Yoga and the Luminous

Patañjali's Spiritual Path to Freedom

By Christopher Key Chapple

Subjects: Religion, Yoga, India And South Asian Studies, Asian Studies, Asian Religion And Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791474761, 317 pages, October 2008
Hardcover : 9780791474754, 317 pages, October 2008

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Table of contents

1. The Yoga Tradition
I. The Practice of Yoga
2. Sāmkhya Philosophy and Yoga Practice
3 Precepts and Vows in Yoga and Jainism
4. Imitation of Animals in Yoga Tradition: Taming the Sacred Wild through Āsana Practice
5. Patañjali on Meditation: Undoing the Thinking Self
II. Yoga and Liberation
6. Luminosity and Yoga
7. Living Liberation in Sāmkhya and Yoga
III. Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra
8. Approaching the Yoga Sūtra
9. The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali: Continuous Text and Translation
10. Translation Methodology and Grammatical Analysis
11. “Samādhi pāda”
12. “Sādhana pāda”
13. “Vibhūti pāda”
14. “Kaivalya pāda”
IV. Interpreting Yoga
15. Reading Patañjali without Vyāsa
16. The Use of the Feminie Gender in Patañjali’s Description of Yogic Practices
17. Contemporary Expressions of Yoga
Index of Sanskrit Terms

A fresh look at Yoga philosophy.


Winner of the 2008 Rajinder and Jyoti Gandhi Book Award for Excellence in Dharma Studies presented by Taksha Institute

In Yoga and the Luminous, a book that emerges from more than thirty years of practice, study, and reflection, Christopher Key Chapple addresses the need for an accessible explanation of Yoga's difficult philosophy and its applications in daily life. Yoga practice takes an individual on an inward journey, and through Yoga, one enters a rarefied state of consciousness, a transparency and luminosity described by its great philosopher Patañjali as being "like a clear jewel." Exploring Yoga through the prism of practice, Chapple begins with a historical overview of the many Yogic traditions in Indian religions. He continues with Yoga practice and the philosophy of Sāṃkhya, and then, in step-by-step fashion, he brings the reader to an understanding of the ethics of Yoga, the role of movement and breath, and the processes of concentration and meditation. Finally, building on the root metaphor of luminosity and light, Chapple explains the applications of Yoga in daily life.

Yoga and the Luminous also includes a word-by-word translation of Patañjali's Yoga Sūtra, the foundational text of Yoga philosophy and a system of ethical practice and bodily purification. The translation is accompanied by an analysis that traces key ideas through the text, such as the reversal of mental and sensory outflows and the theme of spiritual discernment. Chapple also gives special attention to the feminine in the description of Yoga practices.

Christopher Key Chapple is Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology at Loyola Marymount University. He is the author or editor of many books, including Reconciling Yogas: Haribhadra's Collection of Views on Yoga and Ecological Prospects: Scientific, Religious, and Aesthetic Perspectives, both also published by SUNY Press.


"…the overall tone of Yoga and the Luminous clearly oscillates between the formally academic and the rhetorical warmth of the Yoga studio … this blending of two distinctive modes of discourse make for a work that is both engaging and accessible … the heart of the text is Chapple's translation of Patañjali's Yoga Sūtra … Most readers … will be delighted to find such readability, precision, and utility in a translation of this crucial work. " — International Journal of Hindu Studies

"A valuable group of Chapple's essays (old and new) about Yoga … Chapple is both a scholar and practitioner of Yoga, and one can see elements of both trainings in this book. " — Religious Studies Review

"In Yoga and the Luminous, we get an historical summary about yoga schools of the three classic religions of India, with Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali as the theme of the monograph. This marvelous monograph also weighs in years of personal practice, understanding and diligence of the author … Students and teachers … alike would find Yoga and the Luminous a good reading. " — Jinamañjari

"…Chapple's insights—the result of 30 years of reflection and writing on yoga—are potent, and he is a gifted writer. The book is a pleasure to read, surveying important themes in the theory and practice of yoga. " — CHOICE

"Anyone with an interest in Yoga must consider Yoga and the Luminous as a starter guide. " — Midwest Book Review

"Yoga and the Luminous is a welcome addition to the growing literature on Yoga. This excellent book will be of great value to scholars, practitioners of Yoga, and those interested in how Yoga can be applied to some of the important issues of our time. " — Gerald James Larson, Tagore Professor Emeritus, Indiana University at Bloomington, and Professor Emeritus, University of California at Santa Barbara

"This book is based not only on a deep understanding of the Yoga Sūtra in its Jaina and Buddhist intellectual context but also on a lifetime of practicing the text. The result is a combination of intellectual insight and practical understanding written in clear English that communicates effectively to a wide range of readers. " — Harold Coward, author of The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Eastern and Western Thought