From Darkness to Light:



Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.1

atha yoganushashanam

Now(at this point of transition) the exposition of yoga.[i]


Patajali’s Yoga Sutra 1.2

yogash citta-vritti-nirodha

Yoga is the suppression of the fluctuations of the mind[ii]


“The problem is, that you won’t really be able to understand why eating meat is an obstacle in your practice, until you stop eating it.” the statement was offered gently, or so I thought.  The student had been defending the lifestyle of the carnivorous yogi as I walked up to the group, and the other teachers had redirected her comments in my direction.


“But I’m on the path, I’m making progress,” her defensive tone and unwillingness to make eye contact did not seem concordant with making progress in yoga.  Sutra II.46 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, an authoritative ancient text on yoga, suggests that ease or sukham is a significant dimension of the asana practice.  Some result must have been apparent, or she would not have continued practicing, and yet, she did not seem at ease.


“The practice of ahimsa, or non-violence is given very prominent placement in the teachings, we have to assume that placement is not arbitrary. ” I responded.  “As long as we continue to ingest food from an animal who has suffered,  on some level our perceptual mechanisms must remain shut down and unaware or we would feel the animals suffering, we would know it as our own.  This closing off of our awareness impedes our progress on the path.     When we are aware, to continue to ingest such suffering would be unthinkable.”  A look of shock and sadness arose in her eyes which quickly hardened as she turned brusquely and walked away.


In the second century C.E. a yogic adept by the name of Patanjali produced an authoritative treatise on the practices of yoga commonly referred to as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.  The text provides a framework of the methods of yoga, as well as a terminology with which to discuss the goals of the practice.  Patanjali declares the state of yoga to be the experience where one’s essential, or pure spiritual nature, prevails over the tendencies of the mind (vritti’s).  Until that moment occurs one will experience self and world as a reflection of those tendencies.  Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra delineates a systematic method of dismantling of the power of the vrittis, allowing the yogin to identify with their essential nature.


Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra IV.3


nimittam-aprayojakam prakrtinam varana-bhedas tu tatah ksetrikavat


“Good and bad deeds are not the direct causes in the transformations of nature, but they act as breakers of obstacles to the evolutions – as a farmer breaks the obstacles to the course of water, which then runs down by its own nature”.  Swami Vivekananda[iii]






P.Y.S. 11.28 yoganganusthanad asuddhi ksaye jnana diptir avivika khyateh

Through practicing the (eight) limbs of yoga – upon the diminishing of impurities, there is a light of knowing, up to (leading to)viveka-khyata – the identification of viveka (discriminitive wisdom)[iv]


The methods of yoga are empirical, systematic and designed to be replicated.  The efficacy of the methodology has been confirmed through experience by countless yogins for thousands of years. As in a chemistry experiment where a minute detail, left out, or shifted in sequence, can alter the results completely, the methodology of yoga has been cultivated to obtain the result of experience of realization, or yoga – and a minute detail, left out, will alter the results that one obtains.   Contemporary practitioners are quick to adopt the methods of yoga for the enjoyment of personal lifestyle appetites:  consumerism, social cravings, short term stress reduction and other transient and insubstantial gains.  In exchanging the formal structure of the method for a fractional snippet of immediate gratification, the promise of stable well-being and deep satisfaction intrinsic to the deeper processes of yoga, is forfeited.


While much of Patanjali’s text concerns the subtle focus and surrender cultivated in meditation,

in the second chapter of the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali specifies the external actions required to support the internal dynamics of the practice.  These powerful practices are called the “yamas”.  The yamas are the “mahavratam” or great vows of the yogi.  There is no condition under which they are not applicable[v].  Before asana, before meditation, before pranayama,  before even cultivating a fervent desire for success in the practice[vi], the yogin is advised to renounce all harmful behavior.  In other words, the journey to the true clarity and peace which is yoga begins with the renunciation of all animal food.  Ahimsa, or non-harming, cannot properly be practiced without this dietary restriction,  as there is no animal food obtained whether it be flesh food or honey, which does not cause pain, either through literal taking of the life, or enslavement[vii].   Eating is, for many, the most frequently harmful behavior in which they engage.  The ongoing  partaking of food obtained at the expense of the life of another is a continual erroneous reinforcement of the fear based misperception that one must harm others in order to survive.    To practice yoga while consuming animal products is much like digging a hole only to fill it up again over and over.




