Lesson 6 - Patanjalis Sutras



Our knowledge about Patanjali is mostly from legends. He lived in India, probably somewhere between 2000 to 200 years BC. He is referred to as someone that incarnated out of his own will in order to help mankind. He chose to write on three subjects: Grammar, medicine (ayurveda) and yoga.
The profoundness and demanding discipline meeting the student of the sutras is well mirrored in BKS Iyengars prologue: "Though I have practiced and worked in this field of yoga for more than fifty years, I may have to practice for several more lifetimes to reach perfection in the subject. Therefore, the explanation of the most abstruse sutras lies yet beyond my power".

From BKS Iyengar Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali


Lord Vishnu

Once Lord Vishnu was seated on Adisesa, Lord of Serpents, watching Lord Shiva dancing. Lord Vishnu had been exalted by the dance, and Adisesa professed a desire to learn to dance as to exalt his Lord.
The wish was granted, and Adisesa began to meditate to ascertain who would be his mother on earth. In meditation. He had a vision of a yogini by the name of Gonika, who was praying for a worthy son to whom she could impart her knowledge and wisdom. He at once realised that she would be a worthy mother for him.
Gonica, thinking that her earthly life was approaching its end, as a last resort, prayed to the Sun God, the living witness of God on earth, and prayed to Him to fulfil her desire for a son. She took a handful of water as a final oblation to Him, closed her eyes and meditated on the Sun. As she was about to offer the water, she opened her eyes and looked at her palms. To her surprise, she saw a tiny snake moving in her palms who soon took on a human form. This tiny male human being prostrated to Gonika and asked her to accept him as her son. This she did and named him Patanjali. Pata means falling or fallen, and anjali is an oblation, or the word could also mean hands folded in prayer.

From BKS Iyengar Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali



Osho says that there has never existed another man like Patanjali. He sees Patanjali as having deduced the absolute laws of the human being, the ultimate working structure of the human mind and reality: Simply do what he says and the result will happen.? No belief is needed, just experience, experiment [¦]
Osho in lecture on Patanjali,


Whether we know about these laws or not, whether we like or dislike them, they still describes the deepest truth about our relation to yoga, our relation to union with God, or in other words our ultimate connection with meaning. If we violate the truths expressed in the sutras - no matter how many other people we know do the same - it just means that they too have a problem with their connection to God.

Sacred texts from all over the world reflects the same wisdom, but to our knowledge, Patanjali is the most compressed and logical.


The Yoga sutras consists of four parts:

  • Samadhi pada (on contemplation)

  • Sadhana pada (on practice)

  • Vibuti pada (on properties and powers)

  • Kaivalya pada (on emancipation and freedom)

Kaivalya: Absolute state of aloneness, eternal emancipation
Pada: A quarter, a part, a chapter
Sadhana: Practice
Samadhi: Putting together, profound meditation,
Vibuti: Powers, properties of yoga.

Samadhi: Putting together, profound meditation,

1 With prayers for divine blessings, now begins an exposition of the sacred art of yoga.
1. 2 Yoga is the cessation of movements in the consciousness.
1. 3 Then the seer dwells in his own true splendour.
1. 4 At other times the seer identifies with the fluctuating consciousness.
1. 5 The movements of consciousness are fivefold. They may be cognizable or non cognizable, painful or non painful.
1. 6 They are caused by correct knowledge, illusion, delusion, sleep and memory.
1. 7 Correct knowledge is direct, inferred or proven as factual.
1. 8 Illusory or erroneous knowledge is based on non-fact or the non-real.
1. 9 Verbal knowledge devoid of substance is fancy or imagination.
1.10 Sleep is the non-deliberate absence of thought waves or knowledge.
1. Memory is the unmodified recollection of words and experiences.
1.12 Practice and detachment are the means to still the movements of consciousness.
1.13 Practice is the steadfast effort to still these fluctuations.
1.14 Long, uninterrupted alert practice is the firm foundation for restraining the fluctuations.
1.15 Renunciation is the practice of detachment from desires.
1.16 The ultimate renunciation is when one transcends the qualities of nature and perceives the soul.
1.17 Practice and detachment develop four types of samadhi: Self-analysis, synthesis, bliss and the experience of pure being.
1.18 The void arising in these experiences is another samadhi. Hidden impressions lie dormant, but spring up during moments of awareness, creating fluctuations and disturbing the purity of the consciousness.
1.19 In this state one may experience bodilessness, or become merged in nature. This may lead to isolation or to a state of loneliness.
1.20 Practice must be pursued with trust, confidence, vigour, keen memory and power of absorption to break this spiritual complacency.
1.21 The goal is near for those who are supremely vigorous and intense in practice.
1.22 There are differences between those who are mild, average and keen in their practice.
1.23 Or the citta may be restrained by profound meditation upon God and total surrender to Him.
1.24 God is the supreme Being, totally free from conflicts, unaffected by actions and untouched by cause and effect.
1.25 God is the unexcelled seed of all knowledge.
1.26 God is the first, foremost and absolute guru. unconditioned by time.
1.27 He is represented by the sacred syllable aum, called pranava.

