Krishna Yoga vs Patanjali Yoga

Krishna yoga vs Patanjali yoga

Yoga in Gita carries a totally different meaning and significance when compared to that of yoga in Patanjali’s yogasutra.  They are both Master of Yoga.  Krishna is also called yogiraj.  So, why is there such a vast difference between Krishna’s yoga in Gita and Patanjali’s yoga in Yogasutra.

One of the reasons is because of who it is being addressed to.  Patanjali is writing the book for students of yoga.  It is structured and has to contain complete course material.  It is based on all the research that had gone in the science of yoga apart from the extensive knowledge and experience of Patanjali himself. Krishna, on the other hand, stumbles upon a situation where he ends up talking about yoga to Arjun in the battlefield. It is all conversational, It is not a structured course and it starts at the level of Arjun, who probably knew a lot about yoga.   He was already educated and experienced.

Patanjali starts with the discipline of yoga.

अथयोगानुशासनम्॥१॥
Atha yoga anushasanam
Now, the discipline of yoga.
—Yoga Sutra 1.1

Patanjali starts with the ABC of yoga and takes a student through all the course material..  There is a condition in this first verse, Patanjali says that only those who have agreed to the discipline of yoga are going forward.  He is not interested in those who do not have the discipline so far.

Krishna is in a different situation.  He is facing an intelligent person who has the knowledge and expertise but finds himself struggling in making an important decision.  It’s a one to one conversation, not a classroom teaching.  Arjun gives some compelling arguments and Krishna has to answer them.  Krishna can’t put any conditions, Arjun is not in a position to accept any conditions.

Patanjali is teaching yoga to students of yoga from the beginning.  They must have the discipline before they will be allowed in the class.

Krishna is talking about how a yogi lives his life.

Krishna talks about how a yogi lives, how he manages his actions and how he makes decisions.  Krishna lives the life of a yogi and tells Arjuna the characteristics of a a yogi when Arjun asks the question to Krishna

अर्जुनउवाच|
स्थितप्रज्ञस्यकाभाषासमाधिस्थस्यकेशव|
स्थितधी: किंप्रभाषेतकिमासीतव्रजेतकिम्|| 54||

Arjuna uvacha,
STHITAPRAJNASYA KAA BHASHA SAMAADHISTASYA KESHAVA
STHIDADEEHI KIM PRABHASHETA KIM ASEETA VRAJETA KIM
Arjuna said,
O Krishna, what are the characteristics of a man of steady wisdom while he is merged in the “super-conscious state”? How does such a man speak, sit and move?

Krishna teaches management aspects of yoga, he teaches karma management, gyan (knowledge) management and he teaches bhakti (devotion) management among other aspects of life management.

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