Consciousness & Speech XIII – May 22, 2014 Webinar
Patanjali – Yoga Sutras and Consciousness
There are few names associated with the modern yoga movement that surpass the authority of the sage Patanjali, and his text, The Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Both are held in high esteem not only by the yoga movement, but thought of in traditional Indian culture as the very source of the Yoga Darshana, or the yoga system. One of the major modern yoga organisations has even adopted their brand name after one of Patanjali’s most important sutras in his famous text.
There are numerous modern translations into English and many other languages in print and on the web, and countless comments and interpretations of individual sutras.
The last thing I want to do is to add yet another translation, even if I felt qualified to do so.
But Patanjali is also known to be the author of another text, The Mahabhashya, considered to be the greatest and most authoritative commentary on Panini’s work on Speech, The Ashtadhyayi, which, as we have discussed, represents not only the most complete description of speech and language composed in known human history, but also a logical formal system capable of many sophisticated applications, including production of computer programming language.
Although the academic community is somewhat split on the question of whether Patanjali, the author of The Yoga Sutras is the same Patanjali who composed Mahabhashya, Indian tradition, as diversified as it is, considers both texts to have been composed by Patanjali, himself. We will explore this.
I have made the claim that while Panini’s text is understood to be meta-language, and provides us with meta-rules, it is also the basis of metaphysical application and speculation. And I will make the claim that Patanjali’s work, as well as its many commentaries by others, are “assuming,” as a given, the metaphysical dimensions of Speech.
The Yoga Sutras speak about consciousness, and Patanjali deploys the word for consciousness, citta, more than any other word (except particles such as “thus”) in the text. Curiously, the second most used word is jnana, knowledge. So, especially within the context of this conversation on Consciousness and Speech, we will discuss the The Yoga Sutras as an ‘application’ of the metaphysics of Speech, perhaps the most dominant element in traditional Indian culture – the progressive path of liberation from the vicissitudes and fluctuations of worldly existence, the experience of unconstructed awareness, and the knowledge of the self.