The Yoga Sutras are a key text in our understanding of yoga, meditation, non-violence and other spiritual practices. It underlies the various “schools” of Yoga, even to modern bastardizations like “hot” yoga. The author of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali, is thought to have lived around 3-500 BC. However there is more than one historical Patanjali.
What has puzzled me about reading the Sutras is their very different description of enlightenment (Kaivalya, meaning singularity) and the vast array of abilities and qualities that develop in the process. In real world experience, these things do develop over time. Many I know have seen a number of the siddhis of Book 3 arise naturally, for example. But some expressions have significant environmental resistance to overcome. A full blossoming would take vastly more time for most of us than a typical current lifetime.
Recently, I heard it said that the Yoga Sutras were actually written in Treta (third) Yuga, the Silver age. By Yukteswar‘s calculation, that would be between 3,100 and 6,700 BC. This explains a great deal.
In Treta Yuga, people live for hundreds of years. Thus, there is time for this refinement and development to take place. As this is close to the golden age (Satya), a much fuller range of natural laws are available to be developed. And there is a lot less resistance in the environment for that development. Thus smoother and fuller development and more refined perception would exhibit. And the experience of enlightenment itself would also tend to be different too. Likely more closely tied to natural maturation as well
It should also be noted that the “texts” were not written down (by Vyasa et al) until the late Dwapara (Copper) age due to the impending dark age. The prior oral traditions were expected to break down. Thus, the Yoga Sutras would not have been written down until much later than Treta. And indeed, the more recent Patanjali is said to have compiled from prior works.
Life is easier in Treta so there is ironically less motivation to pursue a spiritual path. Ultimately, this is what leads to a further drop in group consciousness and the heavier ages. Still, the Yoga Sutras have much to offer us if we lighten up a little about the process. We’re now rising out of the sludge, however it may seem on the global stage.