Patanjali: The Alpha and the Omega of Yoga

Osho on Enlightened Master Patanjali

Patanjali was an enlightened master, who devised a scientific path to attain the state of Samadhi, the highest state of consciousness and named it as ASHTANG YOGA. He was also known as “Father of Yoga”. Stream of Yoga is still alive and now being followed in different forms and for different benefits all over the world. Starting from the very physical body and going through the mind and ultimately to the being, the very presence, known as Samadhi.

Osho has spoken a discourse series of 100 discourses on Patanjali, “Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega” which has also been translated in Hindi as “Patanjali: Yoga Sutra”.

Osho says “PATANJALI IS THE GREATEST scientist of the inner. His approach is that of a scientific mind: he is not a poet. And in that way he is very rare, because those who enter into the inner world are almost always poets, those who enter into the outer world are always almost scientists. Patanjali is a rare flower. He has a scientific mind, but his journey is inner. That’s why he became the first and the last word: he is the alpha and the omega. For five thousand years nobody could improve upon him. It seems he cannot be improved upon. He will remain the last word  —  because the very combination is impossible. To have a scientific attitude and to enter into the inner is almost an impossible possibility. He talks like a mathematician, a logician. He talks like Aristotle and he is a Heraclitus.”

Osho further says “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali or the Brahma Sutras of Badraina or the Bhakti Sutras of Narad — small sentences, the smallest you can conceive, almost telegraphic — but so much is pressed into them that each sentence has atomic energy.


In savichara, the poet — and anybody who enters savichara becomes a poet — thinks the flower, not about it, but immediate and direct, but there is still division. The poet is separate from the flower. The poet is the subject and the flower is the object. The duality exists. The duality is not transcended: the poet has not become the flower, the flower has not become the poet. The observer is the observer, and the observed is still the observed. The observer has not become the observed; the observed has not become the observer. Duality exists. In savichara samadhi logic has been dropped, but not duality. In nirvichara samadhi even duality is dropped. One simply looks at the flower, not thinking of himself and not thinking of the flower; not thinking at all. That is nirvichara: without contemplating, beyond contemplation. One simply is being with the flower, not thinking about, not thinking — neither like the logician nor like the poet.

Now comes the mystic, the sage, who is simply with the flower. You cannot say that he thinks about, or he thinks. No, he is simply with. He allows the flower to be there and allows himself to be there. In that moment of allowing, there comes suddenly a unity. The flower is no more the flower, and the observer is no more the observer. Suddenly energies meet and mingle and become one. Now the duality is transcended. The sage doesn’t know who is the flower and who is watching it. If you ask the sage, the mystic, he will say, “I don’t know. It may be the flower who is watching me. It may be I who is watching the flower. It changes,” he will say, “it depends. And sometimes, there is neither I nor the flower. Both disappear. Only a unified energy remains. I become the flower and the flower becomes me.” This is the state of nirvichara, of no contemplation but of being.

Savitarka is the first step, nirvitarka is the last step in the same direction. Savichara is the first step, nirvichara is the last step in the same direction, on two planes. But Patanjali says the same explanation applies. The highest, up to now, is nirvichara. Patanjali will come to higher stages also, because few more things have to be explained, and he moves very slowly — because if he moves very fast it will not be possible for you to understand. He is going deeper and deeper every moment. He is leading you, by and by, to the infinite ocean, step by step. He is not a believer of sudden enlightenment — gradual, that’s why his appeal is so great. Many people have existed who have talked about sudden enlightenment, but they have not appealed to the masses because it is simply unbelievable that sudden enlightenment is possible. Tilopa may say, but that is not the point — that Tilopa says. The point is: does anybody understand it? — that’s why many Tilopas have disappeared. Patanjali’s appeal continues, because nobody can understand those wild flowers like Tilopa. They suddenly appear just out of the blue and they say, “Suddenly, you can also become like us.” This is incomprehensible. Under their magnetic personality you may listen to them, but you cannot believe them. The moment you leave them you will say, “This man is saying something which is beyond me. It goes over my head.”

