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

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"The who's who of how Patanjali's Yoga Sutra came to be, this thoughtful and well-developed biography gives an in-depth view of each contributor to this once minor, now major philosophical player in the Western yoga world. I will keep this beautiful work in my library to refer back to as I continue to deepen my exploration of this profound spiritual masterpiece. A must-read for any serious academic or practitioner."--Melanie Salvatore-August, YogaWorks mentor teacher, author, yoga and mindfulness practitioner

"David Gordon White's unique knowledge of both classical yoga texts and contemporary religious practice in India and the West gives him a unique insight into the troubled question of the relevance (or irrelevance) of Patanjali's masterwork to contemporary postural yoga. Written with White's characteristic verve, rich in fascinating historical documentation, this is an often hilarious and always exciting story. Anyone seriously interested in yoga in any of its many forms, from its profound philosophy to its often life-changing practice, must read this book."--Wendy Doniger, author of The Hindus: An Alternative History and On Hinduism

"Contemporary yoga teachers and gurus have mistakenly made the Yoga Sutra into the ubiquitous foundation of all yoga practice, stretching and extrapolating it into a complete manual for living. Now the man behind the curtain is exposed. White mines the truth from hearsay and stands contemporary yoga beliefs on their head. This remarkable, colorful, and engaging book will rattle a lot of cages and hopefully enlighten the enlighteners. I highly recommend it as required reading for anyone interested in yoga."--Ganga White, author of Yoga Beyond Belief and founder of the White Lotus Foundation

"David Gordon White is not only a magnificent writer and a brilliant scholar. He is perhaps our best modern interpreter of Indian yogic traditions."--Reza Aslan, author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth and No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam

"Elegant, erudite, and crystal clear. White shows how the Yoga Sutra, which has taken on iconic significance with respect to the practice of modern yoga, has been completely misunderstood and manipulated to mean different things over the course of the past millennium. This book will force anyone who thinks they know what the Yoga Sutra signifies to completely change their view on the subject."--Joseph S. Alter, author of Yoga in Modern India

"A very engaging read. White's book is provocative in all the right places."--Martha Ann Selby, coeditor of Tamil Geographies: Cultural Constructions of Space and Place in South India

"The best book available on the Yoga Sutra. It is a work of original research that will greatly interest scholars and captivate general readers. White performs a great service with this book."--Donald S. Lopez, Jr., author of "The Tibetan Book of the Dead": A Biography

Synopsis:

Consisting of fewer than two hundred 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 forty languages--only in the course of the past forty 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.

About the Author

David Gordon White is the J. F. Rowny Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include "Yoga in Practice" (Princeton) and "Sinister Yogis".

Table of Contents

Dramatis Personae vii

Preface xv

Chapter 1 Reading the Yoga Sutra in the Twenty-First Century: Modern Challenges, Ancient Strategies 1

Chapter 2 Patanjali, the Yoga Sutra, and Indian Philosophy 18

Chapter 3 Henry Thomas Colebrooke and the Western "Discovery" of the Yoga Sutra 53

Chapter 4 Yoga Sutra Agonistes: Hegel and the German Romantics 81

Chapter 5 Rajendralal Mitra: India's Forgotten Pioneer of Yoga Sutra Scholarship 92

Chapter 6 The Yoga of the Magnetosphere: The Yoga Sutra and the TheosophicalSociety 103

Chapter 7 Swami Vivekananda and the Mainstreaming of the Yoga Sutra 116

Chapter 8 The Yoga Sutra in the Muslim World 143

Chapter 9 The Yoga Sutra Becomes a Classic 159

Chapter 10 Ishvara 172

Chapter 11 Journeys East, Journeys West: The Yoga Sutra in the Early Twentieth Century 182

Chapter 12 The Strange Case of T. M. Krishnamacharya 197

Chapter 13 Yoga Sutra 2.0 225

Notes 237

Suggestions for Further

Reading 249

Index 261

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691143774
Subtitle:
A Biography
Author:
White, David Gordon
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Subject:
Religion
Subject:
Asian and Asian American Studies
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
Religion Eastern-Hinduism-Sacred Writings
Publication Date:
20140525
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1 table.
Pages:
296
Dimensions:
7.5 x 4.5 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » World History » General
Religion » Eastern Religions » Hinduism » History
Religion » Eastern Religions » Hinduism » Sacred Writings
Religion » Eastern Religions » Yoga Sutras
Religion » Western Religions » Theology

The "Yoga Sutra of Patanjali": A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books) New Hardcover
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Product details 296 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691143774 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Consisting of fewer than two hundred 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 forty languages--only in the course of the past forty 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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