; fl. 150 BCE<ref> Jonardon Ganeri, Artha: Meaning, Oxford University Press 2006, 1.2, p. 12</ref> or 2nd c. BCE<ref>S. Radhakrishnan, and C.A. Moore, (1957). A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University, ch. XIII, Yoga, p.453</ref><ref name=gavin>Gavin A. Flood, 1996</ref>) is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana's vārttikas (short comments) on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine (āyurveda). In recent decades the Yoga Sutra has become quite popular worldwide for the precepts regarding practice of Raja Yoga and its philosophical basis. “Yoga” in traditional Hinduism involves inner contemplation, a system of meditation practice and ethics.
|thumb|right]] 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 c.) commentary on the Yoga Sutras,<ref>The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, ed. James Haughton Woods, 1914, p. xv</ref> 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 doubtful. The literary styles and contents of the Yogasūtras and the 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 c. CE,<ref name=gavin/> 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 Caraka by the Bengali scholar Cakrapāṇidatta, and the 16th c. 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 Yogasūtras, and in fact presenting a form of eightfold yoga that is completely different from that laid out by Patañjali in the Yoga Sūtras and the commentary Yogasūtrabhāṣya.
The tradition that holds that all three works are by the same author is summed up in this verse from the beginning of Bhoja's Rājamārttanda commentary on the Yoga Sūtras:<ref>
In the Yoga tradition, Patañjali is a revered name and has been deified by many groups, especially in the Shaivite bhakti tradition. It is claimed that Patañjali is an incarnation of Ādi Śeṣa who is the first ego-expansion of Viṣṇu, Sankarshana. Sankarshana, the manifestation of Vishnu His primeval energies and opulences, is part of the so-called catur vyūha,<ref>Srimad Bhagavatam: Glossary of Sanskrit Terms</ref> the fourfold manifestation of Vishnu. Thus may Patañjali be considered as the one incarnation of God defending the ego of yoga.
Even his name has been glorified. He is respectfully referred to as Patañjali Maharishi, or great sage.
In one popular legend, Patañjali was born to Atri (First of the Saptha Rishis) and his wife Anasuya (this would make him go back to the time of the creation by Brahma). According to this tradition, Anasuya had to go through a stern test of her chastity when the Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva) themselves came as Bhikshuks and asked her for Bhiksha. She passed their test by accepting them as her children and fed them. She got the boon where all the three Murtis will be born to them. They were SomaSkandan or Patañjali, Dattatreya, and Durvasa.
and snake-footed Patanjali salute Nataraja.]]
Regarding his early years, a Tamil Shaivite tradition from around 10th c. 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). <blockquote> Nandhi arulPetra Nadharai Naadinom<br> Nandhigal Nalvar Siva Yoga MaaMuni<br> Mandru thozhuda Patañjali Vyakramar<br> Endrivar Ennodu(Thirumoolar) Enmarumaame </blockquote>
Translation <blockquote> We sought the feet of the Lord who graced Nandikesvara<br> The Four Nandhis, <br> Sivayoga Muni, Patañjali, Vyaghrapada and I (Thirumoolar)<br> We were these eight. </blockquote>
The ancient Kali Kautuvam also describes how Patañjali and Vyagrapada gathered along with the gods in Thillai near Chidambaram to watch Shiva and Kali dance and perform the 108 mystic Karanas, which formed the foundation for the system of Natya Yoga. He has also written Charana Shrungarahita Stotram on Nataraja.
This Tamil tradition also gives his birth place in South Kailash, possibly the modern day Thirumoorthy hills near Coimbatore. Some other traditions feel that his being born in Bharatavarsha - the part of the ancient world corresponding to South Asia - is beneath his godlike status, and that he must have been born in the Jambudvipa, the mythical center of the universe.
Patañjali as Siddha is also mentioned by the goldsmith-sage Bogar: <blockquote> It was my Grandfather who said, “Climb and see.”<br> But it was Kalangi Nathar who gave me birth.<br> Patañjali,Viyagiramar,and Sivayogi Muni all so rightly said,<br> “Look! This is the path!” - Bhogar 7000 (translation by Layne Little)<br> </blockquote>
This tradition also holds that Patañjali was a master of dance.
The Jeeva Samadhi of Patanjali Maharishi is believed to be in Tirupattur Brahmapureeswarar Temple (30 km from Trichy),<ref>http://rammesh.kaaninilam.com/tlogs/brahma/index.htm</ref> where Lord Brahma installed 12 Shiva Lingams and worshipped Lord Shiva to get back his Tejas.
The Yoga tradition is much older, there are references in the Mahābhārata, and the Gitā identifies three kinds of yoga, and it is also the subject of the late upanishad, Yogatattva. The Yoga Sūtras codifies the royal or best (rāja) yoga practices, presenting these as a eight-limbed system (ashtānga). The philosophic tradition is related to the Sāmkhya school. The focus is on the mind; the second sutra defines Yoga - it is the cessation of all mental fluctuations, all wandering thoughts cease and the mind is focused on a single thought (ekāgratā). The eight limbs or the Ashtānga Yoga propounded here are
In contrast to the focus on the mind in the Yoga sutras, later traditions of Yoga such as the Hatha yoga focus on more complex asanas or body postures.
