Patanjali
(c. second century B.C.E.)
   author of Yoga Sutra
   In Indian tradition two books are ascribed to Patanjali: the Mahabhashya (the primary com-mentary to the grammar of Panini) and the com-mentary on the YOGA SUTRA. Western scholarship, however, dates the first work to around 200 B.C.E., and the Yoga Sutra to around 200 C.E., making it impossible for the two Patanjalis to be the same.
   Tradition has it that Patanjali was an incarna-tion of the divine serpent ADISHESHA, upon whom VISHNU reclines between ages on the MILK OCEAN. Patanjali’s name, it is said, is from this serpent, which in very tiny form fell (pat) onto the palm (anjali) of either Panini himself or his mother, Gonika, or fell from her womb (anjali) (the word anjali has many meanings). Patanjali is sometimes also referred to as Gonikaputra (son of Gonika).
   Iconographically, Patanjali is depicted with the lower body of a snake and a canopy of five serpent heads over his head. He is shown offering anjali MUDRA with his palms joined. This clearly refers to the second element of his name.
   Further reading: Georg Feuerstein, trans., The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 1990); F. Kielhorn, Katyayana and Patanjali: Their Rela-tion to Each Other and to Panini (Varanasi: Indological Book House, 1963); Baij Nath Puri, India in the Time of Patanjali (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1957); Ian Whicher, The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana: A Reconsid-eration of Classical Yoga (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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