Academy of Indian Philosophy

The Meaning of Yoga from √yuj || Yogasūtra of Patañjali

In Patañjali’s Yogasūtra, the word Yoga is said to be composed of the root yuj. This root, however, is not the same root as yuj-to yoke/merge, but rather, is from the root yuj-to meditate/contemplate upon. Thus, there are two roots of yuj. The first, meaning “to yoke/merge” is from the 7th gaṇa (class). It’s original form is yujir. After grammatical elisions, outlined by the grammarian Pāṇini, the root yujir turns into yuj. The second yuj, does not go through the same modifications as the first, and also has its final form as yuj, but belongs to the 4th gaṇa (class). How do we know this? In Vācaspati Miśra’s commentary on the Yogasūtra (Tattvavaiśāradī ~900-980 C.E.), under the first sūtra, he states that the word yoga is not derived from the root yujir-to join, but rather from the root yuj-to contemplate. Therefore, whenever we think of the term Yoga with regards to Patañjali’s Yogasūtra, we must always remember that the meaning is not “to yoke or unite”, but rather “to meditate or contemplate upon.

-Hemal P. Trivedī

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