This label applies to the eightfold Yoga-also known as Rāja-Yoga-taught by Patanjali in his Yoga-Sūtra. This Sanskrit texts is composed of just under 200 aphoristic statements, which have been commented on over and over again through the centuries. Sooner or later all serious Yoga students discover this work and have to grapple with its terse statements. The word sūtra (which is related to Latin suture) means literally "thread." Here it conveys a thread of memory, an aid to memorization for students eager to retain Patanjali's knowledge and wisdom.
The Yoga-Sūtra was probably written some time in the second century C.E. The earliest available Sanskrit commentary on it.
It is the Yoga-Bhāshya ("Speech on Yoga") attributed to Vyāsa. It was authored in the fifth century C.E. and furnishes fundamental explanations of Patanjali's often cryptic statements. Beyond a few legends nothing is known about either Patanjali or Vyāsa. This is a problem with most ancient Yoga adepts and even with many more recent ones. Often all we have are their teachings, but this is of course more important than any historical information we could dig up about their personal lives.
Patanjali, who is by the way often wrongly called the "father of Yoga," believed that each individual is a composite of matter (prakriti) and spirit (purusha). He understood the process of Yoga to bring about their separation, thereby restoring the spirit in its absolute purity. His formulation is generally characterized as philosophical dualism. This is an important point, because most of India's philosophical systems favor one or the other kind of nondualism: The countless aspects or forms of the empirical world are in the last analysis the same "thing"-pure formless but conscious existence.
Tags: Yoga Mysticism