P.Y.S.  1.5 vrttaha pancatayyah klistaklistah

             There are five primary forms of vrittis, and they either obstruct our clarity,           causing pain (klistah) or they do not (aklistah)[viii].


PYS. 1.6 pramana-viparyaya-vikalpa-nidra-smrtayah

              They are right knowledge, wrong knowledge, verbal delusion, sleep and memory.


Indoctrination in food paradigms begins at an early age when the freedom to make individual choices is minimal at best.  This indoctrination is the basis for many of the vrittis.  The depth of the influence of conditioning about food and the influence of what we eat on our state of mind is evidenced by the difficulty many aspiring practitioners encounter when the desire to shift to a violence-free diet arouses deep states of conflict within the context of family, spiritual groups, friends and love relationships.  To change what we eat is directly connected to a deep shift in identity and values.  If I am no longer eating what my friends eat, what tribe will I belong to?  To choose to eat in such a way that breaks out of our culture and places the well-being of all beings on par with our social group makes a profound statement.  All living beings are as valuable as those with whom we are the most intimate.  To take on such a primal shift is to break down our most fundamental tendencies.  When this behavior is adopted in its classical placement at the initial stages of the practice, it is a powerful catalyst for transformation which allows the following stages of work to proceed more quickly.


Patanjali identifies five primary vrittis right knowledge, wrong knowledge,  verbal delusion, sleep and memory.   When these vrittis are not suppressed through proper practice their dominance in the mind field colors our experience of the world.




Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.7

pratyaksanumanagamah pramanani

Valid means of knowledge are direct perception, inference and testimony[ix]




Down into the water we went.  The dive master plunged deeper, and encouraged us remain close by on this, our first, underwater adventure.  Sunlight scattered through a sea which appeared to be a brilliant blue green,  but the water was clear, absolutely clear.  With the exception of the outcropping of the reef ahead, the ocean floor was a barren wasteland.  Inflated by the conquest of this alien environment, our little scuba group darted to and fro celebrating the liberating experience of this new frontier.  And then, unencumbered by tanks (or for that matter arms and legs),  and adorned with shimmering scales of many colors, the sovereign inhabitants of the sea kingdom revealed themselves.  Silent and lovely, the tiny school of fish glided towards us with an innate dignity and grace that no earthly title could confer.  By comparison, I felt foolish and clumsy, masquerading as a sea creature with rubber fins, tank, and wet suit.  Pride crumbled into humility, remembering that such beautiful beings were held prisoners in tanks,  in the homes and offices of others of my kind.  Surprise, wonder and delight arose with the experience of their obvious sentience when interacted with in their proper abode.  How humbling it was, to realize that my perception of these grand creatures had been so tainted by their behavior when in captivity.  As if any being could ever express its true nature, when confined in a cage or a tank.


Emerging onto the land of concrete, we shed our rubber skins. A dinner celebration had been planned to honor this, our first brave dive into the sea.  Appetites fully engaged, we went in ardent pursuit of the finest eatery above sea level.  Our chosen venue was opulent, magnificently lit and very expensive.  The special of the day was a tantalizing mix of the ocean’s most delectable beings, prepared especially to delight the human palate.  The waitress, glowing with pride at her offering, placed the platter in front of me.  My anticipation of a delicious meal dissolved in a flood of tears, and more tears.  In a moment of clarity the connection between the meal placed before me, and the beautiful beings I had played with a short time before, had been revealed.


