Silence Unheard

Deathly Otherness in Pātañjala-Yoga

By Yohanan Grinshpon

Subjects: Hindu Studies
Series: SUNY series in Hindu Studies
Paperback : 9780791451021, 168 pages, November 2001
Hardcover : 9780791451014, 168 pages, November 2001

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Table of contents

Foreword by David Shulman


Introduction: Challenges of an Oxymoronic Genre

1. Eight Characteristics in Search of the Yogasutra: The Lively Banalization of Yogic Deathly Silence

2. Daily Life in Samadhi: The Dying Yogin's Real Life and a Plea for Holistic Presentation of the Yogasutra

3. The Yogasutra and the Dying Yogin's "Lively Interior"

4. Causality, False Linearity, and the Silent Yogin's Presence in the Yogasutra

5. Untying the Knot of Existence: Liberation, Deathly Silence, and Their Interpretation in Patañjala-Yoga

6. The Dying Yogin's Challenge; Homelessness and Truth

The Essential Yogasutra; An Exercise in Rereading as Rewriting




Explores the experience of yoga in the Yogasutra of Patanjali.


Silence Unheard maintains that the reality of Patañjali's Yogasūtra is a profound silence barely and variously audible to the scholars and interpreters who approach it. Even the Yogasūtra itself is an "approach," a voice articulating an other-- a silent, beyond-speech yogin. Author Yohanan Grinshpon presents Patañjali as a Sāṅkhya-philosopher, who interprets silence in accordance with his own dualist metaphysics and Buddhistic sensibilities. The Yogasūtra represents an intellectual's conceptualization of utter otherness rather than the yogin's verbalization of silence. Silence Unheard focuses on the yogin's supra-normal experiences (siddhis) as well as on the classification of silences and the ultimate goal of disintegration through guṇa balance. The book provides a translation of the Yogasūtra divided into two sections: an essential text, concerning the yoga practitioner, and a secondary text, concerning the philosopher. Grinshpon also surveys the encounters of intellectuals, scholars, seekers, devotees, and outsiders with the Yogasūtra.

Yohanan Grinshpon is Lecturer in Indian Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


"…this concise but well documented and densely argued study sheds a new light on the Yogasutra and its commentaries, disclosing an unfamiliar and striking landscape to the reader. " — Indologica Taurinensia

"This is a beautifully written book that breaks from the usual scholarly conventions in order to struggle deeply and honestly with the sheer 'otherness' of a classical Indian text, Patanjali's Yogasutra. Grinshpon does not 'look away' from the psychological realities of the text. He does not explain the difficulties away or try to tame the text through some socialized or moral assumption--he lets it stand as a symbol of silence and death and unconscious samadhi, all radically 'other' to any socialized reader. Nor does he artificially separate the text, censor it, or ignore it by halves; instead, he insists on its wholeness, on the integrity of the yogic universe, and on the impossibility of entering that universe through anything other than a great sacrifice. " -- Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of Kali's Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna