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

By David Gordon White

Along with fewer than 200 verses written in an vague if no longer impenetrable language and magnificence, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is this day extolled through the yoga institution as a perennial vintage and advisor to yoga perform. As David Gordon White demonstrates during this groundbreaking learn, either one of those assumptions are improper. nearly forgotten in India for centuries and maligned whilst it used to be 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 previous 40 years.

White retraces the unusual and circuitous trip of this confounding paintings from its historic origins down via its heyday within the 7th via 11th centuries, its slow fall into obscurity, and its glossy resurgence because the 19th century. First brought to the West by means of the British Orientalist Henry Thomas Colebrooke, the Yoga Sutra was once revived mostly in Europe and the US, and predominantly in English. White brings to existence the inconceivable solid of characters whose interpretations—and misappropriations—of the Yoga Sutra ended in its respected position in pop culture this present day. Tracing the amazing trajectory of this enigmatic paintings, White’s exhaustively researched e-book additionally demonstrates why the yoga of India’s previous bears little resemblance to the yoga practiced at the present time.

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Having acknowledged this, we needs to ask no matter if an identical proportions might delay if we have been to examine a broader sampling (with sampling numbers being inversely proportional to margins of error). I spent a great a part of the summer time of 2010 engaged within the curious job of quantitative research, which in my case consisted of analyzing manuscript catalogs from India, Europe, and North the United States. All in all, I perused over fifty catalogs and different comparable resources, with particular concentrate on India’s 11 greatest and such a lot consultant manuscript collections, as indicated in Philipp André Maas’s fresh vast survey of Yoga Sutra manuscript traditions. This I did so that it will tabulate: (1) numbers of Yoga Sutra–related manuscripts, together with commentaries, that predated Colebrooke’s 1823 research; (2) overall numbers of Yoga Sutra–related manuscripts, either pre-and post-1823, together with undated manuscripts; (3) overall numbers of manuscripts on Hatha and Tantric Yoga categorized below the heading of “Yoga” philosophy; and (4) overall numbers of manuscripts, together with commentaries, from the opposite philosophical colleges, with a distinct specialise in Vedanta and Nyaya-Vaisheshika manuscripts. after all, i discovered that the proportions acquiring in Colebrooke’s 1818 donation to the India place of work Library commonly held up. Out of a complete of a few twenty thousand manuscripts indexed in those catalogs on Yoga, Nyaya-Vaisheshika, and Vedanta philosophy, an insignificant 260 have been Yoga Sutra manuscripts (including commentaries), with in basic terms thirty-five courting from ahead of 1823; 513 have been manuscripts on Hatha or Tantric Yoga, manuscripts of works attributed to Yajnavalkya, or of the Yoga Vasistha; 9,032 have been Nyaya manuscripts, and 10,320 have been Vedanta manuscripts. the next checklist breaks down those figures on a percent foundation: Yoga Sutra manuscripts: 1. 27 percentage of overall manuscripts Yoga Sutra manuscripts: 33. 6 percentage of overall Yoga philosophy manuscripts Yoga philosophy manuscripts: three. seventy nine percentage of overall manuscripts Nyaya-Vaisheshika manuscripts: forty four. 2 percentage of overall manuscripts Vedanta manuscripts: 50. 6 percentage of overall manuscripts What does this quantitative research let us know? for each manuscript on Yoga philosophy right (excluding Hatha and Tantric Yoga) held in significant Indian manuscript libraries and data, there exist a few 40 Vedanta manuscripts and approximately as many Nyaya-Vaisheshika manuscripts. Manuscripts of the Yoga Sutra and its commentaries account for under one-third of all manuscripts on Yoga philosophy, the opposite two-thirds being dedicated more often than not to Hatha and Tantric Yoga. however it is the determine of one. 27 percentage that sticks out in maximum reduction, since it tells us that when the overdue 16th century nearly not anyone was once copying the Yoga Sutra simply because not anyone was once commissioning Yoga Sutra manuscripts, and nobody was once commissioning Yoga Sutra manuscripts simply because not anyone used to be drawn to examining the Yoga Sutra. a few have argued that guideline within the Yoga Sutra was once according to rote memorization or chanting: this is often the location of Krishnam-acharya’s biographers in addition to of a few severe students.

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