[B]I, 24-26 ? DEFINING THE OBJECT OF A DEVOTIONAL PRACTICE (ISVARA PRANIDANAH)
I, 24 klesa karma vipaka asayaih apasamrstah purusa vivesah ishvarah
I, 25 tatra niratisayam sarvajna bijam
I, 26 sa purvesam api guruh kalena anavacchedar
is a distinct Self,
by any form of afflictions,
by karma and its effects
or by the latent impressions
of past actions.
In that Self
is the surpassed
is also unlimited by time,
and is the guru
of the most ancient spiritual teachers.
Both Iyengar and Swami Satchidananda explain that sutra I, 24 defines what ?God? is not. For Iyengar, the Lord is purusha vivesah, the Universal Soul, distinct from purusha, the individual soul. The Universal Soul is devoid of desire, therefore, is ?detached from pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, dejection and elation? (Iyengar, p 74).
The second and third sutras define what ?God? is. Sutra I, 25 defines Self as the source of infinite knowledge. Another definition of the Self is that which is the original Guru. Sw. Satchindananda explains that although knowledge resides within us, it is not readily accessible; therefore, a spiritual guide, or mentor, or guru is necessary to lead us to the source of the knowledge within. Since each guru has learnt from another, the original guru would be Purusha or Isvara. He concludes that ?ishvara pranidanah? is then the surrender to the Supreme Guru which allows us to dissociate ourselves from nature or Prakriti and allows us to form a union with ?God? or Purusha; this union is yoga.
I suppose that these sutras could encourage one to examine their own personal definition of ?God? and clarify what/who they desire union or yoga with. Once identified, then this could be the object of their Isvara pranidanah - if this is their path.
Iyengar, B.K.S., Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. New Delhi, India: Harper Collins Publications India. 1993
Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Buckingham, VA: Integral Yoga Publications. 2004
Swami Shyam, Patanjali Yog Darshan, India: International Meditation Institute, 2001, 3rd. edition.
Stiles, M., Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Boston, MA: Red Wheel/Weiser LLC. 2002.