Yoga Body, a book by Mark Singleton

Dominic Goodall dominic.goodall at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 8 04:23:03 UTC 2011

Dear List,

Is this not just a reflection of the old idea that the form yoga can be derived from what have long been judged to be different verbal roots ? 
Commentators tend to defend their view of what yoga really is by quoting (from the Dhātupāṭha) either

yujir yoge  
yuja samādhau.

Theistic commentators tend to favour the former (e.g. the tenth-century Kashmirian Nārāyaṇakaṇṭha commenting on Mṛgendratantra, yogapāda 2) .  Historical linguists may not believe these to be properly separate roots, but the view that yoga and yoga can be homophones appears to be quite an old one.

Dominic Goodall
École française d'Extrême-Orient,
19, rue Dumas,
Pondicherry 605001

On 08-Mar-2011, at 9:00 AM, George Thompson wrote:

> Dear List,
> On another list there is a discussion of an interesting book with this title
> written recently  by Mark Singleton.  In this book Singleton argues,
> provocatively,  that modern hatha yoga practices are bearly a 100 years old,
> and that they have been heavily influenced by early 20th century European
> gymnastic regimens.   As far as I am concerned there is nothing
> controversial about Singleton's interesting new claims.
> But early on in his book, Singleton tries to suggest that the term yoga in
> classical Sanskrit is not just one term.  He claims that it is a series of
> homonyms  \that mean different things in the Upanisads, the Gita, the Yoga
> Sutras, the Shaiva Tantras, etc.
> But, in my view this is a very embarrassing error for any Sankrit scholar to
> make.  In English "to," and "two," and "too," are homonyms.  Also, "threw"
> and "through" are homonyms.  Aso, in some dialects of English, "marry,"
> "merry," and "Mary," are all also homonyms.
> But in Sanskrit, there is is only one word, "yoga," which has only one form
> but any meanings.  There are no homonyms of "yoga" in Sanskrit.  There is
> just that single  word.  Singleton obviously has no idea what he is talking
> about here when it comes to the notion of homony,m.  That's bad enough.  But
> he is young, and maybe he can be excused for this slight error.  But in her
> review of his otherwise good book Doniger repeats the same linguistic error:
> the Sanskit terrn "yoga" consists, in her view, of several so-called
> homonyms.
> This of course is very bad linguistics.
> I don't know what to think.  Should we just be silent about such small
> errors?  Or should we call them out?
> George Thompson

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