Consisting of fewer than 200 verses written in an obscure if not impenetrable language and style, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is today extolled by the yoga establishment as a perennial classic and guide to yoga practice. As David Gordon White demonstrates in this groundbreaking study, both of these assumptions are incorrect. Virtually forgotten in India for hundreds of years and maligned when it was first discovered in the West, the Yoga Sutra has been elevated to its present iconic status - and translated into more than 40 languages - only in the course of the past 40 years.
White retraces the strange and circuitous journey of this confounding work from its ancient origins down through its heyday in the seventh through eleventh centuries, its gradual fall into obscurity, and its modern resurgence since the nineteenth century. First introduced to the West by the British Orientalist Henry Thomas Colebrooke, the Yoga Sutra was revived largely in Europe and America, and predominantly in English. White brings to life the improbable cast of characters whose interpretations - and misappropriations - of the Yoga Sutra led to its revered place in popular culture today. Tracing the remarkable trajectory of this enigmatic work, White’s exhaustively researched book also demonstrates why the yoga of India’s past bears little resemblance to the yoga practiced today.
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Very Thankful for this Work!
Yes, I plan to listen to it several times. Many yogis use dates and facts that are not supported by the facts. Doesn't mean they are wrong, they just can't be supported. i.e. "Yoga as described in the Sutras goes back 5,000 years." Maybe, but probably not. I'm interested in what is really "known" about the sutras. Let's start with the truth, then build from there. If a yogi is afraid of the truth, I'm not sure that's a good foundation for their practice.
Historical context & accuracy.
Yoga Sutras Exposed: What We Really Know.
It's hard to find a fair, purely academic treatment of Yoga. I'm sorry to see the yoga practitioners who rate this work poorly. One person gave this 1 star because they meant to purchase a traditional commentary, so instead of taking responsibility for their mistake, they took it out on the work. Not a shining example of yogic Ahimsa. The next reviewer found it a hubristic, cynical, sarcastic, and racist diatribe that is "veiled" as academic. So much so that they didn't complete it. Hmmm. No examples provide to support their position, no attempt to illustrate how the work is academically incorrect. If there was ever a need to practice Satya (2nd limb, 2nd observance: truth in thought, word, and deed), this is it. If you feel the work is bad, then state it as a feeling, not as a fact. If you're going to state is a fact, then back it up with examples, so the reader can decide for themselves. While I'm neither a practioner nor an academic, I do find it sad how yogic practitioners can behave so badly when confronted with an academic treatment of the texts they hold dear. It's not a question of intelligence: many of them sound highly intelligent, as the reader above who found the work hubristic. But, instead of attacking back because we feel our beliefs were attacked, we need to meet the academics on their battlefield and engage. Not launch potshots from a safe distance.
Obviously author not a practitioner