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HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

Volume XI OCTOBER, 1918 Numbkb 4 



THE HINDU YOGA-SYSTEM 

CHARLES ROCKWELL LANMAN 

Habvabd Univehsity 

Frederic Palmer's account of Angelus Silesius, pub- 
lished in the April number of this Review, portrays 
admirably the struggles of a German mystic of some 
three hundred years ago, to attain the unattainable, to 
give utterance to the unutterable. Three and twenty 
hundred years ago, the like struggles were making part 
of the spiritual history of distant India. Perhaps Dr. 
Palmer's essay may lend a certain timeliness to an 
endeavor to interest Occidental readers in those sombre 
followers of the Mystic Way, who — time out of mind — 
have held retreat for meditation in the solemn stillness 
of the forests "lapped by the storied Hydaspes." 

Our histories of philosophy are wont to begin with 
Thales of Miletus. But oh, how brief seems all recorded 
human history, when some geologist tells us the story 
of the earth's crust, or the astronomer overwhelms us 
with that of the spiral nebulae! Lilliputian indeed is 
the difference — whether in time or in place — between 
Thales and Yajnavalkya, between Miletus and the 
Ganges. The informing fact remains, that these ulti- 
mate questions — answerable only in the language of 
the great antinomies — do and always will come up. 



356 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

as far to the West and as far to the East as the blades 
of grass do spring. 

Whom space nor time nor nothing else can bound, 
Who hast nor form (save spirit mere) nor end, 

Whom naught can fathom but Thy thought profound, — 
To Thee, Light, Peace Ineffable, I bend. 

Thus Bhartri-hari, calling unto God. It is He — of 
whom they say "Not, not." 

And if timeliness there be, the attempt is none the 
less timely, because of the work, recently published by 
the Harvard Press, and written by my friend and col- 
league and former pupil, James Haughton Woods 
(now serving at the Sorbonne as exchange-professor 
from Harvard), and entitled The Yoga-system of Patan- 
jali. It is fitting that the work should be introduced, 
not only to Indianists, but also and especially to students 
of the history of psychology and philosophy and religion, 
by The Harvard Theological Review. 

The volume, as appears from its title-page, comprises 
three distinct literary works, translated from Sanskrit 
into English, namely: the Mnemonic Rules, called 
Yoga-sutras, of Patanjali; the Comment, called Yoga- 
bhashya, attributed to Veda-vyasa; and the Explana- 
tion, called Tattva-vaigaradi, of Vachaspati Migra. 
It is here in place to point out some of the reasons why 
these works are worthy of study and some of the ways 
in which that study may prove interesting and fruitful. 
But first a word as to what the three works are. 

The third, or the Explanation, is of course a com- 
mentary on the second, or the Comment. And the 
Comment is in a way a commentary on the Rules; but 
it is much more than that, as will appear when we con- 
sider what the Rules themselves are. Professor Woods 
has done well in rendering the Sanskrit word for stitras 
by 'mnemonic rules,' for that phrase emphasizes the 
fact that they are primarily, not something that will 



THE HINDU YOGA-SYSTEM 357 

give you a clear idea of the Yoga-system, but rather 
"something to be learned by heart," a set of mental 
pegs on which to hang, in very close and orderly sequence, 
the principles and precepts of a thoroughly elaborated 
system, — ^which system, however, you must know from 
other sources than the rules themselves, namely, from 
the teachers of your "school." 

While therefore it is important to understand that 
the Comment is a posterius to the Rules and that the 
Rules are a prius to the Comment, it is yet more im- 
portant to understand that the Rules themselves are 
a posterius to an elaborated system, of which prior 
system however no exposition in literary form con- 
temporaneous with that prior system has come down 
to us in Sanskrit; and that the Comment or Bhashya, 
the reinvestiture of the skeleton of the Rules with the 
flesh and blood of comprehensible details, is accordingly 
the oldest systematic exposition of Yoga doctrine in San- 
skrit that we possess. 