How strange that my friends and I could be so confused that we could swim and play with the fishes and then, to celebrate, plan a party where we would eat them.  An acquaintance  once told me she had a similar experience on a dive trip – and since then has never eaten fish after a scuba dive.  One wonders, if she cannot eat fish after a scuba dive, how she ever eats it at all.




What is right knowledge?   Well, according to Patanjali right knowledge has three dimensions, it is based on correct perception, correct deduction and scriptural authority.  For the non-yogi, what what they may source for information would most likely be what they experience, what they figure out based on what they experience and recognized authority, which is most often science.    All of these things fluctuate.  Just as in the story above, what we see or feel or know to be true can change from moment to moment.


Even testimony based on scientific research, which is often used to validate a carnivorous lifestyle is continually fluctuating.  The term paradigm was coined by Thomas Kuhn to signify a structure of agreements upon which the dominant scientific model of any given period is based.  In other words, the underlying beliefs which shape the scientific development at any given point in time or we could say “scientific vrittis”.  According to Kuhn, the research that is advocated will support the dominant paradigm of the time, and that which does not fall into alignment with the dominant paradigm is disregarded.  A scientific revolution is characterized by the overturning of a one of these underlying models.   For many years, scientists and philosophers built their work on the paradigm that the Sun revolved around the earth.  Copernicus’ radical assertion that in fact the Earth moved was met with denial and controversy.  While philosophers and scientists of Copernicus’s day were operating under the heavy hand of the Catholic Church, much of modern scientific research into food is financed by those with a vested interest in keeping the general population carnivorous[x].


Sylvia Earle, former chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has written, “[Fish] are our fellow citizens with scales and fins….I would never eat anyone I know personally, I wouldn’t eat a grouper any more than I’d eat a cocker spaniel.  They’re so good-natured, so curious.  You know, fish are sensitive, they have personalities, they hurt when they are wounded.”[xi]



P.Y.S. 1.8 viparyayo mithya-jnanam a tad rupa pratistham

Mistaken knowledge is an idea which is not based on the nature or form of its object


The air was full of the sounds of chairs scraping, and cars whizzing by.  We were in a small town, but it might have been Manhattan, the sounds were so penetrating.  After ten days of silent meditation, the ear becomes very sensitized.  This waitress was not beaming cordially,  she was gruff and rushed.  It was brunch time at the most popular diner in the village.  We were laughing and sharing, absorbing the wonder of reemerging into a cacophonous world after resting deep silence – everything around us was vibrating.  Our appetites had been reduced to the barest essentials by the simple vegetarian fare on the retreat, and now, freedom of choice!     We eagerly opened the menus.  It was a step back into the life we led before the retreat – full of television, phone calls, chatter and savory edibles.  After moment, one of my companions furrowed his brow and exclaimed,  “Wait, that vow we took, not to kill, that doesn’t include what we eat,  does it?”.  He looked seriously concerned, this question was not frivolous.   The enthusiasm at the reintroduction of decadence into our lives was immediately stifled.   Every choice on the menu, had, at one time or another obviously had a mother.


“No.  It means that you shouldn’t kill anything yourself – like you shouldn’t kill a spider”, piped up another member of the group.

“Do you really think it matters whether you kill the animal yourself or not?  It’s still dead, “ I responded.


Another group member chimed in, “Well, I have a friend who’s brother has a guru, and the guru told him that he should eat meat”.


I pondered momentarily how to point out that this mysterious guru, who we did not know, who was addressing the needs of specific individual whose circumstance we did not know.  “I don’t know who that guru was, or why they said that, but I do know this:  we can say we are choosing NOT to observe “Thou shalt not kill” and then eat meat, but we cannot say that eating meat is not killing.”


The thoughtful silence was broken by the waitress’ welcome arrival to take our orders.  The fellow who asked the question chuckled warmly, raised his eyebrows and pronounced,  “We’ll have five orders of toast please!”.


