaya kosha, the food sheath
  2. Pranamaya kosha, the vital sheath
  3. Manomaya kosha, the mental sheath
  4. Vigyanamaya kosha, the wisdom sheath
  5. Anandamaya kosha, the bliss sheath

Our aim in yoga is to connect with the anandamaya kosha – when we reach that inner place where everything is silent and calm, we are in Anandamaya kosha.

When the koshas are removed, no individuality remains. This state of “nothingness,” “nirvana”, is a state of being.

Panch Mahabhuta:

The word pancha-mahabhuta is made up of three words: ‘Pancha’ means five, ‘maha’ means great and ‘bhuta’ means that which exists. Each individual has a unique panchabhautik constitution. This constitution remains in state of equilibrium in health and any imbalance results in disease. 

The Characteristics

Each Panch-mahabhuta can be assessed by following characteristic feature:

Elements Characterstics Predominant effect
Aakash Free flow space between & within each and every particle
Vaju Mobility  movement of particles contained in all material
Agni Heat Temperature of each and every material
Jal Liquidity Integrity and adherence of the particles or cells
Prithvi Roughness Mass/weight of every material

The Functions of Panch-mahabhuta

Each mahabhuta has a dominant inherent function related to the sense organs.

Mahabhuta Dominant  function Additional functions
Aakash sound, shabad ·
Vayu Touch, sparsh Sound
Agni Vision, rupa Sound; touch
Jala Taste, rasa Sound; touch; vision
Prithvi Smell, gandha Sound; touch; vision; taste

Patanjali defines yoga as having eight limbs:

  1. Yamas, ethical vows, considered as moral imperatives.
  2. Niyama – virtuous habits, behaviours and observances.
  3. Āsana – physical postures
  4. Prāṇāyāma – control of the Prana, breath
  5. Pratyahara– withdrawal of the senses
  6. Dhāraṇa– concentration
  7. Dhyāna– meditation
  8. Samādhi– absorption

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