Tilopas have lived, talked, tried, but they have not been able to help many people. Rarely somebody will understand them. That’s why Tilopa had to go to Tibet to find a disciple — this vast country, and he couldn’t find a single disciple — and Bodhidharma had to go to China to find a disciple. This ancient country, for thousands of years working on the religious dimension, and he couldn’t find a single disciple. Yes… difficult for Tilopa, difficult for Bodhidharma to find a single disciple. To find someone who can understand Tilopa is difficult because he talks of the goal, and he says, “There is no path and no method.” He is standing on the hilltop and he says, “There is no path,” and you are standing in the valley, dark, damp, in your misery. You look at Tilopa and you say, “Maybe… but how, how one reaches?” You go on asking, “How?” Krishnamurti goes on telling people there is no method, and after each talk people ask, “Then how? Then how to reach?” And he simply shrugs his shoulders and becomes angry that “I have told you there is no method, so don’t ask how, because how is again asking for the method.” And these are not new people who ask.

Krishnamurti has people who have been listening to him for thirty, forty years. Very old, ancient people you will find in his talks. They have been listening him continuously; religiously they listen to him. They come always  — whenever he is there, they come always and they listen. You will find almost the same faces for years and years and years, and again and again they ask from their valleys, “But how? — And Krishnamurti simply shrugs his shoulders and says, “There is no how. You simply understand, and you reach. There is no path.” Tilopa, Bodhidharma, Krishnamurti, they come and go; they are not much help. The people who listen to them enjoy listening to them — even come to a certain intellectual understanding — but they remain in the valley. I myself have come across many people who listen to Krishnamurti, but I have never seen a single person who has gone beyond his valley by listening to him. He remains in the valley, starts talking like Krishnamurti, that’s all; starts telling to other people that there is no way and no path, and remains in the valley.

Patanjali has been a tremendous help, incomparable. Millions have passed through this world by the help of Patanjali because he doesn’t talk according to his understanding, he moves with you. And as your understanding grows, he goes deeper and deeper and deeper. Patanjali follows the disciple; Tilopa would like the disciple to follow him. Patanjali comes to you; Tilopa would like you to come to him. And of course, Patanjali takes your hand and, by and by, he takes you to the highest peak possible, of which Tilopa talks but cannot lead because he will never come to your valley. He will remain on his hilltop and will go on shouting from there. In fact he will irritate many people because he will not stop; he will go on shouting from the top that “This is possible! And there is no way, and there is no method. You can simply come. It happens; you cannot do” He irritates. When there is no method, people get irritated and they would like him to stop, not to shout. Because if there is no way, then how to move from the valley to the top? You are talking nonsense. But Patanjali is very sensible, very sane, he moves step by step, takes you from where you are, comes to the valley, takes your hand and says, “One by one, take steps.”

Patanjali said, “There is a path. There are methods.” And he is really very, very wise. By and by, he will persuade you in the end that drop the method and drop the path — there are none — but only at the end, at the very peak, just when you have reached, when even Patanjali leaves you, there is no trouble; you will reach by yourself. At the last moment he becomes nonsensical. Otherwise, he is sensible. And he has remained so sensible the whole way that when he becomes nonsensical, then too he appeals, then too he looks very sensible. Because a man like Patanjali cannot talk nonsense. He is reliable.


