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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books)

By David Gordon White

Together with fewer than 2 hundred verses written in an imprecise if now not impenetrable language and elegance, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is at the present time extolled through the yoga institution as a perennial vintage and consultant to yoga perform. As David Gordon White demonstrates during this groundbreaking learn, either one of those assumptions are mistaken. almost forgotten in India for centuries and maligned while it was once first found within the West, the Yoga Sutra has been increased to its current iconic status—and translated into greater than 40 languages—only during the earlier 40 years.

White retraces the unusual and circuitous trip of this confounding paintings from its historical origins down via its heyday within the 7th via 11th centuries, its sluggish fall into obscurity, and its smooth resurgence because the 19th century. First brought to the West via the British Orientalist Henry Thomas Colebrooke, the Yoga Sutra used to be revived mostly in Europe and the US, and predominantly in English. White brings to existence the unbelievable solid of characters whose interpretations—and misappropriations—of the Yoga Sutra resulted in its respected position in pop culture this day. Tracing the awesome trajectory of this enigmatic paintings, White’s exhaustively researched booklet additionally demonstrates why the yoga of India’s previous bears little resemblance to the yoga practiced this day.

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It can be argued that those 3 fundamentalist constituencies—Muslim, Christian, and Hindu— have seized upon Yoga as an emblem for all issues Hindu. within the face of globalization and different forces they could now not regulate, fundamentalist leaders have sought to protect the purity in their respective traditions through demonizing (or glorifying, with regards to the Hindus) the wildly winning yoga lifestyle. In those instances of institutionalized bigotry, it really is tricky to visualize that issues might ever were differently.

Davis Josephus’s Jewish battle, Martin Goodman John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian faith, Bruce Gordon The Lotus Sutra, Donald S. Lopez Jr. C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, George Marsden the best Translations of All Time: The Septuagint and the Vulgate, Jack Miles The Passover Haggadah, Vanessa Ochs The tune of Songs, Ilana Pardes The Daode Jing, James Robson Rumi’s Masnavi, Omid Safi The Talmud, Barry Wimpfheimer White. indb 2 2/27/2014 9:23:42 AM The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali A B io gr ap h y David Gordon White P R I N C ETO N U N I V E R S I T Y P R E S S Princeton and Oxford White.

This precept, already brought within the Maha­ † bharata, is carried ahead in a large choice of works on Yoga. The implication this is yogi’s physique at­ tains common dimensions to boot: this can be one of many su­ † pernatural powers of the yogi alluded to within the Yoga Sutra’s 3rd bankruptcy. as soon as it's been proficient throughout the perform of yogic meditation, the mind-­stuff ’s unlimited power for growth units the level for what are frequently known as the “supernatural powers,” the most subject of the Yoga Sutra’s 3rd bankruptcy.

In 1848, Saraswati launched into an unsuccessful nine-­ 12 months seek throughout India to discover an actual practitio­ ner of Yoga. Shankaracharya, often referred to as Shankara (eighth cen­ tury). A popular Advaita Vedanta thinker, Shaiva theologian, and writer of diverse commen­ taries on classical Hindu works, Shankaracharya be­ got here the thing of numerous overdue medieval mythical tra­ ditions touching on his “conquest” of India via debate, supernatural powers, and institutional organi­ zation. whereas Shankaracharya can have been the au­ thor of a Yoga Sutra remark titled the Patanjalayogashastrabhashyavivarana (“Exposition of the observation at the Yoga instructing of Patanjali”), a few students examine this to were the paintings of one other Shankara, who lived within the fourteenth century.

Four dedication to this type of grasp might under no circumstances have implied devotion to a deity of any style. certainly, within the centuries ahead of the Yoga Sutra’s time, the be aware “ishvara” had by no means de­ famous a god, yet was once relatively utilized to a human lord or king: this was once the that means adduced by means of Patanjali the grammarian in his “Great observation. ” Then, within the centuries round the time of our paintings, its utilization was once 178 White. indb 178 † † † † bankruptcy 10 2/27/2014 9:23:50 AM † † † extended and got here to be hired as an epithet or descriptor of this or that god.

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