The Yogasūtra of Patañjali : A New Introduction to the Buddhist Roots of the Yoga System book cover
1st Edition

The Yogasūtra of Patañjali
A New Introduction to the Buddhist Roots of the Yoga System

ISBN 9780367456702
Published May 26, 2020 by Routledge India
250 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book offers a systematic and radical introduction to the Buddhist roots of Pātañjala-yoga, or the Yoga system of Patañjali. By examining each of 195 aphorisms (sūtras) of the Yogasūtra and discussing the Yogabhāṣya, it shows that traditional and popular views on Pātañjala-yoga obscure its true nature. The book argues that Patañjali’s Yoga contains elements rooted in both orthodox and heterodox philosophical traditions, including Sāṅkhya, Jaina and Buddhist thought.  

With a fresh translation and a detailed commentary on the Yogasūtra, the author unearths how several of the terms, concepts and doctrines in Patañjali’s Yoga can be traced to Buddhism, particularly the Abhidharma Buddhism of Vasubandhu and the early Yogācāra of Asaṅga. The work presents the Yogasūtra of Patañjali as a synthesis of two perspectives: the metaphysical perspective of Sāṅkhya and the empirical–psychological perspective of Buddhism. Based on a holistic understanding of Yoga, the study explores key themes of the text, such as meditative absorption, means, supernormal powers, isolation, Buddhist conceptions of meditation and the interplay between Sāṅkhya and Buddhist approaches to suffering and emancipation. It further highlights several new findings and clarifications on textual interpretation and discrepancies. 

An important intervention in Indian and Buddhist philosophy, this book opens up a new way of looking at the Yoga of Patañjali in the light of Buddhism beyond standard approaches and will greatly interest scholars and researchers of Buddhist studies, Yoga studies, Indian philosophy, philosophy in general, literature, religion and comparative studies, Indian and South Asian Studies and the history of ideas.

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figure



Chapter I: On Meditative Absorption (Samādhipādaḥ)

Chapter II: On Means (Sādhanapādaḥ)

Chapter III: On Supernormal Powers (Vibhūtipādaḥ)

Chapter IV: On Isolation (Kaivalyapādaḥ)

Chapter V: Concluding Observations

Appendix I: Buddhist Conceptions of Meditation, Yoga and Bodhisattva’s Spiritual Journey vis-à-vis Pātañjala-yoga

Appendix II: Asaṅga on Forms of Supernormal Knowledge and Powers (Abhijñās and Ŗddhis)

Appendix III: Discrepancies between Patañjali’s Aphorisms and Vyāsa’s Interpretations


Aids to Reading Romanised Sanskrit



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Pradeep P. Gokhale is Honorary Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Philosophy and Pali, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, India. He has thirty-one years of postgraduate teaching and research experience at Savitribai Phule Pune University and was Dr B. R. Ambedkar Research Professor at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath (Varanasi), for six years. He has written in diverse areas such as Indian epistemology and logic; schools of classical Indian philosophy such as Buddhism, Lokāyata, Yoga and Jainism; Indian moral philosophy, social philosophy, Indian philosophy of religion and contemporary Buddhism. His research interests have focused on the interface between orthodox and heterodox Indian thought, including between Nyāya and Buddhist logical thought.