Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali trans and interpreted by Sri Swami Satchidananda

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda is a translation (with transliteration) of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a classic text on the practice of yoga and the eight branches of yoga.  As with any commentary by a single person, the perspective is narrow.  These are one man’s opinion of what the aphorisms mean and how to interpret them in our own lives.

There are times when Satchidananda can be a bit flippant in his explanation, sort of dumbing the text down to make is accessible for the masses.  I can see how some people would read this and find it almost insulting to one’s intelligence.

It all depends on where you are in your yoga practice.  If you are new to yoga philosophy, a more simplified explanation of Patanjali’s text is probably welcome.  I wonder if some people who are familiar with The Yoga Sutras might not also benefit from a more simple explanation.  After all, we tend to intellectualize spirituality and yet all of the great teachers have taught that these things are easy.  Sometimes it is a good thing to step back from the cerebral and just look at these things from a different angle.

Albeit, I think I was/am ready for more depth which is why I can’t say I loved this book.  I have another translation and interpretation to read and I’m eager to begin it but I’ve already committed to reading something else first.  And I’m going to hold onto this book.  When I’ve read one or two other interpretations, I may want to set them up side-by-side and do a comparison.  Like reading different translations of the Bible and commentaries by various theologians, it is always interesting to see how different teachers present and share the same text.

Or it is to me anyway.  I’m rather perverse like that.


  1. Don't know this version but I can relate to what you write here. I think Patanjali's Yoga Sutras are very simple and difficult at the same time, *because* they are so simple and short. Especially since one always has to rely on, if not commentary, translation (I actually did two sanskrit seminars at uni but I'm no way near a level that would allow me to properly translate such a text from scratch...). I'm curious to read your review of the second book already!

    Btw: if you haven't seen it already, the movie "Men al dente" (if that is the English title - I just literally translated it from German) by Ferzan Ozpetek is absolutely fabulous!

  2. I just looked and netflix doesn't seem to have it listed.

    What is the original, not translated title? I can always see if my library has it. I'm always eager to watch a fabulous movie.

  3. The original title is "mine vaganti". I saw it yesterday. It's in the movies right now here, so I don't know if you'd already find it in a library).

  4. Yep. Not yet available on netflix but I have it saved. Unfortunately, there is an "unknown" release date which means it's not yet scheduled for dvd in the states. Hrm . . . I need to move.