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Patanjali
Patañjali (Sanskrit: पत िल) was a sage in India, thought to
be the author of a number of Sanskrit works. The greatest of
these are the Yoga Sutras, a classical yoga text. There is
doubt as to whether the sage Patañjali is the author of all the
works attributed to him as there are a number of known
historical authors of the same name. A great deal of
scholarship has been devoted over the last century to the
issue of the historicity or identity of this author or these
authors.[1]

Amongst the more important authors called Patañjali


are:[2][3][4]

The author of the Mahābhāṣya, an ancient treatise on


Sanskrit grammar and linguistics, based on the
Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini. This Patañjali's life is dated to mid
2nd century BCE by both Western and Indian
scholars.[5][6][7] This text was titled as a bhasya or
"commentary" on Kātyāyana-Pāṇini's work by Patanjali,
but is so revered in the Indian traditions that it is widely
known simply as Mahā-bhasya or "Great commentary".
As per Ganesh Sripad Huparikar, actually, Patanjali (2nd
century B.C.), the forerunner among ancient grammatical
commentators, “adopted an etymological and dialectical
method of explaining in the whole of his 'Mahābhāshya' Image of Patanjali
(Great Commentary), and this has assumed, in the later
commentary literature the definite form of 'Khanda-
anvaya'.” So vigorous, well reasoned and vast is his text, that this Patanjali has been the authority
as the last grammarian of classical Sanskrit for 2,000 years, with Pāṇini and Kātyāyana preceding
him. Their ideas on structure, grammar and philosophy of language have also influenced scholars
of other Indian religions such as Buddhism and Jainism.[8][9]
The compiler of the Yoga sūtras, a text on Yoga theory and practice,[10] and a notable scholar of
Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy.[11][12] He is variously estimated to have lived between 2nd
century BCE to 4th century CE, with more scholars accepting dates between 2nd and 4th century
CE.[13][10][14] The Yogasutras is one of the most important texts in the Indian tradition and the
foundation of classical Yoga.[15] It is the Indian Yoga text that was most translated in its medieval
era into forty Indian languages.[16]
The author of a medical text called Patanjalatantra. He is cited and this text is quoted in many
medieval health sciences-related texts, and Patanjali is called a medical authority in a number of
Sanskrit texts such as Yogaratnakara, Yogaratnasamuccaya and Padarthavijnana.[17] There is a
fourth Hindu scholar also named Patanjali, who likely lived in 8th-century CE and wrote a
commentary on Charaka Samhita and this text is called Carakavarttika.[18] According to some
modern era Indian scholars such as P.V. Sharma, the two medical scholars named Patanjali may
be the same person, but completely different person from the Patanjali who wrote the Sanskrit
grammar classic Mahābhasya.[18]
Patanjali is one of the 18 siddhars in the Tamil siddha (Shaiva) tradition.[19]

Patanjali continues to be honoured with invocations and shrines in some forms of modern postural
yoga, such as Iyengar Yoga[20] and Ashtānga Vinyāsa Yoga.[21]
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Contents
Name
Life
Grammar tradition
Yoga tradition
Tamil Saivite legend
Works
Yoga Sūtra
Mahābhāṣya
Sphota
Metaphysics as grammatical motivation
Patanjalatantra
Legacy
See also
References
Bibliography
External links

Name
According to Monier Monier-Williams, the word "Patañjali" is a compound[22] name from "patta"
(Sanskrit: पत, "falling, flying")[23] and "añj" (अ ्, "honor, celebrate, beautiful") or "añjali" (अ िल,
"reverence, joining palms of the hand").[24][25]

Life
Louis Renou was among the many scholars who have suggested that the Patañjali who wrote on Yoga
was a different person than the Patanjali who wrote a commentary on Panini's grammar.[26][27] In
1914, James Wood proposed that they were the same person.[28] In 1922, Surendranath Dasgupta
presented a series of arguments to tentatively propose that the famed Grammar text and the Yoga
text author may be identical.[29]

The view that these were likely two different authors is generally accepted,[30][31] but some Western
scholars consider them as a single entity.[32][33]

Some in the Indian tradition have held that one Patañjali wrote treatises on grammar, medicine and
yoga. This has been memorialised in a verse by Bhoja at the start of his commentary on the
Yogasutras called Rājamārttanda (11th century), and the following verse found in Shivarama's 18th-
century text:[34]

योगेन िच पदे न वाचां मलं शरीर च वै केन। योपाकरो ं वरं मुनीनां पत िलं ा िलरानतो ॥

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English translation: I bow with my hands together to the eminent sage Patañjali, who
removed the impurities of the mind through yoga, of speech through grammar, and of the
body through medicine.

