Iyengar Invocation

Hatha Yoga 06

Commentary and Translation

of the Invocation to Patanjali by Smt. Geeta S. Iyengar

yogena cittasya padena vacam malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena yopakarottam pravaram muninam patanjalim pranjalir anato’smi abahu purusakaram

sankha carkrasi dharinam sahasra sirasam svetam pranamami patanjalim

The two slokas (verses) that we chant to invoke Lord Patanjali begin the Bhojavritti, Bhoj’s commentary on the Yoga Sutras. It says, first of all, that Lord Patanjali is considered to be the incarnation of Adhishesha, the cobra, which is the seat for the Lord Vishnu, the very creator of this world. It is said he took birth three di erent times, giving three di erent sciences for people to improve themselves. The first is yoga.

yogena cittasya padena vacam

To purify the mind (citta), purify the consciousness, Patanjali gave the science of yoga (yogena) to us. To purify our use of words (pada) and speech (vacca), he gave a commentary on grammar to us, so that our use of words and way of speaking is clarified, distinct and pure.

malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena

To remove the impurities (malam) of the body (sarira), he gave us the science of medicine (vaidyakena). yopakarottam pravaram muninam

Let me go near the one who has given these things to us.

patanjalim pranjalir anato’smi

Let me bow down my head with my folded hands to Lord Patanjali. Then after knowing the work of this Lord, the second stanza says what Lord Patanjali looks like. To do any meditation first the form has to be in front of the eyes.

abahu purusakaram

From the hand up to the head he has the shape (karam) of a human (purusa).

sankha carkrasi dharinam

In his hand he is holding the conch (sankha) and disc (cakra)

sahasra sirasam svetam

On top of his head (sirasam) he has got a thousand (sahasra) hoods of the cobra, because he is the incarnation of Adishesha, the greatest cobra. Svetam means white.

pranamami patanjalim

I bow down to Patanjali.

We chant so that at the very beginning that feeling of sanctification comes from inside, with the feeling of surrendering oneself, because nothing can be learned in this world unless you have the humility to learn. So the moment you think of the Lord at the beginning of doing a practice, you know that you are very small in front of that greatest soul. Once that is understood then the other problems which always arise while practicing, mainly concerned with the ego, will be a ected.

You know that you are “coming down” to learns something. And you can’ learn anything unless you comedown;ifyouthinkyouareonthetopandyou know everything, then you are not a learner at all. In that sense, the chanting helps.

yogena cittasya padena vacam malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena yopakarottam pravaram muninam patanjalim pranjalir anato’smi abahu purusakaram

sankha carkrasi dharinam sahasra sirasam svetam pranamami patanjalim

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