Some people believe that it is only the saints and truly spiritual people who need to study and understand the knowledge of scriptures and related books. On the contrary, the ordinary people with a lot of worries, tremendous amount of tensions, big and small troubles and depressions, are the ones who actually require the solace and dispassion that results from reading, contemplating and practicing the methodology of books like ‘Yog Darshan’.
The sorrows and troubles in the world sometimes become so great that one feels like ending life itself. But this is cowardice. Escaping from life does not amount to escaping from sorrows. In fact, this is the most ungrateful thing one could do- end a human life that one received as a reward for good deeds and actions. A famous novelist, Louisa May Alcott says in one of her works “It is wicked to throw away so many good gifts just because you can’t have the one that you want.”
All the hi-fi technology and advancement of science that has resulted in newer and better machines and other equipment aims at providing comfort. But this comfort is short-lived.
It cannot last for a lifetime. So the question is How to get rid of worries and sorrows?
The answer is through true knowledge. It is only the true knowledge, the real and certain knowledge that helps us to get rid of distressful situations
The next question is ‘True knowledge about what?’
Well, every thing that exists is divided into three categories:--
Prakriti includes every thing that is inanimate. The soul and God are animate. Of the latter two, God is omniscient and omnipotent and performs five functions:-
Creation of the universe
Operation of the universe
Destruction of the universe
Providing knowledge to us
Giving us just fruit of our actions
The soul on the other hand, limited potential but through its own efforts and God-gifted knowledge, it can reach God to obtain absolute happiness and perfect bliss as God alone has potential to provide it being the only source of it.
The true knowledge of three materials (Prakriti, Jeevaatma and Eshwar) is available in the Vedas- the oldest scriptures that contain the instructions of God and was revealed to accomplished saints through their dedicated efforts. Thus those who read Vedas were able to get rid of all their sorrows and distress of the world.
In order to reap the benefits of the knowledge that we gain, there are four steps to be followed:
Hearing or reading (shravan or pathan)
Contemplating/thinking on what has been heard (manan)
Arriving at a decision (nididhyaasan)
All that we learn is useless unless we follow all these steps. The saints and people who read Vedas followed these steps and attained happiness. Such people then wrote simplified versions explaining the philosophy of Vedas because the language of the Vedas is not easily understandable and interpretable. There are six of these simplified versions (the six Darshans), one of which is Yog Darshan.
The other five are:-
Saankhya Darshan (related to Yog Darshan)
Yog Darshan is about the methodology of reaching God. It deals with facts like
How to escape the sorrows knowledgeably?
What is mind?
What is God?
How can one be associated to Him?
What obstacles are we likely to face during the whole process?
How can we overcome the obstacles?
What are we going to achieve by Yog?
When can we attain salvation?
What are eligibility conditions for salvation?
Yog actually means the state of ecstasy that is reached when one unites with the supreme power. Yog Darshan contains all the knowledge that one needs about Yog.
The whole book is divided into four chapters (each called paad, which means one-forth part):--
Samadhi –paad (about the nature of Yog, its types, its fruits, the nature of mind and the characteristics of God as well)
Saadhan- paad (about the means (saadhan) of Yog, the five types of sorrows, how to get rid of them, the eight steps of Yog etc.)
Vibhooti-paad (about the last three steps of Yog i.e. concentration, meditation and ecstasy, its achievements and rewards)
Kaivalya-paad (about salvation, its prerequisites etc.)
The complete book written by a saint names Patanjali is in the form of 195 short sentences, each of which contains concise and condensed information. It is said that ‘brevity is the wit of the soul’ and the ancient Indian scriptures all seem t comply by this statement, thus saying much in a few words.
The interpretation of these sentences (called sootras) in a simplified manner was provided by another saint called Ved Vyaas. His version came to known as Vyaas-Bhaashya and more or less all subsequent explanations and interpretations of Yog Darshan contains due reference of Vyaas- Bhaashya.
The knowledge contained in Yog Darshan is vital for people engrossed in the world. It helps us to live happily and applies to all the casts, all religions, all cultures and all countries. Yog Darshan is about the art of life and is common to everybody in the world. Every person has a mind (Chitt), everyone is prone to illness and everyone has to die. How to regulate the mind and be devoid of all tensions? How to lead a healthy and stress- free life? How to live and die peacefully? How to attain absolute bliss even after death? These are the million dollar questions that find their answers in Yog Darshan and each one of us needs these answers.