“There is certainly an academic argument regarding the theory of two Patanjalis, but I have never come across this argument in my oral tradition and related traditions in my 45 years of interest.
I have read the academic dispute and can see that within academic discourse there are rational arguments on both sides based on their privileging of the written text (they have no other choice), but this approach and methodology is absent in oral tradition which bases its approach to interpretation on detailed commentary handed down through lineages, rather than a deductive logic (as excellent as it may be) applied to manuscripts which are lacking the context of continuity of transmission.”
The conversation continues on May 28, 2015:
Jan Baggerud Larsen Baba Ji Baba Rampuri I remember something we discussed at your Dhuni that might also be relevant to this thread. It seems to me that many if not most people in the west involved in various (new age) practices seems to believe that it doesn’t matter if what is being taught as “yoga” today in the west is “real” or not because it will lead to some people getting to the next step towards “real” yoga. For instance many people claim that they started asana practice as a purely physical practice to get in better shape and that caused them to eventually getting interested in the philosophy which again led to them finding a “real” teacher. Which would not have happened if the physical-only yoga did not exist in the west. If that hadn’t happened then this wouldn’t have happened… So it is all for the good they claim.
So they’re implying a cause and effect that seems logical to the western mind. If I remember correctly you answered something to the effect of “That’s not how it works” and then we discussed that a bit. Could you expand a bit on that here in this thread?
Baba Rampuri Very few of my “most serious” (if I can say that) students, and few, if any, in my circles of peers (internationally) have come out of consumer yoga. I find “yoga-teachers” have to be debriefed and deconstructed to get anywhere, whereas, in my experience, those who have taken on other intellectual responsibilities in diverse areas, including some kind of discipline (intellectual, professional, etc.) are more suitable for exploring the “self” and the “other,” as both are really required if we are dealing with content sourced from another culture. That is my (perhaps unique) experience. Those who, as you say, want to know more, having become frustrated with consumer yoga, may have come to the conclusion they want to know themselves by other avenues as well. Theoretically, I have no objection, it does make sense. It’s just not my experience over many years.
Baba Rampuri I am engaged with considerably more people coming out of I.T., for example, than yoga business, in which I believe a substantial exchange is taking place.
Todd Daniels I have a question. Why is it in MPY that people talk about the 8 limbs of yoga but NEVER talk about chapters 3 or 4 of the yoga sutras.. it’s pretty much avoided. Is it a case of just wanting the icing and throwing out the cake? Is it that we will use what we can accept and throw away the other stuff? Just curious
Jan Baggerud Larsen This has not been my experience but still I have heard many teachers who do not emphasize the last three limbs because they believe they will develop spontaneously or that it takes so long to get to them (past the first 5) or attain them that you don’t really need to bother with the last three yet smile emoticon As in the first 5 can be “practiced” but the lasts three cannot. They are also probably making the assumption that the limbs are like a ladder. This is my limited understanding of their possible understanding (or lack of understanding smile emoticon )
Todd Daniels Now explain why nobody talks about the last 2 chapters please
Jan Baggerud Larsen I can’t. I’m not them smile emoticon (or perhaps I am but I can’t see it).
Gideon Enz Todd, it’s because the yoga sutras have very very little to do with MPY. For some bizarre reason (a combination of influences from the Theosophical Society, Vivekananda, and Krishnamacharya added on to a few actually relevant historical influences on textual and practical legacy) they take that as their bible. From that point on it is digested on faith that it is relevant, when it is actually a text describing the practiced methods of 2nd century ascetics who are practicing intense meditation. Everything is fine and dandy philosophy until they get to the second half of the text. Then the free associations don’t match up anymore…
Humphrey Barclay The Sutras were “respectable” at a time when more relevant texts weren’t. It’s a hash-up.
John Weddepohl No one realises but the sutras are not about yoga at all – but all about Self.
Humphrey Barclay Certainly not about hatha yoga, although it’s a given that you are able to sit steadily.
Michelle Synnestvedt Here is one possibility: Like all scriptures “sung” in sutra form, the highest teachings are given first…and perhaps those obsessed with the first chapter are so delusional that they believe that they KNOW the truth and therefore don’t need to look any further. In my lineage we were given certain teachings depending upon our experience and understanding. In the tantras, these were called upayas.
So some practices are more suited for those completely identified with the physical body, others for those whose intellect is developing more subtly, and those who may be more immersed in silent practices and those who have Self Knowledge spontaneously arising frequently etc. The point being, some may pretend to know more than they do. Without a teacher who SEES clearly the level of understanding a student has, it is very difficult to progress- much like I wouldn’t offer complex mathematical calculations to a 5 year old expecting them to understand me or speak in a foreign language they had never heard.
What is a sutra?
Baba Rampuri Sutra style implies brevity. And since “sutra” suggests a “string” or “thread,” the order of statements that are “strung” together must be sequential in terms of the economy of syllables while sequentially developing meaning. There is no low & high teachings, but sequencing.
Baba Rampuri Thank you, Gideon Enz. Very good summation. As an “edge” you might acquire in thinking about this, consider that Patanjali is thought of in Indian traditions as the greatest commentator on Panini, and as such one of the greatest of all Grammarians of the last 2500 years or so. One of the least developed ideas in the modern approach to Patanjali is the connection between Speech and Cognition, for which Patanjali provides application.
John Weddepohl in approaching a text the first verse kills the individual. if you can take it then the job of the text is done. if you can’t the rest of the book tells you how.
Baba Rampuri Not unlike Gadamer’s hermeneutics.
