Enlightened Living - The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali [Full Text of The Yoga Sutra]
This little gem contains all of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, one of the most important texts on yoga and meditation. Swami Venkatesananda wants us to be aware, right from the start, before we even open his translation that The Yoga Sutra provides insight into the very nature of yoga, and so, he has subtitled this book: "Patanjali's Vision of Oneness." What distinguishes this version from all the rest is that it comes to terms with the issue that has caused other translators to stumble, therefore caused readers to fail to understand Patanjali's vision: the fact that much of the ancient Sanskrit used by Patanjali, has no equivalent in modern day language, and further, that most languages in the modern world are, at their core, dualistic in nature and expression. The problem then becomes, how to understand what is essentially a non-dualistic message and unlock its meaning.
Swami Venkatesananda's radical approach is to provide an interpretive translation, guiding us with precision of an ever vigilant yogi, an insider's perspective as it were. Thus, he manages to help us avoid the usual pitfalls that so called "classic" translations do not avoid, therefore, enabling us to sidestep all the usual misdirections that readers receive. This unique version enables a new generation of students to find the true inner meaning of each and every passage within this enormously important text. By doing so, Swami Venkatesananda has managed to pass on to the modern world Patanjali's vision, a vision that has remained hidden for centuries.
Six years after the publication of the beautiful South African edition of Swami Sivananda’s translation of The Bhagavad Gita, Swami Venkatesananda himself wrote a volume of contemplations on this majestic scripture. The first edition was called Srimad Bhagavad Gita for Your Daily Life. Later editions were called The Song of God. Swamiji did not view this work as a commentary; rather he wrote: “This is not a commentary on The Bhagavad Gita, but it can serve as a supplement to the standard commentaries! This is meant as a spiritual stimulant….” He presented it in the form of Daily Readings, with 366 pages of spiritual contemplation. In his words: “The best way to use it is to study a page a day, and then meditate on the verses themselves.”
The nature of his “commentary” is less theoretical, more accessible, and exceedingly practical. While no one can argue with the statement that nothing is more practical than wisdom, one can only say that Swami Venkatesananda has taken the practical application of the Bhagavad Gita to a new level. Every daily passage offers something useful to ponder, not only in application of what is thought of as our traditional spiritual lives, but to our lives as a whole, and the daily problems we struggle with our whole life long.
No doubt, Swami Venkatesananda saw the separation of worldly and spiritual lives as artificial, and this volume of contemplations on the Bhagavad Gita takes that understanding to heart, and endeavors to make each verse more relevant to our lives as a whole.
In part, the West has embraced yoga because of its ecumenical nature; one can set foot on the yogic path without reference to religious belief or lack thereof. The purpose of yoga is to heal, to become whole, and this is similarly the focus of The Bhagavad Gita. While scholars may categorize The Bhagavad Gita as a religious dialogue between Arjuna and Sri Krishna, (the incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu) which was excised from, the Mahabharata, (a classic Hindu epic) or perhaps as the Hindu Gospel of Action (Karma), or the cream of the Vedas, (all irrefutably true), such descriptions do not credit one of its most significant aspects: its ecumenical appeal.
As Swami Venkatesananda points out on page one of his Introduction to The Song of God:
"Here, then is a unique gospel which does not tamper with your station in life, distract you from your duties, disturb your faith nor lure you away from the path you have chosen but illumines your path and strengthens your faith."
Knowing that wisdom cannot be spoon feed, Swami Venkatesananda avoids this pitfall by replacing standard commentary with a daily contemplation that explores how issued by Krishna and Arjuna are crop up in the readers own daily life. For students of yoga, intent on bringing yoga into their lives, what could be more valuable?