Patanjali Yoga Sutras Chapter 2 (with Sutra reference)

The second chapter of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Sadhana Pada, is described in easy to read language.

"Yoga Sutras are not meant for the students to study because they will drive you crazy. They are meant for the teachers. They are like curriculums. Those teachers who are competent - competent teachers means those who have studied through tradition from their competent teachers and at the same time practiced and verified the truths therein - they alone have right to teach."

Swami Rama

Considering the above statement, none other than teachers in direct, unbroken lineages of ancient vedic Traditions may study the Yoga sutras and teach others. However, there is a new trend of intellectual study of the Yoga sutras, that has led to the proliferation of new intellectual commentaries, fuelled by many commercially oriented teachers training programmes. 

For whom are the Easy Reading Patanjali Yoga Sutras?

The Easy Reading Patanjali Yoga Sutras are meant neither for intellectuals, who wish to engage in debates nor for sanskrit scholars, keen on discussing translations. These are also not meant for modern students of physical culture who learn the Yoga sutras by heart in order to get a certificate. 

The Easy Reading Patanjali Yoga Sutras are meant for sincere seekers who desire direct experience of Yoga as Meditation and wish to use the Yoga Sutras, as taught by a living unbroken tradition of master meditators, as a tool to deepen their Meditation practice. 

How to use the Easy Reading Patanjali Yoga Sutras?

Print out the Easy Reading Patanjali Yoga Sutras and read it at night before you go to bed. Read it like you would read a story. It is okay if you do not understand everything. Continue reading. You do not have to read the entire text in one evening. When the mind tires, just go to bed. The text goes deep in to the unconscious mind and is slowly integrated. The next evening, continue from where you left off. Read and re-read the text. With each reading it will unravel new mysteries and disclose its secrets. Reading and re-reading this text over years will provide increasingly deeper levels of insights.

YS II.1-9

Reducing mild colouring

Now that we have the overview of the process of yoga, we find out how a dedicated seeker can gain glimpses of Samadhi, the highest state  and reduce the colouring of the  ripples of thoughts, mental images, emotions and desires. The author(s) recommends a combination of:

Tapas: Training the senses and the mind

Svadhyaya: Grasping scriptural knowledge

Ishvara-Pranidhan: Strengthening the glimpses of direct experience resulting in divine love

These 3 aspects are also called Kriya Yoga, not to be confused with any particular modern yoga style, teacher or tradition. The word kriya comes from action, to do.

There are 5 kinds of colouring called kleshas. They are:

  1. Avidya: Ignorance or avidya is when one considers that which is transient as everlasting, that which is unhealthy as healthy and misery as happiness. 
  2. Asmita: Asmita or egoism is mistaking buddhi, our sense of discrimination for Purusha the centre of consciousness.
  3. Raga: Attachment or Raga is that which follows pleasure, wanting more pleasure
  4. Dvesha: Aversion or Dvesha is what results from pain or that which is seems painful
  5. Abhinivesha: The fear of death is present in everyone, this is called Abhinivesha.

Avidya or Ignorance is the root of all kleshas or colouring. The remaining 4 kleshas or colouring are the result of Avidya or Ignorance, the first colouring.

Each of these kleshas or colourings may be in any of the following 4 stages of colouring:

  • Dormant or Latent
  • Attenuated
  • Interrupted 
  • Active

YS II.10-11

Dealing with deeper colouring

The deepest of coloured thoughts, mental images, emotions and desires can only be burnt in the fire of knowledge, but the superficial and milder coloured thoughts, mental images, emotions and desires can be dealt with in meditation so that they eventually become Not-coloured. 

Using the example of washing dirt off a cloth. The milder stains can be washed off first, but for stubborn stains more time, effort and care is required. 

YS 12-25

Breaking the alliance between karma and kleshas

These sutras explain the core and cornerstone of meditation. It is not possible to begin meditation without understanding how karma and samskaras are related and how they how a vicious cycle. 

Karma is action and samskaras are the impressions of these actions that are stored. These samskaras are coloured or Not-coloured. 

Coloured klesha or samskara are of 3 kinds: 

  1. White: These come from virtuous actions
  2. Black: These kleshas or samskaras come from evil action
  3. Black and White or mixed: These are mixed.

