Bhakti Yoga (Book Review)

Bhakti Yoga: Tales and Teachings from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa by Edwin F. Bryant.

Review by Stephanie Corigliano

Edwin Bryant is well known in the realm of modern yoga studies for his translation of the text and commentaries of the Yoga Sūtras (2009).  This 2017 edition, Bhakti Yoga: Tales and Teachings from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, takes up an approach similar to that of the 2009 volume, offering a comprehensive introduction to the subject of bhakti yoga, including a review of its historical context, a fresh translation of core texts, and a discussion of the classical commentaries that are most relevant to the tradition and texts.  In doing this, one of Bryant’s most significant accomplishments is that he offers a bridge to the intelligent, non-specialist while retaining a level of scholarly integrity that is often bypassed in texts pertaining to yoga.  This bridge exists because Bryant not only offers the raw materials for study, but he also explains and demonstrates a traditional method for study that looks at early commentators within the respective tradition as a primary basis for interpretation.  For academics, this approach is expected, yet much of the literature on yoga that relates to a classical text fails to look at classical commentaries and, as a result, tends to offer more biased and modern interpretations.  To delve into either Bryant’s earlier text on Yoga Sūtras or the current edition on Bhakti Yoga is to directly encounter the earliest authoritative voices within their respective traditions.

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