He just understood humanity inside out – not as people but as a total mechanism of the human body, mind, consciousness…
Patanjali 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.
Patanjali defined yoga as Chitta Vritti Nirodha, which literally means that if you still the modifications and activity of the mind, you are in yoga. Everything has become one in your consciousness. We may be pursuing many things in our lives and going through processes that we call achievements, but to go beyond the modifications of the mind is the most fundamental and at the same time the highest achievement one can attain, because this releases a human being from what he is seeking – from what is within and what is outside – from everything. If only he stills his mind, he becomes an ultimate possibility. The mind becomes a plain mirror, not a wavy mirror. A wavy mirror will distort one’s whole perception of life. At least if you don’t look at it, you may have some idea how you are, but if you look at it every day, it will give you a completely distorted vision of everything.
Right now, most human beings are using their mind only between their memory and imagination. Memory and imagination are not two separate things. Memory is accumulated past, imagination is an exaggerated version of that. If you bring your mind to a state where you are neither contaminated by memory nor deluded by imagination, then it is a truly intelligent, penetrative mind. It sees everything there is to see – life and its source. For the survival process, your memory and imagination are good enough, but if you want to explore other dimensions of life, then memory and imagination are not sufficient because they are only a recycling of your past. Once you recycle your past, there is a pattern to your life. And it is an unbreakable pattern if your mind is just engaged in memory and imagination. Once you are trapped by a pattern, it does not matter who created the pattern, it is a kind of slavery. Essentially, realizing that one is trapped in psychological realities and missing out on the existential experience of the grandeur of creation is the first step towards liberation.
This is the reason why, of all the beautiful ways in which it could be expressed, Patanjali chose the description Chitta Vritti Nirodha for yoga – a technology which can take you towards your liberation or realization.
(Author: Sadhguru from ishafoundation.org)
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
It is said that once, while watching a dance by Lord Shiva, Adi Shesha (the serpent with 1000 heads) found it unbearable to support the weight of Lord Vishnu. Amazed at this, he asked Lord Vishnu the reason for the same. Lord Vishnu said that this was because of his harmony with Lord Shiva’s energy state, owing to the practice of Yoga. Realizing the value and benefits of Yoga, Adi Shesha decided to be born amongst humans as ‘Patanjali’, to teach them the great art.
Yoga Sutras are considered to serve as the basis of the yogic techniques. Patanjali compiled 195 sutras, which serve as a framework for integrating Yoga into the daily routine and leading an ethical life. The exact date of the compilation of the Yoga Sutras is not known. However, it is believed that they were written somewhere around 200 BC. The core of Patanjali’s teachings lies in the eightfold path of yoga. The path shows the way to live a better life through yoga.