Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga

Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga

Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga is an eight limbed path in Raja Yoga leading towards Spiritual fulfillment.

Following are the 8 limbs; The first five are called external aids to Yoga (bahiranga sadhana)

1. Yama: The rules of Yama (the Don’ts) are five: Ahimsa or Non-violence Satya or Non-lying Asteya or Non-stealing … Brahmacharya or Non-sensuality Aparigraha or non-possessiveness

2. Niyama: The rules of Niyama (the Do’s) are: Shaucha or Cleanliness Santosha or Contentment Tapas or Austerity Svadhyaya or Self-study or Introspection Ishvarapranidhana or Devotion to the Supreme Lord

3. Asana

4. Pranayama

5. Pratyahara The last three levels are called internal aids to Yoga (antaranga sadhana)

6. Dharana

7. Dhyana

8. Samadhi


The first Yama is Ahimsa, the first and foremost virtue; inflicting no injury or harm to others or even to one’s own self, it goes as far as nonviolence in thought, word and deed. The second yama is satya, truthfulness; Is self explanatory The third Yama is Asteya: Non-stealing and actually has different components needing discussion. It is neither stealing, nor coveting nor entering into debt. We all know what overt stealing is. But there are other forms of stealing like not paying back the money taken and covetousness. Covetousness is to own something mentally and emotionally but not actually owning it physically. It puts a hidden psychological strain on all parties concerned and brings up the lower emotions from the tala chakras. Coveting is to desire things that are not your own. Coveting leads to jealousy, and it leads to stealing. The first impulse toward stealing is coveting, wanting. If you can control the impulse to covet, then you will not steal.

Coveting is mental stealing. Of course, stealing must never ever happen. Even a penny, should not be stolen. Defaulting on debts is also a form of stealing. But avoiding debt in principle does not mean that one cannot buy things on credit or through other arrangements. It does mean that payments must be made at the expected time, and it also means paying back the money taken from anyone, without undue postponement; that contracts even if they are only verbal be honored to the satisfaction of the party who gave the money in good faith. Running one’s affairs on other peoples’ money must be restrained. There are several kinds of debt that are disallowed by this yama. One is spending beyond means and accumulating bills that one can’t pay. The way to avoid poverty is to spend within your means: Many people today are addicted to abusing credit. It’s like being addicted to the drug opium. People addicted to O.P.M.–other people’s money–compulsively spend beyond their means. To control this is the sadhana of asteya. I will not make one posting too long; instead, discuss the remaining aspects of Ashtanga Yoga in next several postings

Courtesy: Kauai Hindu Monastery; Master Course

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