The paradigm of wrong knowledge is supported when we do not investigate what lies underneath the level of our immediate experience.  Another way to understand this sutra is that what we experience is disconnected from what’s actually happening.    It is interesting that we can acknowledge that we shouldn’t kill something, but then perceive that our action in eating flesh food does not involve taking the life of another.    Clearly, if we are purchasing and consuming flesh food, we are creating the market for murder, in the same way that any other consumer behavior establishes a market for that which is being purchased.


This disconnection is further reflected in the public’s general  denial of the relationship between the consumption of flesh food and early death.    The statistics supporting the  connection between the consumption of meat and dairy products and mortality rate is so extensive it is beyond the scope of this article,  but still the illusion that a meat based diet is healthy persists in the public eye.


Note this small summary from Howard Lyman’s “Mad Cowboy”

“The German Cancer Research Center conducted a study of over 1,900 vegetarians, and found that rates for all forms of cancer were only 56% of the normal rate.  The aforementioned study of Seventh Day Adventist men also found that this group, about half of whom are vegetarian, and who eat, on average about 50% more fiber than the general population, suffers 55% less prostrate cancer than other American males.  Similarly, a ten year study of over 120,000 Japanese men reported that vegetarian men had a lower incidence of prostrate cancer than meat eaters.[xii]”


It is interesting to note that not only do we dwell in incorrect knowledge that deludes us into believing that we do not kill when we eat meat, we dwell in incorrect knowledge about the manner in which this choice impacts us.



Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.9

sabda-jnanupati vastu-sunyo vikalpah.

Fancy is the notion called into being by mere words, having nothing to answer to it in reality[xiii].


The lesson had gone over, I thought, particularly well.  It was the first time that I had introduced the concept of veganism and yoga with a group in a suburban setting, and they had stayed open and listened for the whole teaching.  The community was, by and large, clearly well-educated and intelligent.  By their response,  it was apparent it was something they had given some thought to previously, and after the class I was approached by many with sincere and heartfelt questions.


“But of course, Natalie, there is Compassionate Killing, this is one alternative”,  the student was a wise and compassionate woman, with a long history of successful public service.  Her comment startled me.


“Compassionate killing?  There is no such thing, it’s an oxymoron.  I’ll tell you what, we’ll put you up in a fancy mansion, feed you tempting healthy morsels to fatten you up and then when it suits us, we’ll kill you.  Is that compassion?”.  Her face changed abruptly as she realized what she had said, and what I had said.  “Oh, I see what you mean.” she nodded.


A label is a powerful thing.  When someone tells us that a person is stupid or smart or funny or corrupt,  the power of that statement, made in the absence of personal experience, creates a tendency to perceive that person a particular way.  It takes work on our part to get beyond these labels.  We may never get to know the person well enough that we discover who they are on a deeper level.  Immersed in advertising, we are bombarded by labels, and removing ourselves from their influence is very difficult.  We are so used to misrepresentation that, on one level we stop interpreting the information: new and improved, homemade, natural flavors are all terms which advertisers have concocted and used until the terms have become devoid of meaning.  The term Compassionate Agriculture is a marketing tool, designed to create the impression that something is more palatable, safer or less harmful than it truly is.  But this is not new, very seldom do you hear flesh foods called exactly what they are, the decaying flesh of a once living, breathing, feeling being.  The truth is obscured by polite euphemisms.  We are given images that do not correspond at all to the reality of what is happening, happy cows on farms.  We call ourselves vegetarians when in fact we are still eating fish.  We call ourselves vegans when we still nip an egg or two, politely deluding ourselves that we are not harming others, all the while ignoring the fact that fish are not vegetables, neither are eggs; and compassionate killing could never occur in the context of mass production and a consumer market.




P.Y.S 1.10 abhava-pratyayalambana vrtiire nidra

sleep (nidra) is a thought pattern which has as it’s object inertia or blankness[xiv].


