This course will undertake a close reading of yoga as presented in the traditional Hindu sourcebook on the subject, the 3rd century Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, where it is defined as “the stilling of all states of mind” (i.e. meditative practices). The Yoga Sūtras is the classical text on meditative practice accepted as authoritative by all the orthodox Hindu schools, and our reading of it will be informed by the primary commentaries that have elaborated on the source text over the centuries prior to the colonial period. We will thus read the most important sections of the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali yoga and engage it through pre-modern perspectives. In other words, we will encounter what yoga has meant in Indian traditions for two millennia prior to being transplanted to the West.
Edwin Bryant received his Ph.D in Indic languages and Cultures from Columbia University. He taught Hinduism at Harvard University for three years, and is presently the professor of Hinduism at Rutgers University where he teaches courses on Hindu philosophy and religion. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, published six books and authored a number of articles on Vedic history, yoga, and the Krishna tradition. In addition to his academic work for the scholarly community, Edwin's Penguin World Classics translation of the Srimad Bhagavata Purana, the traditional source for the story of Krishna's incarnation, is both for Indology specialists as well as students and those interested in Hinduism from the general reading public and the yoga community.As a personal practitioner of yoga for 35 years, a number of them spent in India studying with traditional teachers, where he returns yearly, Edwin strives to combine academic scholarship and rigor with sensitivity towards traditional knowledge systems. In addition to his academic course load, Edwin currently teaches workshopson the Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, and Hindu Philosophy at yoga studios and teacher training courses throughout the country. His translation of and commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (North Point Press, a division of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009) is specifically dedicated to contributing to the growing body of literature on yoga by providing insights from the major pre-modern commentaries on the text with a view to grounding the teachings in their traditional context.