Onesikritos, the companion of Alexander the Great, 
is the first notable foreigner to give us an account of 
the Yogins of India.^ Himself a disciple of Diogenes 
the Cynic, we need not wonder that Alexander selected 
him as the man most fit to talk with the Hindu ascetic 
sages and to inquire about their teachings. His report 
of that memorable interview of 326 B.C. has been pre- 
served for us by Strabo in his Geography (xv.63). De- 
spite the difficulty of conversing through interpreters, 
Onesikritos was in fact remarkably successful in getting 

' Possibly Demokritos of Abdera visited them, perhaps a century earlier. Ac- 
cording to Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, l.xv.69), Demokritos maintained that 
none of his contemporaries had seen more countries and made the acquaintance of 
more men distinguished in every kind of science than himself. Among those men, 
Aelian includes the sages of India (rous ffo^KTTcks riav 'Iviiiv: Varia historia, iv.20); 
and Diogenes Laertius reports a similar tradition (rots yv[ivo<roipt,arais ipaai rives 
crvfifiliai airdv ky 'lySlg.: ix.35). Such a tradition is not to be set aside too lightly, 
when we consider the views of Demokritos concerning peace of mind (eWv/ila: ix.45) 
as the best fruit of philosophy, and the many references thereto in the fragments of 
his ethical treatises. Had these last been preserved, it is possible that we might 
have found in them distinctly recognizable traces of Indian teaching. 



358 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

at some of the very fundamentals of Indian belief. 
The drift of the talk, he said, came to this, that that 
is the best doctrine, which rids the spirit not only of 
grief but also of joy; and again, that that dwelling- 
place is the best, for which the scantiest equipment 
or outfit is needed.^ 

Of these two points, one is of prime significance for 
the spiritual side of Yoga, just as the other is so for its 
practical aspects. The one suggests the 'undisturbed 
calm' (citta-prasada) of Patanjali, the 'mindfulness 
made perfect through balance' (upekkha-sati-parisuddhi) 
of Buddhaghosa; and the other is a concrete instance 
of the doctrine ^ of emancipation from the slavery to 
things. This latter is a part of the fundamental morality 
(specifically, neither Brahmanical nor Jainistic nor Bud- 
dhist) which is an essential preliminary for any system 
of ascetic religious training, and is accordingly taught 
again and again, now with a touch of gentle humor, 
now sternly, and always cogently, by Brahmans and 
Jains and Buddhists alike. 

Contemporary with Onesikritos, but destined (unlike 
him) never to be forgotten in India, was Kautilya, "the 
Hindu Bismarck," as Jacobi calls him, imperial chan- 
cellor of Chandragupta or Sai^SpoKOTTos. His treatise 
on Statesmanship * is, as Jacobi shows, our most trust- 

^Strabo xv.65: ri, yovv XexS^i'TO tU tout' t<fn) awnlveiv tis ('i/q X670S Epiaros 6s 
ijhoviiv Kai \Wr)v ^ux^s hipaipiiaerai,. . . . Koi y&p o'lKiav b.plaTi}v elvm ^tw Sk iincfKevfi% 
JXox'o^TTjs i'enrai. 

^ This is beautifully set forth by Buddhaghosa in his great treatise on Buddhism, 
The Way of Salvation or Visuddhi-magga. See book 1, sections 105-112, especially 
106, in volume 49 of the Proceedings of the American Academy, p. 159. Of all names 
in the history of Buddhist Scholasticism, Buddhaghosa's is the most illustrious. 
He is not less renowned in the East than is his contemporary, Saint Augustin, in the 
West, and for the same reasons, — sanctity of life, wide learning, and great literary 
achievement. An edition of the Pali text of this treatise was undertaken by my 
beloved and unforgotten friend and pupil, the late Henry Clarke Warren. It is my 
hope to complete his unfinished work, and to issue the text with an English version. 

* The recently edited Arthagastra, published at Mysore, 1909. See the articles 
by Hillebrandt, Hertel, Jacobi, and Jolly, and especially the three articles by Jacobi, 
Berliner Akademie, 1911 and 1912. He calls it "eine historische Quelle allerersten 
Ranges" (1911, p. 954: cf. p. 957, and 1912, p. 834). 



THE HINDU YOGA-SYSTEM 359 

worthy source of knowledge for the ancient Hindu 
state, not only because its date (about 300 B.C.) is cer- 
tain/ but also because it was written by the very man 
who had the principal part in the foundation and ad- 
ministration of the great and growing empire of the 
Mauryan Dynasty.* KautUya says that Sankhya and 
Yoga and Lokayata were the three philosophic systems 
current in his day. Unfortunately, he does not tell 
us whether there were expositions thereof in literary 
form. In the centuries (perhaps six or more) between 
Kautilya and Patanjali, the Yoga-system did probably 
undergo many modifications in detail; but it is a fact 
of prime importance that so great an authority as Kau- 
tilya recognizes it as a system, and as one of the three 
most worthy of mention among those current in his 
day.*^ 

The elements of Yoga, as Hopkins ^ observes, are indefi- 
nitely antique. The rigorous austerities, the control of 
the senses, especially as against the temptations of carnal 
lust, — these are the achievements of holy men which made 
even the gods to tremble on their thrones. And they 
are described in the Maha-bharata and other narrative 
works, often with amusingly grotesque exaggeration, but 
in such an incidental and matter-of-fact way that we can- 
not doubt that from very early times Yoga-practices 
were common and wide-spread in India and that the 
belief in their potency was altogether genuine. 