The fourth kind of samskara is a class apart.

     4. Not-coloured kleshas or samskaras are also called Not Black- Not White

The coloured kleshas form impressions called samskaras, and samskaras lead to further action in this life or another life. As long as the colouring remains at the root in the form of samskaras the cycle will continue, resulting in birth, the length of the life span and the experiences one goes through in life. 

The birth, length of lifespan and the experiences of life produce pleasure and pain. 

A person with a sharp sense of discrimination known as Buddhi recognises that all worldly objects cause misery and suffering. The only pain and suffering that is avoidable is the one to come. 

The root cause of suffering is the alliance or joining together of the Pure Consciousness (Purusha, Atman) to Buddhi our sense of discrimination and all worldly objects.

All objects have 3 qualities or Gunas: 

  • Prakash or Sattva
  • Kriya or Rajas
  • Sthithi or Tamas

These qualities exist in the active and cognitive senses, in the inner organ of the mind known as Antahkarana and they are useful for experiencing the world in the form of pain and pleasure, as well as attaining liberation.

The qualities of all worldly objects, the Gunas are either gross or subtle. These qualities or Gunas are either manifest or unmanifest. 

Individual Consciousness, the Absolute Knower (Purusha, Atman) witnesses Buddhi,its own sense of discrimination. We often mistake Buddhi, our sense of discrimination to be our individual consciousness. Buddhi, though close in nature to Pure Consciousness, is not Pure consciousness. It serves Pure Consciousness. Pure Consciousness does not serve any purpose, it is the end in itself. 

The nature and essence of all objects of the world, including Buddhi are to serve as objects to individual Consciousness. 

When the individual Consciousness or Purusha fulfils its purpose of attaining liberation the world, as it appears to the unenlightened, disappears for such liberated individual Consciousness. However Buddhi, the sense of discrimination and the appearance of the world continues to remain for all individual Selfs  that have not recognised the objective character of buddhi and all other objects. 

The alliance between the individual consciousness and Buddhi, the sense of discrimination is the cause of the appearance of the world. This is Avidya or ignorance.

Breaking the alliance between individual Consciousness and Buddhi leads to the natural state of liberation of the individual consciousness.

Y.S. 26-29

The 8 Limbs and Buddhi, sense of discrimination

Distinction between individual Consciousness and Buddhi, the sense of discrimination leads to liberation. 

The one who can distinguish between individual Consciousness and Buddhi, the sense of discrimination acquires 7 kinds of insights. These are: 

  1. The practitioner knows all the things he must gave up.
  2. The practitioner knows the colouring that is the cause of attachment to these things and the strength of this colouring has been reduced until it can no longer be reduced.
  3. Liberation is a matter of practice and realisation 
  4. That acquiring a sharp sense of discrimination is the means to liberation has been understood

These four insights liberate one from rituals, external practices and the binding power of karma.

The next 3 insights lead to liberation from mind itself. 

    5. The Buddhi serves the individual Consciousness

    6. Buddhi the sense of discrimination, no longer appropriates all objects for itself        and begins an irreversible process of dissolving back in to the source of all things.                                                                                                                                     

    7. The individual Consciousness shines forth, it is self luminous like the sun.

Through the practice of the different limbs of Yoga, the colouring of thoughts, mental images, emotions and desires is washed away and the sense of discrimination is sharpened. 

  • Yama, observance
  • Niyama, commitment
  • Asana, posture
  • Pranayama, subtle energy exercises
  • Pratyahara, training and directing the senses inward
  • Dharana, focussing the mind towards an object of meditation
  • Dhyana, letting the awareness flow towards a particular object of meditation
  • Samadhi, directly experiencing the difference between pure Consciousness and the rest of the universe

Y.S. 30-34

Yamas and Niyamas

The 5 Yamas are enumerated: 

  • Ahimsa - non-violence, non-hurting, non-injury, respect, selflessness
  • Satya - Truth, authenticity, transparency, non-deception, self awareness
  • Asteya - Non-stealing, self reliance
  • Brahmacharya - Self mastery, balance, sustainability, responsibility, moderation
  • Aparigraha - non-hoarding, non-possessiveness, simplicity, less is more

When these are established unconditionally irrespective of place, time, circumstances then  these observances are considered to be especially potent in washing away the colouring of kleshas. 

