Wisdom & Knowledge – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in a Nutshell

The following entry consists of excerpts from the introductory pages of the book, Wisdom & Knowledge, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in a Nutshell, chapter two, sutras 1-28, © Copyright 2001, Durga Ma, Beverly Hills, California 90211.

The Purpose of Spiritual Practice

The purpose of spiritual practice (sadhana) is to end pain and suffering and establish eternal happiness and fulfillment. The progress of each individual toward this end is the greatest service to others and to the earth.

Spiritual Practice and Knowledge

Chapter two of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is titled Sadhana, spiritual practice. This chapter addresses the subject of knowledge and the means of attaining it.

Knowledge is stored information until direct knowledge of Truth is attained. Once this has been attained, knowledge becomes wisdom, Self-realization, enlightenment. What you do to make your way from knowledge to wisdom is sadhana, your spiritual practices.

Sacred texts such as these can be read many times and never get old. As you pursue your own sadhana, you will find that these writings serve many purposes at every new level of attainment—instruction, inspiration, guidance, and validation. However many times you read them, they continue to reveal new secrets and give the necessary guidance at every point in your spiritual journey. Read them today for what you need today; read them a year from now and they will speak to you in a new way, addressing your current phase of growth.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

As we plow our way through the various translations of sacred writings left us by ancient masters, it is often discouraging rather than uplifting. “What does this have to do with my own life? I can’t just drop everything and head for the nearest cave. I can’t suddenly become desireless and not attached to the people and things I care about. It’s too much!” Yet we trust, or assume, that these people knew what they were talking about. So where does that leave us?

The sacred writings of ancient India were written in what I like to think of as ‘final form.’ That is, they were written in a manner that illustrated the teaching as it would eventually be experienced if one were to persist with sadhana to that point. But most do not persist to this point, and the deeper meanings get lost over time for latter day readers.

The language of Sanskrit was used in such a way as to provide numerous levels of understanding according to where a person was in the process of sadhana. Sutras, such as the Yoga Sutras, were also cues to remind the student or disciple of the more detailed teachings associated with each sutra as taught by the spiritual master. The more esoteric teachings were passed on to qualified disciples. What we are left with is a skeletal version that can only be understood with experience and a spiritual master who has more experience than we do and has attained the power to impart knowledge and wisdom to others.

By the time we get to read these texts, they have been transferred from one language to another, from one culture to another, from a different time to our own time, through one mind to another mind (and another, and another). For example, one sutra may be translated as “And the covering of light over wisdom is destroyed,” while another translation might read, “And the covering over the light of wisdom is destroyed.” Depending on one’s own orientation and personal path, they both work.

In the translation process, the orientation of the translator is bound to influence the interpretation. You may say, and rightly so, Here’s another one! The translations of these great works that I have been able to find have come to us through scholars and people practicing sadhana based on the use of the will (pravritti marga). My own orientation is surrender sadhana (nivritti marga), so there will be some difference in how I understand what is being said. Because the former is prevalent, perhaps [this book]… will offer a different perspective, new options, and a means of making them useful in your own spiritual journey.

Durga Ma
Tarzana, California
March 15, 2001

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Wisdom & Knowledge, is available through electronic download at http://www.durgama.com/books.html under the heading, Ancient Mystical Writings. The Contents of this book are as follows:

Eternal Happiness

The Means

The Five Causes of Unhappiness

Outsmarting the Causes of Unhappiness


What It Is

The Roots of Karma

The Fruits of the Roots

Pulling Up the Roots

The See-er and the Seen

The Root of the Five Causes of Unhappiness

Nature of the Seen

The Nature of the See-er

The Purpose of the Seen

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Attaining Wisdom and Happiness


♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

© 2001 Durga Ma, Beverly Hills, California 90211. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including the use of information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from Durga Ma.

2 thoughts on “Wisdom & Knowledge – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in a Nutshell

  1. carolprakriti

    Dear Durga Ma:
    Do no other Hindu-based traditions than the lineage of Swami Kripalu teach Surrender Meditation ? I guess I wonder why not? Or do they just teach the willful practices until Kundalini awakens and then the practice of Surrender begins? What did Anandamayi Ma teach? I have always kept a picture of her; she is so beautiful.
    Love, Prakriti


    1. Dear Prakriti,

      I suspect that others do, at least to some degree, and are difficult to find. Judging by the written works of Swami Kripalu, I can see how it might be easy to assume that he only taught willful practices, so this may be the case with other teachers as well. This is one of those places where we have to remember that a teacher may teach one thing and do another, e.g., I wouldn’t assign a Mozart sonata to a beginning piano student.

      On the other hand, so few people are willing to give up control, even for a couple of hours a day, that there isn’t all that much interest in Surrender Meditation. (This site bears witness to this statement by the lack of participation, i.e., commenting.) The awakening of kundalini doesn’t necessitate surrender, but techniques have their limits, but God, or Shakti, does not. So sooner or later, one will be led to surrender.

      Anandamayi Ma’s physical body certainly went through it (surrender). She was an avatar, but her body was just a body, and things unfolded as they would have in early Surrender Meditation practice during Her earlier life, though She didn’t assign any name to it. I discovered this in Didi’s diaries (there are several of them). She didn’t appear to teach any particular practices, but when She spoke publicly, She taught Truth.

      I keep Her picture, too. She is my chosen ideal. About Her, Swami Kripalu simply said, palms together in reverence, “She is God.”

      Durga Ma


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s