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Yoga: Immortality and Freedom

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  302 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews

In this landmark book the renowned scholar of religion Mircea Eliade lays the groundwork for a Western understanding of Yoga, exploring how its guiding principle, that of freedom, involves remaining in the world without letting oneself be exhausted by such "conditionings" as time and history. Drawing on years of study and experience in India, Eliade provides a comprehensiv
Paperback, 560 pages
Published April 21st 1970 by Princeton University Press (first published 1954)
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Craig Shoemake
Long the standard work in the field, Eliade’s big book on yoga still displays its author’s dazzling erudition, while at the same time suffering from a dated style, poor organization, and like so many other scholarly tomes on the exotic field of “Eastern” spirituality, demonstrates the limits of a purely academic approach divorced from serious practice.

I’ve actually lost track of how many times I’ve read this book (or at least portions of it). In college I was a huge Eliade fan—my advisor was a
Amy Mingasson
Oct 17, 2015 Amy Mingasson rated it liked it
"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."
—Yogi Berra
Barnaby Thieme
As David Gordon White eloquently points out in his indispensable introduction, Eliade's early masterpiece was far ahead of the curve; so much so that it is strongest when he sticks to the material he knows first hand. And so his exposition of Samkhya and Raja Yoga which he knew intimately from the Sanskrit material is truly marvelous and stands hardly rivaled to this day. When he wanders further afield the thinness of the available bibliography becomes evident. The chapters on Buddhism and Tantr ...more
Dec 16, 2011 Heather marked it as to-read
Here's the process:

1. Obscure Yoga Journal Luminaries article on Mr. Eliade
2. The comments were fascinating and, it felt, a bit judgmental without adequate research
3. Lead to curiosity on his Yoga: Essays on Indian Mysticism for my own opinion
4. Haven't found it yet but found this: among loads of others
5. Started reading religion essays, cultural history, critique I could find
6. Some I really dug. Some not so much. Others, the jury is still out.
7. Resultingly:
Dennis Littrell
Apr 17, 2010 Dennis Littrell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yoga
Eliade, Mircea. Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (1958) *****
All serious yoga scholars have this book or want it

I have the Bollingen paperback third printing of the Second Edition of 1969. I have little doubt that they used the plates from that hardcover edition, so the text is identical. The edition of 1970 currently available is the same as the one I have except for a new cover. The original was in French, published in Paris in 1954. This edition is professionally translated by William R. Trask.

