The Yoga-System of Patanjali

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Item Code: IDD337
Author: James Haughton Woods
Language: English
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 9788120805774
Pages: 422
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.6" x 6.2"
Weight 670 gm
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Book Description

About the Book

Three works in one pair of covers. The Sutras are a set of mental page on which to hang the principles and precepts of a system which you must learn from a living teacher of your 'school'. The Bhasya of Vyasa is a reinvestiture of the skeleton of the Sutras with the flesh and blood of comprehensible details. And the the Tika of Vacaspati is of course a commentary on the Bhasya. The Bhasya is the oldest written systematic exposition of Yoga-doctrine in Sanskrit that we possess. 

Of the Hindu philosophies, by far the most important are the ancient dualism called Sankhya, the monism of the Vedanta and the Yoga-system. Kautilya, Prime Minister of Candragupta (300 B.C.), mentions Sankhya and Yoga as current in his day. But the elements of Yoga, rigorous austerities and control of the senses, are indefinitely antique, and are one of the oldest and most striking products of the Hindu mind and character.

When one considers the floods of pseudoscientific writing with which the propagandists of Indian "isms" have deluged people, one is better prepared to appreciate the self-restraint of Dr. Woods in keeping all that pertains to miracle mongering and sensationalism in the background, and in devoting himself to the exposition of the spiritual and intellectual aspects of Yoga. His work continues the tradition of austere scholarship which has from the beginning characterised the Harvard Oriental Series.


1. Reasons for taking up the work.—It is not without misgiving that one ventures to render into English the texts of an intricate system which have never, with the exception of the sutras, been translated in Europe or America. But the historical importance of those texts, as forming a bridge between the philosophy of ancient India and the fully developed Indian Buddhism and the religious thought of to-day in Eastern Asia, emboldens one to the attempt. For this system, together with the Nyaya and Vaiçeika systems, when grafted upon the simple practical exhortations of primitive Buddhism, serves as an introduction to the logical and metaphysical masterpieces of the Mahayana.

2. Difficulties of comprehending the work.—Even after a dozen readings the import of some paragraphs is not quite clear, such for example as the first half of the Bhasya on iii. 14. Still mote intractable are the single technical terms, even if the general significance of the word, superficially analyzed, is clear. This irreducible residuum is unavoidable so long as one cannot feel at home in that type of emotional thinking which culminates in a supersensnous object of aesthetic contemplation.

3. Difficulties of style.—The Bhasya and, still more, the Tattva-vaiçaradi are masterpieces of the philosophical style. They are far from being a loosely colleted body of glosses. Their excessively abbreviated and disconnected order of words is intentional. The Mimañsa discussed first the meaning of words (padirtha); then in a distinct section the meaning of the sentences (valcyartlia); and finally and most fully the implication (bhavartha) of the sentences as a whole. Wherever the sentence-form is lacking, I have introduced in brackets the words needed to make a declarative clause. Much more obscurity remains in the bhavartha section of the Bhaya. For here many extraneous technical terms are surreptitiously introduced under the guise of exegesis. Thus polemic with an opponent whose name is suppressed creeps into the argument. The allusions are suggestive, but obviously elusive. The passage at iii, 14 might be quite simple if we had before us the text which it criticizes.

4. Translation of technical terms. A system whose subtleties are not those of Western philosophers suffers disastrously when its characteristic concepts are compelled to masquerade under assumed names, fit enough for our linguistic habits, but threadbare even for us by reason of frequent transpositions. Each time that Purusa is rendered by the word “soul”, every psychologist and metaphysician is betrayed. No equivalent is found in our vocabulary. The rendering “Self” is less likely to cause misunderstanding. Similarly, and in accordance with the painstaking distinctions made at the end of ii. 5, it is most important to remember that the term a-ridya, although negative in form, stands for an idea which is not negative, but positive. Bearing in mind the express instructions of the text, I have adopted “ undifferentiated-consciousness “as the translation of avidya. Another word, which Professor Garbe discussed more than twenty years ago (in his translation of the Saxhkhya-pravacana-bhaya, 5.70, Anm, 1), is gutna. I prefer to translate this term by “aspect” rather than by “constituent “, because, in addition to the meanings “quality” and “substance “, it often seems to have the semantic value of “subordinate” as correlated to radhaia. Three other words sattva and njas and tamas seem untranslatable, unless one is content with half-meaningless etymological parallels. In another case I have weakly consented to use “Elevation’ as equivalent to prnsamkhyana; the original word denotes the culmination of a series of concentrations; the result is the merging of the Self in the object of contemplation.