  • Saucha - purity, cleanliness
  • Santosha - contentment, satisfaction
  • Tapa - self training, training of the senses and the mind, discipline
  • Svadhyaya - self reflection, self awareness, study, contemplation
  • Ishwar Pranidhan - surrender, effortlessness, grace, humility

When one has contrary thoughts to the above mentioned yamas and niyamas, for e.g. feels  anger, wants to lie, wants to steal, is discontent, cannot trust the Divine, then one should conduct an inner dialogue encouraging the opposite thought. 

So, what is the opposite thought?

That actions contrary to the yamas and niyamas are the cause of infinite misery and unending ignorance of our real nature is the opposite thought.

Actions contrary to yamas and niyamas, include those that  

  • are either performed by oneself, performed through another or approved of
  • are performed through anger, greed or delusion
  • are mild, moderate or intense

Y.S. 35-45

Benefits from Yamas and Niyamas


When a yogi becomes established in Ahimsa, the colouring leading to violence has been completely washed away and cannot return. All beings that come in the presence of such a being cease to be hostile.


All that a yogi who is established in the Satya, says or thinks manifests. 


One who does not merely call the idea of another his own, but develops his independent philosophy of life based on experience is attained mastery of Asteya. The best of all things, the most auspicious and the finest of all manifest before the one who had mastered Asteya.


The one who "walks in Brahman", acquires complete experiential  understanding and through this is able to convey his knowledge to others.


Attaining perfection in Aparigraha means that one looks upon all things as “Not mine”. Such a selfless person resolves all questions regarding the mysteries of life and death, “Who am I? Where did I come from? And where will I go from this plane of existence?”. 

Mastery over the Niyamas also bring various accomplishments.

Saucha: On practice of cleanliness the yogi realises that the body is only an grosser aspect of mind and Self and loses his attachment to the body, his as well as to others.  

As his practice of cleanliness gets subtler, the definition of cleanliness extends to cleanse the mind of all kleshas or colouring. Reduction of colouring brings about feelings of joy without reason, the senses can be directed inwards, Buddhi the sense of discrimination is sharp and one-pointed. Self-realisation is now possible.


When one is content and the desires have lessened, happiness is attained.


Through determined one pointed practiced the veil of ignorance is removed.


Svadhyaya or contemplation is not only the study of scriptures, but also practice which encourages study of one’s self. Through mastery of mantra shastra or mantra science the practitioner and the Divine become One.

Ishvara Pranidhan:

When surrender to the Divine is complete and effortless, then one attains the highest state of wonder and awe, the state of infinite wisdom known as Samadhi.

Y.S. 46-48


Perfecting an asana is sitting in the posture in a relaxed and effortless manner. 

When the posture is effortless and relaxed, meditation on the infinite is possible. 

When the body is seated effortlessly, relaxed and motionless, when the mind is meditating on the infinite, then all dualities are transcended. 

Y.S. 49-53


When the body is still in a posture, effortless and relaxed, the mind, focussed on the infinite has transcended dualities, the flow of inhalation and exhalation is the focus of attention. The speed at which one inhales and exhales is regulated so that the breathing rate slows down. This is pranayama.

There are 3 aspects to be considered in breathing: 

  1. Inhalation 
  2. Exhalation 
  3. The pause between the two

The above three aspects are to be regulated as follows:

  • Space: The awareness of the breath is located physically in the areas like diaphragm or nostrils. 
  • Time: The length of inhalation and exhalation can be regulated to make it even and balanced.
  • Count: The length of inhalation and exhalation can be made longer and finer. 


4. There is still another aspect of pranayama to be considered. This is called the fourth.  This aspect of pranayama is beyond inhalation, exhalation and the pause. This is prana itself. 

It is through the practice and mastery of the fourth pranayama that the veil covering the light of pure Consciousness is thinned and eventually destroyed.

When the veil covering the light of Consciousness has been thinned the mind is prepared for the one-pointed concentration on an object of meditation. 

Y.S. 54-55


With the correct practice of Pranayama as indicated in the earlier sutras, the cognitive and active sense of the mind recede from objects of the world and the mind spontaneous moves inward. This is called the mastery of the senses.

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