    Pranava: Aum

    1.28 The mantra aum is to be repeated constantly, with feeling, realising its full significance.
    1.29 Meditation on God with the repetition of aum removes obstacles to the mastery of the inner self.
    1.30 These obstacles are disease, inertia, doubt, heedlessness, laziness, indiscipline of the senses. Erroneous views, lack of perseverance, and backsliding.
    1.31 Sorrow, despair, unsteadiness of the body and irregular breathing further distract the citta.


    Citta: Consciousness, a composite word for the mind, intellectand ego (pride or the sense of self)

    1.32 Adherence to single-minded effort prevents these impediments.
    1.33 Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favourably disposed, serene and benevolent.

    Samadhi: Putting together, profound meditation, eight and final aspect of astanga yoga
    Citta: Consciousness, a composite word for the mind, intellect and ego (pride or the sense of self)

    1.34 Or, by maintaining the pensive state felt at the time of soft and steady exhalation and during passive retention after exhalation.
    1.35 Or, by contemplating on an object that helps to maintain steadiness of mind and consciousness.
    1.36 Or, inner stability is gained by contemplating a luminous sorrowless effulgent light.
    1.37 Or, by contemplating on enlightened sages who are free from desires and attachments, calm and tranquil, or by contemplating Divine objects.
    1.38 Or, by recollecting and contemplating the experiences of dream-filled or dreamless sleep during a watchful waking state.
    1.39 Or, by meditating on any desired object conductive to steadiness of consciousness.
    1.40 Mastery of contemplation brings the power to extend from the finest particle to the greatest.
    1.41 The yogi realises that the knower, the instrument of knowing and the known are one, himself, the seer. Like a pure transparent jewel, he reflects an unsullied purity.
    1.42 At this stage, called savitarka samapatti, the word, meaning and content are blended, and become special knowledge.

    Savitarka: Right analysis

    Nirvitarka Samapatti: Without analysis, Transformation, assuming the original form, contemplation

    1. 1.43 In nirvitarka samapatti, the difference between memory and intellectual illumination is disclosed; memory is cleansed and consciousness shines without reflection.
    1. 1.44 The contemplation of subtle aspects is similarly explained as deliberate (savicara samapatti) or non-deliberate (nirvicara samapatti).

    Savicara: Right reflection, deliberation, consideration

    Nirvitarka samapatti: Without analysis, transforming, assuming the original form

    1.45 The subtlest level of nature (prakrti) is consciousness. When consciousness dissolves in nature, it loses all marks and becomes pure.

    Prakrti: Nature

    1.46 The states of samadhi described in the previous sutras are dependent upon a support or seed, and are termed sabija.

    Sabija: With seed

    1.47 From proficiency in nirvicara samapatti comes purity. Sattva or luminosity flows undisturbed, kindling the spiritual light of the self.

    Nirvicara: Without reflection

    Samapatti: Transforming, assuming the original form contemplation

    Sattva: Luminosity, white, pure, direct spiritual perception dawns.

