Talk:Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

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The sentence "Scholars consider Patanjali's Yogasutra formulations as one of the foundations of classical yoga philosophy"[edit]

Isn't this idea disputed by David Gordon White when he says "This reinvention of the Yoga Sutra as the foundational scripture of “classical yoga” runs counter to the pre­ twentieth­ century history of India’s yoga tradition..."VictoriaGraysonTalk 23:13, 21 June 2015 (UTC)

We should summarize the majority view, not just David White's book, for NPOV. Classical yoga philosophy, for most scholars, is the conventional name for teachings resonating with Patanjali's YS.
Even David White is saying several things, including this on page xvi, "after a five-hundred-year period of great notoriety, during which it [Patanjali's YS] was translated into two foreign languages and noted by authors from across the Indian philosophical spectrum, Patanjali's work began to fall into oblivion". He asserts the same in Chapters 7 and 8. White may be trying to assert three things: (a) Before 12th century, YS was famous and important; (b) between 13th to 19th century (~700 years), YS fell into oblivion; (c) in pre-20th-century history, while YS was in oblivion, other yoga texts and traditions dominated the Indian yoga scene. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 01:16, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
The merit of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali does not rely solely on the consideration of scholars--mere conjecture, no matter how warranted it is; and it is due that much if not more. The real issue here is the classification of the work, and the knowledge contained within it, as a formulation. Considering what has already been discussed within this section, its clear that some understanding of the basic aspects, if not even the more advanced aspects, is at least familiar. With that said, it should be obvious that a development as systematic as seen in the Yoga Sutra has had a long tradition of development and testing--a system centered around the core infrastructure of all Yoga, the Kundalini-Chakra paradigm. If this is understood, then how can this fallacious notion of some temporal formation of Yoga be allowed to continue? Aghoradas (talk) 09:27, 18 February 2016 (UTC)
I don't recall the YS mentioning Kundalini or chakras; aren't you confusing dhyana with hatha yoga? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 10:17, 18 February 2016 (UTC)
The Yoga Sutras do mention the chakras (starting at section 3, verse 30). It doesn't however mention the Kundalini herself directly; but the absence of her mention is inconsequential, given that the chakra-complex is generated by the prana aspect of the Kundalini. Dhyana is the state of meditation arrived at through the practices of Hatha Yoga (as the prana begins to flow back into the bindu of ajna chakra). There are some who seem to say that there exists different forms Yoga, which I'm sure they have their reasons for doing this--merely different aspects of the larger umbrella. Pragmatically speaking though, what we know of as Yoga developed around the awakening of the Kundalini. Aghoradas (talk) 03:15, 19 February 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── David Gordon White's opinion is just one of many; "This reinvention of the Yoga Sutra as the foundational scripture of “classical yoga” runs counter..." - is a theoretical assumption rather than proven fact, one can dispute his statement in any number of ways, for example, if there was no continuity of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in yoga tradition then there would be no reason for Vivekananda and others to use the Yoga Sutras as the foundation of Raja Yoga, or Ashtanga Yoga, when they brought yoga into attention of Westerners.Pradeepwb 19:47, 7 June 2016 (UTC)

