The yoga sutras are two thousand year old spiritual classic. In India every spiritual teacher of any note has written a commentary on it. Ravi Ravindra is the latest of Jiddu Krishnamurti’s students to do the same. For that reason alone this book will be read in theosophical circles at least.
But Jiddu Krishnamurti doesn’t get quoted as much as Madame Jeanne de Salzmann, ‘the closest pupil and successor of Gurdjieff’, as she’s called in the book jacket.
Studying the Yoga Sutras
The Yoga Sutras are an ancient text. The Sanskrit is concentrated, making it very hard to translate. But even in translation it’s a difficult text to study. This commentary and translation by Ravi Ravindra does not over simplify. It leaves a lot of Sanskrit terminology as Sanskrit – transliterated of course – with a glossary at the back.
The advantage of this is that the reader who perseveres will learn the basic Sanskrit terminology. But that advantage is also a disadvantage: it means that casual reading is hardly possible with this book.
This translation and commentary is best used as a tool for contemplation: read a segment, and let the contents simmer in your brain. Ponder, let it in. Ravindra tries to show us another world, and the book is of no use if that’s not what you’re after too. Contemplation is a form of meditation in which thought is a tool as much as a hindrance.
No avoiding controversial topics
There are three topics that Ravi Ravindra puts to his readers, that I would personally have been hesitant to write about: the Higher Self, sex and black magic.
The first is unavoidable in an honest commentary of the Yoga Sutras: the very aim of the text by Patanjali is for the yogi to unify himself with Ishvara (the Divine in each of us).
The second is central, as Ravi notes, to our physical lives. Sex is an energy hard to avoid, and the first we think of when the word ‘sin’ gets mentioned. Even so, pride is higher up on any list of vices. Ravi treats the subject briefly, but honestly.
The last topic is the one of miraculous powers: their existence, use and misuse. Their existence is part of the Yoga Sutras. Patanjali doesn’t do much more than enumerate the possible siddhis (as they’re called). Ravi goes on to note that when growth in conscience isn’t at pace with a growth in power, misuse is likely to follow. This is black magic.
Full review: The Wisdom of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Ravi Ravindra
- Hardcover: 220 pages
- Publisher: Morning Light Press (March 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1596750251
- ISBN-13: 978-1596750258
- Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 1 inches