This tradition is discussed by Meulenbeld[17] who traces this "relatively late" idea back to Bhoja (11th
century), who was perhaps influenced by a verse by Bhartṛhari (ca. 5th century) that speaks of an
expert in yoga, medicine and grammar who, however, is not named. No known Sanskrit text prior to
the 10th century states that the one and the same Patanjali was behind all the three treatises.[35]

The sage Patañjali is said to have attained Samadhi through yogic meditation at the
Brahmapureeswarar Temple located at Tirupattur, Tamil Nadu, India. Jeeva Samadhi of sage
Patanjali, which is now an enclosed meditation hall, can be seen near the Brahma's shrine within
Brahmapureeswarar Temple complex.

Grammar tradition

In the grammatical tradition, Patañjali is believed to have lived in the second century BCE.[36] He
wrote a Mahabhasya on Panini's sutras, in a form that quoted the commentary of Kātyāyana's
vārttikas. This is a major influential work on Sanskrit grammar and linguistics.[5] The dating of
Patanjali and his Mahabhasya is established by a combination of evidence, those from the Maurya
Empire period, the historical events mentioned in the examples he used to explain his ideas, the
chronology of ancient classical Sanskrit texts that respect his teachings, and the mention of his text or
his name in ancient Indian literature.[37][38] Of the three ancient grammarians, the chronological
dating of Patanjali to mid 2nd century BCE is considered as "reasonably accurate" by mainstream
scholarship.[39]

The text influenced Buddhist grammatical literature,[40] as well as memoirs of travellers to India. For
example, the Chinese pilgrim I-tsing mentions that the Mahabhasya is studied in India and advanced
scholars learn it in three years.[41]

Yoga tradition

In the Yoga tradition, Patañjali is a revered name. This Self study


Patañjali's oeuvre comprises the sutras about Yoga
(Yogasūtra) and the commentary integral to the sutras, Practice self study,
called the Bhāṣya. Some consider the sutras and the to commune with
Bhaṣya to have had different authors, the commentary your chosen divinity.
being ascribed to "an editor" (Skt. "vyāsa"). According to
Phillipp Maas, the same person named Patanjali — Patanjali, Yogasutras II.44[42][43]
composed the sutras and the Bhāṣya commentary.[44]

Radhakrishnan and Moore attribute the text to the grammarian Patañjali, dating it as 2nd century
BCE, during the Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE).[45] Maas estimates Patañjali's Yogasutra's date to be
about 400 CE, based on tracing the commentaries on it published in the first millennium CE.[10]
Edwin Bryant, on the other hand, surveys the major commentators in his translation of the Yoga
Sūtras.[46] He states that "most scholars date the text shortly after the turn of the Common Era (circa
first to second century), but that it has been placed as early as several centuries before that."[47]
Bryant concludes that "A number of scholars have dated the Yoga Sūtras as late as the fourth or fifth
century C.E., but these arguments have all been challenged", and late chronology for this Patanjali
and his text are problematic.[48]

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Tamil Saivite legend

Regarding his early years, a Tamil Saiva Siddhanta tradition from


around 10th century AD holds that Patañjali learned Yoga along with
seven other disciples from the great Yogic Guru Nandhi Deva, as stated
in Tirumular's Tirumandiram (Tantra 1).

Nandhi arulPetra Nadharai Naadinom


Nandhigal Nalvar Siva Yoga MaaMuni
Mandru thozhuda Patañjali Vyakramar
Endrivar Ennodu (Thirumoolar) Enmarumaame

Translation[49]

A garlanded Patanjali statue


We sought the feet of the God who graced Nandikesvara
The Four Nandhis,
Sivayoga Muni, Patañjali, Vyaghrapada and I
(Thirumoolar)
We were these eight.

Works
Whether the two works, the Yoga Sutras and the Mahābhāṣya, are
by the same author has been the subject of considerable debate. The
authorship of the two is first attributed to the same person in
Bhojadeva's Rajamartanda, a relatively late (10th century)
commentary on the Yoga Sutras,[50] as well as several subsequent
texts. As for the texts themselves, the Yoga Sutra iii.44 cites a sutra
as that from Patanjali by name, but this line itself is not from the
Mahābhāṣya. This 10th-century legend of single-authorship is Patañjali – Modern art rendering
doubtful. The literary styles and contents of the Yogasūtras and the in Patanjali Yogpeeth, Haridwar
Mahābhāṣya are entirely different, and the only work on medicine
attributed to Patañjali is lost. Sources of doubt include the lack of
cross-references between the texts, and no mutual awareness of each other, 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 century AD,[4] but such changes may be due to divergent authorship, or due to later
additions which are not atypical in the oral tradition. Most scholars refer to both works as "by
Patanjali", without meaning that they are by the same author.

