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The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali: A New Edition, Translation, and Commentary Paperback – July 21, 2009
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“A superb contribution to the secondary literature on yoga. Critically grounded in the scholarship on yoga and the rich textual history of the tradition, Bryant nevertheless succeeds in transcending both the excessively technical approaches to yoga scholarship as well as much of the popular nonsense about yoga in the proliferating ‘schools' in the New Age marketplace. Bryant impressively communicates the essentials of yoga philosophy and practice to the thoughtful but non-specialist general reader. His translations from the Sanskrit are precise and well-grounded, and his interpretations are provocative and persuasive. His book will surely be welcomed by both serious scholars and responsible practitioners.” ―Gerald James Larson, Rabindranath Tagore Professor Emeritus of Indian Cultures and Civilizations, Indiana University, Bloomington, and Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Dr. Bryant's translation of and commentary on Patañjali's Yoga Sutras reveal the rich tapestry of schools and viewpoints that form the background for the yoga tradition. Dr. Bryant teaches us to delight in the diversity of ideas and commentaries that come along with the equally diverse practices of yoga. He helps us to look deeper into a universal pattern of all practices, taking us out of the fundamentalism and exclusivity of our own schools. Grounded in an unbiased sense of ancient history, he clears away any confusion about the meaning of and the connections between different yoga philosophies. His book is a well-rounded and inspiriting course on the real connections between ideas, practices, and direct experience. I enthusiastically recommend it.” ―Richard Freeman, author of The Yoga Matrix
“Edwin Bryant has provided us with a sweeping, kaleidoscopic overview of this essential yoga text. His clear and engaging prose brings Patañjali's aphorisms to life, taking his reader on an amazing journey through the history of yoga philosophy.” ―David Gordon White, Professor of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of Sinister Yogis
“Edwin Bryant unpacks the layers of history and traditional commentaries that are in the suitcase of the Yoga Sutras. Through his depth of understanding and research rendered in this detailed map, we are able to travel a little closer to our soul. I will be reading and referring to his text for a lifetime.” ―Rodney Yee, author of Moving Toward Balance
“The greatest strength of Edwin Bryant's work on the Yoga Sutras is that he has taken the most abstruse commentaries and made of them a fluidly readable work. He has made an academically serious study into a presentation of most symmetrical beauty. He has brought together the views of different schools of philosophy and made them rhyme as though in poetry. We need more of such works of serious and yet readable philosophy.” ―Swami Veda Bharati, D. Littl, Chancellor, HIHT University, Dehradum, India
“Bryant's meticulous study of the Yoga Sutras examines its reception throughout the past fifteen hundred years by a variety of commentators. Understanding that all religious books operate in the context of lived communities, Bryant suggests that the worship of Vishnu as taught by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita has played an important role in how the practice of yoga has been understood and communicated, particularly for the past five hundred years. For practitioners of yoga, this book provides a fresh look at a complex philosophy of applied spirituality.” ―Christopher Key Chapple, Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology, Loyola Marymount University, and author of Yoga and the Luminous
“What I like about Edwin Bryant's edition is that it serves as a concordance of commentaries, a commentary on the commentaries without which this text (or any other compendium of sutras) is unintelligible. It is a pleasure to watch as Bryant uses the commentaries to show how thinking about the Yoga Sutras shifted and evolved over the years.” ―Dr. Robert Svoboda, Ayurvedacharya
About the Author
EDWIN F. BRYANT received his PhD in Indology from Columbia University. He is a professor of Hindu religion and philosophy at Rutgers University, and also teaches workshops on the yoga su- tras and other Hindu texts in yoga communities around the world.
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Top Customer Reviews
If I may be allowed to beat an old, worn cliche to death a little more: the one book (if I could only bring one) that I'd bring to that fabled desert island: Yes, this one.
