2.35 – All hostility is renounced in the presence of one established in harmlessness.

अहिंसाप्रतिष्ठायं तत्सन्निधौ वैरत्याघः ॥३५॥

ahimsa pratishthayam tat vaira-tyagah

  • ahimsa – non-harming; nonviolence
  • pratishthayam – establishment of; stability in
  • tat – that
  • vaira – hostility; animosity
  • tyagah – renouncing; sacrificing; offering up

2.36 – When established in truthfulness, the intended effects of one’s actions come to pass.

सत्यप्रतिष्थायं क्रियाफलाश्रयत्वम् ॥३६॥

satya pratisthayam kriya phala ashrayatvam

  • satya – truthfulness; authentic
  • pratisthayam – establishment of; stability in
  • kriya – action; activity; work
  • phala – fruit; effect; result
  • ashrayatvam – come to; rest on; depend upon

2.37 – All forms of prosperity come to one established in non-stealing.

अस्तेयप्रतिष्ठायां सर्वरत्नोपस्थानम् ॥३७॥

asteya pratisthayam sarva ratna upasthanam

  • asteya – non-stealing
  • pratisthayam – establishment of; stability in
  • sarva – all; every
  • ratna – wealth; treasures
  • upasthanam – to come into the presence of; approaching; obtaining

2.38 – When established in the right use of vital energies, one obtains strength and vitality.

ब्रह्मचर्य प्रतिष्ठायां वीर्यलाभः ॥३८॥

brahmacharya pratisthayam virya labhah

  • brahmacharya – right use of life-energies; chastity; walking (charya) in the awareness of the divine (Brahman); moving (charya) toward the divine (Brahman); the path (charya) toward Brahman
  • pratisthayam – establishment of; stability in
  • virya – energy; vigor; virility; potency
  • labhah – gain; obtain; receive

2.39 – Insight into the nature of one’s existence comes to one established in nonattachment.

अपरिग्रहस्थैर्ये जन्मकथंता संबोधः ॥३९॥

aparigraha sthairye janma kathanta sambodhah

  • aparigraha – nonattachment; renunciation
  • sthairye – steadiness; stability; firmness; constancy
  • janma – birth; rebirth; existence
  • kathanta – manner of; nature of; question; inquiry
  • sambodhah – insight; understanding; perfect knowledge

Commentary on Sutras 2.35—2.39:

In this section of sutras, Patanjali describes the effects of practicing the yamas. Both the yamas and niyamas are vibratory patterns in consciousness. By cultivating them, we tap into their particular qualities. As this takes place, certain yogic powers begin to emerge.

When established in a consciousness of harmlessness, the people and creatures around us are calmed and reassured by that vibration. On some level, we’ve all felt the energy of a room change when someone with intense feelings of anger or happiness entered. They didn’t have to speak a word for that shift to take place.

In the same way, animals often respond to a person’s fear or anxiety and can sense violent intentions. And vicious dogs become cuddly puppies around a master trainer.

Changes in our internal states alter our outer environment and world experience. Our yoga practice brings about profound internal transformations that manifest as tangible changes in our daily lives. We get along better with others, achieve our goals with greater ease, attract the resources we need, and have more strength, vitality, and a greater understanding of the world and our place in it.

When we experience the beneficial side-effects of practice listed in these sutras, we can recognize them as signs we’re on the right track.

Sutra 2.36 states that our actions come to fruition when we embody truthfulness. When we’re in a state of truth-consciousness, all our thoughts, words, and actions are in harmony with each other and directed toward our highest good. There’s no conflict, no resistance. Our energies are all heading in the same direction and have the full power of the evolutionary flow of nature behind them.

For the same reasons, 2.37 declares that we prosper when established in non-stealing. A person who steals is caught up in a consciousness of lack and believes they can acquire wealth by taking it from someone else. But one who discerns the overflowing abundance of nature sees opportunities they didn’t realize existed before and possibilities where they once saw problems.

Awareness is Shakti (power or energy). By shifting the direction of our attention away from lack and toward abundance, we open ourselves to the inflow of nature’s infinite resources.

Ideally, we want all of our attention and energy to be heading in the direction of freedom. For this to happen, we need to arrange our lifestyle in a way that aligns with our yoga practice. This is the true meaning of the term “brahmacharya,” the yama mentioned in Sutra 2.38.

Brahmacharya is often translated as “chastity” or “celibacy.” The word comes from “Brahma,” meaning “the infinite or absolute ground of all being,” and “charya,” which means “to move.” So brahmacharya means “to move toward the infinite.”

A healthy sex life will not interfere with yogic practice, but an obsessive one will deplete our energies. If we wish to grow, it’s important to conserve our vital forces. We do this by directing them inward, away from distracting outward pursuits. In doing so, we obtain spiritual strength and vitality.

In a broad sense, all of the yamas and niyamas described above could be regarded as the practice of brahmacharya because they are all ways of training ourselves to yoke our life-force toward the goal of Self-realization. That is also true of the final yama, nonattachment.

Attempting to hold onto power or to grasp after pleasurable experiences is like trying to hold onto a river. Our efforts to do so consume an enormous amount of energy and inevitably end in frustration and failure.

In Sutra 2.39, Patanjali states that by establishing ourselves in nonattachment, we gain insight into the nature of existence. That makes sense once we recognize that change is the nature of physical existence.

By allowing things to move and flow rather than straining to grasp the flow, we experience life as a living current rather than something solid and permanent. And when we’re no longer using the bandwidth of our attention for grasping, we can notice the changeless essence in which all things come and go.