Michelle Synnestvedt Yes John Weddepohl that is exactly the point…for most -attachment to ignorance is not eradicated with the first sutra, but I see that many pretend they don’t need to go further.
Gideon Enz I’m not so sure that Patanjali the grammarian and Patanjali the compiler/codifier of the yoga sutras are the same person. I know there is a lot of controversy on this, and have heard arguments from both sides.
Baba Rampuri Gideon Enz There is certainly an academic argument regarding this, but I have never come across this argument in my oral tradition and related traditions in my 45 years of interest. Not once. I have read the academic dispute and can see that within academic discourse there are rational arguments on both sides based on their privileging of the written text (they have no other choice), but this approach and methodology is absent in oral tradition which bases its approach to interpretation on detailed commentary handed down through lineages, rather than a deductive logic (as excellent as it may be) applied to manuscripts which are lacking the context of continuity of transmission. In my own study of Yoga Sutras within an oral tradition, there are continuous references to Mahabhasya in the commentary, and it provides a framing of Yoga Sutras. One of the differences between the academy and tradition is a difference between representation and application. These are two different worlds, however, that really have little to do with each other, based on their approachs to interpretation. I, personally reject the two Patanjali theory.
Baba Rampuri In a discussion or interpretation of anything “spiritual” or dealing with knowledge, storytelling, or sadhana in the akhara (akhada) the primary handle has been speech and the play of grammar. So, in a sense, the connecting, the “yoga” has been between speech and cognition, which informs everything else. An entire genre of storytelling exists with our lineages supporting this with Patanjali, the Grammarian, as a major player. The ascetics of Juna Akhara are thought of as “yogis” not “scholar-grammarians.”
Intentional ambiguity in Sanskrit
Baba Rampuri There can be great ambiguity in Sanskrit, one of the reasons being the device of “sandhi” by which syllables join, coalesce, sometimes change, and sometimes eliminate a syllable. A classic example of ambiguity is parvatiparameshwar which may be broken down as either Parvati and Shiva (Parameshwar), or Shiva (Parvatipa-Lord of Parvati) and Vishnu (Rameshwar – Lord of Ramaa (Lakshmi)). There is no grammatical way to choose which interpretation was intended, one must rely exclusively on context.
Baba Rampuri My sense is that, when taken out of the context of the tradition, an academic somewhere at some time had to ask the question, “What the hell does yoga have to do with grammar?” and then start looking for evidence that Patanjali MUST be two people because the subject matter is so different. But a traditional answer to that academic’s legitimate question might be “everything.”
Gideon Enz My knowledge of Sanskrit is insufficient to come to any personal conclusions on the issue either way. One extreme is a single Patanjali (who was yogi, grammarian, and physician), and on the other extreme is a fictional Patanjali that was created by Vyasa as a literary device to give Vyasa’s text (the yoga sutras) more weight.
Todd Daniels great answers, all of you. this are not the answers i usually get on any other forum so its nice
Todd Daniels People will talk ahimsa all day long, but mention Ishvara and the room goes silent..
Pankaj Seth Todd, I think because Ishvara is recklessly translated as “God” which give people the willies because this term brings to mind monotheism. The translation into God is reckless because such a concept does not exist in the Dharma.
Vik Zutshi I found this little gem most helpful in bringing out the inherent paradox (and futility) of the self/no-self debate. Would love to hear your comments on this rich subject vis a vis ‘Neti Neti Brahman’/Aham Brahmasmi/Tatwam Asi – “The emperor of China asked a renowned Buddhist master if it would be possible to illustrate the nature of self in a visible way. In response, the master had a sixteen-sided room appointed with floor-to-ceiling mirrors that faced one another exactly. In the center he hung a candle aflame. When the emperor entered he could see the individual candle flame in thousands of forms, each of the mirrors extending it far into the distance. Then the master replaced the candle with a small crystal. The emperor could see the small crystal reflected again in every direction. When the master pointed closely at the crystal, the emperor could see the whole room of thousands of crystals reflected in each tiny facet of the crystal in the center. The master showed how the smallest particle contains the whole universe.
True emptiness is not empty, but contains all things. The mysterious and pregnant void creates and reflects all possibilities. From it arises our individuality, which can be discovered and developed, although never possessed or fixed. The self is held in no-self, as the candle flame is held in great emptiness.”
Eric Seaton Wow just like Baba Rampuri’s dream of Hari Puri, … I was now in a room full of mirrors which consisted only of my reflected image ..
Todd Daniels I love that you said paradox
Pankaj Seth “As the Buddha once said, the teaching he most frequently gave to his students was this: All fabrications are inconstant; all phenomena are not-self (anatta) (MN 35). Many people have interpreted this second statement as meaning that there is no self. Others, however, have noticed statements in the Pali Canon—our earliest extant record of the Buddha’s teachings—that refer to the idea of self in a positive manner, as when the Buddha stated that the self is its own mainstay (Dhp 160) or when he encouraged a group of young men—who were searching for a woman who had stolen their belongings—to search for the self instead (Mv.I.14.4). From these statements, these readers conclude that the statement, “All phenomena are not-self,” is meant to clear away attachment to a false view of self so that an experience of the true self can be attained.”—http://www.accesstoinsight.org/…/notselfstrategy.pdf
Pankaj Seth The no-self nonsense with its ‘momentariness’ metaphysics developed hundred of years after Buddha (meaning not by Buddha himself) was defeated in debate by none other than Shankaracharya… http://enlight.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/ew27155.htm
Samkara’s Arguments Against the Buddhist