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Yoga: Discipline of Freedom: The Yoga Sutra Attributed to Patanjali [Paperback]

Barbara Stoler Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 2 1998
Dating from about the third century A.D., the Yoga Sutra distills the essence of the physical and spiritual discipline of yoga into fewer than two hundred brief aphorisms. It is the core text for any study of meditative practice, revered for centuries for its brilliant analysis of mental states and of the process by which inner liberation is achieved. Yet its difficulties are legendary, and until now, no translation has made it fully accessible.

This new translation, hailed by Yoga Journal for its "unsurpassed readability," is by one of the leading Sanskrit scholars of our time, whose Bhagavad Gita has become a recognized classic. It includes an introduction to the philosophy and psychology underlying the Yoga Sutra, the full text with explanatory commentary, and a glossary of key terms in Sanskrit and English.

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From the Inside Flap

"A text that is really essential to anyone's understanding of Indian philosophy or the practice of yoga. Barbara Stoler Miller's translation is her masterpiece, a great swan song. It is a most extraordinary translation, a great translation."—Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago Divinity School
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

"A text that is really essential to anyone's understanding of Indian philosophy or the practice of yoga. Barbara Stoler Miller's translation is her masterpiece, a great swan song. It is a most extraordinary translation, a great translation." (Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago Divinity School) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The first four aphorisms define the nature of yoga as a state of mental tranquility and spiritual freedom, as well as the means to achieve this state. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for a first reading Oct. 19 2003
Format:Paperback
The main strength of this book is in the late Professor Miller's Introduction which is lucid and insightful in identifying and placing Patanjali's Yoga Sutras for the general reader. The weakness is in Miller's use of certain non-yogic and sometimes misleading terms in her translation, usage which stems from her position as an academic of yoga and not a practitioner. Sometimes she translates words that probably should not be translated since there are no real English equivalents--for example, "samadhi" itself. And sometimes she uses what I would consider not the most agreeable English equivalent.
Her use of the word "spirit" in the third aphorism is an example: "When thought ceases, the spirit stands in its true identity as observer to the world." The Sanskrit word she is translating is "drashtri" which is usually "seer" although it can also mean "soul," according to B.K.S. Iyengar. When one reads the next aphorism, "Otherwise, the observer [seer] identifies with the turnings of thought" it becomes clear that the seer is not spirit; indeed "spirit" is a confusing word in this context since it has no clear cognate in the dualistic yoga philosophy. The closest equivalent would be "purusha" but that would be inappropriate since that refers to the entire non-material consciousness (as opposed to "prakriti," which is what is manifested). Perhaps I should simply say that "soul" in yogic philosophy is not the same thing as "spirit."
Another example would be her translation of vairagya in I.15 as "dispassion" which is technically correct but misses the larger meaning of the non-attachment that comes from renunciation, which is the point of the aphorism.
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4.0 out of 5 stars How Can Someone Know God? Dec 5 2001
Format:Paperback
This is a very condensed translation of the fundamental theological handbook for those who want to devote themselves to the austerities of the study of the details of the metaphysics of meditation on God (which transcend any particular religion). From the precision of the translation I can see that Dr. Barbara Miller had been studying this work for long time before she wrote this book. She has left out the details of the tranlations of the Sanskrit words. Of course, she would have had to a assume a fundmental knowledge of the Sanskrit language and its alphabet for this(Mr. Houston at the American Sanskrit Institute has published some very useful tapes and workbooks for this). Also, she leaves out translations of most of the very enlightening comments of the Hindu sage Vyasa (these are available in English in the book by Swami Hariharananda and also the book which she references in the Harvard Oriental series by Dr. Houghton Woods). Nevertheless, by giving us a concise translation of these important scriptures which are faithful to the original Sanskrit she has done good. Thank you Dr. Miller for your scholarly work in this area.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The *Yoga Sutras* is an ancient Indian text attributed to the sage Patanjali. They discuss "yoga" in the deep spiritual sense-- not the physical exercises of Hatha Yoga, but the essential techniques of stilling the mind and achieving spiritual illumination. The objective, almost scientific, treatment of *Yoga Sutras* presents the reader with an anatomy of consciousness itself, as well as an atlas of the highest human possibilities. Prof. Miller's translations make this esoteric text readily available to the modern reader. Her translation is lucid and easy to read, without sacrificing any of the wisdom or precision of the text itself. I would recommend this book to any one who takes seriously the idea of spiritual work and the goal of spiritual transformation.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Stoler Miller breaks up the Yoga Sutras into passages, sticks a title onto each chunk, and gives good explanations/interpretations of each chunk.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for a first reading Oct. 19 2003
By Dennis Littrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The main strength of this book is in the late Professor Miller's Introduction which is lucid and insightful in identifying and placing Patanjali's Yoga Sutras for the general reader. The weakness is in Miller's use of certain non-yogic and sometimes misleading terms in her translation, usage which stems from her position as an academic of yoga and not a practitioner. Sometimes she translates words that probably should not be translated since there are no real English equivalents--for example, "samadhi" itself. And sometimes she uses what I would consider not the most agreeable English equivalent.