@Pradeepwb: You are entitled to your opinions/ assumptions/ wisdom /prejudice. Yoga tradition has been continuous in all three major Indian religions. We just need to stick with summarizing the diversity of views in WP:RS. Wikipedia is not a place to "prove facts" and pick a side, nor a blog about what might or might not be a "theoretical assumption". Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 22:29, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
The classic stance against science: "it's just an opinion." Right. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 06:50, 8 June 2016 (UTC)
So, a few things:
The Yoga Sūtras is, objectively the foundational text of the Yoga Darśana. This means that when primary or academic sources list the six schools of Hindu philosophy with their patriarchs and foundational texts they ALWAYS say Yoga-Yoga Sūtras-Patāñjali, just like they assign Sāṁkhya the Sāṁkhya Sutras and Kapila. The words "Classical Yoga" refer very specifically to this formulation of Yoga, even though there are older yoga texts like the Bhagavad Gita and certain Upanishads. I believe all the darśanas use different sūtra texts as their loci classici. David Gordon White's book does not argue with this. His point is that the sūtras went through a long period of disuse and are not the basis which most later yogas are based on, hence not foundational or even very relevant to most extant yoga schools which are mostly Vedantic or tantric in philosophy. But classical yoga still means Patāñjali's dualist, Buddhist and Jain inspired, theistic, practice oriented version of yoga. That is not in academic contention. Vivekānanda and others used it, but their teachers didn't. Krishnamacharya had to go to Tibet to find someone who studied it. Vivekānanda's teacher, Ramakrishna was a hardcore Bengali tantric and didn't care about 8-limbed yoga. Vivekananda (according to Elizabeth De Michelis' book among many others) pretty much rewrote Hinduism into a new 'Neo-Vedanta' of his own that was very new age and borrowed from mesmerism. Texts like the Yoga Sūtras and the Bhagavad Gita gained new repute during this 'Bengali Renaissance' period that they had not had prior. This is also what David Gordon White is pointing out. See also The Bhagavad Gita: a Biography for more on this.
What is in contention is the notion that the sūtras describe cakras or kundalinī which are almost universally recognized to be much later inventions (David Gordon White thinks they were borrowed from China). The Vibhūti Pāda (third chapter) of the Yoga Sūtras actually only uses the word cakra to describe the belly button (nabhi cakra) which does not mean the same thing as an energetic cakra. While many scholars including Christopher Chapple, and some classical commentators believe these points of focus may allude to the cakras (or 'proto-cakra' like systems), it is very uncertain and impossible to prove. It is an interesting vein, no doubt. And, of course, the commentators tend to believe that the practices they knew were all primordial and not evolved, and present their schools as older to legitimize their teachings, so they often overestimate the antiquity of their lineage and practices. Hence the belief from Hariharananda and others that the lokas in 3.26 refer to the cakras. And again, by the time of the commentators, the tantric notion of micro/macrocosm had made the seven lokas of late upanishadic hinduism the macro version of the seven cakras of classical haṭha/lāya yoga, but they were not seen that way during Patāñjali's time (as far as we can tell). The most convincing verses are those concerning meditating on the sun, the moon, and the light in the head, the heart, the throat, and the belly button. But these focal points for meditation are never given descriptions regarding the subtle body and match more closely with ascetic magic practices and the samsketas of certain lāya schools (e.g. meditate on the big toes, meditate on the back of the head, et cetera). The only mention of nadis is the kurma nadi which no one seems to have a good explanation for. But actual clear-cut cakra and kundalinī descriptions do not come in textual form until hundreds of years after the sūtras period in Indian history in the tantras, agamas, and vaiṣṇava saṁhitas that come well after the sūtra period.

Iṣṭa Devatā (talk) 07:30, 8 June 2016 (UTC)