    1.48 When consciousness dwells in wisdom, a truth-bearing state of direct spiritual perception dawns
    1.49 This truth-bearing knowledge and wisdom is distinct from and beyond the knowledge gleaned from books, testimony, or inference.
    1.50 A new life begins with this truth-bearing light. Previous impressions are left behind and new ones are prevented.
    1.51 When that new light of wisdom is also relinquished, seedless samadhi dawns.
    Samadhi: Putting together, profound meditation, eight and final aspect of astanga yoga


Sadhana: Practice
Pada: A quarter, a part, a chapter

    1 Burning zeal in practice, self-study and study of Scriptures, and surrender to God are the acts of Yoga.
    2. 2 The practice of yoga reduces afflictions and leads to samadhi.
    2. 3 The five afflictions which disturb the equilibrium of consciousness are: ignorance or lack of wisdom, ego, pride of the ego or the sense of "I?, attachment to pleasure, aversion to pain, fear of death and clinging to life.
    2. 4 Lack of true knowledge is the source of all pains and sorrows whether dormant, attenuated, interrupted or fully active.
    2. 5 Mistaking the transient for the permanent, the impure for the pure, pain for pleasure, and that which is not the self for the self: all this is called lack of spiritual knowledge, avidya.

    Avidya: Lack of wisdom

    2. 6 Egoism is the identification of the seer with the instrumental power of seeing.
    2. 7 Pleasure leads to desire and emotional attachment.
    2. 8 Unhappiness leads to hatred.
    2. 9 Self preservation or attachment to life is the subtlest of all afflictions. It is found even in wise men.
    2.10 Subtle afflictions are to be minimised and eradicated by a process of involution.
    2.11 The fluctuation of consciousness created by gross and subtle afflictions are to be silenced through meditation.
    2.12 The accumulated imprints of past lives, rooted in afflictions, will be experienced in present and future lives.
    2.13 As long as the root of actions exists, it will give rise to class of birth, span of life and the kind of experiences one has to undergo.
    2.14 According to our good, bad or mixed actions, the quality of our life, its span, and the nature of birth are experienced as being pleasant or painful.
    2.15 The wise man knows that owing to fluctuations, the qualities of nature, and subliminal impressions, even pleasant experiences are tinged with sorrow, and he keeps aloof from them.
    2.16 The pains which are yet to come can be and are to be avoided.
    2.17 The cause of pain is the association or identification of the seer (atma) with the seen (prakrti) and the remedy lies in their dissociation.

    Atma: The individual, individual spirit
    Prakrti Nature

    2.18 Nature, its three gunas, sattva, rajas and tamas, and its evolutes, the elements, mind, senses of perception and organs of action, exist eternal to serve the seer, for enjoyment or emancipation.

    Gunas: The three qualities of nature, called Tamas, Raja,Sattva
    Tamas: Inertia, darkness, obstruction, ignorance
    Rajas: Vibrancy, energy, activity
    Sattva: Luminosity, white, pure, expansion, intelligence

    2.19 The gunas generate their characteristic divisions and energies in the seer. Their stages are distinguishable and non-distinguishable, differentiable and non-differentiable.


    Gunas: The three qualities of nature, called Tamas, Raja, Sattva

    2.20 The seer is pure consciousness. He witnesses nature without being reliant on it.
    2.21 Nature and intelligence exists solely to serve the seer’s true purpose, emancipation.
    2.22 The relationship with nature ceases for emancipated beings, its purpose having been fulfilled, but its processes continue to affect others.
    2.23 The conjunction of the seer with the seen is for the seer to discover his own true nature.
    2.24 Lack of spiritual understanding (avidya) is the cause of the false identification of the seer with the seen.

    Avidya: Want of spiritual knowledge, lack of wisdom, ignorance

    2.25 The destruction of ignorance through right knowledge breaks the link binding the seer to the seen. This is Kaivalya, emancipation.

    Kaivalya: Absolute state of aloneness, eternal emancipation

    2.26 The ceaseless flow of discriminative knowledge in thought, word and deed destroys ignorance, the source of pain.
    2.27 Through this unbroken flow of discriminative awareness, one gains perfect knowledge which has seven spheres.
    2.28 By dedicated practice of the various aspects of yoga impurities are destroyed: the crown of wisdom radiates in glory.
    2.29 Moral injunctions (yama), fixed observances (niyama), posture (asana), regulation of breath (pranayama), internalisation of the senses towards their source (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana) and absorption of consciousness in the self (samadhi) are the eight constituents of yoga.

