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Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali [Paperback]

Edwin F Bryant

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Book Description

July 21 2009

A landmark new translation and edition

Written almost two millennia ago, Patañjali’s work focuses on how to attain the direct experience and realization of the purusa: the innermost individual self, or soul. As the classical treatise on the Hindu understanding of mind and consciousness and on the technique of meditation, it has exerted immense influence over the religious practices of Hinduism in India and, more recently, in the West.

Edwin F. Bryant’s translation is clear, direct, and exact. Each sutra is presented as Sanskrit text, transliteration, and precise English translation, and is followed by Bryant’s authoritative commentary, which is grounded in the classical understanding of yoga and conveys the meaning and depth of the su-tras in a user-friendly manner for a Western readership without compromising scholarly rigor or traditional authenticity. In addition, Bryant presents insights drawn from the primary traditional commentaries on the sutras written over the last millennium and a half.

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Review

“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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  50 reviews
63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best edition of the Sutras in English, bar none May 30 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Edwin F. Bryant presents the sometimes enigmatic aphorisms of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras in clean, clear, sparse, perfectly comprehensible English, and provides the reader with the key thoughts of the major commentators who offer context and interpretation to this seminal Yoga text.

An important point to make is that while Bryant's impeccable scholarship satisfies the most demanding academic, these sutras, for the first time, I believe, come to life for the general reader with a sincere interest in Yoga. (The Isherwood-Prabhavananda edition, How to Know God, presents the sayings in lucid, poetic English, but there is none of the depth of commentary.) Bryant presents the individual sayings ("sutras" literally means "threads")in Sanskrit in both Devanagari script and the Latin alphabet, and translates each word precisely, then offers his own translation of the sutra in contemporary English. The individual sutras are followed by readable narratives which interpret each saying and various commentaries from ancient to modern times.

As someone who has practiced Yoga since childhood and has written a master's thesis on the sutras, I recommend this book enthusiastically. Every student and teacher of Yoga, whether as a popular fitness program or the highest pathway to enlightenment, should own this book. Furthermore, individuals with no special interest in Yoga will find that it offers an excellent complement to other philosophical and religious reading, since the Sutras' teachings mirror the pathways of many world religions. I hope it becomes available in hardback and as a Kindle book because it is a work that should become part of one's permanent library and, in fact, part of one's very life.
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seek No Further Aug. 9 2009
By Eliyahu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Serious yoga practitioners need seek no further than this fascinating and inspiring translation and commentary. While not the easiest version of the Yoga Sutras to read, its virtues more than compensate for the difficulty. Prof. Bryant's comprehensive knowledge of Indian philosophy, fidelity to the intent of the text (without the usual filtering to suit various Western prejudices and agendas) and passionate fondness for this material lift this version far above any others. The glossary and index of Sanskrit terms are themselves worth the price. Read this book in small chunks, take your time, and it will amply repay your efforts.
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing July 31 2009
By Analiese De Saw - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was able to read the completed manuscript in Prof. Bryant's Yoga Sutras class in 2007 (in the book it says 2008!) and have been waiting ever since for the book to come out. Having no background in philosophy I found Bryant's book to be surprisingly friendly to read, easy to understand, and beyond intellectually stimulating. Many of the ideas and concepts proposed in the Yogic tradition are abstract, and lack English equivalents, which in other cases might prove a daunting and tedious task; but Bryant tackles these idealogies in terms and examples which any one could read and comprehend.

If I could afford it I would buy 1,000 copies of this book and hand it out to people.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading Sept. 19 2009
By Nataraj - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There's a growing selection of commentaries on the Yoga Sutras but this one stands out as a useful crossover between more scholarly texts and those aimed at more 'everyday' students. Edwin Bryant has chosen a selection of classical commentaries to reference in his own commentary, including Vyasa and Vijnanabhiksu, making this an invaluable 'one stop shop' for reference. In addition to the commentary on the Yoga Sutras, this book includes a useful history of yoga, placing it in context with the Vedic Period, Upanisads, Mahabharata and Sanhkya. Also included is an explanation of the subject matter of the Yoga Sutras and in the Appendix, a transliteration and translation of the Yoga Sutras. Apart from the overall quality of this text, what you get represents real value for money!

Although I've only recently received my copy, I can see that this book is likely to become my 'go to' for the Yoga Sutras. However, it's less likely to become the copy that I take to the Yoga Sutra group I go to but only because the sometimes extensive commentary on individual sutras makes it too unwieldy for reference in the class situation. In my opinion, this is a book to savour when you have time to sit with it, absorb and contemplate the commentary properly.

In summary, Edwin Bryant's commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali should be on the bookshelf of any serious yoga student.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent in-depth commentary from a current day master Sept. 13 2009
By Gumby Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I attended a seminar on the Sutras given by Edwin a couple of years ago and have been waiting for this book to be published ever since. He is truly one of the great minds of our time. Edwin "unpacks" the sutras, revealing their wisdom layer by layer in an understandable format. This rendition is every bit what I thought it would be and I would recommend it to yogis and yoginis everywhere. The commentary is in depth and explains even the most abstract (and sometimes seemingly contradictory) concepts of the Sutras well.

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