पतञ्जलि) (fl. 150 BCE [Jonardon Ganeri, "Artha: Meaning", Oxford University Press 2006, 1.2, p. 12] or 2nd c. BCE [S. Radhakrishnan, and C.A. Moore, (1957). A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University, ch. XIII, Yoga, p.453] Gavin A. Flood, 1996] ) is the compiler of the
Yoga Sutras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yogapractice, and also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a major commentary on Panini's Ashtadhyayi. However, whether these two works are that of the same author or not remains in some doubt.
In recent decades the Yoga Sutra has become quite popular worldwide for the precepts regarding practice of
Raja Yogaand its philosophical basis. "Yoga" in traditional Hinduisminvolves inner contemplation, a rigorous system of meditationpractice, ethics, metaphysics, and devotion to the one common soul, God, or Brahman. At the same time, his Mahābhāṣya, which first foregrounded the notion of meaning as referring to categorization, remains an important treatise in Sanskrit linguistic philosophy.
Whether these two works are by the same author has been the subject of considerable debate. The authorship of the two are first attributed to the same person in Bhojadeva's "rAjamArtaNDa", a relatively late (10th c.) commentary on the Yoga Sutras [The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, ed. James Haughton Woods, 1914] , as well as a large number of subsequent texts. As for the texts themselves, the
Yoga Sutraiii.44 cites a sutra as that from Patanjali by name, but this line itself is not from the Mahābhāṣya. However, certain themes such as the unity of the constituent parts appear common to both. Sources of doubt include the lack of cross-references between the texts, and no mutual awareness of each other, quite unlike other cases of multiple works by (later) Sanskrit authors. Also, some elements in the Yoga Sutras may date from as late as the 4th c. AD, but such changes may be due to divergent authorship, or due to later additions which are not atypical in the oral tradition. In the absence of any concrete evidence for a second Patanjali, and given the approximately same time frame for the origin of both texts, and the traditional ascription of both to a Patanjali most scholars simply refer to both works as "by Patanjali".
In addition to the Mahābhāṣya and Yoga Sutras, the 11th c. text on
Charakaby ChakrapAni, and the 16th c. text "Patanjalicharita" ascribes to Patanjali a medical text called the "CarakapratisaMskritah" (now lost) which is apparently a revision ("pratisaMskritaH") of the medical treatise by Charaka. Some have cited the Patanjali reference in Yoga Sutra as possibly being from this text. Were he to be the author of all three works, it would be quite amazing, although such diversity would not be very uncommon in many early civilizations, as in the work of Pingalaor Katyayana, both grammaticians who also worked in mathematics, or their contemporary Aristotle, say. At the same time, it is possible that the Patanjali hagiography extolled his persona considerably.
In the Yoga tradition, Patanjali is a revered name and has been deified by many groups, especially in the
Shaivite bhaktitradition. It is claimed that Patañjali is an incarnation of Ādi S'esha who is the first ego-expansion of Vishnu, Sankarshana. Sankarshana, the manifestation of Vishnu His primeval energies and opulences, is part of the so-called [http://bhagavata.org/glossary/v.html#Vyuhas catur vyūha] , the fourfold manifestation of Vishnu. Thus may Patañjali be considered as the one incarnation of God defending the ego of yoga.
Even his name has been glorified; it is said that desiring to teach yoga to the world, he fell ("pat-") from heaven into the open palms ("-añjali") of a woman, hence the name Patañjali. He is also often respectfully referred to as Patanjali
Maharishi, or great sage.
In one popular legend, Patanjali was born to
Atri(First of the Saptha Rishis) and his wife Anusuya(this would make him go back to the time of the creation by Brahma). According to this tradition, Anasuya had to go through a stern test of her chastitywhen the Trimurti( Brahma, Vishnu, Siva) themselves came as Bhikshuks and asked her for Bhiksha. She passed their test by accepting them as her children and fed them while naked. She got the boon where all the 3 Murtis will be born to them. They were SomaSkandan or Patanjali, Dattatreya, and Durvasa.
