Astangas – The eight fold path

The eight “angas” of the Patanjali’s path towards “viveka-khyati” or “prajna” or “development of discrimination” is:

1. Yama – restraints
2. Niyama – observances
These two are prerequisites. In yoga vedanta path, these two limbs are sufficiently mastered during the karma yoga stage.

3. Asana – The posture
4. Pranayama – the control of vital force (prana)
5. Pratyahara – sense control
These three called external limbs of yoga or “bahiranga” practices.
The aim of the bahiranga practices is to conquer the “External Nature”

6. dharana – Fixing mind to a specific place
7. dhyana – fixing mind temporally to a single thought
8. Samadhi – absorption of thought, object of thought and thinker into one
These three are called internal limbs or yoga or “antaranga” practices
The aim of the antaranga practices is to conquer the “Internal Nature”

The “bahiranga” and “antaranga” practices are enveloped in the “yamas” and “niyamas”.

The first YAMA is the ahimasa = non-injury. (non-injury at emotional, verbal and physical modes of action towards ALL LIVING BEINGS)

The last NIYAMA is the iswara-pranidhanam = complete active unconditional surrender to iswara. (perfecting this niyama is called natural unseeded samadhi)

So, practice has to start with a strong harmless action to any living being including one’s own self. (one’s own self is also included in practice of non-injury!)

It ends in complete surrender to iswara fully established in the “prajna”. In Srimad Bhagavad Gita lord uses a word called “sthita-prajna” (one who is established in prajna or samadhi) to mention the person who has mastered this skill. (Refer to Srimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 verse 54 till 61 regarding the qualities of a sthita-prajna)

Instruction 19:
Learn to practice YAMAs and NIYAMAs. Without a good level of mastery over these two steps (consisting of 5 yamas and 5 niyamas) no practice will yield any result.

The true practice goes in a “spiral model” gradually perfecting the YAMAs and NIYAMAs to the highest level of “prajna” or samadhi.

WARNING: As I have mentioned earlier also, the bahiranga and antaranga practices should be “guided” by a living realized GURU. A formal initiation into the practice is mandatory.

om tat sat


2 Responses to “Astangas – The eight fold path”

  1. Prof.M.S.Thimmappa Says:

    Stupendous clarity yet again, a hallmark of the matured, humble and evolving!

  2. Saddam Says:

    I was searching for information about yoga and found your blog interesting. No doubt it has very good content and photos. Thanks for posting

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