    Asana: A seat, posture, position, third of the eight aspects of Astanga Yoga
    Dharana: Concentration, attention, focusing, sixth of the eight aspects of Astanga yoga
    Dhyana Meditation, reflection, observation
    Niyama: Five individual ethical observances, second of the eight aspects of Astanga yoga: purity, contentment, self-discipline, Self-study, and surrender to God
    Pranayama Prana: vital energy; yama: expansion, extension). Expansion of the vital energy or life force through restraint of the breath. Fourth of the eight aspects of Astanga yoga
    Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses into the mind, fifth of the eight aspects of Astanga yoga
    Samadhi: Putting together, profound meditation, eight and final aspect of Astanga yoga
    Yama: The first of the eight limbs of Astanga yoga, five ethical principles of yoga: non-violence, truthfulness, non- misappropriation, celibacy and non-greediness

    2.30 Non-violence, truth, abstention from stealing, continence, and absence of greed for possessions beyond one’s need are the five pillars of yama.
    2.31 Yamas are the great, mighty, universal vows, unconditioned by place, time and class.
    2.32 Cleanliness, contentment, religious zeal, self-study and surrender of the self to the supreme Self or God are the niyamas.
    2.33 Principles which run contrary to yama and niyama are to be countered with the knowledge of discrimination.
    2.34 Uncertain knowledge giving rise to violence, whether done directly or indirectly, or condoned, is caused by greed, anger or delusion in mild, moderate or intense degree. It results in endless pain and ignorance. Through introspection comes the end of pain and ignorance.
    2.35 When non-violence in speech, thought and action is established, one’s aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in one’s presence.
    2.36 When the sadhaka is firmly established in the practice of truth, his words become so potent that whatever he says comes to realisation.
    Sadhaka: Aspirant, a practitioner
    2.37 When abstention from stealing is firmly established, precious jewels come.
    2.38 When the sadhaka is firmly established in continence, knowledge, vigour, valour and energy flow to him.
    2.39 Knowledge of past and future lives unfolds when one is free from greed for possessions.
    2.40 Cleanliness of body and mind develops disinterest in contact with others for self-gratification.
    2.41 When the body is cleansed, the mind purified and the senses controlled, joyful awareness needed to realise the inner self, also comes.
    2.42 From contentment and benevolence of consciousness comes supreme happiness.
    2.43 Self-discipline (tapas) burns away impurities and kindles the sparks of divinity.
    Tapas: Austerity, penance, spiritual practice, devoted discipline, religious fervour
    2.44 Self-study leads towards the realisation of God or communion with one’s desired deity.
    2.45 Surrender to God brings perfection in samadhi.

    Samadhi: Putting together, profound meditation, eighth and final aspect of Astanga yoga

    2.46 Asana is perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence and benevolence of spirit.

    Asana: A seat, posture, position; third of the eight aspects of Astanga yoga

    2.47 Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached.
    2.48 From then on, the sadhaka is undisturbed by dualitys.
    Sadhaka: Aspirant, a practitioner
    2.49 Pranayama is the regulation of the incoming and outgoing flow of breath with retention. It is to be practiced only after perfection in asana is attained.

    Pranayama Prana: vital energy, ayama: expansion, extension). Expansion of the vital energy of life force through restraint of the breath. Fourth of the eight aspects of Astanga yoga

    2.50 Pranayama has three movements: prolonged and fine inhalation exhalation and retention; all regulated with precision according to duration and place.
    2.51 The fourth type of pranayama transcends the external and internal pranayamas, and appears effortless and non-deliberate.
    2.52 Pranayama removes the veil covering the light of knowledge and heralds the dawn of wisdom.
    2.53 The mind also becomes fit for concentration.
    2.54 Withdrawing the senses, mind and consciousness from contact with external objects, and then drawing them inwards towards the seer, is pratyahara.