Tamil Shaivite legend
Regarding his early years, a Tamil Shaivite tradition from around 10th c. AD holds that Patanjali learned Yoga along with seven other disciples from the great Yogic
GuruNandhi Deva, as stated in Tirumular's Tirumandiram(Tantra 1).
"Nandhi arulPetra Nadharai Naadinom
"Nandhigal Nalvar Siva Yoga MaaMuni
"Mandru thozhuda Patanjali Vyakramar
"Endrivar Ennodu(Thirumoolar) Enmarumaame
By receiving Nandhi's grace we sought the feet of the
The Four Nandhis (Sanagar, Santhanar, Sanath Sujatar, Sanath Kumarar),
Siva Yoga Maamuni, Patanjali, Vyakramapadar and I (Thirumoolar)
We were thus eight disciples.
The ancient Kali Kautuvam also describes how Patanjali and Vyagrapada gathered along with the gods in Thillai near
Chidambaramto watch Shivaand Kalidance and perform the 108 mystic Karanas, which formed the foundation for the system of Natya Yoga.
This Tamil tradition also gives his birth place in South Kailash, possibly the modern day
Thirumoorthy hillsnear Coimbatore. Some other traditions feel that his being born in Bharatavarsha- the part of the ancient world corresponding to South Asia - is beneath his godlike status, and that he must have been born in the Jambudvipa, the mythical center of the universe.
Siddhais also mentioned by the goldsmith-sage Bogar:
It was my Grandfather who said, "Climb and see."
But it was Kalangi Nathar who gave me birth.
Patanjali,Viyagiramar,and Sivayogi Muni all so rightly said,
"Look! This is the path!" - Bhogar, 7000 sayings
This tradition also holds that Patanjali was a master of dance.
The Yoga tradition is much older, there are references in the
Mahabharata, and the Gitaidentifies three kinds of yoga, and it is also the subject of the late upanishad, "Yogatattva". The Yoga Sūtras codifies the royal or best ("rAja") yoga practices, presenting these as a eight-limbed system ("aShTAnga"). The philosophic tradition is related to the Samkhyaschool. The focus is on the mind; the second sutra defines Yoga - it is the cessation of all mental fluctuations, all wandering thoughts cease and the mind is focused on a single thought("ekAgratA"). The eight limbs or the Ashtanga Yogapropounded here are
# yama, ethics, restraint and
niyama, cleanliness, ascetism, etc.
samAdhi, full absorption.
In contrast to the focus on the mind in the Yoga sutras, later traditions of Yoga such as the
Hatha yogafocus on more complex asanas or body postures.
Relevance of his contribution to the science of yoga
Patañjali defended in his yoga-treatise several ideas that are not mainstream of either
Sankhyaor Yoga. He, according to the Iyengaradept, biographer and scholar Kofi Busia, acknowledges the egonot as a separate entity. The subtle body " linga sarira" he would not regard as permanent and he would deny it a direct control over external matters. This is not in accord with classical Sankhya and Yoga.
Although much of the aphorisms in the "Yoga Sutra" possibly pre-dates Patanjali, it is clear that much is original and it is more than a mere compilation. The clarity and unity he brought to divergent views prevalent till then has inspired a long line of teachers and practitioners up to the present day in which his most renowned defender is
B.K.S. Iyengar. With some translators he seems to be a dry and technical propounder of the philosophy, but with others he is an empathic and humorous witty friend and spiritual guide.
Mahābhāṣya("great commentary") of Patañjali on the IAST| Aṣṭādhyāyīof IAST| Pāṇiniis a major early exposition on Panini, along with the somewhat earlier "Varttika" by Katyayana. Here he raises the issue of whether meaning ascribes to a specific instance or to a category: :"kim punar AkritiH padArthaH, Ahosvid dravyam" ["Mahābhāṣya", Joshi/Roodbergen: 1968, p. 68] . :Now what is 'meaning' ("artha") [of a word] ? Is it a particular instance ("dravya") or a general shape ("Akriti")? This discussion arises in Patanjali in connection with a sutra (Panini 1.2.58) that states that a plural form may be used in the sense of the singular when designating a species ("jAti").