@Iṣṭa Devatā: I see you have been reading. FWIW, these are a subset of the views on YS etc. There is a lot more. Krishnacharya's and a few others you quote are best examined with views of other scholars, for example. A text such as YS did not become the most translated text in medieval India, 40 languages!!, without appropriately inspiring and being popular. If David White is right, Yoga and YS were even more widely popular with Hindus/Buddhists/Jains than what the scholars of mid-20th century thought. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 14:28, 8 June 2016 (UTC)
"the sūtras went through a long period of disuse and are not the basis which most later yogas are based on..", how is that known?, David Gordon White analyzed several aspects of that gap (XVI-XX centuries) in his The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali by using references to how many commentaries were written in comparison to other schools of Indian philosophies (Vedanta, Vaishesika, Nyaya, ect). However, in India yoga was/is a practical discipline where practitioners would practice it in caves, forests and seclusion in comparison to Western group thing and public yoga shows. In that context, YS usage in India can not be measured properly by his academic criteria of university-based research focus, because that focus is mostly theoretical. Surprisingly, he does not go into researching for example Himalayan yoga traditions (Kriya Yoga, Kumoan siddha yogis, etc) covering that supposed YS usage gap period. Why?, because that most likely would undermine or considerably change his conclusion. Pradeepwb 19:40, 12 June 2016 (UTC) User talk: Pradeepwb
@Pradeepwb:What is known is that nearly every systematized version of Yoga we have that came after the Yoga Sūtras is based on the later schools of Vedānta and tantra and not on the dualist Sāṁkhya that Patāñjali employs. Other schools that retain the eight-limbs as in the Dattatreya Yoga Śastra also change their definitions of several limbs including the yamas and niyamas and become attached in the Vaiṣṇava traditions with Viṣiṣṭādvaita philosophy and other post-classical schools. They also take on devotional philosophies as with Madhva's commentaries on the Gītā. If we look at the major schools of yoga that came about in the post classical period we see that they often use the six limbs (shadāṅga) including tarka as with nearly all the Yoga Upaniṣads, and have radical departures in both philosophy and practice from the Sūtras which does not really teach Karma Yoga, Laya Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Mantra Yoga, or Bhakti Yoga (except teaching Om, and mentioning iśvara praṇidhana without really explaining them as types of yoga). Whatever may come directly from the YS may just as easily have been borrowed from Buddhist or Jain schools. We have no knowledge of direct transmission from Patāñjali (no list of his disciples, or possible location where he taught) and it would be spurious logic to make direct links. Later yogas use different lists for the Yamas and Niyamas, define pratyahara in terms of prāṇa withdrawal instead of the senses, and mostly abandon the levels of samādhi. We also have many examples of yoga schools directly rejecting Patāñjali's views on Iśvara, Samādhi, et cetera. While we can't say how many of these 'cave-dwelling' medieval yogis were using the Sūtras, we do know that if a sūtra text were popular it would have commentaries written to elucidate it (sūtras require commentaries to be understood, especially in vernacular languages as most cave-dwelling yogis didn't read Sanskrit, and the aphorisms are so sparse the whole text has four verbs) and the more popular it was to vernacular practitioners, the more likely it would have surviving commentaries in vernacular languages from this period. These are not 'University' based commentaries, these were typically written by teachers on texts they used in their teachings or lineage. During the period where no one was writing commentaries on the Yoga Sūtras, there were plenty of commentaries coming out on texts that were widely used in yoga such as the Brahma Sūtras and Vasugupta's Shiva Sūtra, the Yoga Upaniṣads were being composed and countless new manuals with little resemblance to the Sūtras were coming out constanly in the Buddhist, Agamic, and Vaiṣṇav milieus of their time. We can't say these later yogas are based on Patāñjali because they don't teach sāṁkhya based yoga. They may, however, be reacting to the Sūtras by attempting to undermine or supersede them. Furthermore, these later yogas often have the different goals of union with god or the attainment of siddhis. What similarities we can find cannot be definitively linked to the Sūtras. Sāṁkhya itself took a role subservient to Vedantic ontology after Shankara and the later Vedāntic elaborations. Shankara himself criticized the yoga school, and all yoga after that point bears the imprint that Vedānta made across Indian philosophy and then later tantra had the same wide-ranging impact. Then with the advent of subitism, the gradualist practices of samādhi became even less central to many post-classical yoga schools. Rationalist modern teachers like Vivekānanda come back to it precisely because it does not emphasize the magical or religious trends in tantra and bhakti that came to dominate post-classical yoga.Iṣṭa Devatā (talk) 22:14, 12 June 2016 (UTC)
@Iṣṭa Devatā: Yoga is a discipline based more in practice than theory. It means, no matter what theoretical assumptions and opinions we have, the core stays pretty much the same provided someone is doing sadhana yoga practice. But sadhana remains pretty much hidden from the outside world, because in a guru-disciple lineage tradition, sadhana is supposed to be protected from being revealed or even talked about. That is a big hurdle for researches and scholars, because they can't have data on practices and can't verify if yoga was continuously practiced over certain period of time. That is why David Gordon White doesn't go at all into this subject, it is not really adaptable to his research. However, if we skip this part of yoga history we maybe reaching dubious theoretical conclusions and unrealistic views about yoga being discontinued, not practiced over certain period of time, etc. So, the point is that research has it's limitations and as such it should be acknowledged and stated.Pradeepwb 18:22, 20 June 2016 (UTC), User talk: Pradeepwb
Pradeepwb: By this same logic, we can not put this information into Wikipedia. Wikipedia is based on this research which you claim to be "not adaptable". The information is based on verifiable written or pictorial records. You are certainly welcome to your opinion that this tradition of "yoga" (I'm not sure whether you are referring to all eight limbs here) has been a continuous tradition, but that doesn't meet the standards of Wikipedia. In the case of Vivekananda, it was to his great advantage to present a short and inscrutable Sanskrit work to a Western audience, a book of which Vivekananda was the only accessible expert. His commentary betrays in parts a very "loose" translation of the Yoga Sutras that enables him to make philosophical flourishes. Outside of India there were very few who could contradict his interpretations. Soon thereafter the Theosophical Society presented their own translations. The unreliability of Madame Blavatsky and her organization at that time are well known. They would have been operating under similar motivations, and they, and others inside India would be appealing to Hindu nationalism as well. This is the same way the European alchemists has their secret traditions of the philosopher's stone. If we accepted the existence of a secret, hidden tradition unknowable to modern scholarship, we would still be seeking this magical stone today. Please don't ask us to do such a wild goose chase for the chakras in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Tumacama (talk) 04:38, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