“Wake up!”  my friend laughed as I stepped out into the street oblivious to oncoming traffic and the big orange hand on the crosswalk sign.  Chagrined, I stepped back on the sidewalk, I mean, what kind of a yoga teacher was I anyway, to be so unconscious.  We were headed out to eat in a very carnivorous community.  Our choices were limited to one restaurant, which offered one option for the non-meat eater.  Entering the venue, I must admit to feeling a little queasy at the smell.  But then, it was a restaurant in an unfamiliar culture – so yes, the smells were strange.  Ignoring it, we ordered chips and guacamole, and my friend ordered a bowl of soup.  The topic turned to vegetarianism and its relationship yoga.  Our orders arrived and we relaxed into conversation.


“Yoga, requires that one come into total awareness, beyond the field of normal perception.  And the thing is, whenever we consume an animal food, we have to shut off a bit of our awareness.   Part of our awareness has to become unconscious, to go to sleep.  If we were completely aware we would feel what that animal was feeling as they were milked or forcibly impregnated or slaughtered.  We would experience it directly.  How could one continue to eat these things in such a state?  It would be very difficult.”


I paused in my soliloquy long enough to consider my friend.  As I looked in her direction I noticed that she was staring at her soup with a look of revulsion.  Oh no.  I spoiled her meal.


“I’m sorry, did this conversation upset you? “


“No,” she said, “I am worried about what’s in this soup”.  I didn’t know how to respond, initiating a conversation about food and awareness during a meal was perhaps a thoughtless choice.   “Well, have some guacamole”.  “I’m worried about what is in the guacamole”.  She really looked sad.


The waitress came and took the soup away.  My friend turned to me and said, “I think there was pig skin in that soup”.  Pig skin?  I was suddenly worried about what was in the guacamole too.  How did she even recognize it as pig skin?  I didn’t want to know.  As we sent the waitress away with the unfinished guacamole I reflected on how easy it had been to turn off that perception of the funny smell when we walked in.  Of course it was a funny smell.  It was animal food.  And we had deliberately turned away from the perception.


The fourth of the modifications that Patanjali address is “nidra”, commonly translated to mean the yogic state of deep  meditation which resembles sleep, where the mind turns away from external world; also just sleeping.  But the word nidra may also be translated as slothful from drowsiness or darkness[xv].  And clearly we have moments when we dwell not in right knowledge or wrong knowledge, but just in a fog which obscures what is happening around us.  When we are drowsy, we are not paying attention.  In the dark, we cannot see.  Some conditions are conducive to physical sleep.  When the lights are low, the music quiet and the room warm we are inclined to go into drowsy unconsciousness.  Likewise, when we are fixed in a view of the world, encountering something that we don’t want to experience may result in a shut down of our perceptual mechanisms.  An extreme example could be fainting from shock.


Such is the paradox of the factory farm, they are often invisible, the animals confined out of sight, the waste from the animals sloughed off away from the farm and into our waterways[xvi].  As we drive through the bucolic landscapes of rural america, it is easy to turn our awareness away from what is politely not mentioned.  What agribusiness?  It’s beautiful here.  When the suffering of animals is hidden behind the pristine outer walls of an animal confinement center, we do not need to consider the squeals of distress that go on within those walls. To consider that would be to wake up to the experience that the commodities in question were really sentient beings with thoughts and feelings.  Pigs, for example,  have been known to have one of the highest IQs of all animals[xvii].  One has to wonder what it must be like for such an intelligent animal to live its life confined without sunlight or room to move or take any kind of voluntary action at all.  Consider this, if we were to take the most intelligent humans on the planet, and confine them in tiny rooms with no windows, without sensory stimulation at all, for the entirety of their lives.  What would their life experience be like?


To ignore, to turn away, to cultivate ignorance, creates more ignorance.    We are adept at ignoring the consequences of our animal food consumption on our bodies, the planet and our souls.  Even when it arises momentarily in our sensory consciousness, we tune out the questions that arise and go quickly back to sleep .



anabhuta-visayasampramosah smritih

Memory is not allowing those matters of enjoyment or experience to be forgotten[xviii]



“I love Thanksgiving!”  the student in the front row exclaimed gleefully.


