Who is Maharishi Patanjali from Patanjali Yoga Sutra

MAHARISHI PATANJALI – THE AVATAR OF ADI SHESHA

Maharishi Patanjali was one of the greatest sage of Bharat (present India). His well known work in his life is the boon to mankind. He had done three great works in three different dimensions of human life. Each work uplift, improve and transcend human from animal to human being and from human being to experience the divine in life. Maharishi Patanjali had written the commentary on Panini’s ‘Astadhyaya’ which popularly known as ‘Mahabhasya’. Well known for his profound work in the field of yoga ‘Patanjali Yoga Sutra’, also called ‘Patanjala Yoga Sutra’ getting popular day by day for better understanding of yoga. In the field of Ayurveda (ancient medical science of bharat) also he has contributed by giving ‘Charakpratisamskrat’.

In the praise of Maharishi Patanjali “Raja Bhoj” said the following words:- 

योगेन चित्तस्य पदेन वाचां । मलं शरीरस्य च वैद्यकेन ॥
योऽपाकरोत्तमं प्रवरं मुनीनां । पतञ्जलिं प्राञ्जलिरानतोऽस्मि ॥

We salute the great sage maharishi Patanjali with both hands who has purified our mind with help of yoga. He has purified speech with help of grammar and has purified the impurities in our body with help of medicines.

Yoga Prayer – Yogen chittasya paden vacha…..

ABOUT MAHARISHI PATANJALI AND HIS EARLY LIFE

Maharishi Patanjali was born about 200 B.C. in the kingdom of king Pusyamitra Shung in Bharat (current India). It is also said the Maharishi Patanjali only conducted the Ashwamegh yagya for the king. ‘Gonika’ was the name of his mother but we have no information about father in texts.

If we understand the word Patanjali then we will see that it is made of two words i.e. ‘pata’ and ‘anjali’. Pata means ‘to fell’ and anjali means ‘in the hands’. Story goes like one day his mother was doing daily religious rituals and prayers on bank of river as she does daily. And there Maharishi was fallen on her hands. Hence he is known by the name “Patanjali”. There is also some discordance on place where Patanjali Rishi was born. Some author says that he was born in Varanasi while other says he was born on some high altitude and divine place.

STORY OF MAHARISHI PATANJALI

Once upon a time Lord Vishnu was in yoga nidra (cosmic conscious sleep) on his cosmic serpent i.e. Adi Shesha. At that time some deity went to Lord Vishnu and praised him and said “With your grace we have received the knowledge of Ayurveda and thus cure and health of physical body can be maintained now. But O Lord people are still struggling with mental diseases. O Lord please show us way to emerge from this type of emotional sickness in our life“. At that time Lord Vishnu took his Adi Shesha and presented to the deity in order to shower divine knowledge of yoga. This is how the maharishi was incarnated on earth. And hence Maharishi Patanjali is the incarnation of Adishesha.

Adi Shesha is infinite cosmic serpent of Lord Vishnu. The word Adi means infinite.

SYSTEMISER OF YOGA

Maharishi Patanjali is the compiler of the scripture of yoga that is “Patanjali Yoga Sutra” or “Patanjala Yoga Sutra”. Maharishi is the systematiser of yoga as he had collected all the sutras from the different vedic scriptures. Finally he compiled all in the form of a book Patanjali Yoga Sutra. This is considered the most authentic text in the field of yoga. After this great work on yoga, yoga got place in the six great philosophies of vedic dharma. And that philosophy of yoga is named ‘Yoga Darshan’. Maharishi has written total 196 sutras in patanjali yoga darshan. Sutra means small sentences which contains dense meaning has universal approach.

Overview of Patanjala Yoga Sutra

The great sutras tells us what should be the aim of life and the way to achieve that. Like the below sutra:

Yogash Chitta Vritti nirodha
Yoga is the cessation of modifications of mind

Above sutra from patanjali yoga sutra defines what is yoga and what is the purpose of yoga or you can say life. Later he has given many sutras to achieve this. He has given not only one single method but so many ways through sutras. One can choose and practice accordingly. Further he has given the key to achieve the goal and that lies in two things. First is ‘continuous practice (nirantar abhyas)’ and second is to ‘stay away from all attachments & detachments (Vairaag)’. Maharishi himself is the God incarnated to impart knowledge and ways to overcome sufferings. The divine sacred knowledge by him is the boon to mankind.

Moreover he has given the gift of ashtanga yoga to world which ultimately leads to self realization, the samadhi. The path of eight limbs of yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, is described very beautifully in second chapter which known as Sadhana Pada. These eight limbs are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharna, Dhyana, and Samadhi. Maharishi Patanjali has also given many other ways in his scripture to pacify the mind. For example ‘Tasya Vaachaka Pranav’ is the sutra in yoga sutra describing the importance and a way to pacify mind. According to the Yoga Sutras, Pranav (Om) is the speech of God. He has also given some methods for attaining the goal of life. 

INVOCATION TO MAHARISHI PATANJALI IN TRADITION OF YOGA

In the tradition of yoga we invoke Maharishi patanjali before starting the practice of yoga. We say many prayers like

योगेन चित्तस्य पदेन वाचां । मलं शरीरस्य च वैद्यकेन ॥
योऽपाकरोत्तमं प्रवरं मुनीनां । पतञ्जलिं प्राञ्जलिरानतोऽस्मि ॥

“Yogena Chittasya Padena Vacha
Malam Sharirasya Cha Vaidya Kena
Yopakarotham Pravaram Muninam
Patanjalim Pranjali Ranatosmi”

The meaning is already been there above in the article.

आबाहु पुरुषाकारं शङ्ख चक्रासि धारिणम्सहस्र शिरसं श्वेतं प्रणमामि पतञ्जलिम्॥

Abahu purushakaram shankha cakrasi dharinam
sahasra shirsam svetam pranamami patanjalim ॥

MEANING OF THE VERSE

Abahu Purusha Aakaram

Abahu – with strong arms (skill in action), Purusha – Ultimate Consciousness, Aakaram – Shape or Form

Whose shape is of strong arms and high consciousness

Strong arms represent the skill in action and Shape of purusha means the form of higher consciousness. So the one who is skilled in action and himself is the form of ultimate consciousness.

Shankha Chakrasi Dharinam

Shankha – conch which symbolizes awakening, Chakrasi – sharpen edge disc symbolizes cutting the head of ignorance, Dharinam – to hold

Holding a conch and the sharpened edge disc

One who is fully awakened and who can cut the head of ego and ignorance. One who is holding this is Maharishi Patanjali.

Sahasrara Shirasham Shwetam

Sahasrara – crown chakra/thousands, Shirsham – head, Shwetam – white – the white colour symbolizes the purity/wisdom

With white head and thousand heads

Head is the seat of consciousness thus white head represents pure consciousness and wisdom. Thousand heads mean thousands of wisdom or we can relate to thousand petals chakra, crown chakra that too represents awakened consciousness.

Pranamami Patanjalim

Patanjalim – to that Patanjali, Pranam – salutation

We salute to Patanjali who has all these attributes.

अनन्ताय नागराजाय  नमो नमः ।

anantāya nāgarājāya namo namaḥ

Anantaya (Ananta) – Infinite, Nagarajaya – King of the Nagas, Namah – Salutation

The Nagas are the mythical creatures and have abundance of knowledge. Ananta naag represents the vishnu shaiyya on which Lord Vishnu lays down. Rishi Patanjali is said to be the incarnation of Anant Nag. We bow to Maharishi Patanjali.

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