Fostering the study of the Yoga-Sutras and their integration into our daily lives.
Today's serious student of the Yoga Sutra of Patañjali is inundated with translations of it and yet simultaneously bereft of guidance of how to proceed with study. The Unadorned Thread of Yoga solves both problems. Uniquely it offers, in the simplest, most usable form, 12 side by side translations of each Sutra by some of the most respected authors. It is like having 12 books open at once. Comparing the translations adds great light on the study of the Sutra of course, but using this book offers more than that. The reader will find translations of each word of the sutra and the presentation of the Sanskrit characters as well, which adds authenticity for the most discriminating student. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for all yoga teachers and those wishing to study Patañjali with elegance and veracity.
Thank you, Salvatore Zambito, for this historic contribution.
Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., PT, yoga teacher since 1971 and author of six books including ”A Year of Living Your Yoga“.
The Unadorned Thread is a seminal reference book, containing translations of the Yoga-Sutra of Patañjali. The classical masterpiece has enjoyed a time-honoured tradition among yoga devotees and has been translated by different scholars, bringing their interpretations of the meanings hidden in the Sutras. This book will appeal to advanced yoga practitioners who have an understanding of Patañjali’s works and yoga.
This book is indeed a special tool and we agree with the author’s own words. He also sheds light on its making: It provides a comprehensive and readily accessible handbook for study in the essential text of Yoga, in English, by utilizing this diversity in a compendium of translations. The rationale for these variances will be discussed in the sub-chapter, Why So Many Translations of the Same Book?
“The circumstances for this compilation to emerge had been slowly arranging themselves and in September 1990, several important pieces fell together. First, after many years without adding to my collection, I acquired a number of significant new contributions to the Yoga-Sutra opus. Second, the computer hardware and word processing software to format columns in a convenient and straightforward way came on the market and to me. Third, and more than I had ventured to ask for, was Gila May. Not only did she provide the software for the project, she gave the book its initial format and entered ten of the Sûtra translations. Her experience of publishing a small newspaper for years enabled her to complete that portion of the project in about a month.
“The Unadorned Thread of Yoga has been produced primarily with meditators in mind. Particularly, it is a tool for Western Yogis and Yoginis who are being drawn to meditation or are adding meditation to their primarily physical Hatha Yoga practice. It will also be an invaluable resource for scholars of Yoga, the Yoga-Sutras, and Indian studies. The Unadorned Thread of Yoga proposes to present an expanded view of this ancient system of personal discipline that integrates physical, psychological, and spiritual practices.
“The Unadorned Thread of Yoga assumes that the reader has familiarity with Yoga tradition and history… The title of this book, The Unadorned Thread of Yoga, is a lyrical translation of the word sutra as it applies to a book. A sûtra is a short statement that embodies a significant concept. A sûtra is also a book of these compiled statements. The cultural translation for the term, sûtra, as applied to a book is: a single thread unadorned by a single bead.
“May the readers and students of this work enter this simplicity.
“Twenty-four years after “spreading all these books all over the floor,” this stage of completion is before you. Enjoy!”
Yoga Journal — June, 2007 RICHARD ROSEN
When you study a Sanskrit text like Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, you're forced to rely, for the most part, on an English translation. Unfortunately, most of the Sutra's Sanskrit words can't be directly translated into English. As a result, rendered manuscripts seem somewhat flat relative to Patanjali's original passages. One solution is to compare several translations so that the text's fuller meaning is gradually revealed through different interpretations. The problem is, you can end up flipping tediously back and forth through a tall stack of books.
Fortunately, Salvatore Zambito, a yoga teacher since 1968 from Washington State, has devised an almost perfect solution to this dilemma. In this, his first book, he has collected a dozen translations of the sutras, or threads of knowledge, published between 1890 and 1995. The translators' commentaries that usually accompany the sutras in other volumes have been eliminated, thus making the sutras "unadorned."
In Zambito's collection, each sutra includes the original Sanskrit with its English transliteration and the breakdown of the individual Sanskrit words into their constituent elements, followed by 12 English interpretations. For example, sutra I.2, which defines yoga as citta-vrtti-nirodha, has several interpretations, including citta as "thinking principle" or "consciousness"; vrtti as "thought-waves" or "activities"; nirodha as "cessation," "quieting," "suppression," or "subjugation."
The translations are as diverse as the scholars who wrote them: Georg Feuerstein, Vyaas Houston, and Swami Veda Bharati (formerly Pandit Arya), who wrote the foreword to the book; distinguished swamis Vivekananda and Satchidananda; Theosophist sympathizers Alice A. Bailey and M.N. Dvivedi. Along with its informative essays in the appendixes, this book is an essential reference for serious Yoga Sutra students. Let's hope that volume 2, with translations made since 1995, is coming soon.
What we need (in Yoga studies) is a figurative touchstone—like the stone once used to test the quality of gold—that will help us make educated evaluations of all the Yoga-Sutra translations and their accompanying commentaries. This dictionary, conceived by Salvatore in his dedicated lifelong pursuit to disseminate authentic yoga wisdom and prepared with the help of master Sanskritists, is such a tool. For those of us who are Sanskrit-mad, this dictionary is a most valuable gift, to be kept close to hand and studied often, and not just in regard to the Yoga Sutra. Since Patañjali’s work is a foundation for many subsequent schools, you’ll find his terminology popping up again and again—chitta, samadhi, vairagya, pranava, avidya, and of course yoga—as your studies deepen and widen. This dictionary, I’m convinced, is bound to become another absolutely essential reference work for yoga students.
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