Yoga is accordingly one of the most ancient and strik- 
ing products of the Hindu mind and character. It is 
therefore a little strange that, while the labors of Deussen 
and Garbe and others have done very much to open up 
the Vedanta and Sankhya systems to the Occident, the 

' Berliner Akademie, 1911, p. 954. '» Ibidem, p. 733. 

• In his learned article. Yoga-technique in the Great Epic, Journal of the Am. 
Oriental Society (1901), vol. 288, p. 333-379. To him, my most grateful acknowl- 
edgments. 



360 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

history of Yoga as a body of practices and as a religio- 
philosophic system is yet to be written.'' For the history 
of Yoga-practice, nothing could be more illuminating and 
fruitful than to carry further such investigations as those 
of Hopkins, just cited. For the history of Yoga as a 
system, the most immediate requirement is evidently an 
Occidental translation of the Comment or Yoga-bhashya. 
It is greatly to the credit of Professor Woods that he real- 
ized this need and addressed himself with so much energy 
to the task of supplying it, the more so when that task 
involved journeys once and again not only to the great 
teachers of Europe (Deussen and Jacobi), but also to 
those of India. 

Rajendra-lala Mitra, in the preface to his Yoga aphor- 
isms of Patanjali (1883: p. xc), says: "I had hopes of 
reading the work with the assistance of a professional 
Yogi; but I have been disappointed. I could find no 
Pandit in Bengal who had made Yoga the special subject 
of his study, and the only person I met at Benares who 
could help me was most exorbitant in his demands. He 
cared not for the world and its wealth, and the only con- 
dition under which he would teach me was strict pupilage 
under Hindu rules — living in his hut and ever following 
his footsteps — to which I could not submit." That was 
five and thirty years ago. A real command of both San- 
skrit and English by the same person is a combination 
rare enough. Still rarer, the combination of those two 
elements with a knowledge of one of the great vernacu- 
lars of India, such as R. Mitra had. Rarest of all, this 
triple combination plus the chance (which a foreigner is 
not likely to get) for a thorough acquaintance with the 
actual procedure and habit of mind of a genuine Yogin 
of high character. What fruit might that now perhaps 
almost impossible combination have borne! 

'This, with all due deference to Garbe and his excellent chapters on Yoga in 
the Grundriss der Indoarischen Philologie (1896). 



THE HINDU YOGA-SYSTEM 361 

If no Occidental may hope for any such chances of 
practical acquaintance with Yoga, it is at least needful 
that the written treatise which serves as the basis of book- 
study should be informed by the noblest spirit and loftiest 
purpose. That the Comment or Bhashya meets these 
requirements,^ none of us, however much or little we 
sympathize with the Hindu point of view, will, I think, 
deny. "Find me, and turn thy back on heaven," says 
Brahma, in Emerson's familiar verses. And so the author 
of the Comment, in treating (at ii.42) of the supremest 
happiness, says ^ that the pleasures of love in this world 
and the great pleasures of heaven are not worth the six- 
teenth part of that supremest happiness that comes from 
the dwindling of lusts. 

And again, in like spirit, he speaks at iii.51. First he 
quaintly describes how the gods tempt an advanced 
Yogin with the sensual pleasures of their transitory heaven : 
"Sir, will you sit here? Will you rest here.'' This pleas- 
ure might prove attractive. This maiden might prove 
attractive. This ehxir wards off old age and death." 
And so on. Then he suggests the Yogin's answer to 
these enticements, and in so doing he rises to a pitch of 
sustained and noble eloquence: 

Baked on the pitiless coals of the round-of-rebirths, wandering 
about in the blinding gloom of birth and death, — hardly have I 
found the lamp that dispels the darkness of the moral defilements, 
the lamp of Yoga, — when, lo, these lust-born gusts of the things 
of sense do threaten to put it out! How then could it be that I 
who have seen its light, tricked by the mirage of the things of sense, 
should throw myself like fuel into that same fire of the round-of- 
rebirths as it flares up again? Fare ye well, [things of sense,] hke 
unto dreams are ye! to be pitied are they that crave you, things 
of sense, [fare well!] 

' It is certain that the Ghera?(}a-sanhita, more or less widely known in the Occi- 
dent, does not meet them. My former pupil. Professor S. K. Belvalkar of Poona, 
India, assures me that it is condemned by those whose learning and character he 
respects. The like is true of Hathayoga-pradlpika and numerous similar works. 