    Pratyahara: Withdrawal of senses into the mind. Fifth of the eight aspects of Astanga yoga

    2.55 Pratyahara results in the absolute control of the sense organs.


Vibuti: Powers, properties of yoga.

    1 Fixing the consciousness on one point or region is concentration (dharana).
    Dharana: Concentration, attention, focusing. Sixth of the eight aspects of Astanga yoga
    3. 2 A steady, continuous flow of attention directed towards the same point or region is meditation (dhyana).

    Dhyana: Meditation, reflection, observation, contemplation, seventh of the eight aspects of Astanga yoga

    3. 3 When the object of meditation engulfs the meditator, appearing as the subject, self awareness is lost. This is samadhi.

    Samadhi: Putting together, profound meditation. eight and final aspect of Astanga yoga

    3. 4 These three together - dharana, dhyana and samadhi - constitute integration or samyama.

    Samyama: Holding together, integration

    3. 5 From mastery of samyama comes the light of awareness and insight.
    3. 6 Samyama may be applied in various spheres to derive its usefulness.
    3. 7 These three aspects of yoga are internal, compared to the former five.
    3. 8 Similarly, samyama is external when compared to seedless (nirbija) samadhi.

    Nirbija: Seedless, without a seed

    Samadhi: Putting together, profound meditation, eighth and final aspect of Astanga yoga

    3. 9 Study of the silent moments between rising and restraining subliminal impressions is the transformation of consciousness towards restraint (nirodha parinamah).

    Nirodha: Restraint, check, obstruction
    Parinamah: Change, alteration, transformation

    3.10 The restraint of rising impressions brings about an undisturbed flow of tranquillity.
    3.11 The weakening of scattered attention and the rise of one-pointed attention in the citta is the transformation towards samadhi

    Citta: Consciousness, a composite word for mind, intellect and ego (pride or the sense of self)

    3.12 When rising and falling thought processes are in balance, one-pointed consciousness emerges. Maintenance of awareness with keen intensity from one-pointed attention to no-pointed attentiveness is ekagrata parinama.

    Ekagrata: One-pointed attention on the indivisible self
    Parinamah: Change, alteration, transformation

    3.13 Through these three phases, cultured consciousness is transformed from its potential state (dharma) towards further refinement (laksana) and the zenith of refinement (avastha). In this way, the transformation of elements, senses and mind takes place.
    3.14 The substrata is that which continues to exist and maintain its characteristic quality in all states, whether manifest, latent or subdued.
    3.15 Successive sequential changes cause the distinctive changes in the consciousness.
    3.16 By mastery of the three transformations of nature (dharma), quality (laksana) and condition (avastha),through samyama on the nirodha, samadhi, and ekagrata states of consciousness, the yogi acquires knowledge of the past and the future.

    Dharma: First of the four aims of life, science of duty, religious duty, virtue
    Laksana: Character, quality, distinctive mark
    Avastha: A condition, state
    Samyama: Holding together, integration
    Nirodha: Restraint, check, obstruction
    Samadhi: Putting together, profound meditation, eighth and final aspect of Astanga yoga
    Ekagrata: One pointed attention on the indivisible self

    3.17 Words, objects and ideas are superimposed, creating confusion; by samyama, one gains knowledge of the language of all beings.

    Samyama: Holding together, integration

    3.18 Through direct perception of his subliminal impressions, the yogi gains knowledge of his previous lives.
    3.19 He acquires the ability to understand the minds of others.
    3.20 A yogi who is able to read the minds of others in general, can also, if necessary, precisely identify specific contents which are beyond the mind.
    3.21 By control over the subtle body, the yogi can suspend at will the rays of light emanating from himself so that he becomes invisible to onlookers. He may again make himself visible by bringing back the power of perceptibility.
    3.22 In the same way described above, he is able to arrest sound, smell, taste, form and touch.
    3.23 The effects of action are immediate or delayed. By samyama on his actions, a yogi will gain foreknowledge of their final fruits. He will know the exact time of his death by omens.

    Samyama: Holding together, integration

    3.24 He gains moral and emotional strength by perfecting friendliness and other virtues towards one and all.
    3.25 By samyama on strength, the yogi will develop the physical strength, grace and endurance of an elephant.
    3.26 Concealed things, near or far, are revealed to a yogi.
    3.27 By samyama on the sun the yogi will have knowledge of the seven worlds, and of the seven cosmic centres in the body.

