On Yoga and Yogācāra The Yogasūtra in Light of Buddhist Sources

Main Article Content

Daniel Raveh


In his book The Yogasūtra of Patañjali: A New Introduction to the Buddhist Roots of the Yoga System, Pradeep Gokhale reveals a new picture of the Yogasūtra. He shows us, verse after verse, Buddhist influences on this classical text, which is usually seen as rooted in the Sākhya tradition. Gokhale does not merely argue that Patañjali borrows from Buddhist sources; he substantiates his argument with numerous detailed examples, traveling back and forth between Patañjali and Buddhist thinkers such as Asaga and Vasubandhu. Gokhale further argues that Vyāsa, Patañjali’s most authoritative commentator, makes a political move in his commentary by distancing Patañjali from the Buddhists and situating him on the “right side” of the philosophical map, namely the āstika side, the side of the loyalists of the Veda. The implications are far-reaching. First, Patañjali and Vyāsa cannot be one and the same person, as claimed by solid Yogasūtra scholars such as Philipp Maas. Second, the Patañjali of the Yogasūtra cannot be identified with his namesake, the author of the Mahābhāya, “The Great Commentary” on some of the themes discussed by Pāini, the forefather of Indian linguistics. Patañjali, the linguist, is dated to the 2nd or 3rd century BCE; Patañjali of the Yogasūtra would now have to be pushed forward to the 5th century CE as Gokhale implies. Like Daya Krishna before him, Gokhale highlights the contribution of Buddhist texts and thinkers, often undermined or marginalized in the narrative of the history of Indian philosophy, at least as it is sketched in India. In this respect, I briefly visit Daya Krishna’s essay “Was Ācārya Śakara responsible for the disappearance of Buddhist Philosophy from India?” (1999). Finally, I mention Karen O’Brien-Kop’s research. Like Gokhale, she makes an attempt to join the dots between Pātañjala-yoga and the Buddhist Yogācāra.

Article Details

How to Cite
Raveh, D. (2023). On Yoga and Yogācāra: The Yogasūtra in Light of Buddhist Sources. Journal of World Philosophies, 8(1). Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/iupjournals/index.php/jwp/article/view/6329
Book Reviews