David White Yogasutra's Biography, pages 31-32[edit]

@VG: I have reworded a summary of the paragraph on page 31 starting with, "While all the major Indian philosophical systems....", to the sentence on page 32, which reads, "Finally, according to the Buddha's teachings, both the individual self and the...". I am trying to avoid copyvio, and I invite your suggestions to improve that summary. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 12:17, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

That has nothing to do with the Yoga Sutras specifically. And David Gordon White says the Yoga Sutras might be originally Buddhist on page 41:

"A significant minority opinion, however, maintains that Vyasa lived several centuries later, and that his “Hindu­-izing” commentary, rather than eluci­dating Patanjali’s text, actually subverted its original “Buddhist” teachings. I will return to this provocative hypothesis in the final chapter of this book."

VictoriaGraysonTalk 14:02, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

@VG: Pages 31-32 are part of White's chapter 2. He explains the link between Samkhya-Yoga system and third chapter of Yoga Sutras there (page 30 and before). It is important enough that David White italicizes it on page 32. Please check. The "self, soul" theory is central to chapters 3 and 4 of Yoga sutras, is a key difference between Buddhist teachings and Yoga sutra, and that summary from White is needed here for balance. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 14:27, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
He is not referring to the Yoga Sutras in this entire paragraph on pages 31-32. He is merely giving an outline of philosophical systems.VictoriaGraysonTalk 19:48, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
@VG: Yet, that is the context of the chapter. The whole book is on Yoga Sutras biography. David White is not making a contextless, aimless commentary on Indian philosophies. That paragraph is part of the chapter, which is about the philosophy behind Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.
I checked page 41. White does state the minority opinion as, "Vyasa's commentary on Patanjali’s text subverted its original “Buddhist” teachings". That sentence does not mean "the Yoga Sutras might be originally Buddhist". A book can have Buddhist teachings, but belong to a school of Hinduism or Jainism because they shared conceptual terms and influenced each other. I will reword it a bit. Furthermore, note White states the majority opinion and the minority opinion on pages 40-41. We should not present the minority opinion, and be silent about the majority opinion. If the minority opinion is relevant and due in this article, the majority opinion is too. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 23:31, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

