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INVOCATION TO PATANJALI
yogena cittasya padena vacam
malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena
yopakarottam pravaram muninam
patanjalim pranjalir anato'smi


abahu purusakaram
sankha cakrasi dharinam
sahasra sirasam svetam
pranamami patanjalim

THE MEANING OF THE INVOCATION
 
by Geeta Iyengar
The two slokas (verses) that we chant to invoke Lord Patanjali begin the Bhojavritti, Bhoja's commentary or Yoga Sutras. It says, first of all, that Lord Patanjali is considered to be the incarnation of Adishesha, which is the seat for the Lord Vishnu, the very creator of this world. It is said he took birth three different times giving three different sciences for people to improve themselves.The first is yoga.
yogena cittasya padenaa 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 (vaca), he gave commentary on grammer to us so thatour 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 meditation first the form has to be in front of our eyes.
aahu purusakaram From the hand up to the head he has the shape (karam) of a human (purusa.)
sankha cakarasi dharinam In his hand he is holding the conch (sankha) and the disc (cakra.)
sahasra sirasam svetam On top of his head (sirasam) he has got a thousand (sahasra) hoods of cobra, because he is the incarnation of Adishesha, the greatest cobra. Svetam means white.
pranamami patanjalim I bow down to that 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 affected. You know that you are "coming down" to learn something, and that you can't learn anything unless you come down: if you think you are on the top and you know everything, then you are not a learner at all. In that sense, the chanting helps. We decide to chant these two slokas from the very beginning. When Guruji asked us to practice yoga we stayed with this recitation. But we didn't do it in the classes because when people came as beginners, they had this idea that it is a religious prayer of concern only to Hindus. It took people a little while to understand. whenever we had some public program, celebration such as Divali or Guruji's birthday, we would recite the prayers. People started taking interest and asking us what the prayers mean. When it was understood, everybody accepted it. For several years now we have been chanting these prayers before the classes. This explanation of the invocation to Patanjali is adapted from an interview given by Geeta at RIMYI in 1992 during the Canada intensive. The interview was conducted by Margo Kitchen and videotaped by Heather Malek., transcribed and edited by Judith M. a consultation with Marline Miller. Adapted by Francis Ricks.








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