Yogi and mystic Sadhguru explores the incredible life and capabilities of Patanjali, the father of modern yoga and the author of the celebrated yoga sutras.
Sadhguru: If you look at Patanjali, as an enlightened being, he can’t be more enlightened than someone else. There is no such thing. Realization is realization. But as a man and above all as an intellect, he is such an intellect that the great scientists of today look like kindergarten children in front of him. The breadth of his understanding of life is so big that you cannot believe that this is possible in one human being. In his mastery of language, mathematics and in his perception of astronomy, he is so fantastic. Today’s scholars argue that this is not one man’s work, that many people must have worked to make this happen because it is so big, it cannot fit into one man’s intellect. It is one man’s work. He is probably one of the greatest intellects ever on this planet.
He is known as the father of modern yoga. He did not invent yoga. Yoga was already there in various forms, which he assimilated into a system. Shiva, the Adiyogi or first yogi, transmitted yoga to the Sapta Rishis or the seven sages many thousands of years ago. He had the highest understanding of human nature, but he didn’t put anything down in writing. He was too wild to be a scholar. He found it was too difficult to put everything he knew into one person, so he chose seven people and put different aspects of yoga into them. These became the seven basic forms of yoga. Even today, though these have branched off into hundreds of systems, yoga has still maintained seven distinct forms.
The Yoga Sutras
Patanjali came much later and sort of assimilated everything. He saw that it was getting too diversified and complex for anyone to understand in any meaningful way. So he assimilated and included all aspects into a certain format – as the Yoga Sutras.
He just understood humanity inside out – not as people but as a total mechanism of the human body, mind, consciousness…
Sutra literally means a thread. Or in modern language we can say it is like a formula. Anyone who knows the English alphabet, even a kindergarten child can say E=mc², but there is an enormous amount of science behind that little formula, which most people do not understand. The sutras are like this, in thread form. Out of ignorance, people have just taken these sutras and are trying to implement it as it is. A thread is of no consequence by itself. There can never be a garland without the thread but no one ever wears a garland for the sake of the thread. The thread was given so that each master makes his own kind of garland. You can put flowers on it, or beads or pearls or diamonds. The thread is vital but that is not a goal by itself.
Unless you are exposed to the culture, it is a little difficult to understand what kind of mind Patanjali is. Even though the Indian scriptures like the Vedas and the Upanishads are quite phenomenal by themselves both in terms of grammatical excellence and in their poetic beauty and content, the Yoga Sutras are an absolutely brilliant piece of work compared to any of the scriptures on the planet talking about life and beyond.