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196 Sutras or Aphorisms

196 Sutras or Aphorisms

The Yoga Sutras are important as they contain 196 memorable aphorisms related to yoga. The Sanskrit term for these aphorisms, by which they are commonly known, is Sutras. 

The fact that numerous translations of the book are in circulation even now attests to its huge popularity. The Yoga Sutras have been translated not only into more than 40 Indian languages but into foreign languages too. Many important spiritual figures like Swami Vivekananda brought the text back into the limelight as they tried to revive the yogic practices. 

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras remains relevant as it contains the tenets of the classical yogic discipline from which modern forms have been derived. That classical form of yoga in the Yoga Sutras is Ashtanga yoga. As the Sanskrit term “ashtanga” indicates, Patanjali envisioned an eight-fold path within the yogic discipline. 

It is a yogic belief that an individual who transcends worldly concerns and achieves physical as well as mental wellbeing becomes part of a higher being. This union of the individual with the cosmic is seen in the Yoga Sutras as the last of the eight steps. Known as “Samadhi” or the state of union, Patanjali describes how it may be attained through seven practices. They are abstinence, austerity, posture, control of breath, detachment from the sensory world, concentration, and meditation. 

By breaking down the philosophy of yoga into systematic steps towards “samadhi” and enlightenment, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras made the discipline accessible to people.