Yoga Body, a book by Mark Singleton
wujastyk at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 8 16:57:54 UTC 2011
No, yes, but. :-)
What Singleton says is, as I read him, let's do a Gedanken experiment, let's
treat English "yoga" as if it were a different word than the Sanskrit, and
see whether that helps us keep things in order. The main point he's making,
and I think he makes it adequately clearly, is that people (practitioners)
get themselves into a hissy fit over the "true" meaning of the word. If we
just leave all that behind, and allow the English "yoga" have it's own
history and meaning, we'll introduce the historical dimension into our
thinking, and that will help.
I don't have the book to hand right now, but Singleton uses several
conditionals to make it clear that he's doing an "as if" experiment. "If we
can agree to proceed on this basis ..." or some such phrase.
On 8 March 2011 16:42, George Thompson <gthomgt at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello Dominik,
> I admire your willingness to seek a more generous interpretation of the
> passage from Singleton [generosity is a good thing!], but I still don't buy
> the idea that the English word 'yoga' is a homonym of the Sansrit word
> 'yoga.' The English word is a loanword from Sanskrit. So, in my view,
> there is still only one word here. 'Yoga' in the RV doesn't mean the same
> thing as 'yoga' in the Gita, but it is after all the same word, right? Or
> am I just going crazy?
> Look, would it be correct to say that the English word 'mantra' is a
> homonym of the Sanskrit word 'mantra'? It doesn't matter that 'mantra' in
> English may have a different set of meanings or connotations than the
> Sanskrit word.
> Is the English phrase 'habeas corpus' a homonym of the Latin phrase?
> All of this multiplication of words and phrases troubles me.
> Otherwise, I'm just fine.
> All the best,
> On Tue, Mar 8, 2011 at 9:48 AM, Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com>wrote:
>> However, there's a more important point. I've just looked up the passage
>> about homonyms that has exercised George Thompson, and I think George has
>> missed the point that Singleton is making. See the snippet
>> Google Books; and the relevant pages 15 and 16 from Singleton's book
>> attached to this email. After a passage addressing the issue of partisan
>> ownerships of the word and idea of yoga, Singleton suggests that it might
>> helpful to consider the English word "yoga" as a homonym of the Sanskrit
>> word *yoga*. He doesn't quite put it like that, but it's clear enough
>> that's what he means. The point of this suggested strategy is to
>> the modern English use of the word from essentializing arguments about the
>> meaning and history of the Sanskrit word. Singleton isn't actually
>> that "yoga" in Sanskrit is a series of homonyms.
>> Dominik with a k.
>> On 8 March 2011 05:23, Dominic Goodall <dominic.goodall at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > 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
>> > or
>> > 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
>> > but the view that yoga and yoga can be homophones appears to be quite an
>> > 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
>> > old,
>> > > and that they have been heavily influenced by early 20th century
>> > > 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
>> > in
>> > > classical Sanskrit is not just one term. He claims that it is a
>> > 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
>> > to
>> > > make. In English "to," and "two," and "too," are homonyms. Also,
>> > "threw"
>> > > and "through" are homonyms. Aso, in some dialects of English,
>> > > "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
>> > > 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
>> > But
>> > > he is young, and maybe he can be excused for this slight error. But
>> > 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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