Patanjali Yoga Sutras are the origin of yoga. There are speculations that they were written about 2500 years ago. The antecedents of its author Sage Patanjali such as who he was and where he lived, are also not known. However, what we have today are his sutras which have been available to us in written form, for the last 300-400 years. To my mind the Yoga Sutras is the most scientific spiritual book ever written during ancient times.
Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras has given a vivid description of the super-natural powers that a Yogi can obtain by doing Sanyam on various subjects and objects. Patanjali defines Sanyam as a combination of Dharan (focus), Dhyana (contemplation) and Samadhi (total meditative absorption). When Sanyam is done on any subject for a long time then its complete knowledge results. Basically, the Sutras talk about how to develop the power for concentrating on a single thought for a very long time. The powers obtained via Sanyam includes levitation, mind reading, getting into another person’s body, making oneself invisible, flying through air, etc., etc. All these powers are described in Section III (Vibhuti Pada) of the Yoga sutras.
In the seminal book on extraterrestrial abductions of humans by inhabitants of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), John Mack a professor of psychiatry at Harvard University has shown that all the persons abducted (abductees) and taken inside the spaceships talked about extraterrestrials floating in the air; who could interact telepathically with them; read their minds and modify them; become invisible and exhibited almost all the supernatural powers written in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Dr. Mack interviewed more than 300 abductees world over about their experiences and all of them talked about similar supernatural powers of extraterrestrials.
This similarity is so uncanny that I sometimes think that Sage Patanjali could have been an extraterrestrial being who came to earth almost 2500 years ago to give us this knowledge!
Thus I feel that if we understand the science of Yoga Sutras on how a Yogi can get these supernatural powers then it may also show us a way to understand the mind-matter interaction and probably pave the way for developing galactic travelling machines and technologies.
UFOs are real. There have been innumerable sightings and visitations by extraterrestrials throughout the history of mankind. In Indian scriptures like Ramayana and Mahabharata there are quite a few descriptions of various gods visiting earth in their flying machines. And recently US government has officially released video clippings of few of these sightings. Similarly, a 6-part docuseries released recently by Netflix has further shown the possibilities of these visitations and mankind’s quest for understanding the technologies of UFO propulsion.
The propulsion technology used by UFOs effortlessly overcomes earth’s gravitational pull and understanding this may help us produce unlimited renewable energies on this planet for our needs and benefit. Hence it is very necessary that we invest money and resources in discovering and understanding them.
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
I feel there is tremendous amount of science embedded in these sutras and if studied properly with deep knowledge of modern science then they may reveal wonderful secrets of nature.
The book is divided into four sections with a total of 195 sutras. The sections are Samadhi Pada (51 sutras); Sadhana Pada (55 sutras); Vibhuti Pada (56 sutras) and the last section called Kaivalya Pada has 33 sutras.
The first two sections (Samadhi and Sadhana) talk about how to make the mind and body powerful enough so that one can focus on a single thought for a long time. This focus on a single thought leads to Sanyam (combination of focus, contemplation, and Samadhi). The state of Samadhi is reached when the object of focus vanishes, and one gets immersed in its essence.
The third section (Vibhuti Pada) is the main section of Yoga Sutras where the Science of Yoga is fully developed. In it Patanjali talks of using Sanyam on various parts of the body and on different subjects, to get supernatural powers and understanding the laws of nature and the Universe. It seems that some sutras are missing in this section since there is jumping about and abrupt change in the subject matter.
And the last or the fourth section of the book (Kaivalya) talks about how using these powers and laws, a Yogi gains liberation from the cycle of birth and death. One of the most important tenets of Indian philosophical system is liberation of a soul from the cycle of birth and death and Patanjali shows very clearly how to achieve it.
The above is the whole essence of the Yoga Sutras.
It is also interesting to note that there is no reference to God in the Sutras but only to Universal consciousness (7 out of 195 sutras). Patanjali defines this Universal consciousness as an entity which is beyond space and time. Thus, the sutras focus mostly on the science of mind control.
