8 limbs of Raja Yoga

Updated: Feb 17, 2019

From the first section of yoga Sutra, we learned through meditation (mastery over one’s own mind), one stays in one’s own true nature. As long as we practice abhyasa and vairagyam outgrown what is anātma not my true nature, it will be a success. But the practical practice is not yet talked about. How to sit, how the mind should be directed etc. Therefore one more Sutra from first section need to be introduce today. This Sutra is about what to concentrate on when one sit for meditation. Actually before this Sutra, couples more were suggesting concentrate on satvic mind which is sorrowless, on mind which is free from desires object, on knowledge of the Dream and sleep etc. But certain qualifications and backup knowledge needed to be there for one to employ these method. Therefore sage patanjali said...


Yathābhimatadhyānādva । 1-39 Or meditating in one’s chosen object

Meditate on anything that appeals to you, which your mind like the most. Select a gross object first, because everyday what we see, hear, touch, most are in the form alone (sound is also a form for our faculty of hearing, similarly softness etc are the form for our faculty of touch).


This is the end of (selected sutra) the first section of Yoga sutra.


For middle qualification’s student, 2nd section is started.

First section was the section for highly qualified students, which 2 main qualifications are there, abhyasa and vairagyam, where discriminates knowledge is needed. Therefore in this second section, introduces a series of means one should practice, leading to discriminative knowledge to help one meditate, staying in one's true nature.

Yogāngānusthānādaśudhidksaye ñjānadīptirāvivekakhyāteh 2-28 8 accessories of yoga leading to discriminative knowledge.

They are:


Yama-niyama-asana-prānāyāma-pratyāhāra-dhāranā-dhyāna-samādhayah astāvangāni 2-29 Moral restrain, religious observance, posture, control of breath, withdrawal of sense

organs, concentration, meditation, samadhi are 8 folds accessories of yoga.

First accessory is Yama, 5 of the value are there: I. Yama-restrains

Ahimsā-satya-asteya-brahmacarya-aprigrahā yamāh 2-30 Moral restrains are non-injury, truthfulness, non-stealing, brahmacarya (self round control), and non-hording. These are very foundation of yoga.

Just like teaching kids, seems like there is a lot of “don’t” in the their process of learning. Because our discriminative knowledge is just as little as the kids. They don't have discriminative knowledge about fire will burn, knife will cut, etc. In the same manner we don't have discriminative knowledge about certain things we do, which will bring a lot of hurt and guild which is stay in the mind, and at the time I identify with my mind then I am the one who is having hurt and guild.


1. Ahimsa-non injury

Non injury is not hurting others and own self in actions, verbal and mental level. Ahimsa paramodharma, most important among values, because by practice which, all other virtues are easier to establish as well. Ahimsa is also a universal value, because no body wants to be hurt, therefore we try to not hurt other also. The meaning of Dharma is not just value, but also duty. Therefore if a judge granting a punishment to a offender based on the law, he/she is not consider offense ahimsa. Because as a judge, he/she is following the duty.

One might be a vegetarian, very nice to animals, but they get agitate easier by human being. This is not based on ahimsa values. But if the concept of ahimsa is to be understood then one would like to value it through the act of being vegetarian, then vegetarian is a very good starting point cultivate this value. Because you try to deprive yourself for the good of other.

Swami sivananda said "talk sweetly", it doesn't mean sweet talk which sometimes contains lie in it for the purpose of pleasing others. But put in the words in the manner which easier to digest by listener. Prejudice, backbiting, speaking ills of other are himsa. Ahimsa can be extend to non injury to the environment, by using less water, save electricity, etc. Concept of ahimsa need to back up in our thought, speech and act. And three of them have to be in-line.

Ahimsāpratisthāyām tatsannidhau vairatyāgah l 2-35

When one established in non injury, hostilities are given up by his/her present.

This is actually not a very out of logic siddhi. When one cultivate non injury to others, slowly the degree will increase to do more for well being of others, even sometimes need to deprive him/her self for it. By the present of such person, who will feel threatened?


2. Satyam-truthfulness

First degree of truthfulness is avoiding of telling lies. It is very easy for one to tell lies, because a lot of time we lies out of convenient. But when we enquiry in to it, most of our lies based on insecurity. Because if I don't lie, I will get punish, people will judge me, my friend will get angry with me, etc. Because of keep protecting the sense of insecurity by lying, slowly it will eat up one’s confident and one starting to live in his/her own lies by giving a lot of reasoning to cover up the fact. How not to lie to one ownself? By having alignment with one’s thought, words and deeds.


There is always a contradiction though about satyam. One should speak the truth but it is hurting, or one should lie to avoid hurt? Ahimsaparamodharma-non injury is the most important dharma. Therefore one should not tell the truth if it is going to hurt. But one can choose to be silence by not telling the lie.

There is more subtle degree of satyam which is not to misleading people.

Satyapratisthāyām kriyāphalā aśrayatvam l 2-36

When truthfulness is established, whatever he think of or speak of will become true.

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