Many translations have been made from the original Sanskrit of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. They have become well-loved, well used, and well applied by many in all parts of the world and of all religious beliefs. The Sutras have a power and a timelessness about them which demonstrate the accuracy with which they pinpoint the basic truths of human evolution from subservience to personality glamours to the serene freedom of the soul.
Most human problems today originate in selfish desire; the prostitution of the feeling nature to self-centred physical appetites. This is also brought out clearly in the teaching of the Lord Buddha, the treading of the Noble Eight-Fold Path providing the only way out of the maze: "Right Values; Right Speech; Right Mode of Living: Right Thinking: Right Expression; Right Conduct; Right Effort; Right Rapture or True Happiness". These are attributes of the soul.
Patanjali explores exhaustively the means, the techniques and the mental posture which create the connecting thread between the form-centred personality and these stages towards spiritual achievement and soul fusion. The four parts of the book develop:
The Problem of Union (51 sutras).
The Steps to Union (55 sutras).
Union Achieved and Its Results (55 sutras).
Illumination (34 sutras)
Many different training techniques have been available over the centuries, depending on the condition of human consciousness and the phase of spiritual growth to be accomplished. Each "Yoga" has had its place, fulfilled its function, and become an absorbed part of the human experience.
In this book, the factor of mind in meeting present-day needs is again given prominence as the agent of the soul, and the key to personality release. These Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are based on Raja Yoga, the "kingly science of tine soul": "Through the science of Raja Yoga the mind will be known as the instrument of the soul and the means whereby the brain of the aspirant becomes illuminated and knowledge gained of those matters which concern the realm of the Soul.".
The soul is concerned with the working out of planetary purpose and plan; so again we find that mental training, and the self-achievement of the individual, lead to cooperation and service on a scale far more comprehensive and of far greater evolutionary significance than merely the individual effects on the life of the disciple.
Sutra 31 of Part IV rings out like a bell and a clarion call to those who venture on the path of union with the soul. "When through the removal of hindrances and the purification of the sheaths, the totality of knowledge becomes available, naught further remains for the man to do.".