5. Punctuation—1. Quotations from the Sutras are enclosed in single angular quotation-marks (a). 2. Quotations from the Bhaya are enclosed in double angular quotation-marks (< >). 3. Quotations from authoritative texts are enclosed in ordinary double quotation-marks (““). 4. Objections and questions by opponents, and quotations from unauthoritative texts, are enclosed in ordinary single quotation-marks (‘ ‘). Hyphens have been used to indicate the resolution of compound words. A half-parenthesis on its side is used to show that two vowels are printed in violation of the rules of euphonic combination (Lanman’s Sanskrit Reader, p. 289).

6. Texts ana Mannscripts.—The text of the sutras of the Yoga system, like that of the sütras of all the other five systems, except perhaps the Vaiçesika, is well preserved; and there is an abandonee of excellent printed editions. The most accessible and the most carefully elaborated of these books is the one published is the Anandaçrama Series and edited by Kaçinatha Shastri Agaçe. Variants from twelve manuscripts, mostly southern, are printed at the foot of each page; and Bhojadeva’s Vrtti is appended; also the text of the sutras by itself and an index thereto. Another edition, in the Bombay Sanskrit Series, by Rajaram Shastri Bodas, is also an excellent piece of work. I have, however, made use of the edition by Svami Balarama (Calcutta, Sathvat 1941, A.D. 1890; reprinted’ in Benares A.D. 1908) because it is based on northern manuscripts and because of the valuable notes in the editor’s tippana. Of manuscripts, I have collated, with the kind permission of the Maharaja, during a charming week’s visit at Jammu just below the glistening snows above the Pir Panjal, two of the oldest manuscripts in the library of the Raghunath Temple. In Stein’s Catalogue these are numbered 4375 and 4388 and the former is dated Sathvat 1666. Two other manuscripts were lent me, one by the courtesy of the most learned Gangadhara Shastri, the other the very carefully written Bikaner manuscript, sent to me by the generosity of the Bikaner government, which proved to be extremely valuable for disputed readings in the Tattva-vaiçaradi. This latter manuscript seemed to be about a hundred and fifty years old and is described in Rajendralala Mitra’s Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Library of His Highness the Maharaja of Bikaner (Calcutta, 1880) under the number 569. An old Sharada manuscript, which, by the kind mediation of Muknndaram Shastri of Shrinagar, was put into my hands, proved, upon critical examination, to have been so badly corrupted as, on the whole, not to be worth recording.

7. Acknowledgements.—At the end of one’s task comes the compensation of looking back to old scenes, and to the friends and helpers who have watched the progress of tire book. First of all I remember the delightful visit on the island of Föhr, where, besides the long friendly walks upon the sands, 1 enjoyed the inestimable opportunity of reciting and reading the Yoga-sutras with Professor Deussen. The next winter, at Benares, Mr. Arthur Venis opened the doors of the Sanskrit College to me and with the utmost generosity smoothed my way through my first winter in India and initiated inc into the methods of many controversial sutras. Since my return he has always been ready to assist, and I thank him for illuminating for me the perplexing debate on the spho(a in iii. 17. Besides all this I am most grateful to him for an introduction to the lamented Shriman Mukunda Shastri Adkar, a scholar who has put the wealth of the ancient tradition and his own ripe scholarship at my disposal for many years.

To many other scholars in Benares and in Kashmir and in Poona I wish to express my thanks, especially to Br. Shripad Krishha Belvalkar and to Hr. V. V. Sovani. To Professor Arthur W. Ryder, of the University of California, I am also much indebted. Furthermore, my thanks are due to Colonel George A. Jacob of the Bombay Staff Corps for his courtesy in searching after quotations, and to Br. Frederick W. Thomas of the India Office Library for similar favors too many to enumerate or to repay.

My deepest insight into this system and into what little I know of the philosophy of India I owe to Professor Hermann Jacobi of Bonn. Each visit to the little city on the Rhine adds to my debt of gratitude to him and reveals to me the beauty of the scholar’s life.

On my return from each visit to India I laid the work in its several stages before Professor Lanman, my teacher in my student days and now my colleague. To him I owe the revision of the manuscript for the press and a comparison of most of the translation, either in manuscript or in proof, with the original. His rigorous criticism has detected many oversights which strike a fresh pair of eyes more quickly than those of the author, For his ready and ungrudging help through many years of intimate friendship in)’ hearty thanks.


