Legend of Patañjali – Dhyānaṃ Ślokam for Yoga Sūtra


This is a translation of part of the Opening Invocations as taught to TKV Desikachar by T Krishnamacharya and taught by TKV Desikachar to his personal students.

योगेन चित्तस्य पदेन वाचां मलं शरीरस्य च वैद्यकेन ।
योऽपाकरोत् तं प्रवरं मुनीनां पतञ्जलिं प्राञ्जलिरानतोऽस्मि ॥

yogena cittasya padena vācāṃ malaṃ śarīrasya ca vaidyakena |
yo’pākarot taṃ pravaraṃ munīnāṃ patañjaliṃ prāñjalirānato’smi ||

  ‘Yoga for the psyche,
 grammar for speech and medicine for impurities of the body.
Coming from the lineage of teachers, to Patañjali I salute.’

आबाहु पुरुषाकारं शङ्खचक्रासि धारिणम् ।
सहस्र शिरसं श्वेतं प्रणमामि पतञ्जलिम् ॥

ābāhu puruṣākāraṃ śaṅkhacakrāsidhāriṇam |
sahasra śirasaṃ śvetaṃ praṇamāmi patañjalim ||

 ‘Up to the shoulders human form, holding conch, disc, sword.
One thousand heads white to Patañjali I salute.’

श्रीमते अनन्ताय नागराय नमो नमः ॥

śrīmate anantāya nāgarājāya namo namaḥ ||

 ‘To venerable, eternal serpent king, Nāga, my reverences.’

It was learnt by heart as a Bhāvanam for Dhyānam, to create a meditational mood linked to Patañjali prior to commencing either chanting practice or textual study of the Yoga Sūtra.

“The original essence of the Yoga Sūtra was passed on by oral tradition. First you learn the rhythm of the  Sūtra. This was in Saṃskṛta, first learning the words or Sūtra, then the meanings. By learning to recite the Sūtra perfectly it was clear that you were earnest in wanting to learn their meanings. The scheme would be to repeat it twice, in exactly the same tone used by the teacher. This would take many years. Thus these days its difficult to expect to understand the Sūtra from a book or a course.

A Sūtra Class began with a dedication. It had the effect of orienting the mind to the class and subject and could also be a dedication to a god, if accepted, to remove obstacles, or if none, not to put any i.e. Gaṇeśa. It is also a dedication to all one’s teachers or all the teachers and the author of the text himself. Patañjali as in – Pata that which falls and Añjali a position of offering as in Añjali Mudrā. Something fell from above and became Patañjali. The roots are in Indian mythology.

A god reclining on a bed of serpents was beseeched by the sages of old. They had problems with Saṃskṛta Grammar, Knowledge of Disease and Peace of Mind. Thus in order to find a balance of body mind and speech they prayed to God. Ānanta answered them and threw down something which was half man up to the shoulders and above a head of many cobras. This became the man Patañjali. From this myth three works are often attributed to him. One of Grammar for speech, one of medicine for the body, one of Yoga for the mind. Patañjali was regarded as an incarnation of the great Ānanta and the prayer salutes him and his work.”

– TKV Desikachar 1979

View or Download the Prārthanā Ślokam (Request Prayer) – Dhyānaṃ Ślokam for Patañjali with translation.

Listen or Download Dhyānaṃ Ślokam for Patañjali by TKV Desikachar as a sound file.

View or Download the Yoga Sūtra Long Opening Prayers with Dhyānaṃ Ślokam for Patañjali and Chant Notations.