Patanjali, an ancient Vedic sage, who codified the Yogic Science of Raja Yoga, from vedic scriptures like the Upanishads and other ancient vedic scriptures. The Sutras or 'Threads' (similiar to 'sutchers' in english) total over 200 verses. In these threads the whole yogic science is expounded. They are written in sanskrit so naturally translation into english always vary.
The essence of Yoga
A triad of sutras (2nd, 3rd, and 4th) expound the essential function of yoga. They are as follows
2nd sutra - yogash chitta vritti nirodha (Yoga is the settling of the thoughts/waves/modification/modes/aggitations of the mind) 3rd sutra - tada drasthuh svarupe vasthanam (Then the seer exists by itself as the self) 4th sutra - vritti sarupyam itaratra (at other times the seer identifies with the thoughts/waves/modifications/modes/aggitations of the mind)
Essentially, yoga is about working to settle the mind. When you settle your mind you can then realize your true nature and ultimate Reality (capital "R"). When you identify with your mind then you are unaware of your true self, hence: the human condition (pain and suffering exist).
The mind is a fantastic and powerful tool. It's general function is to process information especially stimulus from the "external" environment. It is difficult to work with due to this contant processing. Eastern traditions have methodically developed systems and techniques to work with mind in a way that the practitioner can weild it with mastery. This above scripture is an example of a fascinating methodical approach to doing just that.
Below are a list of resources that have translated the Sutras:
- An Interpretive Translation by Swami Venkatesananda (includes audio for some sutras/verses)
- The Theosophy Library version translated by Raghavan Narasimhan Iyer