Yoga: The Indian Tradition

Yoga: The Indian Tradition

Yoga: The Indian Tradition

Yoga: The Indian Tradition

Synopsis

The popular perception of yoga in the West remains for the most part that of a physical fitness program, largely divorced from its historical and spiritual roots. The essays collected here provide a sense of the historical emergence of the classical system presented by Pata¿jali, a careful examination of the key elements, overall character and contemporary relevance of that system (as found in the Yoga Sutra) and a glimpse of some of the tradition's many important ramifications in later Indian religious history.

Excerpt

The Indian tradition of yoga, first codified in the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali in perhaps the third or fourth century CE, constitutes one of the world’s earliest and most influential traditions of spiritual practice. It is a tradition that, by the time of Patañjali, already had an extensive (if obscure) prehistory and one that was to have, after Patañjali, an extraordinarily rich and diverse future. As a tradition yoga has been far from monolithic. It has embraced a variety of practices and orientations, borrowing from and influencing a vast array of Indic religious traditions down through the centuries.

Recent years have witnessed an increased production of scholarly works on the yoga tradition that have helped to chart this complex and multifaceted evolution and to demonstrate the important role that it has played in the development of India’s religious and philosophical traditions. And yet the popular perception of yoga in the West, determined in large part by the commodification of yoga techniques, remains for the most part that of a program of physical fitness, largely divorced from its historical and spiritual roots.

The essays collected here, while not constituting a systematic survey of the yoga tradition, provide a sense of the historical emergence of the classical system presented by Patañjali, a careful examination of the key elements, overall character and contemporary relevance of that system, as found in the Yoga Sūtra, and a glimpse of some of the tradition’s many important ramifications in later Indian religious history. It is hoped that these essays will contribute not only to the ongoing scholarly study of yoga within its broader Indian context, but will also contribute to a deeper understanding of Pātañjala yoga and its offshoots on the part of the increasing number of its Western practitioners.

The essays

John Brockington’s essay on yoga in the Mahābhārata introduces Part I, Classical Foundations, and provides a valuable orientation to the historical development of the yoga tradition prior to its initial systematization by . . .

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