Invocation to Patanjali

Invocation to Patanjali


Why Chant the Pantanjali Invocation?



The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali  - which comprises of 196  sūtras in four parts  known as pāda were compiled around 400 CE by Sage Patañjali, although there those who argue that the work is impossible to precisely place and so give a much wider time range for possible authorship of somewhere between 500 BCE to 3rd century CE. Patañjali drew from many streams that were around at the time of authoring the work. 


Together with his commentary, the Bhāṣya, the work is known as the Pātañjalayogaśāstra


They are a combination of practical pointers and profound inspiration have continued to inspire practitioners through the ages. Patañjali’s Yoga aphorisms, are a collection of yogic teachings, brought together into a cohesive whole, and give the yogi a real sense of the full journey and reach of yoga practice.


It is obvious that Patañjali himself learned from what was practiced around him and then drew this into his own practice, giving the sutras strongly authentic and integrated feel. The teachings have obviously been purified and coalesced in the fire of Patañjali’s own ‘Tapas’ (zeal/discipline/enthusiasm). 


His aphorisms have never been more popular than they are now, with leading teachers such as Patthabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar kicking off their sessions with grateful salutations and recognition through this invocation. The revival of 

Patañjali’s work was relaunched after some centuries in relative obscurity by Swami Vivekanada (1863 –1902). He should not be confused with the Patañjali who wrote the Mahābhāṣya, a work on sanskrit a third Patañjali is sometimes imagined due to comments made by the great Raja Bhoja (c.1010-1055 CE) who alluded to a Patañjali who was a medic but there is no such medical work yet found by any such person.                          


yogena  cittasya  padena  vācāṃ
(yo-gay-nuh  chih-tah-syuh  pah-day-nuh  vah-chahm)
ṃalam  śarīrasya  ca  vaidyakena
(mah-lahm shah-ree-rah-syuh chuh vy-dyuh-kay-nuh)
yopākarottaṃ pravaraṃ munīnaṃ
(yo-pah kar-oh-tahm prah-vah-rahm moo-nee-nahm)
patañjalim  prānjalirānato’smi
(pah-tahn-jah-lim prahn-jah-leer ah-nah-to-smee)
ābāhu  puruākāram
(ah-bah-hoo poo-roo-shah-kar-ahm)
śankha  cakrāsi  dhārinam
(shahn-kah chah-krah-see dar-ee-nahm)
sahasra  śirasaṃ śvetaṃ
(sah-hah-srah sheer-ah-sahm shvay-tahm)
praṇamāmi  patañjalim
(prah-nuh-mah-mee pah-tahn-jah-lim)



The tiger-footed Vyaghrapada 

and snake-footed Patanjali salute Nataraja.



Let us bow down before the noblest of sages, Patanjali, who gave us yoga for serenity and sanctity of mind, grammar for clarity and purity of speech and medicine for perfection of health.

Let us prostrate before Patanjali, an incarnation of Adis(h)esa, whose upper body has a human form, whose arms hold a conch (Visnu holds a conch/used ritually to herald proclamations and announcements/represents life coming out of primal waters) and a disk (Visnu’s disk-like weapon associated with protection/energy centre or wheel) and who is crowned by a thousand-headed cobra (associated with protection/Visnu/rebirth).


His Name 

The compound name Patañjali  - Explanation one: añjalau folded prayer hands, patan - falling/flying (Falling into folded hands).The name comes from a legend about his birth which says that Śeṣa, the divine serpent-king, incarnated as a baby or small snake and fell into the folded hands (Anjali Mudra) of a Brahmin.

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just as it is,
as it is,
as is.
Flowers in bloom.
Nothing to add.

— Robert Aitken Roshi