Who is Patanjali?

Patanjali in an ancient exponent of raja yoga and the author of the Yoga Sutras. Yoga Sutras is a series of verses about the eight steps.  Although there are stories, no one knows when he lived or much about his life.

Patanajali was a yogi. He grew in the Hindu tradition. But his sutras are general guidelines for spiritual growth through right living. In addition to that they are not specifically about Hinduism. They are not beliefs, but methods that can be tested by each practitioner to see for himself or herself. They actually have the benefits that they claim.

The father of modern yoga is called Patanjali. Patanjali did not invent yoga. Yoga was already there in various forms. He only formed yoga into a system. Shiva is the first yogi. He transmitted yoga to the the seven sages many thousands of years ago. Patanjali had the highest understanding of human nature, but he didn’t put anything down in writing. Patanjali wrote the seminal text of yoga: The Yoga Sutras. The Yoga Sutras is a collection of various forms and levels of yoga.

Legend of birth of Patanjali

There are a number of myths that exist related to Patanjali’s birth. Lord Vishnu was once busy in watching the dance of Lord Shiva. The dance of lord shiva is called Tandava Nritaya. Lord Vishnu was so much indulged and busy in watching the Tandav Nritaya that his body started moving and vibrating with the dance of Lord Shiva. Due to the constant moves and shakes of Lord Vishnu’s body, the Sesnaag could not even breathe properly. Later, when the dance was over Lord Vishnu’s body became into light again.

Then Sesnaag meditated to search for his intended mother and while meditating he found a visual image of female yoga practitioner Gonika. Gonika  was at the same time praying for a son to whom she could pass on her knowledge and wisdom. Sesnaag discovered that she is the perfect mother for him and then he waited for the right time to become her son.

Soon Gonika realized that her death is near and she had found no one to whom she can communicate her knowledge. Gonika could not find any one and prayed to Sun god to satisfy her wish. Further, she took few drops of water in her hand as a final offering to Sun God and meditated for some time. When she opened her eyes and was about to offer the water she saw a snake slithering on her hand. It soon was turned into a human being. He asked Gonika to take him as her own son and pass on all her knowledge to him.

Later, Gonika named that human being as Patanjali (Pata-means fallen and Anjali-means hands folded in prayer). Therefore, this is the story behind that how sage Patanjali came to this world in human form.

Patanjali Sought to End Suffering

He drew from earlier philosophical teachings, such as the Upanishads, and then he added spiritual practices which elevate the teachings from mere philosophy to experiential practice. Patanjali saw that a common human experience is suffering, but individuals can develop physical and spiritual disciplines—yoga and meditation, for example—which relieve suffering.  Through the study of yoga, a person can end suffering in their own mind.  Eventually, when living a yogic lifestyle and seeking union with the True Self, they can end suffering in their community.

Although scholars have vastly different inferences about when Patanjali lived and wrote The Yoga Sutras, (ranging anywhere from 200 BCE to 200 CE) the experiences Patanjali describes in The Yoga Sutras are relevant today. While the physical human conditions have changed dramatically in recent centuries, emotional human experiences have changed less so.  We still experience suffering and frustration as a result of our thoughts and actions. We still desire to calm the mind and transform our thoughts. Nepal Yoga Home, a yoga retreat in Nepal is always there for you to help you gain the yoga experience.

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