By and by, the object of meditation has to be made more and more subtle. For example, you can meditate on a rock, or you can meditate on a flower, or you can meditate on the fragrance of the flower, or you can meditate on the meditator. And then things go subtle and subtle and subtle and subtle. For example, you can meditate on the sound aum. The first meditation is to say it loudly so it resounds all around you. It becomes a temple of sound all around you: aum, aum, aum. You create vibrations all around you — gross, the first step. Then you close your mouth. Now you don’t say it loudly. Inside you say, aum, aum, aum. Lips are not allowed to move, not even the tongue. Without the tongue and without the lips you say, aum. Now you create an inner atmosphere, inner climate of aum. The object has become subtle. Then the third step: you don’t even recite it, you simply listen to it. You change the position — from the doer, you move to a passivity of a listener. In the third state you don’t pronounce the aum inside also. You simply sit and you hear the sound. It comes because it is there. You are not silent; that’s why you cannot hear it.

Aum is not a word of any human language. It doesn’t mean anything. That’s why Hindus don’t write it in the usual alphabetical order. No, they have made a separate form for it just to distinguish it, that this is not part of the alphabet. It exists on its own, separate, and it means nothing. It is not a word of human language. It is the sound of the very existence itself; the sound of the soundless, the sound of the silence. When everything is silent then it is heard. So you become the hearer. It goes on and on, more and more subtle. And in the fourth stage you simply forget about everything: the doer, and the hearer, and the sound — everything. In the fourth stage there is nothing.

You must have seen ten ox herding pictures of Zen. In the first picture a man is looking for his ox — the ox has gone somewhere in the wild forest, no sign, no footprints — just looking all around, trees and trees and trees. In the second picture he looks happier — footprints have been found. In the third he seems a little bewildered — just the back of the ox is seen near a tree, but difficult to distinguish. The forest is wild, thick. Maybe it is just a hallucination that he is seeing the back of the ox; it may be just a part of the tree, and he may be projecting. Then in the fourth, he has caught hold of the tail. In the fifth, he has controlled by the whip; now the ox is in his power. In the sixth, he is riding on the ox. In the seventh, he is coming back towards the home with a flute, singing a song, riding on the ox. In the seventh, the ox in the stable, he is in the home, happy; the ox has been found. In the eighth, there is nothing; the ox has been found, and the ox and the seeker, the seeker and the sought, both have disappeared. The search is over.

In the ancient days these were the eight pictures. It was a complete set. The emptiness is the last. But then a great Master added two more pictures. The ninth — the man is back, again there. And in the tenth not only the man is back, he has gone to purchase few things to the market, and not only things, he is carrying a bottle of wine. This is really beautiful. This is complete. If it ends on emptiness, something is incomplete. The man is back again, and not only back, he is in the market. Not only in the market, he has purchased a bottle of wine.

The whole becomes more and more subtle, more and more subtle. A moment comes when you will feel it is the perfect, the most subtle. When everything becomes empty and there is no picture, the seeker and the sought both have disappeared. But this is not really the end. There is still a subtleness. The man comes back to the world totally transformed. He is no more the old self — reborn, and when you are reborn, the world is also not the same. The wine is wine no more, the poison is no more poison, the market is no more market. Now everything is accepted. It is beautiful. Now he is celebrating. That is the symbol: the wine. More and more subtle becomes the search, and more and more stronger becomes the consciousness. And a moment comes when the consciousness is so strong that you live like an ordinary being in the world, without fear. But move with Patanjali step by step. The objects of meditation are more and more subtle.


This is the eighth picture. The province of samadhi that is connected with these finer objects becomes more and more finer, and a moment comes when the form disappears and it is formless… EXTENDS UP TO THE FORMLESS STAGE OF THE SUBTLE ENERGIES.  The energies are so subtle you cannot make a picture out of them, you cannot carve them; only the emptiness can show them: a zero — eighth picture. By and by you will understand how these two other remaining pictures come in.