It appears huge effort is spent trying to prove Buddhist writings as the origin of Yoga sutra though, it is clearly other way around... Vyasa later than patanjali? (even though this is a minority opinion now - how long before it would be accepted / convoluted to be the "truth" - I think if you say a lie many times, that will become truth over time I suppose - The "scholars" would all agree)... No way things can be this subjective... Buddha attained Nirvana and helped liberate people is the only thing that is truth from a Buddhist purpose - How could they be exponent of yoga suddenly or for that matter other things like Advaita taking cues from Buddhism, and so on? - During the time of Buddha, the whole Hindu world (the pepole, culture, art, architecture, etc was at its peak - As in the main body of work of Vedas, upanishads, Yoga Sutras, Gita, Epics, etc, etc... were already complete by a few 100 or 1000 years ago - People were following that - Who can disptute that? - Even Buddha was a "Hindu" obviously - Whether he agreed with Hinduism or not is a different question). To assume they were written (may be after the discovery of script) could be true, but their existence prior to Buddhism, cannot be questioned (it would be anachronistic) - Obviously, for a philosophical tradition like Buddhism, Jainism, etc, owning the vast, rich Hindu "things" as "theirs" would be quite valuable (sellable to the followers - but, this is not theoretical physics, one cannot simply make a theory and try to prove it later (like Vyasa after Patanjali and so on)- Think of how corporates go after patents, that is what I could relate this to). The only logical explanation of why "Yoga" or Vyasa later than Patanjali theories come about, is the "vested" effort to own Hindu things as Buddhist (and I believe establishment less Hinduism is losing in this front - As nobody is there to set things right)... [Nothing further to add - Wanted to record this "Vested" interest to own "Hindu" things as "Buddhist" or so in the talk page... ]

Vyāsa just means an editor. Those people who believe that it was Vedavyāsa who wrote the commentary on the Sūtras also believe Vyāsa is an immortal. Rationalist tend to say Vyāsa just means the guy who anonymously wrote the first commentary, which Philip Maas and Dominic Wujastyk insist was also Patāñjali (though this is hotly contested, e.g. by Christopher Chapple). The Yoga Sūtras were written after the Buddha's life by even the most generous dating: (Buddha between 800-500 BC, Sutras between 200 BC and 400 AD). And the Buddha was likely part of an non-vedic Śramanic religion (not necessarily Brahmanism). Śramana is where most scholars agree that Hinduism acquired yoga, meditation, and karma which were novel to the Vedic sacrificial religion. The Yamas of Patāñjali are almost the exact same as the five precepts of Buddhism and the five vratas of the Jain Acaranga Sutta, and the levels of samādhi are very similar to the jhānas of Pāli Buddhism, and the abhidharma teachings explain supernatural powers by the same logic as sāṁkhya as a gnosis over the five elements. Like the Bhagavad Gītā, even Hindu nationalist scholars recognize that these Hindu yoga texts directly address and reproach certain schools of Buddhism and Jainism, often rejecting their emphasis on renunciation as a threat to Brahmanic hegemony. It is impossible to assign any one of these three religions credit for inventing yoga when they were all borrowing from each other and responding to one another throughout this time. Iṣṭa Devatā (talk) 22:35, 12 June 2016 (UTC)
A footnote I just came across on the difficulty of trying to compare the dates of different yogic schools and their ontologies between buddhism, jainism, and hinduism from:

FROM CATEGORY TO ONTOLOGY: THE CHANGING ROLE OF "DHARMA" IN SARVĀSTIVĀDA ABHIDHARMA Author(s): COLLETT COX Source: Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 32, No. 5/6 (December 2004), pp. 543-597 Published by: Springer Stable URL: "See Bronkhorst (1987, 1996, 1999a, 1999b); Houben (1995); Frauwallner ([1956] 1973: pt.2, 79ff.); Matilal (1985: 269ff„ 378ff.)." That's who you want to look at for this subject.Iṣṭa Devatā (talk) 03:51, 13 June 2016 (UTC)


@VG: How about a collage of traditional asanas? Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 03:39, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Wrong date, 400 CE?[edit]

Go a little bit more and make it 2015? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:14, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

This is an encyclopedia, not a WP:PLATFORM. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 07:22, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

Image grid for NPOV[edit]

@Effulgence108: No edit wars. I have reverted your unexplained deletion and edits, per WP:BRD you need to discuss and gain consensus. The image grid makes more sense as it is MOS:IMAGES and WP:NPOV. Why is the image you added better than the grid? Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 17:40, 24 April 2016 (UTC)

Sutra or Verse?[edit]

In the article, "sutras" in the Yogasutra are referred to as "verses". In reality, a sutra is quite different from a verse and so the usage of the word verse will mislead a reader. Therefore, I propose we replace the words "verse" when describing sutras of Yogasutras to "sutra", and linking the first occurrence it to this article Thank you. - Sudarshanhs (talk) 06:17, 23 January 2017 (UTC)