Four Chapters on Freedom: Commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. By Swami Satyananda Saraswati

This Bihar School of Yoga publication is a classic and well written book. The author Swami Satyananda Saraswati is a student of Sivananda Saraswati – both well respected gurus of yoga. The book is a commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, which are 196 aphorisms that form the basis of yoga as it is known today.

Each Sutra is explained and discussed in turn and is surprisingly easy to follow despite the number of Sanskrit words that are used throughout the book. Admittedly, some of the terms started to make my head spin towards the end of the book! However, as a whole I would highly recommend this book for those wishing to delve deeper into understanding the mind as explained by Patanjali.

The book begins by explaining the eight limbs of yoga in a clear and consise manner. It gradually explains Patanjali’s thoughts on the root of suffering and how one can try to overcome the causes of unhappiness. I have tried to understand some of the concepts in yogic philosophy on a few occasions, and in my opinion, this book is a good place to start exploring the breadth of information about the workings of the mind.

Patanjali studied the Samkhya school of thought for a long time and this is reflected in his Sutras despite some important differences. I would suggest that this book is a good place to start if some of the other books on Samkhya are too ‘termy’.

As the book and Sutras progress, so do the explanations of the depths of meditation. There comes a point in the book where deeper and deeper states of meditation are described, and those interested in those aspects of mediation will find an interesting source of explanation here.