The Science of Yoga – I. K. Taimni
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The Science of Yoga is an amazing book. I have read this book over and over again for the last thirty years. It gives you each sutra with the Sanskrit writing, the translation into sanskrit words and the translation of each word into English. Since each sutra is really short this does not take a long time. The next part is I. K. Taimini’s interpretation, which is amazingly helpful and deep. With each reading, one deepens their understanding of yoga and its tremendous potential importance in our lives. Any serious student of yoga will find this book helpful to their practice. I have marked my book over the years and found many quotes helpful.
Here is one quote from the book taken about 3/4 of the way through the book in the third section of the sutras: “In giving up the joys and pleasures of the lower life we are merely giving up the indirect, feeble and uncertain method of obtaining bliss for the direct method. We give up our hold on the shadow so that we may grasp the substance. Instead of trying vainly to gain blissful experience we become Bliss itself.”
This must rank as one of the most profound depictions of the sublime path of Raja Yoga as enunciated by the great Master Patanjali. It needs multiple readings as the author is trying to elaborate principles which transcend the mental plane altogether and so has to invent new symbolic terms to depict the sutras which are themselves succinct compressions of whole bodies of thoughts. The four chapters of the Yoga Sutras are the Samadhi Pada, Sadhana Pada, Vibhuti Pada and Kaivalya Pada. The core of what we call the Eight Limbed of Ashtanga Yoga belongs to the Sadhana Pada where Taimni goes into extensive detail on the sequential yet integrated nature of the Yogic Process. Particular mention is made of the ethical or moral injunctions which make up the first two limbs, Yama and Niyama.
The cavalier attitude which has come with the commercialization of Yoga in our times has forgotten these very foundations of Yoga without which, sitting in hundred positions or holding one’s breath for hours will achieve no success. Ultimately, Yoga is done for the unification of the finite with the infinite. Infinity will not come down to us unless we are able to shed off the fetters of desire and attachment which define the limited selves we are so proud of in our ignorance. The difficult path of Yoga begins with this extremely discomforting set of rules as the author explains beautifully.
Taimni was a theosophist and his great accomplishment in this book is to match the abstruse Sanskrit terms with modern theosophical understanding which gives a much more rational structure to the Yoga Sutras. One can see the author is himself an accomplished Yogi from the force of his rhetoric which can compel even the most lazy of yoga dreamers to sit up and cultivate the fire to practice Yoga.
Our scriptures exhort us to no end with statements of praise about the end goal of Liberation. But because they were written in a culture much remote from our times, we don’t find it very easy to get inside their minds and feel that all consuming fire for liberation which our ancients possessed.
Reading this book, one can imagine how a Guru in a pristine Himalayan forest thousands of years ago would be teaching his young spiritual seekers about the sublime grandeur of liberation leading to infinite knowledge, bliss and realization of the ultimate in the universe. The path is dangerous and arduous but by the end of the book, you are convinced that there is no other that matters.
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