So Friday night, just a few minutes into our first TT session, I had a happy moment. I got to take one each from eight piles of books, and then I sat there with eight new books in my lap. Yay! Here are the books we’re reading:
- The Royal Path, by Swami Rama
- Science of Breath, by Swami Rama
- Yoga Sutras, by Sri Swami Satchidananda
- Passage Meditation, by Eknath Easwaran
- Yoga Anatomy, by Leslie Kaminoff
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika, by Swami Muktibodhananda
- Moola Bandha, by Swami Buddhananda
- The Upanishads, translated by Eknath Easwaran
- Bhagavad Gita, translated by Eknath Easwaran (I didn’t buy this one because I already own the Stephen Mitchell translation and love it)
There are few things I like better than a big stack of books! I included a link to each book on Amazon in case you feel inspired to check any of them out. As we move forward in class, I’ll post reviews here of each book as I finish.
This month, we’re doing The Royal Path. I haven’t started it yet. We’re also doing portions of the Yoga Sutras every month, as I mentioned yesterday. I’ve read the Sutras before, in The Secret Power of Yoga, by Nischala Joy Devi. Devi’s book bills itself as specifically a woman’s guide to the yoga sutras, which is why I picked it up. I still found it difficult to get through, however (it took months!), and I knew as soon as I finished it that I’d want to reread it at some point. Devi is actually a past student of Satchidananda’s, which I find interesting. I’ve compared the commentary on only a few sutras so far (Book 2, verses 29-35 or so), and there are definitely some differences.
Satchidananda gives us the original Sanskrit, a direct word-by-word translation, and a restatement as a full English sentence, followed by commentary on each sutra, which is fairly brief. Devi, on the other hand, doesn’t claim to be a Sanskrit scholar; she is translating “the heart and spirit” of the sutras. Her translation isn’t exact, but she strives to put each sutra in terms a modern woman can understand and relate to. Devi specifically has chosen to translate the sutras into “positive, life-affirming language” (168-169). For example, where Satchidananda defines ahimsa as “non-violence”, Devi calls it “reverence and love for all”; where Satchidananda refers to aparigraha as “non-greed”, Devi defines it as “generosity”. Devi’s point is that, as soon as you see that “non”, you’re immediately thinking about what follows it (the violence, the greed), whereas by restating in positive terms, the focus is on embracing love and the divine. I think she has a point, and it definitely leads to some slightly different translations, some slightly different commentaries. I think it’ll be fun and enlightening to compare the two.
Tomorrow, hopefully: ahimsa!