Patanjali — I call him the scientist of the religious world, the mathematician of mysticism, the logician of the illogical. Two opposites meet in him. If a scientist reads Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras he will understand immediately. A Wittgenstein, a logical mind, will feel immediately an affinity with Patanjali. He’s absolutely logical. And if he leads you towards the illogical, he leads you in such logical steps you never know when he has left the logic and taken you beyond it. He moves like a philosopher, a thinker, and makes so subtle distinctions that the moment he takes you into nirvichara, into no-contemplation, you will not be able to watch when the jump has been taken. He has cut the jump into many small steps. With Patanjali you will never feel fear, because he knows where you will feel fear. He cuts the steps smaller and smaller, almost as if you move on the plain ground. He takes you so slowly that you cannot observe when the jump has happened, when you have crossed the boundary. And he is also a poet, a mystic — a very rare combination. Mystics are there, like Tilopa; great poets are there like the rishis of Upanishads, great logicians are there like Aristotle, but you cannot find a Patanjali. He is such a combination that since him there has been no one who can be compared to him. It is very easy to be a poet because you are out of one piece. It is very easy to be a logician — you are made of one piece. It is almost impossible to be a Patanjali because you comprehend so many opposites, and in such a beautiful harmony he combines them all. That’s why he has become the alpha and the omega of the whole tradition of yoga.

In fact, it was not he who invented yoga; yoga is far ancient. Yoga had been there for many centuries before Patanjali. He is not the discoverer, but he almost became the discoverer and founder just because of this rare combination of his personality. Many people had worked before him and almost everything was known, but yoga was waiting for a Patanjali. And suddenly, when Patanjali spoke about it, everything fell in line and he became the founder. He was not the founder, but his personality is such a combination of opposites, he comprehends in himself such incomprehensible elements, he became the founder — almost the founder. Now yoga will always be known with Patanjali. Since Patanjali, many have again worked and many have reached new corners of the world of yoga, but Patanjali towers like an Everest. It seems almost impossible anybody ever will be able to tower higher than Patanjali — almost impossible. This rare combination is impossible. To be a logician and to be a poet and to be a mystic, and not of ordinary talents… It is possible: you can be a logician, a great logician, and a very ordinary poet. You can be a great poet and a very ordinary logician, third-rate — that’s possible, that’s not very difficult. Patanjali is a genius logician, a genius poet, and a genius mystic; Aristotle, Kalidas and Tilopa all rolled in one — hence the appeal.

Try to understand Patanjali as deeply as possible, because he will help you. Zen Masters won’t be of much help. You can enjoy them — beautiful phenomena. You can be awe-struck, you can be filled with wonder, but they won’t help you. Rarely somebody will be able within you who can take the courage and jump into the abyss. Patanjali will be of much help. He can become the very foundation of your being, and he can lead you, by and by. He understands you more than anybody else. He looks at you and he tries to speak the language that the last amongst you will be able to understand. He is not only a Master, he is a great teacher also. Educationists know that a great teacher is not one who can be understood only by the topmost few students in the class, just the first benchers, four or five in a class of fifty. He is not a great teacher. A great teacher is one who can be understood by the last benchers. Patanjali is not only a Master, he is a teacher also. Krishnamurti is a Master, Tilopa is a Master — but not teachers. They can be understood only by the topmost. This is the problem — the topmost need not understand. They can go by their own. Even without Krishnamurti they will move into the ocean and reach to the other shore; a few days sooner or later, that’s all. The last benchers who cannot move on their own, Patanjali is for them. He starts from the lowest and he reaches to the highest. His help is for all. He is not for the chosen few.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse Series: Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 3 Chapter #5

Chapter title: The pure look

5 March 1975 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, Shiva, Patanjali, Gorakh, Lao Tzu, Saraha, Tilopa, Zarathustra and many other enlightened Mastersin many of His discourses. More on them can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:

  1. Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
  2. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
  3. Tao: The Three Treasures
  4. Zarathustra: The Laughing Prophet
  5. The Mustard Seed: My Most Loved Gospel on Jesus
  6. The Path of Love
  7. Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
  8. When the Shoe Fits
  9. Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen, with Basho’s Haikus
  10. Sermons in Stones
  11. The Book of Wisdom
  12. The Tantra Vision
  13. Tantra: The Supreme Understanding
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