Science of Yoga Sutras
I will now attempt to show the science embedded in some of the sutras. This is based upon my limited understanding of them, but it shows that if we approach each sutra from a scientific point of view then its gems become evident.
In Section III. 53 of Vibhuti Pada Patanjali says, “By making Sanyam on a single moment and on the sequence of moments, a yogi gets Vivek (exalted knowledge) so that he/she can comprehend all objects in the universe simultaneously irrespective of their location and sequence of change”. Or in other words, the Mind of God!
And according to John A Wheeler – One of the world’s foremost experts on relativity, Einstein’s theory of gravitation can be simply stated as “Events and the interval between events build space-time”. The geometric nature of space-time gives rise to gravity, tells the mass how to move, and is the basis of Universe and the movement of all heavenly bodies.
Again, in Vibhuti Pada (III. 31) he says that by doing Sanyam on the hollow of throat, one conquers hunger and thirst. Recently scientists have discovered that by stimulation of Vagus nerve, hunger pangs can be suppressed. Vagus nerve is concentrated near the esophagus tube – close to the hollow of throat. Few years ago U.S. Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) approved a device, which can electrically stimulate the Vagus nerve so that the brain gets the signal that stomach is full.
Similarly, Patanjali talks about doing Sanyam on relationship of body and space by which transport of body from one place to another takes place (III. 43). The abductees experience of getting their bodies transported from their home to the spacecraft mirrored the sutra where tunneling and cellular transfer of the body took place.
In another sutra (III. 21) Patanjali says that doing Sanyam on body shape and its changes so that the reflected light does not reach the eyes of beholder, makes the body invisible. This process is used in stealth aircrafts where sharp angles and absorption of visible spectrum by the body makes it invisible.
And in Sutra III. 35 Patanjali talks about doing Sanyam on heart gives complete knowledge of consciousness. Recent scientific discoveries have shown a close connection between the heart and mind. Similarly, he talks about how a Yogi can read the other person’s mind by doing Sanyam on his thought structure and also control it (III. 19). This is done presently through various process of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and hypnosis.
Patanjali also talks about how all the supernatural powers can come to a Yogi by taking drugs (IV. 1) ! Recent studies on the effect of recreational and mind-altering drugs like LSD etc. have shown enhanced spiritual experiences for drug takers and for some the experience of entity visitations. To my mind this discussion on drugs is the first such anywhere in any ancient spiritual text. It is really remarkable that Patanjali wrote about all these things almost 2500 years ago.
Similarly, there are other sutras whose knowledge has been shown to be vindicated by the modern science. I think a whole book can be written about their relevance to science and technology. So there is a need to study Vibhuti pada more thoroughly since many secrets in it still need to be rediscovered.
Yoga sutras are not an easy read. They are precise and crisp. India has had a long tradition of passing knowledge from guru to disciple through oral transmission. It is quite possible that when people did not understand the science behind these sutras some important sutras may have been lost. Thus, most of the times one needs to read between the lines with deep knowledge of modern science to fully appreciate their message.
Most commentaries on the Sutras in the past were written by people who did not understand science and hence there was a lot of confusion about their real meaning.
The comparison of Patanjali sutras with modern science is neither to belittle the latter nor to glorify our ancient tradition – both are important in their own way; but to show that all great knowledge originates from the same knowledge space irrespective of the person and the time of its discovery.
I have been inspired by Yoga Sutras and have been guided by the spirit of Patanjali in all my spiritual writings. His writings are like an infinite ocean. The more you read them the deeper is the knowledge. Consequently I have made a small attempt in trying to understand him through the publications of my two books; Nature of Human Thought and Exploring the Mind of God and this article is also an attempt to show the science behind the sutras.
A half an hour video on this essay is available on YouTube.
First published in Thrive Global and South Asia Monitor.
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