Bryant is a brilliant scholar and an amazing communicator. When it comes to relaying intricate and sometimes conflicting views about esoteric angles of abstruse subjects, care (above all else) is called for, and Bryant cares, cares very deeply to get the point across as clearly and as vividly as possible; and he succeeds in this nearly impossible task.
Yoga, of course, is so much more than stretching and sitting exercises to limber us up (as we in the west normally view the subject). Posture takes up less than one percent of Patanjali's Sutras, the rest is devoted to meditation and spiritual liberation.
The East Indians have been at this for a long time, and there is a lot to learn and know about this subject. Patanjali, around 400 CE, sat down to summarize what he knew at that point (recalling all teachings from the Upanishads forward) about walking this path, and he did an amazing, if concise, job of it. Following Patanjali, several commentators did their best to clarify and illustrate Patanjali's often cryptic statement.
Bryant uses not only Patanjali's Sutras, but also avails himself of the major commentators' clarifications as well, and so reconciles this stream of knowledge into a coherent whole that really, yes, really makes sense and is proving very helpful to me as a meditator, even though I'm mostly of the Theravada persuasion.
I urge whoever will read this book to read it slowly and carefully. It all makes perfect sense, but does take some careful digesting. I actually read my Kindle version while I used the glossary in my paper version to keep reminding me of the various Sanskrit words used. It was worth the effort.
As I said, this book is a miracle, nothing short of that, and I could not recommend it more.
Unfortunately, the original sutras are presented in an extremely simplistic fashion, meant to be "unpacked" by a long-time teacher, according to the traditional Indian system.
Because of this, there are countless translations + commentaries of the The Yoga Sutras available in-print today (2 of which I've read + reviewed before).
Edwin Bryant's interpretation of the Yoga Sutras is nothing short of remarkable. Along with his own intelligent perspective (backed by 30+ years of study), Bryant also includes insights from "traditional" commentators who "unpacked" the Yoga Sutras thousands of years ago. Perhaps even more important, he includes detailed information on the spiritual/religious lineage that Yoga developed from; a background in the metaphysics that underpin all Yogic concepts; + comparisons in how Yoga differs from other spiritual lineages that developed from the same root beliefs, including Buddhism.
There is a lot on conflicting information about what Yoga really is, especially due to the rise of importance to asana over the past few decades. If you're looking to take your physical practice to a whole other level (it involves a lot less moving), this book will crack open your mind to all that Yoga has to offer, along with challenging your spiritual + scientific beliefs.
If you have never read a translation of the Yoga Sutras, this book may be overwhelming, unless you really love diving deep right off the bat. This book is truly vital reading for Yoga teachers of all "types" of Yoga - it takes us back to "our roots" + reminds us why we practice (spoiler: it doesn't involved flat abs or tight buns).
Enter Edwin Bryant, with his authoritative translation, complete with his own commentary as well as the most revered commentators of the Yoga Sutras, such as Vyasa and Hariharananda. Edwin Bryant is a consummate scholar with expertise in Sanskrit, vedic philosophy and Krishna devotion. Yet, he does not let his own commentary get in the way of the simple power of Patanjali's text. He provides the sutra in its original Sanskrit along with a romanized transliteration, and a word-by-word translation. His concise and simple translation remains close to the terseness of the original sutras, rather than flying off into poetic renditions as some modern translations would do. He then includes quite lengthy excerpts from a handful of major commentators from the tradition, ranging from the most ancient (Vyasa, whose Bhyasa is almost considered as canonical as the Sutra themselves) to the most recent (Swami Hariharananda). He also has a brilliant introduction which helps to provide context for the Yoga Sutras within Indian philosophy and history.
Overall, I love this book. I have taken it on several international trips and the density of material, as well as the engaging writing style, continue to enrich my experience of the Yoga Sutras. As a yoga teacher, a studio owner, and a teacher trainer, I highly recommend Edwin Bryant's translation of the Yoga Sutras as the go-to version for the modern scholar-practitioner.