In addition to the Mahābhāṣya and Yoga Sūtras, the 11th-century commentary on Charaka by the
Bengali scholar Chakrapani Datta, and the 16th-century text Patanjalicarita ascribes to Patañjali a
medical text called the Carakapratisaṃskṛtaḥ (now lost) which is apparently a revision
(pratisaṃskṛtaḥ) of the medical treatise by Caraka. While there is a short treatise on yoga in the
medical work called the Carakasaṃhitā (by Caraka), towards the end of the chapter called
śārīrasthāna, it is notable for not bearing much resemblance to the Yoga Sūtras, and in fact presents a
form of eightfold yoga that is completely different from that laid out by Patañjali in the Yoga Sūtras
and the commentary Yogasūtrabhāṣya.

Yoga Sūtra

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The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are 196 Indian sutras (aphorisms) on Yoga. It was the most translated
ancient Indian text in the medieval era, having been translated into about forty Indian languages and
two non-Indian languages: Old Javanese and Arabic.[16] The text fell into obscurity for nearly 700
years from the 12th to 19th century, and made a comeback in late 19th century due to the efforts of
Swami Vivekananda and others. It gained prominence again as a comeback classic in the 20th
century.[51]

Before the 20th century, history indicates the Indian yoga scene was dominated by other Yoga texts
such as the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Vasistha and Yoga Yajnavalkya.[52] Scholars consider the Yoga
Sūtras of Patañjali formulations as one of the foundations of classical Yoga philosophy of
Hinduism.[53][54]

Mahābhāṣya

The Mahābhāṣya ("great commentary") of Patañjali on the Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini is a major early
exposition on Pāṇini, along with the somewhat earlier Varttika by Katyayana. 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[55] – the word-meaning association is
natural. These issues in the word-meaning relation (symbol) would be elaborated in the Sanskrit
linguistic tradition, in debates between the Mimamsa, Nyaya and Buddhist schools over the next
fifteen centuries.

Sphota

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, spurt/burst) is the invariant
quality of speech. The noisy element (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 enunciation.[55] 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 century CE), the notion of sphoTa changes to become more of a mental
state, preceding the actual utterance, akin to the lemma.

Patañjali's writings also elaborate some principles of morphology (prakriyā). In the context of
elaborating on Pāṇini'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 Pāṇini which were interpreted somewhat
differently in Katyayana.

Metaphysics as grammatical motivation

Unlike Pāṇini'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).[55] This stronger metaphysical bent has also been indicated by some as one of
the unifying themes between the Yoga Sutras and the Mahābhāṣya, although a close examination of
actual Sanskrit usage by Woods showed no similarities in language or terminology.

The text of the Mahābhāṣya was first critically edited by the 19th-century orientalist Franz Kielhorn,
who also developed philological criteria for distinguishing Kātyāyana's "voice" from Patañjali's.
Subsequently, a number of other editions have come out, the 1968 text and translation by S.D. Joshi
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and J.H.F. Roodbergen often being considered definitive. Regrettably, the latter work is incomplete.

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 mongoose and a snake.[56] 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.

Patanjalatantra

Patanjali is also the reputed author of a medical text called Patanjalah, also called Patanjala or
Patanjalatantra.[17][57] This text is quoted in many yoga and health-related Indian texts. Patanjali is
called a medical authority in a number of Sanskrit texts such as Yogaratnakara,
Yogaratnasamuccaya, Padarthavijnana, Cakradatta bhasya.[17] Some of these quotes are unique to
Patanjala, but others are also found in major Hindu medical treatises such as Charaka Samhita and
Sushruta Samhita.[17]

There is a fourth scholar also named Patanjali, who likely lived in 8th-century CE and wrote a
commentary on Charaka Samhita and this text is called Carakavarttika.[18] The two medical
scholars named Patanjali may be the same person, but generally accepted to be completely different
person than the Patanjali who wrote the Sanskrit grammar classic Mahabhasya.[18]

Legacy
Patanjali is honoured with invocations and shrines in some modern schools of yoga, including
Iyengar Yoga[20] and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.[21] The yoga scholar David Gordon White writes that
yoga teacher training often includes "mandatory instruction"[58] in the Yoga Sutra. White calls this
"curious to say the least",[58] since the text is in his view essentially irrelevant to "yoga as it is taught
and practiced today",[58] commenting that the Yoga Sutra is "nearly devoid of discussion of postures,
stretching, and breathing".[59]