I had been speaking about the annual Jivamukti Thanksgiving retreat.  Members of the tribe gather annually at Ananda Ashram in Monroe, New York to celebrate and give thanks for the present moment, the lives we have, and the earth itself and the love to be shared among all creatures. This celebration of peaceful thanks begins each year with a delicious savory vegan meal: sage scented tofu, vegan mashed potatoes, sauteed greens and the like.  I had been advocating the escape from the usual Thanksgiving celebration to join this us for this celebration, free of violence.


The student thoughtfully pursed her lips, shook her head, and said “We always have a non-violent  thanksgiving.  Our family never fights, we love one another very much, and enjoy getting to see one another”.


“Does your family serve turkey for Thanksgiving?”


“Yes, of course, it’s a tradition!”


I considered a moment before responding, “Well, then, you are not having non-violent Thanksgiving”.   She was clearly jarred by my statement.  I had disturbed this peaceful recollection of a happy event in her life.  But then,  that recollection of the happiness experienced obscured the clear perception of the celebration.


An estimated 46 million turkeys were slaughtered for Thanksgiving in 2009[xix].   That’s approximately one sixth of the population of the entire United States[xx].    One can imagine the outrage if such a slaughter of human beings were to take place, in such a short period of time.  We are attached to our happy memories of this holiday  from our childhoods, but those memories lack clarity.  When we step back a bit and consider the turkey slaughter we can see that a party around a stuffed turkey is a party around a corpse.  The continued celebration in this manner reinforces the memory and obscures our ability to perceive clearly.


We could just as well have a party, a new kind of party,  without the turkey.


The fifth of the vrittis identified by Patanjali is memory, or smrtih.  In it’s most obvious sense, it refers to the waves of memory that arise during meditation.  We sit quietly and then an image or sensation arises from our past and drifts through our consciousness.  When we consider the vrttis as a tendency, a memory becomes an ingrained idea of who we are.  This obliterates the experience of yoga and confines us.  One of the greatest conflicts I see in students is that they are often kind people, compassionate people who are completely unaware that their food choices are unkind.  Their whole lives they have learned the societal norms for “niceness”, all the while, dining on the flesh of their animal brethren, and consuming products obtained through the enslavement of other sentient beings.  It’s confusing,  to say the least to reach adulthood and have it revealed to you that eating meat is brutal and violent, and it is not necessary.  No one, at least by the time they get to a yoga class, is deliberately seeking to behave unkindly.  The images of happy cows are seared in our memories, obscuring the reality of mass production which demands forceable impregnation and the treatment of sentient beings as though they were commodities to be manufactured.  To dive underneath these illusory memories of apparent goodness,  which  conceal the current, disturbing state of affairs,  demands a reevaluation our past actions in light of this new information.  Maybe we aren’t as nice as we think we are.  To go this deeply and honestly into self-examination is an excruciating piece of internal work.  But, to be free, to be in yoga is to be fully in the present moment liberated from the ingrained perceptions accumulated from past experience, and able to make conscious aware choices in every circumstances.  As a veteran of the pharmaceutical industry I struggled deeply with my own inner conflict about my past, until my teacher turned to me one day before class and said “Well, Natalie, whatever it is we did, it couldn’t have been too bad, because we are here now”.


The student we started the article discussing was doing her practice, but the depth of her transformation was not apparent.  Or at least not as apparent as the transformations I had witnessed in those who had embraced a plant-based diet  and the practice of ahimsa wholeheartedly.  The renunciation of animal food is truly is small sacrifice to make in exchange for the expanse of possibility that arises as the yogi moves towards the state of freedom which is yoga:   a state beyond constructs, unbound by the fear, worry, depression and sense of inadequacy we’ve been conditioned to accept.  Perhaps we are free, but there is always an opportunity to be freer.  Perhaps we have been loving, but there is always an opportunity to be more loving.  Perhaps we have been kind.  But there is always an opportunity to be kinder.  Yoga is not about judging the past, rather it is an opportunity to move more deeply into each moment as it arises and we move into the future.


