|Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī|
Al-Biruni's Arabic version of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is quite wonderful, it has a Q and A format. Here is what he has to say about the third Limb, mostly focussing on the rewards.
“The third quality is quietude. For whoever aspires to (obtain) a thing seeks it, and seeking is motion, and with motion (stirred) by desire comes the cessation of ease. Hence when he renounces all things singly and generally, and does not attach his attention to any of them, he is truly at rest, he is rewarded by not being harmed by heat or cold, by not suffering pain from hunger and thirst, and by not feeling any need; accordingly he is at peace”. Al-Biruni’s Arabic version of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
*See the pages at the end of the post to see how this is put in the context of the other limbs.
Al-Biruni is referencing the three asana sutras here ( YS below from Swamiji.com)
Ties in nicely with a post I put up a while back about the asana limb being tapas, preparation for yoga rather than Yoga itself,aimed at reducing our attachments to the world and thus giving a chance for 'yoga' to take place.....quietude.
See earlier post In defence of Asnana
Also echoes perhaps some of those arguments against grasping for new postures, not much quietude in that. While I don't think one should be held back unnecessarily which can actually lead to grasping ( and Krishnamacharya originally had Marichi D in the intermediate group of asana) I do tend to feel (nowadays anyway) that half Primary is more than enough practice ( you have your backbend pratkriya after ever asana in upward facing dog); explore that with long, slow breathing and we have as advanced a practice as anything in the later series.
NB: personally I've been happy to cut back to practicing up to half 2nd generally split over three days so I can practice nice and slow and have time for my pranayama and a sit.
I remember being struck early on how when asana practice becomes the highlight of our day and costs us nothing everything else drops away somewhat. What else do we really want or need other than time for practice, that time on the mat..... and later when we discover pranayama and 'just sitting' it becomes sufficient.
How joyfully then do we look forward to the end of our householder duties and being able to retire to our (metaphorical) forrest and devote ourselves to practice....
Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī was in the great tradition of Islamic scholars, intellectuals, poets and enquirers without which we wouldn't have the culture we so often take for granted. We remember the Greeks but so often forget the gifts that came down to us from the Islamic golden age.
|Scholars at an Abbasid library. Maqamat of al-Hariri |
Illustration by Yahyá al-Wasiti, Baghdad 1237
Al-Biruni is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the medieval Islamic era and was well versed in physics, mathematics, astronomy, and natural sciences, and also distinguished himself as a historian, chronologist and linguist. He was conversant in Khwarezmian, Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit, and also knew Greek, Hebrew and Syriac. He spent a large part of his life in Ghazni in modern-day Afghanistan, capital of the Ghaznavid dynasty which was based in what is now central-eastern Afghanistan. In 1017 he traveled to the Indian subcontinent and authored “Tarikh Al-Hind” (History of India) after exploring the Hindu faith practised in India. He is given the titles the "founder of Indology". He was an impartial writer on custom and creeds of various nations, and was given the title al-Ustadh ("The Master") for his remarkable description of early 11th-century India. He also made contributions to Earth sciences, and is regarded as the "father of geodesy" for his important contributions to that field, along with his significant contributions to geography.
Al-Biruni on the limbs of Ashtanga
Al-Biruni was brought to my attention through this excellent edition of the Yoga Sutras by Edwin F. Bryant that I've recently got my hands on, it includes insights from several of the great, traditional commentators
Somebody asked me on FB if I knew Bryant's version. I'd seen it but hadn't looked closely, bought it straight away, wonderful resource. I forget who asked me now but thank you for the heads up.