Yoga Sutra 1.20: Patanjali’s 5 Keys of Wisdom

meditation for wisdom — Yoga & Meditation

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is a 2,000-year-old text that is revered by a lot of practitioners and teachers as the definitive guide to yogic philosophy and practice. The Sutras are composed of 196 quick aphorisms that describe the nature of reality and the suggests to obtain inner-peace and happiness. In one particular of these sutras, sage Patanjali delivers 5 keys to gaining wisdom: faith, strength, mindfulness, insight and stillness of thoughts. If practiced ardently, these 5 qualities can lead to a higher understanding of life, accurate information and inner freedom. If you can master these 5 traits, you can unlock the door of liberation—the actualization of your accurate nature.

Yoga Sutra 1.20

The 1st chapter of the Yoga Sutras defines the eight limbs of yoga practice, the frequent obstacles in the yogi’s path, and the states of consciousness or awareness that can be attained. In Sutra 1.20, Patanjali illuminates the path of the sophisticated practices of yoga. This Sutra consists of 5 traits or virtues that lead to samadhi. Samadhi is a state of mental stillness, absorption or enlightenment. It is the final limb of the 8 limbs of yoga.

Sutra 1.20: Sraddha-Virya-Smrti-Samadhi-Prajna-Purvakah Itaresam

Translation: Others (devoid of innate skills) can comply with a systematic practice rooted on faith, self-assurance and mindfulness to ignite the power and willpower essential to retain a steady focus and evenness of thoughts that leads to insight, information and wisdom.

Word for word translation:

  • Sraddha: unconditional faith, belief, courage
  • Virya: power, robust will, vigor
  • Smrti: memory, mindfulness, remembrance
  • Samadhi: deep absorption of meditation
  • Prajna: wisdom, discernment, intelligence
  • Purvakah: preceded by, prerequisite
  • Itaresam: of other men and women

Patanjali’s 5 Inner Qualities

  1. Faith (sraddha): This is not the blind leap of belief that religion asks of us, but rather an inner sense of path primarily based on the knowledge and proof we achieve as our yoga practice develops and builds. When we practice with sraddha, we really feel pulled deeper and deeper toward one thing higher, even even though each and every of us might describe that “something greater” in diverse ways—as truth, peace, bliss, oneness, self-realization or, as Patanjali described it, Samadhi.
  2. Strength (virya): The Sanskrit word for strength comes from vira—the root of Supta Virasana (Supine Hero’s Pose) and Virabhadrasana (the Warrior poses). Vira is also the root of our English words virile and virtuous. In yoga, a spiritual “warrior’s” strength is primarily based on commitment and complete-hearted work. Her energy arises from a sense of rightness and goal.
  3. Mindfulness (smriti): Though smriti is frequently translated as memory, Swami Prabhavananda aptly described it as recollection. When we re-gather or collect our scattered thoughts and half-forgotten experiences, directing them with a singular focus, we can create a continual state of awareness recognized as mindfulness.
  4. Insight (prajna): The greater wisdom of prajna arises not from believed, but from intuition or understanding. All of our yoga practices, from asana to meditation, enable us construct, refine and embody information till it permeates just about every level of our awareness and becomes element of our nature.
  5. Stillness of thoughts (samadhi): While samadhi is the ultimate target of yoga it is also a approach and a continuous practice of mental focus, deep absorption and contemplation. This journey starts with a handful of conscious breaths in a steady and comfy seated asana. At 1st, moments of stillness and deep absorption arise briefly and haphazardly. The more we practice drawing our awareness inwards, the more these fleeting experiences turn into more substantial and can stretch into minutes and at some point hours.


Patanjali believed students necessary these 4 traits or virtues to attain yoga’s ultimate target, Samadhi. Two thousand years later, we can see how faith, strength, mindfulness and insight work with each other to enable us intensify and advance any yoga practice, from a single asana to meditative absorption. What’s more, we can see that this 5-pronged method is also the important to living life more totally.

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