1. Authorship of the Yoga-sutras.-—Identity of Fatanjali, author of the sütras, and of Pataiijali, author of the Mahäbhäsya, not yet proved. The opinion in India and in the West that the author of the Yoga-sutras is also the author of the great grammatical comment upon Panini has not been traced definitely any farther back than to the tenth century. The Yoga-bhasya (about AD. 650 to 850) makes no statement as to the authorship of the Yoga-sutras, unless the benedictory verse at the beginning be regarded as valid proof that Patafijali wrote the sutras. Still less is there any statement in the Yoga-sutras about the author of the Mahabhasya. And conversely there is no reference in the Mahabhsya to the author of the Yoga-sutras. On the other hand, there is ground for believing that the author of the Comment on Yoga-sutra iii. 44 may have bad the author of the Mahabhaya in mind when he quotes a certain formula and ascribes it to Patannjali. This is the only mention of Patanjali in the whole Comment. The formula is Ayutasicldka. jrvayava-bhedaj & nugata sarnuko dravyam; and although it is ascribed to Patanjali (iti Patanjatik), it has not been found in the Mahabhasya. Nevertheless the Yoga-bhasya does here seem to contain an allusion, more or less direct, to the theory of the unity of the parts of concrete substances as set forth in the Mahãbhasya. But the allusion is not direct enough to serve by itself as bais for the assertion that the Yoga-bhaya assumes the identity of the two Patanjalis. In other words, it does not justify us in assigning to the tradition of their identity a date as ancient as that of the Yogahha ya (eighth century). The allusion is, however, significant enough not to be lost out of mind, pending the search for other items of cumulative evidence looking in the same direction.

2. Tradition of identity of two Patanjails not earlier than tenth century.—So far as I know, the oldest text implying that the Patanjali who wrote the sütras is the same as the Patanjali who wrote the Mahabhasya, is stanza 5 of the introduction to Bhojadeva’s comment on the Yoga- sutras, his Rajamartanda. This I would render as follows:

Victory be to the luminous words of that illustrious sovereign, [Bhojaj Rana-rangamalla, who by creating Ins Grammar, by writing Ins comment on the Patanjalan [treatise, the Yoga-sutras], and by producing [a work] on medicine called Rajamrgauka, has—like Patanjali—removed defilement from our speech and minds and bodies. Bhoja’s Grammar his comment called Rajamartanda and his medical treatise are all extant. The stanza must mean that Patanjali and Bhoja both maintained a standard of correct speech Patanjali by his Mahabhasya and Bhoja by his Grammar and that both made our minds clear of error Patanjali by his Yoga Sutras and Bhoja by his comment upon them and that both made our bodies clear of impurities Patanjali by his medical treatise and Bhoja by his Rajamrganka.

This certainly implies that the writer of this stanza identified Patanjali of the Yoga Suta with Patanjali of the Mahabhasya. If the writer of stanza of the introduction is the same as the Bhojadeva who wrote the Rajamartanda we may not that he is called Ranarangamalla here Maharajadhiraja in the colophon in Mitra’s edition and lord of Dhara or Dhareevara in the colophon in the edition of agace. There were a number of Bhojadevas but whichever of them the author of the Rajamartanda may be one of them is earlier than the tenth century of our era.


1. Reasons for taking up the work ix
2. Difficulties of comprehending the work ix
3. Difficulties of style ix
4. Translation of technical terms x
5. Punctuation x
6. Texts and manuscripts xi
7. Acknowledgements xi
1. Authorship of the Yoga Sutras the two Patanjalis xiii
2. Tradition of their identity not earlier then tenth century xiii
3. Comparison of philosophical concepts does not confirm the tradition xv
4. Date of the Sutras (between A.D. 300 and 500) xvii
5. Date of the Bhasya (between A.D. 650 to 850) xx
6. Date of Vacaspatimiera’s Tattva vaicaradi (about A.D. 800 to 850) xxi
Analytical Summary of the yoga Sutras
1. Book 1 concentration (Samadhi) xxiv
2. Book 2 Means of Attainment (sadhana) xxv
3. Book 3 Supernormal powers (vibhuti) xxvii
4. Book 4 Isolation (kaivalya) xxviii
The Yoga Sutras translated without the comment of the explanation being the sutras translated in groups with group headings by translator xxx
Translation of Patanjalis yoga sutras or mnemonic rules together with the comment or yoga bhasya attributed to veda vyasa and vacaspatimiera;s explanation or tattva vaicaradi
1. Book 1 Concentration (Samadhi) 1
2. Book 2 Means of attainment (sadhana) 101
3. Book 3 Supernormal powers (vibhuti) 201
4. Book 4 Isolation (kaivalya) 297
1. Bibliography of works referred to in the volume 351
2. Index of quotations in the comment in the order of citation 359
3. Index of the same grouped according to their sources 361
4. Index of quotations in the Tattva vaicaradit in the order of citation 362
5. Index of the same grouped according to their sources 364
6. Quotations not yet traced to their sources 365
7. Index of words in the Yoga Sutra 366

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