Dr. Pradeep Prabhakar Gokhale - Reunderstanding Patañjali’s Yoga

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

August 29, being the 12th lecture, was graced by Dr. Gokhale. Broadly divided into two parts, his talk first showed how Patañjali’s Yoga system, manifested in Yoga Sūtra, is influenced by Buddhism and second, tried to question the view of some scholars who argued that Yoga Sūtra and Yoga bhāṣya form a single unique system. And thus, by looking into it he tried to highlight the discrepancies in the two texts.

After explaining the matters concerning the legitimate authorship of the Yoga Sūtra Dr. Gokhale positedthat though the Yoga system of Patañjali is often described as Patañjali-sāṁkhya, many ideas which are not found in traditional Sāṁkhya , but are found in Buddhism, are found in the Yoga system. To support this argument Dr. Gokhale mentioned the viewpoints of Erich Frauwallner and La Vallee Poussin. Dr. Gokhale then said that unlike other sutra texts the Yoga Sūtra does not seem to have a uniform background literature belonging to a single tradition it seems to have diverse literature as its background which includes classical Upanishads, Sāṁkhya as well as Buddhist and Jaina literature, it can thus be understood that Patañjali’s Yoga is an amalgamation of the materials taken from diverse sources but, it is to note that comparatively the influence of Sāṁkhya and Buddhism is pervasive and through going.

He further explained how each tradition has influenced and contributed in the formation of the tradition and texts of Yoga . He mentioned the influence of Upaniṣads, Jainism and said that more important source of Patañjali-Yoga than Upanishads and Jainism is the Sāṁkhya system as Patañjali’s Yoga uses many Sāṁkhya. categories such as Puruṣa draṣṭā, guṇa and so on. Also, the distinction between Puruṣa and Prakriti and its guṇas are strictly maintained in the Yoga Sūtra . He also mentioned some differences between the two systems concerning the concept of god and said that though Patañjali was influenced by two systems (Sāṁkhya and Buddhism) he was not influences in the same order and manner (because there itself is a basic contrast between the two systems).

To learn more about how he weaved all these systems of philosophy together, as well as the discrepancies between Yoga Sūtra and Yoga bhāṣya, please tune into our YouTube channel!

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