    Samyama: Holding together, integration

    3.28 By samyama on the moon, the yogi will know the position and system of the stars.
    3.29 By samyama on the pole star, the yogi knows the course of destiny.
    3.30 By samyama on the navel, the yogi acquires perfect knowledge of the disposition of the human body.
    3.31 By samyama on the pit of the throat, the yogi overcomes hunger and thirst.
    3.32 By samyama on kurmanadi, at the pit of the throat the yogi can make his body and mind firm and immobile like a tortoise.

    Kurmandi: Name of a nadi in the epigastric region

    3.33 By performing samyama on the light of the crown of the head (ajna chakra),the yogi has visions of perfected beings.
    3.34 Through the faculty of spiritual perception the yogi becomes the knower of all knowledge.
    3.35 By samyama on the region of the heart the yogi acquires a thorough knowledge of the contents and tendencies of consciousness.
    3.36 By samyama, the yogi easily differentiates between the intelligence and the soul which is real and true.
    3.37 Trough that spiritual perception, the yogi acquires the divine faculties of hearing, touch, vision, taste and smell. He can even generate these divine emanations by his own will.
    3.38 These attainments are impediments to samadhi, although they are powers in active life.
    3.39 Through relaxation of the causes of bondage, and the free flow of consciousness, the yogi enters another’s body at will
    3.40 By mastery of udana vayu, the yogi can walk over water, swamps and thorns without touching them. He can also levitate.

    Udana vayu: One of the five principal vayus (vital energies) situated in the throat region which controls the vocal cords and intake of air and food

    3.41 By samyama on samana vayu, a yogi glows like fire and his aura shines.

    Samana vayu: Vital energy which aids digestion, transformation, assuming the original form, contemplation

    3.42 By samyama on the relation between space and sound, the yogi acquires the power of hearing distant and divine sounds. The organ of hearing, the ear, grasps sound in space. This is the conquest of air.
    3.43 By knowing the relationship between the body and ether, the yogi transforms his body and mind so that they become as light as cotton fibre. He can then levitate in space. This is the conquest of ether.
    3.44 By samyama on mahavideha (the disembodied state), where consciousness acts outside the body, the veil covering the light of illumination is destroyed.
    3.45 By samyama on the elements - their mass, forms, subtlety, conjunction and purposes, the yogi becomes Lord over them all.

    Samyama: Holding together, integration

    3.46 From that arises perfection of the body, the ability to resist the play of the elements, and powers such as minuteness.
    3.47 Perfection of the body consists of beauty of form, grace, strength, compactness, and the hardness and brilliance of a diamond.
    3.48 Through samyama upon the purpose of the conjunction of the process of knowing, the ego, and nature, there is mastery over the senses.
    3.49 By mastery over the senses of perception, the yogi’s speed of body, senses and mind matches that of the soul, independent of the primary causes of nature. Unaided by consciousness. he subdues the first principle of nature (mahat).

    Mahat: Great, mighty, the great principle, cosmic intelligence, universal consciousness.

    3.50 Only one who knows the difference between the illuminative intelligence and the seer attains supreme knowledge of all that exists and all that manifests.
    3.51 By destruction of the seeds of bondage and the renunciation of even these powers, comes eternal emancipation.
    3.52 When approached by celestial beings, there should be neither attachment nor surprise, for undesirable connections can occur again.
    3.53 By samyama on moment and on the continuous flow of moments, the yogi gains exalted knowledge, free from the limitations of time and space.

    Samyama: Holding together, integration

    3.54 By this knowledge the yogi is able to distinguish unerringly the differences in similar objects which cannot be distinguished by rank, qualitative signs or position in space.
    3.55 The essential characteristic of the yogi’s exalted knowledge is that he grasps instantly, clearly and wholly, the aims of all objects without going into the sequence of time or change.
    3.56 When the purity of intelligence equals the purity of the soul, the yogi has reached kaivalya, perfection in yoga.

