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

George Thompson gthomgt at GMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 10 01:23:38 UTC 2011

On Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 8:20 PM, George Thompson <gthomgt at> wrote:

> Dear Philipp,
> I apologize for not replying sooner, but I have other duties to attend to.
> The word 'yoga' in all western languages is a LOANWORD from Sanskrit,
> regardless of etymology.  This is not a matter of two words.  It is a matter
> of a borrowed word going in strange new directions.  Julia Roberts is
> entitled to her own sense of what "yoga" means to her.  But let us be
> clear.  The word that she is using is the same one that Patanjali used and
> the Gita used the authors of the Upanisads used.
> It is this very confusion that Singleton has created, whether
> accidentally or intentionally.
> Best Wishes,
> George
>   On Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 5:15 AM, Philipp Maas <phmaas at> wrote:
>> 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,
>> Philipp

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