|What is Philosophy?|
Patanjali was the proponent of the Yoga system. Yoga is closely associated with Samkhya. Yoga is largely based on the Samkhya philosophy. They are two sides of the same coin. Samkhya is the theory, Yoga is the practice. It should be noted, however, that Samkhya is basically an atheistic system, but Yoga is theistic.
Patanjali propagated his philosophy of Yoga in his great work – Yoga-Sutra. Yoga-Sutra consists of four parts.
While Samkhya uses three terms - Mahat, ahamkara and manas - to refer to antahkarana, Yoga has only one word – Chitta. Yoga adopts a single term, chitta, to refer to a complex of Mahat, ahamkara and manas.
Chitta is considered as being composed of intellect, ego and mind. Chitta has a predominance of sattva guna.
Patanjali shows the way to emancipation by ashtanga-yoga. Yoga is a self-disciplining process of concentration and meditation. Such a Yogic practice leads one to higher states of consciousness. This helps one in acquiring direct knowledge and the result is Self–Realization.
Patanjali lays emphasis on the complete control and mastery of chitta. He proposes the practice of certain physical and mental exercises. They form the basis of ashtanga–yoga.
Ashtanga–yoga comprises of eight anga (steps):
yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.
These eight steps are divided into two parts:
External part of five anga: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama and pratyahara.
Internal part of three anga: dharana, dhyana and samadhi.
Yama means restraint. One must turn to ethics by refraining himself from immoral activities. This is the first step towards self–discipline. Niyama means observance. It refers to the cultivation of values and virtues in life. These two anga –Yama and Niyama – protects the aspirant from irresistible temptations and desires and offer a protection from the distractions.
The next two steps, asana and pranayama, prepares the physical body for the Yogic practice.
Asana means posture of the body. A steady but comfortable posture is essential for Yoga. Pranayama is concerned with the control of breath. The cycles of inspiration, kumbhaka and expiration have to be carefully monitored. Both these anga enhances the steadiness of the body and mind.
Pratyahara is concerned with the withdrawal of the senses. The senses, by their inherent nature, remain focused on the external world. Pratyahara helps to detach the sense organs from the objects of the world. The isolation from the world objects facilitates the concentration of the mind on any particular object.
The ultimate three steps are: dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (spiritual absorption).
Dharana is concerned with the concentration. It is concerned with concentrating the chitta on a single object. The subject is focusing on an object. If the mind diverts to some other object, it has to be fixed again on the chosen object of concentration.
Dhyana is concerned with contemplation. In this stage, the aspirant can keep the mind steady on the object chosen for contemplation. The mind is focused without interruptions and there is unidirectional flow of chitta. Though the mind is steadfast, yet there is awareness of the mind of the self. There is an observer; there is also the one that is being observed.
Samadhi is the ultimate stage of Yogic practice. Now all self-awareness of the mind disappears. The aspirant (seeker) becomes aware that his attachment to the Prakriti was owing to the ignorance (avidya). The illusion is gone. This is the ultimate, nirbeej Samadhi. There is the unification of the subject and the object. Now there is no object at all. The duo, the subject and the object, mingles into unity. They are no separate entities. There is only one, but it is not an object. There is oneness devoid of material existence; it is pure Consciousness.
Samkhya system is based on atheism but Yoga believes in God. Both Yoga and Samkhya holds that there are many purushas. Unlike Samkhya, Yoga holds that there is one Supreme Purusha (God) who is above all purushas and that no other Purusha can be like that Supreme Purusha. This Supreme Purusha does not create the Prakriti or other purushas.