Apr 27, 2015 Stepan rated it really liked it
когда-нибудь, когда у меня появится время читать подобные книги не в метро, а в более спокойной и располагающей к более вдумчивому чтению обстановке, я напишу об этой книге больше. Однако уже сейчас могу сказать, что первое впечатление от чтения двойственное. С одной стороны, Элиаде охватил в своем тексте довольно большой корпус идей и понятий так или иначе имеющих отношение к йоге в Индии. С другой, текст все же более теоретический, так как уже в самом начале Элиаде пишет, что без непосредствен ...more
Chinmay Roy
Jun 04, 2013 Chinmay Roy rated it did not like it
Mar 24, 2017 Mauricio rated it it was amazing
Un libro esplendido para estudiar la maravilla del Yoga. Mircea Eliade es un referente necesario para comprender y entender los diversos pensamientos religiosos y místicos del ser humano; este libro no es la excepción. Alejado de cualquier dogma u especulación, el trabajo de Eliade es profundamente filosófico, conteniendo una documentación impresionante que recoge los textos arcaicos que fueron cformando al Yoga, así como los diversos estudios realizados sobre el mismo, mostrando un panorama inv ...more
Eugene Pustoshkin
Feb 16, 2017 Eugene Pustoshkin rated it liked it
Recommends it for: scholars
This is an academic treatise which gets very dense towards the end. I found the first half of the book to be very useful. I think the chapter on Buddhism is one of the best descriptions of the original Buddha’s teaching and its relation to yoga I have ever encountered in literature so far. Alas, starting with the chapter on alchemy I lost the interest in the book—Eliade stresses a lot the mythological part, and I simply don’t share the fascination with mythological elements, those remnants of th ...more
Simone Roberts
May 03, 2013 Simone Roberts rated it liked it
As noted by many, many others: Eliade runs off into some speculations and associations that just don't work. But, as an introduction to the history, general methods, and goals of hatha and tanra yoga (which are not that far apart)it tracks well with other such texts. The utter lack of Eurocentrism or Orientalism is surprising given the book's date, but Eliade made himself a student of yogic practices and history, so it's a practitioners account -- which is a very different thing to the account o ...more
Sep 02, 2015 Gaëlle-Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Encore une fois Mircea Eliade est un puits de science. J'ai appris une tonne de choses sur le yoga et sur l'Inde. Une lecture absolument fascinante. Et difficile (notamment à cause des termes en sanscrit, qui en plus ne sont pas transcrits de la même manière que maintenant) et austère et en même temps drôle à certains moments.
Sudhakar Majety
Nov 15, 2014 Sudhakar Majety rated it really liked it
I am still reading it. The elaborate description of Sankhya and Yogic philosophies vis a vis human condition is very informative. The book is a little difficult to read given it is a translation from French but the points he made are profound.
Apr 26, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it
An interesting and dense exploration of the development of yoga. It is a good balance to the present-day sort of texts one encounters. (It is, of course, always important to keep in mind where Eliade was coming from)
Dec 01, 2008 Mark rated it liked it
An interesting introduction for Westerners into the world of Yoga, but even the erudite Eliade misrepresents/misunderstands some of the aspects of this meditative technology, especially the tantric elements.
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Romanian-born historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, professor at the University of Chicago, and one of the pre-eminent interpreters of world religion in this century. Eliade was an intensely prolific author of fiction and non-fiction alike, publishing over 1,300 pieces over 60 years. He earned international fame with LE MYTHE DE L'ÉTERNAL RETOUR (1949, The Myth of the Eternal Return) ...more
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“If Samkhya-Yoga philosophy does not explain the reason and origin of the strange partnership between the spirit and experience, at least tries to explain the nature of their association, to define the character of their mutual relations. These are not real relationships, in the true sense of the word, such as exist for example between external objects and perceptions. The true relations imply, in effect, change and plurality, however, here we have some rules essentially opposed to the nature of spirit.
“States of consciousness” are only products of prakriti and can have no kind of relation with Spirit the latter, by its very essence, being above all experience. However and for SamPhya and Yoga this is the key to the paradoxical situation the most subtle, most transparent part of mental life, that is, intelligence (buddhi) in its mode of pure luminosity (sattva), has a specific quality that of reflecting Spirit. Comprehension of the external world is possible only by virtue of this reflection of purusha in intelligence. But the Self is not corrupted by this reflection and does not lose its ontological modalities (impassibility, eternity, etc.). The Yoga-sutras (II, 20) say in substance: seeing (drashtri; i.e., purusha) is absolute consciousness (“sight par excellence”) and, while remaining pure, it knows cognitions (it “looks at the ideas that are presented to it”). Vyasa interprets: Spirit is reflected in intelligence (buddhi), but is neither like it nor different from it. It is not like intelligence because intelligence is modified by knowledge of objects, which knowledge is ever-changing whereas purusha commands uninterrupted knowledge, in some sort it is knowledge. On the other hand, purusha is not completely different from buddhi, for, although it is pure, it knows knowledge. Patanjali employs a different image to define the relationship between Spirit and intelligence: just as a flower is reflected in a crystal, intelligence reflects purusha. But only ignorance can attribute to the crystal the qualities of the flower (form, dimensions, colors). When the object (the flower) moves, its image moves in the crystal, though the latter remains motionless. It is an illusion to believe that Spirit is dynamic because mental experience is so. In reality, there is here only an illusory relation (upadhi) owing to a “sympathetic correspondence” (yogyata) between the Self and intelligence.”
“When one approaches an exotic spirituality, one understands principally what one is predestined to understand by one's own vocation, by one's own cultural orientation and that of the historical moment to which one belongs.” 4 likes
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