The Volume Yoga: India’s Philosophy of Meditation, traces the intellectual history of Patanjala Yoga philosophy from the early centuries of the Common Era through the twentieth century. This volume also provides a systematic discussion of the philosophy of classical Yoga. Particular attention is given to the meaning of “concentration” (samadhi), “engrossment” (samapatti) and the “extraordinary cognitive capacities” (vibhutis, siddhis) and the role that these notions play in the Yoga philosophy, which are relevant for issues currently under discussion in contemporary western philosophy of mind. The volume as well compares and contrasts classical yoga philosophy with classical Samkhya and with Indian Buddhist thought. Although the primary focus of the volume is on Patanjala Yoga, the system of Hatha Yoga and other satellite systems of Yoga are discussed as well, and an attempt is made to differentiate clearly the classical system of Yoga Sastra from Hatha Yoga and the other satellite systems.
Some twenty-eight Sanskrit texts of Patanjala Yoga are summarized or noted in the volume. Twenty-six volumes of Hatha Yoga and the texts of some other satellite systems are also included. Altogether the volume contains summaries and or notations for some seventy-five Sanskrit texts.
Gerald James Larson is Rabindranath Tagore Professor Emeritus, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA, and Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Ramshankar Bhattacharya was editor of the journal, Purana, and for many years a member of the research division of the Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi.
There has been a long period of time between the publication of the Samkhya volume of the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies (Samkhya: A Dualist Tradition in Indian Philosophy, Volume IV) in 1987 and this sequel on Yoga. Nevertheless, in our view, the two volumes are best used in tandem, since Patanjala Yoga as a philosophical tradition is unintelligible without the Samkhya ontology and epistemology. As may be recalled from our earlier Samkhya volume, we are inclined to go even further and to claim that Yoga as a philosophical tradition is a particular form of Samkhya, namely Patanjala-Samkhya. The expression “…as a philosophical tradition,” of course, is a fundamental caveat, and this will be discussed at some length in the Introduction. It will be shown that although Yoga and Samkhya are by no means identical and that there are significant differences in the classical formulation of each system, the family resemblance is so striking that it is impossible to discuss one system apart from the other.
I deeply regret that Dr. Ram Shankar Bhattacharya’s untimely death kept him from composing the Introduction to this volume on Yoga. He very much wanted to do the Introduction, since he viewed the philosophy of Yoga as an area of his primary scholarly interest through the years. His great erudition is to be found in his many critical editions of the Sanskrit texts of Yoga in the medium of Sanskrit. Also he wrote at least a brief summary of his views on Yoga in the medium of English in his book, An Introduction to the Yogasutra, already mentioned above in the foregoing In Memoriam.
Two additional acknowledgment are also necessary. First, varieties of Yoga have become popular throughout the world, and this volume on Yoga of the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, if for no other reason than providing a summary overview, should at least touch upon these popular traditions. I would like to thank Ms. Autumn Jacobsen, a doctoral student in Religious Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who wrote the final portion of the Introduction to this Volume, namely the section entitled “Contemporary Yoga Traditions”.
Second, thanks to Richa Pauranik Clements, my doctoral student at Indiana University, Bloomington, who assisted me in the editing of many of the summaries.
The bibliography on Yoga, of course, is vast, and we had to make difficult decisions about what to include and what not to include, both in terms of primary and secondary works. We hope that our selection, if not exhaustive, is at least representative of the most important texts. Also, it should be noted that we have divided the texts into two main groups, the Patanjala Yoga texts and what we have called “The Hatha Yoga System and Other Satellite Traditions of Yoga”. The dating of texts in the later centuries, of course, is nearly an impossible task, and it should be recognized that our attempts at dating are almost all only rough approximations.
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