THE PATANJALI INVOCATION by Geeta S. Iyengar
The Invocation to Patanjali
AUM is the first primordial sound, an adi nada.
The three syllables A, U, M represent the entire range of sound and creation. They represent the reawakening from a dream state and from lethargic states of consciousness.
AUM is the pranava, the exalted, unsurpassable praise of the supreme principle, of divinity.
As the source of all energies, AUM is uttered as an auspicious beginning.
No sacred activity will be complete, profound and perfect without effecting the supreme grace and AUM is the greatest invocation to seek that grace.
The invocation that we sing right after repeating AUM is:
YOGENA CITTASYA PADENA VACAM
MALAM SARIRASYACA VAIDYAKENA
YOPAKAROTTAM PRAVARAM MUNINAM
To the noblest of sages, Patanjali, who gave us yoga for serenity of mind,
grammar for purity of speech and medicine for the perfection of body, I salute.
The second part describes the representation of Patanjali:
SANKHA CAKRASI DHARINAM
SAHASRA SIRASAM SVETAM
First I honor Patanjali whose upper part has a human form,
whose arms hold a conch and a disc and is crowned by a cobra
with a thousand heads. Oh incarnation of Adisesa,
my humble salutations to thee.
The authors of this invocation are unknown.
In the past it was not customary to name someone as an author or writer.
However some traditional books relate that “abahu purusakaram” was written in the year 1,100 AD by King Bhojadeva, the author of Rajamartanda Vrtti, a commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Every part of the statue of Patanjali represents complex meanings.
Looking at the statue of the sage Patanjali, one sees three and a half coils under the navel. These represent the pranava AUM, a mystical symbol that transmits the concept of God as creator, orchestrator and destroyer as well as omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient.
AUM is composed of three syllables: A, U, and M and by a half crescent and a dot at the top. The three complete coils represent the syllables and the half coil, the half moon. They also represent the three gunas (qualities) of prakrti, called sattva, rajas and tamas (purity, vibration and inertia).
The three coils also signify that Patanjali is the teacher of Yoga, Grammar and Ayurvedic Medicine. The half coil indicates the attainment of the state of Kaivalya (eternal emancipation).
The conch in the left hand signifies the state of alertness, of attentiveness and readiness to face the inevitable obstacles in the practice of yoga. It is also a symbol of jnana (consciousness).
The disc in the right hand represents the destruction of ignorance with supreme effort and is a symbol of protection.
The hood made up of cobra heads atop the figure of Patanjali represents security and protection provided by Adisesa, the king of serpents of whom Patanjali is a reincarnation; it means that Patanjali protects and watches over every practitioner of yoga.
Patanjali is depicted as half man and half serpent.
The human form signifies individuality of man gifted with the intelligence to reach his goals through his own efforts. The lower part which resembles a snake means that Patanjali urges us to move like a serpent- intensely, silently and quickly on the path of yoga- and to be a tirasamvegin, the ultimate (the best) type of pupil.
Adapted from: http://www.iyengaryoga.it/rivista/Yoga_Opuscolo_4.pdf