    Kaivalya: Absolute state of aloneness, eternal emancipation


Kaivalya: Absolute state of aloneness, eternal emancipation

1 Accomplishments may be attained through birth, the use of herbs, incantations, self-discipline or samadhi.
4. 2 The abundant flow of nature’s energy brings about a transformation in one’s birth, aiding the process of evolution.
4. 3 Nature’s efficient causes does not impel its potentialities into action, but helps to remove the obstacles to evolution, just as a farmer builds banks to irrigate his fields.
4. 4 Constructed or created mind springs from the sense of individuality.
4. 5 Consciousness is one, but it branches into many different types of activities and innumerable thought-waves.
4.6 Of these activities of consciousness of perfected beings, only those which proceed from meditation are free from latent impressions and influences.
4. 7 A yogi’s actions are neither white nor black. The actions of others are of three kinds, white, black or grey.
4. 8 These three types of actions leave impressions which become manifest when conditions are favourable and ripe.
4. 9 Life is a continuous process, even though it is demarcated by race, place and time. Due to the uninterrupted close relationship between memory and subliminal impressions, the fruits of actions remain intact from one life to the next, as if there were no separation between births.
4.10 These impressions, memories and desires have existed eternally, as the desire to live is eternal.
4.11 Impressions and desires are bound together by their dependence upon cause and effect. In the absence of the latter, the former too ceases to function.
4.12 The existence of the past and the future is as real as that of the present. As moments roll into movements which have yet to appear as the future, the quality of knowledge in one’s intellect and consciousness is affected.
4.13 The three phases of time intermingle rhythmically and interweave with the qualities of nature. They change the composition of nature’s properties into gross and subtle.
4.14 Unity in the mutation of time caused by the abiding qualities of nature, sattva, rajas and tamas, causes modifications in objects, but their unique essence, or reality, does not change.

    Gunas: The three qualities of nature: Tamas, Raja and Sattva
    Tamas: Inertia, darkness, obstruction, ignorance
    Rajas: Vibrancy, energy, activity
    Sattva: Luminosity, white, pure, expansion, intelligence

    Due to the variance in the quality of mind-content, each person may view the same object differently according to his own way of thinking.

    4.16 An object exists independent of its cognisance by any one consciousness. What happens to it when that consciousness is not there to perceive it?
    4.17 An object remains known or unknown according to the conditioning or expectation of the consciousness.
    4.18 Purusa is ever illuminative and changeless. Being constant and master of the mind, he always knows the moods and modes of consciousness.

    Purusa: The Seer, the Soul

    Consciousness cannot illumine itself as it is a knowable object.
    4.20 Consciousness cannot comprehend both the seer and itself at the same time.
    4.21 If consciousness were manifold in one’s being, each cognising the other, the intelligence too would be manifold, so the projections of mind would be many, each having its own memory.
    4.22 Consciousness distinguishes its own awareness and intelligence when it reflects and identifies its source - the changeless seer - and assumes his form.
    4.23 Consciousness, reflected by the seer as well as by the seen, appears to be all-comprehending.
    4.24 Though the fabric of consciousness is interwoven with innumerable desires and subconscious impressions, it exist for the seer as well as to the objective world.
    4.25 For one who realises the distinction between citta and atma, the sense of separation between the two disappears.

    Citta: Consciousness, a composite word for mind, intellect and ego pride or sense of self)
    Atma: The individual, individual spirit

    4.26 The consciousness is drawn strongly towards the seer or the soul due to the gravitational force of its exalted intelligence.
    4.27 Notwithstanding this progress, if one is careless during the interval, a fissure arises due to past hidden impressions, creating division between the consciousness and the seer.
    4.28 In the same way as the sadhaka strives to be free from afflictions, the yogi must handle these latent impressions judiciously to extinguish them.

