Al-Biruni’s Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Al-Biruni’s Arabic Version of Patanjali’s Yogasutra
(by Sholom Pines and Tuvia Gelblum)

A Translation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and a Comparison with Related Texts, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, vol. 52, no. 2 (1989), 265-305, vol. 46, no. 2 (1983), 258-304, vol. 40, no. 3 (1977), 522-549, vol. 29, no. 2 (1966), 302-325.

The first text of al-Biruni (A.D. 973-c. 1050) published in Europe which contains a reference to his transaltion of Patanjali's Yogasutra is his Risala fi fihrist kutub Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, the relevant part of which was published by E. Sachau, Leipzig, 1876-8. In his list of his work, which is included in this Risala, al_Biruni states that this list comprises the works he has written up to the end of 427/1037. Several years later sachau published al-Briuni's India (London, 1887), in which al Briuni not only refers to his havng translated this work of Patanjali, but also quotes from it copiously. The relationship of the latter work to the well-known classical sources of the Yoga philosophy has since been debatable. Sachau himself was led astray by the partial evidence constituted by the excerpts in the India to the extent of stating: 'Al-Briuni's Patanjali is totally different from "The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali" ... and as far as I may judge, the philosphic system of the former differs in many points essentially from that of the Sutras'. This view was regarded as certainly true and further elaborated by S.N.Dasgupta, who as late as 1930 postulated a distinct Patanjali as author of the text translated by al-Biruni. Presumably Dasgupta did not have access to the MS of al-Biruni's translation, which had been discovered by Massignon in 1922.

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