Her use of the word "spirit" in the third aphorism is an example: "When thought ceases, the spirit stands in its true identity as observer to the world." The Sanskrit word she is translating is "drashtri" which is usually "seer" although it can also mean "soul," according to B.K.S. Iyengar. When one reads the next aphorism, "Otherwise, the observer [seer] identifies with the turnings of thought" it becomes clear that the seer is not spirit; indeed "spirit" is a confusing word in this context since it has no clear cognate in the dualistic yoga philosophy. The closest equivalent would be "purusha" but that would be inappropriate since that refers to the entire non-material consciousness (as opposed to "prakriti," which is what is manifested). Perhaps I should simply say that "soul" in yogic philosophy is not the same thing as "spirit."

Another example would be her translation of vairagya in I.15 as "dispassion" which is technically correct but misses the larger meaning of the non-attachment that comes from renunciation, which is the point of the aphorism.

I could also quibble with her use of the word "contemplation" as the equivalent of the Sanskrit "samadhi." But it is really impossible to translate the last three limbs of yoga: dharana, dhyana, and samadhi into English, and the contemporary practice is to simply use the Sanskrit terms themselves. And, at any rate, there is considerable controversy about the experience of these states. Miller follows the established practice of rendering them respectively as concentration, meditation, and contemplation. Yet it is clear that samadhi, especially "nirbija samadhi" or seedless samadhi, is beyond contemplation. Georg Feuerstein actually defines samadhi as "ecstasy."

Another strength of the book is the translation itself--once one puts aside the quibbles about some of the terms and looks at the forest, as it were, of the entire expression. Miller has worked hard to make the text readily accessible to the general reader by using familiar terms in familiar sentence structures. She also groups several related aphorisms together and comments on them as a whole, giving each group a title. For example, aphorisms I.17 - I.22 are labeled, "Ways of Stopping Thought." This organization works well in helping the reader to a good overall understanding of Patanjali with only a first reading. Miller has not simplified the text or dumbed it down in any sense. What she has done is to give the pithy statements a sort of liquidity that makes for easy reading.

Her subtitle: "Discipline of Freedom" is an apt description of Patanjali's yoga in the sense that this yoga employs technique and practice to reach liberation whereas other yogas might employ faith and devotion, selfless service, or knowledge as ways to transcend this earthly existence.

I would recommend that this text be studied in conjunction with Iyengar's Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (1993) since that book contains a more detailed exposition of Patanjali's text and has more extensive commentaries.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "Yoga: Sacred and Profane (Beyond Hatha Yoga)"
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless wisdom made available to the modern reader July 9 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The *Yoga Sutras* is an ancient Indian text attributed to the sage Patanjali. They discuss "yoga" in the deep spiritual sense-- not the physical exercises of Hatha Yoga, but the essential techniques of stilling the mind and achieving spiritual illumination. The objective, almost scientific, treatment of *Yoga Sutras* presents the reader with an anatomy of consciousness itself, as well as an atlas of the highest human possibilities. Prof. Miller's translations make this esoteric text readily available to the modern reader. Her translation is lucid and easy to read, without sacrificing any of the wisdom or precision of the text itself. I would recommend this book to any one who takes seriously the idea of spiritual work and the goal of spiritual transformation.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Aug. 21 2011
By Bertron Hill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In a time when we should recognize the whispers of past genius in order to make our journey into the future, tis book is one of many helping me to make my way to Divinity!
4.0 out of 5 stars Yoga Sutras May 22 2014
By Rose - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Yoga Discipline of Freedom is a great book to learn about the Yoga Sutras. It is easy to read and understand. I recommend!
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy read Jan. 14 2014
By Jasmine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Easy read and great! It is going to take me some time to get through it but I will eventually
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