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Yoga: Immortality and Freedom

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  505 ratings  ·  31 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 comprehensive ...more
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
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
Dennis Littrell
Apr 17, 2010 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.

Scott Rennie
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yoga, buddhism, tantra
A great book, wish I'd read it several years back on my Yoga journey. This book was written in the 1950's but it fills in so many gaps and explains some puzzling aspects of Yoga practice. It has helped me get to understanding why Yoga has become so watered down, and continues to be more so, it is entirely understandable once you read this history of how it has evolved. Inspiring insights, perhaps a bit thick and wordy for anyone who doesn't like academic reading but let's forgive him since he wa ...more
Apr 27, 2015 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
Ali Akbar Zaidi
Aug 31, 2021 rated it liked it
Yoga in everyday usage has lost its vitality and deep meaning. It is now reduced to a form of exercise and a mild meditation to reduce stress but in the indian philosophy, it is much more. Yoga is a method to conquer the relentless circle of life and death and its cruelty. The writer has done more research than any other modern book out there and he has done it through the mind of the Western reader. The language is simple and the complex ideas of ancient hindi-sanskrit are explained in detail. ...more
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has been my first interaction with Yoga and although I've read it many years ago and don't remember much it got me hooked and therefore I started diving into the philosophy and practice of Yoga.

So this book is a catalyst for all the learning, developing and self (re)discovery that followed and is still going on in my life.

What else can I comment on it? I suppose this is the point of writing a book! Somebody reads it and changes their life. Mission accomplished!
Mar 24, 2017 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
Cristina Chițu
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Je mehr der Mensch leidet, je stärker er also mit dem Kosmos verbunden ist, desto mehr steigt in ihm die Sehnsucht nach Befreiung, desto mehr beherrscht ihn der Durst nach dem Heil.

Patañjali: ,,Alles ist Leiden für den Weisen”
Buddha: ,,Alles ist Schmerz, alles ist ephemer” (sarvam duhkham, sarvam anityam)
Die menschliche Erfahrung, gleich welcher Art, erzeugt das Leiden. Der Körper ist Schmerz, weil er der Ort des Schmerzes ist; die Sinne, die Gegenstände, die Wahrnehmungen sind Leiden, weil sie
Christopher Timmerman
May 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
An early comprehensive look at Yoga (written in English). There are probably more thorough analyses nowadays, but reading this brought me back to the days of reading some of Evola's work (with much less of an ideological framework). Eliade approaches this subject with as much thoroughness as could be expected of an excellent scholar, while managing to fit the main bulk of the text (not including notes) around 350 pp. He's packing a lot of subject areas, eight to be precise, that, while there is ...more
Eugene Pustoshkin
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 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 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. ...more
Sudhakar Majety
Nov 15, 2014 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 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 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.
Chinmay Roy
Jun 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Thomas Dennis
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the most important existing texts on the subject of yoga.
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Классическая книга, которую стоит прочитать каждому, кто интересуется йогой.
Dennis Littrell
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.

Eliade was a nearly legendary scholar of indefatigable ener
José Eduardo
Sep 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
El Yoga, inmortalidad y libertad
Es la tercera vez que leo este texto. No había leído esta versión del Fondo de Cultura Económica y me pareció muy buena. Las otras dos lecturas las hice en la Editorial Sudamericana de Argentina.

Escuchando a los Doctores del Colmex. Óscar Figueroa y Adrián Muñoz en cursos diversos a cada uno, les escuche críticas que emitieron a este texto de Mircea Eliade y me propuse volverlo a leer.

Óscar Figueroa criticaba la ideología de Mircea Eliade por ser funcionario del
Apr 20, 2021 rated it it was ok
often cited as a text everyone should read if they want more in depth about yoga.

Issues with the text: academic text written for men by men in the 1950s.

However, Eliade apparently held a lot of far right-wing and anti-Semitic views when he lived in Romania before WWII. His Wikipedia page doesn’t really cite any other information at this time.

While he might have come up with the theory of heirophanies (manifestations of the sacred, the differences between the sacred and the profane worlds), I’
James Norman
Dec 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the first half more than the second. Maybe this is because I find the gnostic Upanishidic traditions more interesting than the magical, ritualistic traditions of Tantra and Alchemy. But it's certainly an interesting read, and it was worth plodding along to the end. The comparative delineation between Yogic and Shamanistic traditions was profound, whether or not it is historically accurate, which would be impossible to confirm anyway. This is not a yoga guide, by any means, but an anthr ...more
Jul 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Creo que es demasiado denso en cuanto a citas y referencias, lo que dificulta la lectura.
Es un gran libro como referencia y manual de estudio, pero si sólo quieres tener cierto margen antropológico y saber algo más de la historia y desarrollo del yoga al final acabas leyendo un poco en diagonal para saltar tanta palabra en hindii y sánscrito sin traducción, citas a miles de manuales distintos y anotaciones.
Mar 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Molto interessante. C'è molta ricerca e studio per la scrittura di questo libro.
Penso che avere già qualche nozione delle varie caratteristiche dello yoga renda la lettura più scorrevole e di facile comprensione.
Jun 09, 2019 is currently reading it
Most illuminating study of evolution,development and relationships among different traditions of yoga.masterpiece.
Olcum Dincer
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Both academic and experimental.
To me, the book shows many similarities between Yoga and Sufism, also with many other teachings.
Same root, apparently looks different on the surface.
Saskia Carusi
Sep 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A difficult book to read but once you have sufficent knowledge of south Asia philosophy and history its a wonderful book
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yogayla ilgili bilimsel bir yaklaşım arıyorsanız doğru kitap.
Lubov Yakovleva
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Книга — удовольствие.
Читала долго, потому как неспешно и только в дороге.
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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 the last 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 Ret ...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.” 8 likes
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