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Bibliography for those beginning Research into the Yoga Sutras

  • By Dr. Subhasis Chattopadhyay
  • April 10, 2022
  • This select bibliography is meant for serious students of the Yoga Sutras.


To read the article as a PDF click HERE to read in online formatted version see below.


1. Āraṇya, Hariharānanda. Yoga Philosophy of Patañjali: Containing His Yoga Aphorisms with Commentary of Vyāsa in Original Sanskrit, with Annotations, and Allied Topics, Illustrating the Theory and Practice of Sāṁkhya-Yoga, with Bhāsvatī. Translated by Paresh Nath Mukherji. Sixth ed. Kolkata, West Bengal: University of Calcutta, 2012.


This is a lesser-known book since it is firmly based on Samkhya philosophy. Thus, it is often neglected by those who emphasize Advaita Vedanta. But for a researcher, this book is indispensable. Swami Hariharananda Aranya's legacy is being carried on by hermits at Bihar. They hold that Gautama, the Buddha was a Samkhya Yogi. 


Further, the Bhagavad Gita states that only fools and children find differences between Samkhya and Yoga. This is the first book to consult while researching Yoga, since all said and done; Yoga  is Samkhya. There can be no doubt that the intended audience of the Yoga Sutras were Samkhya practitioners. The researcher will be helped by the copious notes. Interestingly the exegete take a similar view of poetry as that of Plato for very different reasons altogether.


Further, the compiler of this bibliography is certain from textual evidence that the Samkhya Yogi who glossed at Bihar had not read Plato either in the original or in English.


2. Bryant, Edwin F. The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali: A New Edition, Translation, and Commentary: With Insights from the Traditional Commentators. New Delhi: Macmillan, 2018


Many have problems with Bryant's commentary and translation since he is inflexible in his interpretation of non-violence. But this is the one single book which knits together all extant commentaries on these Sutras. It is one of the best books in recent times which is both eminently readable and is also true to the textual exegesis preceding Bryant. His scholarship, notwithstanding objections to his standpoint on absolute vegetarianism, is flawless. A scholar would do well to first read his bibliography and then his book and then proceed in her research.


3. Feuerstein, Georg, trans. The Yoga-Sūtra of Patañjali: A New Translation and Commentary. Folkestone, Eng.: Dawson, 1979.


Every word Feuerstein wrote is worth its value in gold, so to speak. He brings a lucidity and interpretational function to his exegesis which remains unparalleled in the history of the Yoga Sutras’ interpretations. Feuerstein’s authority on this text and other texts which he annotated is the best that literary and religious interpretations have to offer.


A scrupulous scholar would do well to read this book and all other books by Feuerstein. Feuerstein challenges various errors which have crept into the translation of the Yoga Sutras and offers a unique but rigorous interpretation of the Sutras. He does not critique the earlier translators but outright challenges them.


4. Mādhavācarya. “The Patanjala or Yoga-Darsana.” Essay. In The Sarvadarśanasamgraha of Mādhavācarya, or, Review of the Different Systems of Hindu Philosophy, translated by Edward B. Cowell and Archibald Edward Gough, Reprinted., 231–74. Hindu Philosophy. New Delhi: DK Printworld, 2016. 


This is more for beginners and a scholar can give this reference a miss. Nonetheless this remains an important stepping-stone for the lay person intending to undertake research on the Yoga Sutras.


5. Rukmani, T. S. Yogasūtrabhāṣyavivaraṇa Of Śankara: Vivaraṇa Text with English Translation, and Critical Notes along with Text and English Translation of Patañjali's Yogasūtras and Vyāsabhāṣya. Vols. I to IV. 4 vols. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers,  2010.


A scholar must finish reading Professor Rukmani’s four volumes before beginning to comment on these Sutras. Without having studied this thorough exegesis of the glosses of both Adi Shankaracharya and later, Vijñānabhikṣu, it is now impossible to write anything meaningful on the Yoga Sutras.  


6. S., Iyengar B K. Light on the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali. Reprinted. New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2005.


Serious scholars can overlook this book which is meant more for practitioners of Yoga than for doctoral candidates or even casual dissertation writers. It does not harm to know of a book which has been this wildly popular globally. But popularity often means reductionism. Keeping this in mind one can read this for leisure.


7. Sutton, Nicholas. The Yoga Sutras: A New Translation and Study Guide. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, 2019. 


Professor Sutton's translation and commentary is breezy, free-wheeling and uneven. He is a joy to read. His videos online have been transcribed here. He brings a lively voice to the translation of the Yoga Sutras and this edition is of more interest to the comparative linguist than to the philosopher. Comparing Sutton’s edition to other editions in this bibliography will be fruitful in reaching fuller understanding of the text as sign-gestures. Because as Feuerstein above has shown in his translation even basic words which we take for granted in the original Sanskrit pose hermeneutical problems when translated.


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Author Subhasis Chattopadhyay has a Ph.D. in Patristics and the Problem of Evil in American Horror Literature from the University of Calcutta. His reviews from 2010 to 2021 in PrabuddhaBharata have been showcased by Ivy League Presses. He has qualifications in Christian Theology and Hindu Studies and currently teaches English Literature in the PG and UG Department of a College affiliated to the University of Calcutta. He also has qualifications in Behavioural Sciences.

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