Another aspect dealt with by Patanjali relates to how words and meanings are associated - Patanjali claims "shabdapramâNaH" - that the evidentiary value of words is inherent in them, and not derived externally - the word-meaning association is natural. The argument he gives is that people do not make an effort tomanufacture words. When we need a pot, we ask the potter to make a pot for us. The same is not true of words - we do not usually approach grammarians and ask them to manufacture words for our use.  This is similar to the argument in the early part of
Plato's Cratylus, where morphemes are described as natural, e.g. the sound 'l' is associated with softness.
These issues in the word-meaning relation (
symbol) would elaborated in the Sanskrit linguistic tradition, in debates between the Mimamsa, Nyayaand Buddhistschools over the next fifteen centuries.
Sphota : An early phonemic theory?
Patanjali also defines an early notion of
sphoTa, which would be elaborated considerably by later Sanskrit linguists like Bhartrihari. In Patanjali, a "sphoTa" (from "sphuT", burst) is the invariant quality of speech. The noisyelement ("dhvani", audible part) can be long or short, but the sphoTa remains unaffected by individual speaker differences. Thus, a single letter or 'sound' ("varNa") such as "k", "p" or "a" is an abstraction, distinct from variants produced in actual enunciationcite book
title = Bimal Krishna Matilal
author = The word and the world: India's contribution to the study of language
publisher = Oxford
year = 1990 ] . This concept has been linked to the modern notion of
phoneme, the minimum distinction that defines semantically distinct sounds. Thus a phoneme is an abstraction for a range of sounds. However, in later writings, especially in Bhartrihari (6th c. AD), the notion of "sphoTa" changes to become more of a mental state, preceding the actual utterance, akin to the psycholinguistic lemma.
Patañjali's writings also elaborate some principles of morphology ("prakriyā"). In the context of elaborating on Panini's aphorisms, he also discusses
Kātyāyana's commentary, which are also aphoristic and "sūtra"-like; in the later tradition, these were transmitted as embedded in Patañjali's discussion. In general, he defends many positions of Panini which were interpreted somewhat differently in Katyayana.
Metaphysics as grammatical motivation
Unlike Panini's objectives in the Ashtyadhyayi which is to distinguish correct forms and meanings from incorrect ones ("shabdAunushAsana"), Patanjali's objectives are more metaphysical. These include the correct recitations of the scriptures ("Agama"), maintaining the purity of texts ("rakShA"), clarifying ambiguity ("asaMdeha"), and also the pedagogic goal of providing an easier learning mechanism ("laghu"). This stronger metaphysical bent has also been indicated by some as one of the unifying themes between the Yoga Sutras and the Mahābhāṣya.
The text of the "IAST|Mahābhāṣya" had diversified somewhat in the late Sanskritic tradition, and the nineteenth-century orientalist Franz Kielhorn produced the first critical edition and developed
philologicalcriteria for distinguishing Kātyāyana's "voice" from Patañjali's. Subsequently a number of other texts have come out, the 1968 text by S.D. Joshi and J.H.F. Roodbergen often being considered definitive.
Patanjali also writes with a light touch. For example, his comment on the conflicts between the orthodox Brahminic ("Astika") groups, versus the heterodox, "nAstika" groups (
Buddhism, Jainism, and atheists) seems relevant for religious conflict even today: the hostility between these groups was like that between a mongooseand a snake[ Romila Thapar, Interpreting Early India. Oxford University Press, 1992, p.63] . He also sheds light on contemporary events, commenting on the recent Greek incursion, and also on several tribes that lived in the Northwest regions of the subcontinent.
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