AW: [INDOLOGY] Yoga Body, a book by Mark Singleton

Philipp Maas phmaas at ARCOR.DE
Wed Mar 9 10:15:04 UTC 2011

Dear Critstoph,
the question, as I understand our discussion, is not whether there are two or more words “yoga” in classical Sanskrit, but whether the word “yoga” in modern western languages is the same word as in classical Sanskrit. The common derivation of both words from the (one or other) Sanskrit root “yuj” is no sufficient criterion to settle this question. 

In my view, a good example to support the view that there is such a radical break between the meaning of “yoga” in Indian philosopies and religions and its use in connection with postural modern yoga as to speak of two different words is a statement ascribed to the actress Julia Roberts ( who allegedly said that she don't want yoga to change her life. Just her butt.

This statement makes perfect sense if “yoga” means a form of gymnastics and it is absurd when “yoga” is semantically related to soteriology.

As Bußman explains, semantic differences are an important but not a sufficiently exact criterion to establish homonymy. Therefore Singleton’s use of the word “homonym” is maybe more open to a scholarly discussion than the question of whether an intellectual continuum leads from the Paatañjala Yoga"saastra to some mainstream forms of postural modern yoga. 

All the best,


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