Sanskrit Texts on Yoga (PG)

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
South Asia Section

Module overview


15PSAC294: Sanskrit Language 1 (or equivalent knowledge)

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • read a variety of Sanskrit texts on yoga
  • place their teachings in the context of the historical development of both yoga and the academic study of yoga
  • critically assess the different approaches of the editors of yoga texts
  • access and work with a variety of secondary sources on yoga
  • write essays on a variety of aspects of the history and practice of yoga.


This course will be taught over 20 weeks with a 2 hour weekly seminar/tutorial.

Scope and syllabus

This course will give students an advanced level of understanding of one of the most important aspects of South Asian religious culture, and a broader appreciation of the linguistic, literary and religious culture of the subcontinent. It will also prepare them for postgraduate research in South Asian studies. Four texts on yoga will be studied, ranging from the c.4th century Pātañjalayogaśāstra (aka “The Yoga Sūtras”) to early modern texts on physical yoga. The texts will be read in their Sanskrit originals and particular attention will be paid to critical assessment of the editions used.

Method of assessment

  • one three-hour written examination taken in May/June (60%)
  • one 3,000 word essay to be submitted term 2 (20%)
  • one 3,000 word essay to be submitted term 3 (20%)
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page

Suggested reading

[Some of the Sanskrit texts to be studied will be unpublished critical editions by James Mallinson and others, which will be distributed as pdf files via Moodle.]

  • Yogasūtra of Patañjali with the commentaries (Bhāṣya, Tattvavaiśāradī, and Yogavārttikā) of Vyāsa, Vācaspatimiśra, and Vijñānabhikṣu, ed. Nārāyaṇa Miśra. Benares: Bhāratīya Vidyā Prakāśan. 1971.
  • Haṭhapradīpikā of Svātmārāma, ed. Svāmī Digambarjī and Dr Pītambar Jhā. Lonavla: Kaivalyadhām S.M.Y.M. Samiti. 1970.
  • Jacobsen, K.A. 2012 (ed.). Yoga Powers. Brill: Leiden.
  • Mallinson, J.:
    • 2004. The Gheranda Samhita. New York:
    • 2007a. The Khecarīvidyā of Ādinātha. A critical edition and annotated translation of an early text of haṭhayoga. London: Routledge.
    • 2007b. The Shiva Samhita. A Critical Edition and An English Translation. New York:
    • 2011b. “The Original Gorakṣaśataka,” pp.257–272 in White 2011.
    • 2011c. “Nāth Saṃpradāya,” entry in the Brill Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 3, ed. Knut A. Jacobsen, pp. 407-428. Leiden: Brill.
    • 2011d. “Haṭha Yoga,” entry in the Brill Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol.3, ed. Knut A. Jacobsen, pp. 770-781. Leiden: Brill.
    • 2012. “Siddhi and Mahāsiddhi in Early Haṭhayoga,” pp. 327–344 in Jacobsen 2012.
    • 2013. “Yogic Identities: Tradition and Transformation”. Smithsonian Institute Research Online.
    • Maas, P. 2013. “A Concise Historiography of Classical Yoga Philosophy”. Pre-print version of the article that is to be published in: Eli Franco (ed.), Historiography and Periodization of Indian Philosophy. De Nobili Series, Vienna.
    • White, D.G. 2011 (ed.). Yoga in Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules