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How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali
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How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  663 ratings  ·  59 reviews
The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali is a major work on the practice of yoga and meditation. Through these ancient aphorisms you will learn how to control your mind and achieve inner peace and freedom. Although these methods were taught over 2,000 years ago, they are as alive and effective today as they have ever been. The 2008 edition has been reset and now has an extensive in ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 12th 2007 by Vedanta Press & Bookshop (first published 400)
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Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: truth, yoga
I read this cover-to-cover while sitting on Mt. Shasta this summer, consuming nothing but water and juice for 7 days. But its brilliance is beyond hallucination. Though I was told this was one of those "dry spiritual texts," I found it funny, accessible, practical, and engaging. The translation of Patanjali's aphorisms must be one of the best, if not the best, out there, and the Sanskrit terminology isn't obtrusive. My only qualm is that by the end, the pragmatic "how-to" approach to yogi-ism fe ...more
Brad VanAuken
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Yoga Sutras (thread of aphorisms) of Patanjali are one of the six darshanas of the Hindu or Vedic schools. "How to Know God" is a beautiful translation of those. The book is relatively short (pocket sized with just over 200 pages) and very readable. It offers one of the clearest explanations of the practice of yoga and meditation that I have read. It is surprisingly practical. I value it almost as much as I do "The Art and Science of Raja Yoga: Fourteen Steps to Higher Awareness: Based on th ...more
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My favorite translation of Patanjali.

Trivia: in George Harrison's song "Brainwashed" this translation is quoted, and the book and page number are referenced within the song.
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great interpretation of the sutras recommended for the senior student who already has a good grasp of yoga philosophy. Even though this was published in 1953 it still is relevant to the spiritual seeker and examples of real life situations which are given to illustrate themes found in the sutras can still be understood. I found it interesting to research who Isherwood was after seeing a film based on one of his books, 'A Good Man' and realising he was the same Isherwood that had worked with Sw ...more
Brenna Gorbatov
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: yogis
Recommended to Brenna by: Carol Hanson
This book is very intense, but great for people who are curious about the sutras or who are serious yoga practitioners. This translation has a Christian scope on it, which makes it nice for many Westerns when trying to make connections. It is a book that should be read slowly. I marked mine up by underlining it. It is also a book that will reveal itself to you in day-to-day events if you pay attention and if you took the reading to heart. You will most likely reread this book in your life time i ...more
Jana Light
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thinking, spiritual
This was a very accessible and intriguing introduction to Hindu philosophy, particularly as seen through the practice and aim of yoga. I love all things Christopher Isherwood, and part of what drew me to him in the first place was his interest in the spiritual, so I enjoyed reading a work with his commentary on specific religious teachings. I was continually surprised by just how similar Hinduism is to Christianity (particularly Christianity of the mystic tradition) and as such really enjoyed ho ...more
John Kulm
Sep 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A translation and commentary of Patanjali's ancient yoga sutras. I liked the book very much, but found myself skipping the commentary by Prabhavandanda and Isherwood (in spite of their renowned knowledge), and just reading Patanjali's sutras which I felt were more interesting and thought provoking on their own.
Chris Marchan
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
A nice introduction to the Yoga Sutras. Still looking for the definitive commentary. But, really, you have to just sit with the slokas and let the Truth ring within and no commentary is then necessary. Same with all scriptures.
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After a few months of sporadic reading in between other study projects, I finally got some momentum behind this read, and upon finishing this cursory read-through, I am compelled towards deeper study of its aphorisms and commentary. It is rich with meditation instruction and general life lessons that Western minds need to forego perpetuating our crude material agendas for the world. As our Western psychology flounders in vague assumptions, potentially obscuring any coherent philosophical advance ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was too abstract for me. I think the mind of the yogi is so far removed from my mind that these aphorisms seem like self-contained mysterious statements that will elude me until I radically change my life. It's as though someone is trying to explain a mathematical concept without using math, or trying to describe the feeling of music in words. I will try reading it again in 10 years to see if I am any closer to understanding it at that point.
Janet Swinney
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best commentary I have ever read on the Yoga Sutras, and I've read several. This may be partly to do with my own state of mind and circumstances when I came to read it. But, perhaps it also helps that one commentator is from the West and the other from the East, which means that they can anticipate what difficulties a westerner is likely to experience with some of the philosophical concepts.
Absolutely lucid writing. Very helpful.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The heart of yoga is concentration (samadhi). Absorption comes through meditation, the pinnacle of the yogic discipline. No relation to the asanas, this interpretation does a good job of providing commentary on Patanjali’s sutras. More personal philosophy than imbedded thought and meaning. Recommend to those seeking further thought on Hindu philosophy and meditations on meditation.
Dan Sarkozi
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-yoga
This is a very well articulated, easy to understand commentary on "The Aphorisms of Patanjali".

