[INDOLOGY] yamas and niyamas

patrick mccartney psdmccartney at gmail.com
Thu Nov 24 04:49:01 UTC 2016

Dear Friends,

A recent respondent of mine asserted that 'service' and 'compassion' were 2
of the 10 yamas and niyamas. I guess ahiṃsā *could* be indirectly
translated as 'compassion' for others by being 'non-violent', however,
'service' as in 'seva' does not find any mention in the PYS list, which is
what my respondent was referring to.

While the ideas of 'service' and 'compassion' show a lack of critical
understanding of the normative, institutionalised convention, I find it
fascinating how these canonised ideas evolve in a meme-like way,
unregulated in the minds of yoga practitioners (my respondent is a
professional yoga teacher). As *many* practitioners of modern yoga assume
this list has 'stood the test of time' and is as an a priori concept, this
has made me think about the historicity and development of the yamas and
niyamas as singular ideas, and as a conjoined pair.

Might it be correct to say that they were first standardised in the PYS as
10? Were there any other lists that had a greater or lesser number prior to
the PYS?  (I'm thinking in a similar way to the development of the
ṣadcakratantra, and how there were other texts that discussed alternate
numbers/locations, etc)

Might someone be able to  lead me to a better understanding of the
development of the yamas and niyamas? I looked through the search option of
the list but couldn't really find any discussion that pertained
specifically to my request. Although the discussions on whether some texts
place a concept in the yama as opposed to the niyama category are quite

Thank you.

All the best,

Patrick McCartney, PhD
School of Culture, History & Language
College of the Asia-Pacific
The Australian National University
Canberra, Australia, 0200

Skype - psdmccartney
Phone + Whatsapp:  +61 414 954 748
Twitter - @psdmccartney

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Ep1 - Imagining Sanskrit Land <https://youtu.be/jMi7tkPBbJ4>

Ep 2 - Total-am <https://youtu.be/7tAp8m9RHPU>

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