See also
Bhartrihari
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Yoga Vashista
Yoga Yajnavalkya
Vedanga

References
1. Raghavan, V.; et al. (1968). New Catalogus Catalogorum. 11. Madras: University of Madras.
pp. 89–90. lists ten separate authors by the name of "Patañjali."
2. Ganeri, Jonardon. Artha: Meaning, Oxford University Press 2006, 1.2, p. 12
3. Radhakrishnan, S.; Moore, C.A., (1957). A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton, New
Jersey: Princeton University, ch. XIII, Yoga, p. 453
4. Gavin A. Flood, 1996.

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5. Sures Chandra Banerji (1989). A Companion to Sanskrit Literature: Spanning a Period of Over
Three Thousand Years, Containing Brief Accounts of Authors, Works, Characters, Technical
Terms, Geographical Names, Myths, Legends and Several Appendices (https://books.google.co
m/books?id=JkOAEdIsdUsC&pg=PA233). Motilal Banarsidass. p. 233. ISBN 978-81-208-0063-2.
6. Scharf, Peter M. (1996). The Denotation of Generic Terms in Ancient Indian Philosophy:
Grammar, Nyāya, and Mīmāṃsā (https://books.google.com/books?id=Qh4LAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA1).
American Philosophical Society. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-0-87169-863-6.
7. Cardona, George (1997). Pāṇini: A Survey of Research (https://books.google.com/books?id=adW
XhQ-yHQUC&pg=PA267). Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 267–268. ISBN 978-81-208-1494-3.
8. Scharfe, Hartmut (1977). Grammatical Literature (https://books.google.com/books?id=2_VbnWkZ
-SYC&pg=PA152). Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 152–154. ISBN 978-3-447-01706-0.
9. Harold G. Coward; K. Kunjunni Raja (2015). The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume 5:
The Philosophy of the Grammarians (https://books.google.com/books?id=tLd9BgAAQBAJ).
Princeton University Press. pp. 3–11. ISBN 978-1-4008-7270-1.
10. Maas, Philipp A. (2006). Samādhipāda: das erste Kapitel des Pātañjalayogaśāstra zum ersten
Mal kritisch ediert (in German). Aachen: Shaker. ISBN 978-3832249878.
11. Dasgupta, Surendranath (1992). A History of Indian Philosophy (https://books.google.com/books?
id=PoaMFmS1_lEC&pg=PA229), Volume 1, p.229 Motilal Banarsidass Publications.
ISBN 8120804120
12. Phillips, Stephen H.,(2013). Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy (https://bo
oks.google.com/books?id=cRg2AAAAQBAJ&pg=PT368), Columbia University Press.
ISBN 0231519478
13. Bryant 2009, pp. xxxiv, 510 with notes 43-44.
14. Michele Desmarais (2008), Changing Minds: Mind, Consciousness and Identity in Patanjali's
Yoga Sutra (https://books.google.com/books?id=EXHF0lkL7MAC), Motilal Banarsidass,
ISBN 978-8120833364, pages 16-17 with footnotes
15. Desmarais, Michele Marie (2008). Changing Minds : Mind, Consciousness And Identity In
Patanjali'S Yoga-Sutra And Cognitive Neuroscience (https://books.google.com/books?id=EXHF0l
kL7MAC&pg=PA15). Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-81-208-3336-4., Quote: "The YS
is widely acknowledged to be one of the most important texts in the Hindu tradition and is
recognized as the essential text for understanding classical Yoga".
16. White 2014, p. xvi.
17. Meulenbeld, G. Jan (1999). History of Indian Medical Literature, vol. I part 1. Groningen: E.
Forsten. pp. 141–44. ISBN 978-9069801247.
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m/2011/07/yoga-of-the-18-siddhas-by-ganapathy/). Traditional Yoga Studies. Retrieved 17 March
2019.
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2019.
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ml), Sanskrit English Dictionary with Etymology, Oxford University Press, page 582
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La Vallée Poussin Memorial Volume. Calcutta. pp. 368–73.
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Bibliography
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ISBN 978-0865477360
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details/sourcebookinindi00radh). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-
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External links
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Works by Patanjali (https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/950) at Project Gutenberg


Works by or about Patanjali (https://archive.org/search.php?query=%28%28subject%3A%22Pata
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at Internet Archive
Works by Patanjali (https://librivox.org/author/3088) at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
"The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" (http://www.iep.utm.edu/yoga/). Internet Encyclopedia of
Philosophy.

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