[Advaita-l] RE: Yoga - aparOkshAnubhUti - Vedanta Sara

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 2 14:34:32 CST 2005

>Incidentally, I've been engaged in discussion on the same subject in
>advaitin list (patanjala yOga in shankara's advaita vEdAnta).  Sofar what I
>gathered from this thread seems to say that patanjala yOga sUtra-s are more
>or less in line with shankara pratipAdita siddhAnta.  I'd like to have more
>clarity on this subject.

There is a little bit of revisionism in this stand. We modern people seem to 
have imbibed a propensity to "go back to the sources" from 19th and 20th 
century European-American academia. In the process, we tend to ignore the 
long line of commentary and tradition. Or even worse, we tend to assume that 
we know better what the original author/text meant while the commentators 
did not. To say the least, this is mistaken. To castigate this attitude, it 
can only be described as intellectual hubris.

Anyway, when we think of the classical darzana of Yoga, we mean not only 
pAtanjala yogasUtras, but we also think of the bhAshya on it and the 
subsidiary texts. Nowhere in the yogasUtras or in its bhAshya is there 
anything to establish the oneness and non-duality of brahman. The system 
talks of prakRti and purushas, and considers Izvara as a special kind of 
purusha (purusha-vizesha), one who is not bound by entanglement with 
prakRti. Philosophically, it differs from sAMkhya primarily in that respect, 
as sAMkhya does not allow for Izvara as a special kind of purusha. In all 
other respects, Yoga thought is very much indebted to traditional sAMkhya 
and therefore the classical Yoga system is also a dualism only. The 
yogasUtra talks of svarUpa-pratishThA (abiding in one's own nature) as the 
final aim and goal, but it does not say that this svarUpa is the nondual 

That said, is it possible to reconcile and adopt yoga thought and practice 
to Advaita Vedanta thought and practice? The answer is yes, and Sankaracarya 
himself does so, in many places. His criticism of Yoga darzana extends only 
to the dualism in the system. There are at least two places in brahmasUtra 
bhAshya where he extols the results of Yoga practice and quotes yogasUtra 
with approval. Under brahmasUtra 1.3.33 - bhAvaM tu bAdarAyaNo'sti hi - 
Sankaracarya says one cannot merely dismiss the powers attained by yoga and 
quotes yogasUtra 2. 44 - svAdhyAyAd ishTadevatA saMprayogaH. Under 
brahmasUtra 2.4.12 - pancavRttir manovad vyapadizyate - he quotes yogasUtra 
1.6 - pramANa-viparyaya-vikalpa-nidrA-smRtayaH, to identify the five vRttis 
of the mind. He prefaces this quotation with the statement,"paramatam 
apratishiddham anumataM bhavati" - what is not refuted in another system is 
effectively accepted. Thus, he makes it clear that the classical Yoga 
derived from the yogasUtras is a different system from Vedanta (paramata), 
but he also explicitly accepts whatever is not in conflict with Vedanta. 
Nowhere does Sankaracarya say that pAtanjala yogasUtras are very much in 
line with Advaita Vedanta. To claim otherwise, more than a millenium later, 
is to misunderstand both the yogasUtras and Sankaracarya himself.

>As regards to yOga in advaita & patanjali's yOga sUtra's influence in
>shankara bhAshya, my cybernet guruji Sri Vidyashankara Sundareshan prabhuji
>( Chief Moderator of this group) has written a masterful article...I dont
>know whether it is available in the filing section...In this article he has

Bhaskar-ji, please do not put me in the position of a guru, even if only in 
cyberland. With it comes much responsibility, which I don't think I can 
shoulder. Moreover, you are now studying under well qualified and learned 
paNDitas, so I can at best be an upAdhyAya, maybe. Also, we don't formally 
have a chief moderator of this list, but if anyone can be called that, it is 
Jaldhar, for he consistenly dedicates more hours per day to this duty than 
anybody else among us moderators.

I have indeed written a major article on yoga in classical Advaita, which is 
a chapter in a book edited by Ian Whicher and David Carpenter, published by 
Routledge press. For copyright reasons, I can't distribute it publicly on a 
mailing list or a website, but I can send reprints/photocopies to interested 
readers. Do let me know by private email, if so, with postal address and 
I'll mail it out.

Best regards,

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