Who Was Patanjali?

Delving into the ancient yogic texts requires having a strong sense of imagination and a splash—if not more—of suspended disbelief.  More than mere philosophy, these texts introduce the reader to a symbolic work in which hangs the delicate veil that separates reality from myth. In fact, many ancient yogic texts and their study depend on the very question of the existence of reality. In 1896, Swami Vivekananda published Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as part of his seminal work, Raja Yoga, turning the Sutras into one of the most famous and utilitarian yogic texts in the West. Not much is known about Patanjali or the composition of the Sutras themselves. It is believed, however, that the text was written around 250 B.C.E. Even now, before opening the first page of this ancient text, the reader’s sense of viveka, or discernment, is put to the test by the question of who the sage Patanjali really was. India enjoys a rich compendium of myths. Some of the oldest legen

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