    Sadhaka: Aspirant, a practitioner

    4.29 The yogi who has no interest even in his highest state of evolution, and maintains supreme attentive, discriminative awareness, attains dharmameghah samadhi: he contemplates the fragrance of virtue and justice.
    Dharmameghah: (dharma: duty; megha: cloud) rain-cloud of justice, delightful fragrance of virtue
    4.30 Then comes the end of afflictions and of karma.
    4.31 Then, when the veils of impurities are removed, the highest, subjective, pure, infinite knowledge is attained, and the knowable, the finite, appears as trivial.
    4.32 When dharmameghah samadhi is attained, qualities of nature (gunas) come to rest. Having fulfilled their purpose, their sequence of successive mutations is at an end.
    4.33 As the mutations of the gunas cease to function, time, the uninterrupted movements of moments, stops. This deconstruction of the flow of time is comprehensible only at this final stage of emancipation.
    4.34 Kaivalya, liberation, comes when the yogi has fulfilled the purusarthas, the fourfold aims of life. and has transcended the gunas. Aims and gunas return to their source, and consciousness is established in its own natural purity.

    Kaivalya: Absolute state of aloneness, eternal emancipation
    Purusarthas: The four objects or aims of life: Dharma (discharge of duty) Artha(acquirement of wealth) Kama (gratification of desires) and Moksa (final emancipation)

The RAJA yoga or ASTANGA yoga described by Patanjali has 8 stages:

Yama: Abstention from evil conduct
Niyama: Virtuous conduct
Asana: Physical posture
Pranayama: Regulation of breath
Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses
Dharana: Concentration
Dhyana: Meditation
Samadhi: Union of subject and object

2.30 Non-violence, truth, abstention from stealing, continence, and absence of greed for possessions beyond one’s need are the five pillars of yama.

2.32 Cleanliness, contentment, religious zeal, self-study and surrender of the self to the supreme Self or God are the niyamas.

Non-Violence or Ahimsa
Ahimsa does not merely refer to a non-violent behaviour, in fact it means a complete natural inner state of non-violence.
Non-violence in thought, word and deed!
Non-Lying or Satya
Again not only outwardly meant. The goal is to be outwardly and inwardly truthful; to be honest towards oneself, not trying to make up excuses etc, and towards others, even if it is not forced upon us.
Non-Stealing or Astya
The goal not to steal physically is the easiest, but the task is not to steal for example opinions, attitudes, feelings etc. Are "your" attitudes really yours ? not to seduce, not to take anything neither material nor immaterial, without it being freely given.

Continence, non-Sensuality or Brahmacarya
A common interpretation of this Yama is to be celibate, in thoughts, words, and deed!
Sri Yukteswars disciple Swami Shankarananda Giri describes it as follows:
Bramacharya is situated in the heart chakra. The heart is both the root of ignorance and of ego, therefore we must remain in Brahma, the divine, remain in our divine nature. In this way a sufficient quantity of prana shakti or vital energy is generated through the body. When the breath is unstable, restless, our life force is wasted or lost. On the other hand, if our mind is established in Brahma, vital energy is increased.

Non-Greed or Aparigraha
Greed stems from insecurity. The aim is to learn not to be attached to or desirous of even what rightly could be claimed to be ours. This Yama clashes head on with common sense of right and proper, the "Want it - charge it" culture.

Cleanliness or Saucha
Purity of body, mind and environment is very important, impurities will attract heavy thoughtforms and lower entities, making spiritual progress difficult. Further than that, Saucha refers to "a heart cleansed for attachments and vain preoccupations of a worldly mind".
The heart of man is impure when it longs for anything that is foreign to its own nature (Kriyananda).

Contentment or Santosha
Ability to accept whatever comes with gratitude. This does not mean apathy or indifference to events! Purity and contentment means freedom from the need for anything, in the realisation that one already is everything!

Austerity or Tapasya
Basically this deals with training us to have the strength of determination to do what we decide. In modern times what we are made to want is things, - newer, better, more,- if we want to be able to hear our deeper yearnings, the outer world, - and our own projections - must be overcome.

Self-Study or Swadhyaya
This is not to be understood psychological, but spiritual, to see how God has chosen to manifest Himself in the form we see as "me" and to discover and root out everything else!

Devotion or Iswara Pranidhana
Turning the natural love of the heart towards God rather than towards the objects of the world. Doing this we will realise a deep love for all other beings, since they too are in God.
This Niyama is maybe the most essential, that alone can bring us to divine bliss or Samadhi, as witnessed by many Christian saints.