Astanga Yoga is an ancient wisdom,the greatest and noblest gift thatSage Patafijali has offered mankind.Its wisdom is timeless and is as valid todayas it was centuries ago. Its beauty lies inthe application of its principles that canbe adopted and adapted in discoveringthe finer aspects of man according toone’s physical and intellectual capacity.The world-renowned Guru BKS Iyengarprovides a lucid explanation on theexposition and application of theprinciples of Sage Patanjali inLight on Astanga Yoga.
BKS Iyengar is considered as one of theforemost Guru on Yoga, who revivedinterest in the ancient subject andpopularised it across the world. Hiswritings are all based on his personalexperiences. His book Light on Yogawritten more than 50 years ago is oftenreferred to as the Bible of Yoga. He is anauthor of over 30 books and mostare best-sellers.
In 1996, I gave a talk on Light on Astanga Yoga at theRamamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute and YOGpublished this in 1999 for the benefit of the students ofthe Institute.
At present, Allied Publishers have taken the rights topublish it and I am delighted to offer this treatise on AstangaYoga through my publishers so that it not only benefitsits practitioners but also those who are unacquainted withthe subject to get an overall view of this yogic philosophythat is hidden in the yogic texts.
As it was first published verbatim, I thought that Ishould re-read the original, revise and edit so that thereaders grasp the subject with an uninterrupted flow ofattention.
In order to understand the importance of yogaand its values, man needs to have a good backgroundregarding the origin of the universe (macrocosm) and theworld and their relationship with man (microcosm) andGod. Without this essential background of the scienceof cosmology, it may become difficult to understand thestructure and the constitution of man and the role thatyoga plays in uniting the macrocosm (brahmanda) with themicrocosm (pinddnda) as human being is regarded as therepresentation in miniature form of the universe.
According to sémkhya darsana (philosophy), God is theseed of the universe and knowledge. He created purusa, thesoul, and prakrti, the nature with its twenty-four principles.These principles of nature mould and blend with its threegunas or qualities, namely, sattva (illumination), rajas(vibration or motion) and tamas (inertia or laziness). Seetable one in the text.
The hub of man’s life is interdependent upon thesegunas wherein all the twenty-four principles of natureof man revolve around them. Here Astanga yoga comeshandy in order to put an end to this revolving wheel ofnature.
It means that yoga is the union of the individual soulwith the Universal Soul. Yoga acts as an instrument inassociating (samyoga), union of nature (prakriz) with the Soulor the Self (purusa) in order to bring this union. Hence thisunion (samyoga) of nature with God is called yoga.
Light on Asténga Yoga explains this union throughthe perfection in dsanas and prandydmas along with theprinciples of yama and niyama which help to eradicatethe divisions and differences between body and mind,and mind and Self, so that the sadhaka or the practitionerbecomes only a seer and lives in a state of firmness andserenity forever ''tatah dvandvah anabhighatah'' (Y.S., 11.48).
The dualities between body (prakrii) and Soul (purusa)ceases in this precise state of sadhana making the sddhakalive in a state of beatitude as he has built up the unionbetween the intelligence of the consciousness that sproutsfrom nature to that of the shining intelligence of the Soul ''sattva purusayoh suddhi samye kaivalyam iti ||'' (Y.S., I1T.56).
This is the real health, real awareness and freedomfrom all bondage. From then on he ceases to do or act,that causes no pains, sorrows and afflictions on himself oron mankind. ''tatah klesa karma nivrttth ||'' (Y.S., [V.30).
According to the yoga sutras of Patafyjali, the subject isdivided and discussed in two parts. The first part dealswith the principles of Astanga Yoga and the second partexplains its application in the daily practices.I have tried my best in unfolding the subtle parts of yogaso that the readers savour the flavour of yoga like seeingand enjoying the blooming petals of the flowers from ahealthy tree. At the same time, the subject matter carriessub-titles so that one can refer and re-refer according tothe topic of interest and need. Also I have included thetables and sutras which are referred to in the text.
I feel that this book is special and unique, defininglucidly the vrttis, klesas and antardyas at various levels withfresh ideas for readers to grasp and reach the finest stateof consciousness.
I am indebted to Allied Publishers in presenting thiswork to a larger group of readers with new thoughts onyoga which may possibly ignite their zeal further in theirsadhana.