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

Christophe Vielle christophe.vielle at UCLOUVAIN.BE
Wed Mar 9 11:32:55 UTC 2011

(Dear Pihlpip)
The lexical quotation by Dominic (with a c) was 
raising the interesting question of the 
possibility to linguistically see at least two 
different words 'yoga' in Sanskrit, therefore 
The passage of Singleton's book provided by 
Dominik (with a k) is indeed to be understood as 
'yoga' in Sanskrit as having not the same 
meaning(s) than 'yoga' as used in western 
languages for denoting popular practices. But 
since the latter (in English as in French, etc.) 
is a borrowing from the Sanskrit word, the use of 
the term 'homonymy' appears to me in this case 
simply meaningless, as it would be the case for 
'ayurveda', 'tantra', 'vastushastra', etc. when 
the words are used in western languages for 
denoting practices/discourses which are really 
far from the extensive/comprehensive meanings of 
the original Sanskrit words.
With best wishes,

>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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