Yes, we are here now, meaning really 100% here,  present in this moment, practicing yoga.







Gannon, Sharon, Yoga and Vegetarianism, San Rafael, California, Mandala Publishing, 2008


Gannon, Sharon and David Life, The Jivamukti Yoga Book, New York, Ballantine Books, 2002


Houston, Vyaas, The Yoga Sutra Workbook: The Certainty of Freedom, Warwick, New York, American Sanskrit Institute, 1995


Lyman Howard and Glen Merzer, Mad Cowboy: Plan Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat, New York, Scribner,  1998


Mishra, Ramamurti S., The Textbook of Yoga Psychology, Monroe, New York, Baba Bhagavan Publication Trust, 1963.


Robbins, John, Diet for A  New America, Tiburon, California, H. J. Kramer Inc. 1987


Roach, Geshe Michael and Christie McNally, The Essential Yoga Sutra, New York, Three Leaves Press, 2005


Scully, Matthew, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals and the Call to Mercy, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2002


Tuttle, Will,  Ph. D, The World Peace Diet:  Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony, New York, Lantern Books, 2005


Zambita, Salvatore, The Unadorned Thread of Yoga: The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali in English, a Compilation of English Translations of Sri Patanjali’s Exposition of the Yoga Darshana, Poulsbo, Washington, The Yoga Sutras Institute Press, 1992




Cologne Sanskrit Lexicon

Emory University

Google Public Data

National Geographic News

Emory University



[i] Zambita, Salvatore, The Unadorned Thread of Yoga, The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali in English, A Compilation of English Translations of Sri Patanjali’s Exposition of the Yoga Darshana, Poulsbo, Washington, The Yoga Sutras Institute Press, 1992. p. 10

[ii] Zambita, S. Ibid., p. 12

[iii] Zambita, S. Ibid, p. 351

[iv] Houston, Ibid, 11.28

[v] Zambita, S. Ibid. p. 176

PYS II.31 eta jati-desa-kala-samayanavacchinnah sarva-bhauma mahavratam. These great vows are applicable to all levels and spheres irrespective of circumstance, time, place and birth.

[vi] In the limb that follows the restraints, the Niyamas, one is advised to cultivate passion or intensity in their practice.  This step is indicated AFTER the yamas.  We might consider that the practice of the yamas, and ahimsa renders that passion or intensity conducive to spiritual growth, rather than distracting.

[vii]The point is often raised that even plants feel pain, and that small animals and insects may be killed in the process of harvesting plant crops.  However, the raising of animals for food creates suffering of both the animals and the plants (and sometimes other animals) that they eat.  When we restrict our diet to plant food we do the least amount of harm to the least amount of beings.

[viii]  Zambita, S.,  Ibid, p. 18

[ix] Zambita, Ibid, p. 22

[x] The Harvard School of Public Health.

[xi] Will Tuttle, Ph.D, “The World Peace Diet”, Lantern Books, 2005, p. 107

[xii] Lyman, Howard and Merzer, Glenn, “Mad Cowboy, The Plain Truth from the Cattle Farmer who won’t eat Meat” Scribner, 1998, p. 31.  Chapter Two of this book is an excellent review of the literature on the correlations between the consumption of animal products and mortality rates.

[xiii] Zambita, S, Ibid. p. 27 translation by Dvivedi

[xiv] Zambita, S. Ibid. p. 29 translation adapted from Jnaneshvara

[xv] Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon

[xvi] Scully, Matthew, Dominion, The Power of Man, the suffering of Animals, St. Martins Press, 2002, P. 258

[xvii] Robbins, John, Diet for a New America, Tiburon California, H.J. Kramer, 1987, p. 74.

[xviii] Zambita, S, Ibid. p. 31 translation adapted from Bailey