“Alternatively, the phrase janim asatah can be taken to allude to the Yoga philosophy of Patanjali Rsi, inasmuch as his Yoga-sutras teach one how to achieve the transcendental status of Brahmanhood by a mechanical process of exercise and meditation. Patanjali's yoga method is here called asat because it ignores the essential aspect of devotion—surrender to the will of the Supreme Person. As Lord Krsna states in Bhagavad-gita (17.28), asraddhaya hutam dattam tapas taptam krtam ca yat asad ity ucyate partha na ca tat pretya no iha “Anything done as sacrifice, charity or penance without faith in the Supreme, O son of Prtha, is impermanent. It is called asat and is useless both in this life and in the next.””
Patañjali defended in his yoga-treatise several ideas that are not mainstream of either Sankhya or Yoga. He, according to the Iyengar adept, biographer and scholar Kofi Busia, acknowledges the ego not as a separate entity. The subtle body linga sarira he would not regard as permanent and he would deny it a direct control over external matters. This is not in accord with classical Sankhya and Yoga.
Although much of the aphorisms in the Yoga Sutra possibly pre-dates Patanjali, it is clear that much is original and it is more than a mere compilation. The clarity and unity he brought to divergent views prevalent till then has inspired a long line of teachers and practitioners up to the present day in which his most renowned defender is B.K.S. Iyengar. With some translators he seems to be a dry and technical propounder of the philosophy, but with others he is an empathic and humorous witty friend and spiritual guide.
You can find Patanjali Siddar's Jeeva Samaadhi within Bhramapureeswar Temple in a village called Thirupattur approximately 20 km from Trichy, Tamil Nadu. It is situated 5 km west from a village called Siruganur which lies on NH45. Trichy –> Sriruganur —> Perambalur ——> Villupuram ————> Chennai
(“great commentary”) of Patañjali on the
is a major early exposition on Pāṇini, along with the somewhat earlier Varttika by Katyayana. Here he raises the issue of whether meaning ascribes to a specific instance or to a category: :kim punar AkritiH padArthaH, Ahosvid dravyam.<ref>Mahābhāṣya, Joshi/Roodbergen: 1968, p. 68</ref> :Now what is 'meaning' (artha) [of a word]? Is it a particular instance (dravya) or a general shape (Akriti)? This discussion arises in Patanjali in connection with a sutra (Pāṇini 1.2.58) that states that a plural form may be used in the sense of the singular when designating a species (jAti).
Another aspect dealt with by 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<ref name=watw/> - the word-meaning association is natural. The argument he gives is that people do not make an effort to manufacture words. When we need a pot, we ask the potter to make a pot for us. The same is not true of words - we do not usually approach grammarians and ask them to manufacture words for our use.  This is similar to the argument in the early part of Plato's Cratylus, where morphemes are described as natural, e.g. the sound 'l' is associated with softness.
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, 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.<ref name=watw>
</ref> 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 c. AD), the notion of sphoTa changes to become more of a mental state, preceding the actual utterance, akin to the psycholinguistic 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.
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).<ref name=watw/> This stronger metaphysical bent has also been indicated by some as one of the unifying themes between the Yoga Sutras and the Mahābhāṣya.
The text of the
had diversified somewhat in the late Sanskritic tradition, and the nineteenth-century orientalist Franz Kielhorn produced the first critical edition and developed philological criteria for distinguishing Kātyāyana's “voice” from Patañjali's. Subsequently a number of other texts have come out, the 1968 text by S.D. Joshi and J.H.F. Roodbergen often being considered definitive.
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.<ref>Romila Thapar, Interpreting Early India. Oxford University Press, 1992, p.63</ref> 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.
</ref><ref name=Patel>Patel, Vimal (1998). “Understanding the Integration of Alternative Modalities into an Emerging Healthcare Model in the United States”. in Humber, James M.; Almeder, Robert F.. Alternative medicine and ethics. Humana Press. pp. 55-56. ISBN 0-89603-440-2, 9780896034402. ://books.google.com/books?id=E7X7d_DZlLkC&printsec=frontcover&dq=alternative+medicine+and+ethics#v=onepage&q=&f=false</ref> The TM-Sidhi Program is claimed to be based directly on the theory and practice of the Yoga sutras using a technique of Sanyama.
Actual lineal traditions of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali bear no similarity to the neo-Hindu Transcendental Meditation “sidhi” program,<ref>Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Arya, Usharbudh, ISBN 978-81-208-2069-2</ref> which cultivates yogic siddhis. Traditionally, cultivation of yogic siddhis is considered a primary impediment to Enlightenment or Cosmic Consciousness (Skt.: turiyatita) and are disallowed in the Shankaracharya tradition for this reason.<ref>Jivan-mukti-viveka of Swami Vidyaranya ISBN 978-81-7505-182-9</ref>
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