What is Kriya Yoga according to Patanjali – 13 May 08


Today we said goodbye to Michael and Andrea and left Lüneburg to go to Melle where the Yoga students had spent the weekend. There I gave a lecture. I talked about the Patanjali Sutras because I want to give them an idea, a smell of what Patanjali says because all translations are interpretations. If you read a translation it will also contain the translator’s thoughts.

So I explained a few Sutras, one of them was the first Sutra from the second chapter. In this Sutra he gives a definition of Kriya Yoga and in this talks about Tap, Swadhyay and Ishwar Pranidhan.

I heard a translation of Tap which I did not like at all: penance. This is not what I understand in Tap and we also have another Sanskrit word for that. No, I will explain Tap to you. Tap is when you are disciplined while you are doing something like a special retreat. When you do something which is not your usual life and you do that with discipline. For this I say Tap and that is a very big difference to penance.

The translation of Swadhyay is self-study. Studying without a teacher. This is a wonderful word with much meaning inside itself. The literal translation is self-study. I will give you an example from my childhood for how deep the meaning of this word can be. I started reading and studying scriptures very early and in the beginning I read and I did not understand the meaning. I asked my father what I should do if I do not understand it. And this was his very first lesson for me: Never read an interpretation. In my daily schedule I was used to read and recite scriptures for three hours each day and my father told me to do this and even if I did not understand I should go on and read it again and again. Always read the original! If you don’t understand it just repeat it and don’t be fed up. I bet with you if you read it thousand times you will understand it.

And it works like this. You have to have love for what you are doing. Give love and respect to the scripture and it will give you its blessing. If you read an interpretation you will read about someone’s idea not about Patanjali. And if you love Patanjali, the Sutras or any scripture, it will come to you and teach you itself. This is my own experience. In the beginning I did not understand the meaning but after many repetitions suddenly there was a point in which the meaning of the line became clear. Suddenly I understood it. It just came one day, nobody told me, the scripture is teaching itself. For this I say Swadhyay.

The third word is Ishwar Pranidhan. Ishwar means God. And Pranidhan means when you take God inside yourself. You prepare the seat for him and invite him to come and sit down. You give and offer your heart.

These three things Patanjali calls Kriya Yoga. Kriya means action. What is Tap, Swadhyay and Ishwar Pranidhan? It is action. This is Patanjali’s definition and you will find many many interpretations on this sutra alone.

In the lecture I continued with another Sutra of which I will tell you tomorrow. After the lecture Kirsten, one of our Yoga students took us to Davensberg, to my friend Johannes, who invited me to stay with him. As we arrived at dinner time we did not start cooking but ordered pizza. It was nice food and now I am also tired from traveling.

5 Replies to “What is Kriya Yoga according to Patanjali – 13 May 08”

  1. I enjoyed how this was both educational and deeply insightful. Swami Ji, I enjoy reading your Dairy. While I am reading it I feel my heart getting lighter. And I feel very loving.