Knowledge of key vedantic terms would be helpful but not essential before reading.

Throughout this book I felt it was an objective commentary with the author doing his best to describe what he genuinely believed Patajali meant in each sutra.

Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A excellent and simple book on understanding how to get to know yourself better and reach a new understanding of life and freedom. Brings new meaning to mediation.
Everyone may not agree with the concept but still think it’s great for everyone to read
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yoga-meditation
One of the best commentaries on the Yoga Sutras I have read (and I've read a lot of them!) Translations of the sutras tend to be like the Three Bears - either too dense and impenetrable, or too simplistic. This one is 'just right'! While it's a very accessible translation, it really communicates the deeper meaning of the sutras. This is my new 'go to' version!
Allen O'Dell Harper
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While this is not the most thorough exposition of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, it is very good. And it is full of the author's own spirituality. The title is accurate. Following the instructions in this book, stick with it and you will know God.
Jared Walker
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
10 stars
Wendy 'windmill'

Very interesting, something I will come back to again & again to meditate & connect with the Atman .. .
One of the important wisdom text with an instructive commentary "for beginners". Read and re-reread.
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Less tamas. More rajas.
Danilo DiPietro
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Isherwood was long time student of Vedantic philosophy and it’s evident in his work (see especially A Single Man).
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
The most accessible and readable version I have come across yet.
Bobbi Stumbo
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is one of those books that will be used and re-read many times. If you are on the spiritual path I would recommend this book.
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book that introduced me to a lifetime of yoga studies. Beautifully translated by Swami Prabhavananda’s student, writer Christopher Isherwood.
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was ok

Another version of the sutras...
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very accessible and easy to understand translation of the yoga sutras. Having glanced at other translations that my colleagues have, I have to say that I like Prabhavananda and Isherwood's commentary usually more than others. That said, to be more complete, I would have also liked a word-for-word translation, as well as the sanskrit devanagari and the pronunciation in roman characters alongside.
Georgia Butler
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Having recently read The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda, I am in a better place to review How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali. I'll begin by saying that both were eye-opening, providing new insights and interpretation. However, I much prefer the exposition provided by Swami Prabhavanada (Know God), which provides more context, tying interpretations to Vedantic philosophy. Likewise, I prefer the more "relaxed" translation, that is, the Swami and Christopher Isher ...more
I wanted to read the Yoga Sutras, but there are one million translations to choose from and a ton of different commentaries. I really think I made a great choice with this one. I love that one of the authors is Christopher Isherwood! I am fascinated by his life and how he came to be so involved in Indian language, philosophy, and literature. Swami Prabhavananda and Isherwood's commentary on the Yoga Sutras is extraordinary and now I absolutely want to read My Guru And His Disciple. ...more
Kyle Benson
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As a product of highly orthodox, Western, religion I found a lot of understanding and spiritual connection to Hinduism and God through this book. My prior experience with Hinduism was exclusively through Yoga. The Aphorisms of Patanjali speak to any soul searcher, and the expounding and pontificating provided by the well versed western translators really brings the messages close to home.

Though much of the word choice is esoteric, don't be afraid to push through the first few pages. A lot of cl
Matt McCormick
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
As someone interested in meditation for the past couple of years, this book was an interesting read but it was way too advanced for me. It provides an interesting perspective on life and what people are capable of but there really isn't any everyday practical applications that I could take from this book. It might be good to review again in another 10 years if I am further along with meditation and understanding myself.
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Swami Prabhavananda was an Indian philosopher, monk of the Ramakrishna Order, and religious teacher.

Born in India, he joined the Ramakrishna Order after graduating from Calcutta university in 1914. He was initiated by Swami Brahmananda.
In 1923, he was sent to the United States of America. Initially he worked as an assistant minister of the Vedanta Society of San Francisco. After two years, he esta

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“The right relation between prayer and conduct," wrote Archbishop Temple, "is not that conduct is supremely important and prayer may help it, but that prayer is supremely important and conduct tests it.” 0 likes
“A sutra is, so to speak, the bare thread of an exposition, the absolute minimum that is necessary to hold it together, unadorned by a single "bead" of elaboration. Only essential words are used. Often, there is no complete sentence-structure. There was a good reason for this method. Sutras were composed at a period when there were no books. The entire work had to be memorized, and so it had to be expressed as tersely as possible. Patanjali's Sutras, like all others, were intended to be expanded and explained. The ancient teachers would repeat an aphorism by heart and then proceed to amplify it with their own comments, for the benefit of their pupils. In some instances these comments, also, were memorized, transcribed at a later date, and thus preserved for us.” 0 likes
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