Yoga is an art as well as a science meant to enlighten us about life, the human body, and mind. It is an art understood by great sages who dedicated their lives to truly understanding themselves. Through this practice, they brought insight to many hidden truths about Nature as well as the human body. As per these ancient sages, the human system is a wonderful tool, it is the crown of creation which is meant for experiencing the inner light, the Eternal Truth, considered the goal of human life.
The human system, which is meant to experience the transcendental state possesses three tools:
First is the mind, through which we are thinking, deciding, storing information, inferring, and calculating.
The second tool is speech, which enables us to express what we think, desire, and decide. It is a special feature of humans, not found in animals, birds, or vegetation. All humans have many ideas and emotions which can be expressed in this unique way. It is the grace of nature. Speech is used to express emotions such as, love, jealousy, joy, and sorrow. It is also a tool for expressing a wonderful inner experience found in the transcendental state. The most valuable experience in this universe is this state, it is invaluable if one is able to express some of this experience to others. It is even possible to transmit this experience to another through speech, though this capacity is poorly understood these days.
The third tool is the body. Our hands, legs, five senses, our vertical structure is a wonderful gift. Through this body, we are able to do amazing activities, a man of only 6 ft is able to control an elephant, fly through the sky, or dive into the depth of the ocean.
Any material we have ignorance towards, we may not use properly. One may use a computer as a stand to put things on but in actuality it has a huge capacity to support us. In the same way humans may not use the mind, speech and body to the fullest capacity. Our welfare or downfall are due to these 3 tools. We may use them properly in order to experience wonderful things or we may misuse them, bringing calamity to ourselves or our society.
The human system has one more special feature not found elsewhere. A freedom that flora and fauna do not have. Animals actions are controlled by creation itself. For instance, a fish must stay in the water and eat from what is available there, it cannot move from there. A bird can fly, but generally cannot enter the ocean. Further, though food is available for all, humans have a unique way with food, modifying the properties of food through cooking, processing, etc. In the same way animals and birds are using some materials for developing their homes, their nests, yet they are having limited capacities. A nightingale may build a particular nest, it cannot make a nest different from what it knows. A conch shell is a product of a creature found in the ocean. All conches are made alike by that creature. Human beings are provided with some freedom and independence; due to it, they can use these three tools for the welfare of the self and others or cause calamity to the self and others. For mankind there is a need for guidelines. For animals and birds there is no need for teachings, they always move according to nature.
Since the beginning of mankind, through intuition, the ability to understand what is right and what is wrong has been there. It was provided by the mind and intellect. These days we do not get true intuition from inside. Even when we think we do, it is hard to understand whether it’s real and true, or not. Sometimes our intuition may lead us in a wrong direction. If a sophisticated instrument gives a false reading or a computer is caught by a virus, we will not get the expected results. Due to our misuse and manipulation of this human system we are not able to get exact intuition. If we balance and purify the system, then we may. Hence, there is a need for someone who can guide us. Since the beginning of humankind, extraordinary personalities, incarnations, have come into society possessing vast knowledge and a wonderful capacity to express their experiences. They understand and enlighten us about the proper use of these three tools.
The founder of the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali, is considered such a personality, an incarnation of Kundalini. Due to his ideal system, he had right intuition which revealed hidden layers of this universe. Patanjali is considered an pure incarnation of Kundalini, the serpent power.
Kundalini provides the energy for human beings external activities. Its flow is towards the external world. Through yoga practice, this same energy starts moving upwardly towards the head. When it moves in this way naturally, the body will stay still as energy is moving away from the limbs causing no action in the body. Kundalini brings both bhoga, through its downward movement or involvement in the external world, and Yoga, through its upward movement brings the inner experience of the Great Light, the Eternal Truth.
Patanjali brought forth three important wings of knowledge. One is related to the body: How to keep it in perfect health. What are the do’s and don’ts to maintain health. What are the capacities of this human body. What is right food, when to eat, what are the disorders expected, what are the remedies for this system. This wing is known as Ayurveda, the Indian medical science
The next wing is related to speech, the medium used to communicate. How a language and speech are connected through knowledge and emotions. How and when to express our emotions. How many emotions there are, and how they are linked to knowledge. Our speech should communicate right emotion as well as knowledge, together they are meaningful to mankind. Patanjali’s contribution concerning speech is a science of great depth and goes far beyond grammar.
The third wing is related to the mind, what it is, what is beyond it, how it is working, what are the right actions for it, where will one be deluded, how to correct it, what is the best use of “I”. All these are addressed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.
The mind, speech and body cannot exist without each other’s mutual support. While dealing with the mind, the body and speech should be dealt with. While dealing with the body, the mind and speech should be addressed. In the Yoga Sutra many topics indirectly related to speech, as well as the body are found. Patanjali’s writings on grammar are no longer available, though in sanskrit grammar, which deals directly with speech, the mind and body are also indirectly dealt with. These three tools, with the emphasis on the mind, are addressed in the Yoga Sutra. This is a wonderful wing of knowledge we may actually call, ‘ancient psychology’. Most investigation around psychology today is external, this text deals with the many internal layers.
Let us bow our heads to the great sage Patanjali, who systematically and eloquently explains in the Yoga Sutras, who we are, what is the nature of the mind, what is truth, and how we can achieve yogic conditions.