' Quoting from the Maha-bharata, xii.174.46, a stanza of significance and dignity . 



362 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

Perhaps enough (or more) has ab*eady been said to 
make clear the historical importance and the moral dig- 
nity of the Yoga-bhashya. Its importance was long ago 
pointed out by others in other connections: so by Kern 
in his History of Buddhism,^^ by Jacobi in his Ursprung des 
Buddhismus aus dem Sdnkhya-Yoga,^^ and by Senart in 
his Bouddhisme et Yoga;^^ but the appearance of the 
present translation justifies us in emphasizing the dig- 
nity and importance of the original, the more so as it is 
hoped that this translation of Dr. Woods and the publica- 
tion of Buddhaghosa's treatise on Buddhism will prove 
to be a powerful stimulus and aid to the comparative 
study of these two great systems. 

Thus, to instance some of the more striking and well- 
known coincidences between the Bhashya and Buddhism, 
we may begin with the Four Eminent Truths. The most 
significant achievement of modern medicine is the find- 
ing out of the cause of disease. This is the indispensable 
foundation for the whole structure of preventive medi- 
cine. It was precisely this problem in the world of the 
spirit to which Buddha addressed himself, the aetiology 
of human misery. His solution he publicly announced 
in his first sermon, the gist of which was destined to 
become known to untold millions, the sermon of the Deer- 
park at Benares ^^ or sermon about the Four Truths. 
These concern suffering, its cause, its surcease, and the 
way thereto, and they coincide with the four cardinal 
topics of Hindu medical science," disease, the cause of 
disease, health, and remedies. Now these Four Truths 

1" Jacobi's translation, Leipzig, 1882, vol. 1, p. 467 ff. 

" GOttinger Nachrichten, 1896. 

^ Revue de I'histoire des religions, 1900. 

'' Vinaya-pitaka, vol. 1, p. 10; Samyutta-nikaya, vol. 5, p. 420. These Truths 
become a kind of canonical commonplace: see Majjhima, vol. 1, p. 48. 

" This coincidence the Hindu medical writers did not fail to observe: so Vagbhata 
in the stanza introductory to the A?tanga-hrdaya. 



THE HINDU YOGA-SYSTEM 363 

are set forth by the author of the Bhashya at ii.l5, and 
not without expUcit reference to the fact that this Yoga- 
system has four divisions coincident with those of the 
system of medicine. It may be added that a part of the 
Rule to which this is the Comment, reads: To the dis- 
criminating, all is nothing but pain, du^kham eva sarvam 
vivekinalj; and that this again is one of the three fun- 
damental axioms of Buddhism,^^ All is transitory. All 
is pain. All is without substantive reality. 

Again, the Bhashya enumerates (at i.20), quite as a 
matter-of-course, the five means to the higher concen- 
tration, namely faith and energy and mindfulness and 
concentration and insight (graddha-virya-smrti-samadhi- 
prajna). These are the same five elements of Yoga 
mastered and taught by the famous Yoga-doctors, 
Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, and coincide 
literally with those given in the Buddhist texts, namely 
in the Discourse of the Noble Quest or Ariya-pariyesana- 
sutta, Majjhima-nikaya, vol. 1, p. 164. Here Buddha 
tells how he, before his Enlightenment, went to these 
teachers, found that he himself had mastered saddha, 
viriya, sati, samadhi, and panna no less truly than they, 
and admitted that these things were good as far as they 
went, but that they brought you only to the third or 
fourth of the Four Formless Realms, that is, that they 
did not bring you far enough. The discussion of the 
proper balance of these five moral faculties constitutes a 
most interesting section of the fourth book of the Vi- 
suddhi-magga. 

Again, among the Forty Businesses or kammatthanas, 
that play so prominent a role in the Visuddhi-magga, are 
the Four Exalted States or brahma-viharas, namely 
friendliness and compassion and joy and indifference 

" Anguttara-nikaya, vol. 1, p. 286; translated by Henry C. Warren, p. xiv of 
his Buddhism in translations. Harvard Oriental Series, vol. 3. See also Visuddhi- 
magga, book XX. 



364 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

(metta, karuna, mudita, upekkha). The whole of book ix 
is devoted to them. They all lead up to the first three 
trances, and the cultivation of upekkha leads even to 
the fourth trance or highest of the ordinary trances. 
Now all these four states, under the corresponding names 
of maitri, karu5a, mudita, and upek§a, are prescribed by 
the Rule and the Bhashya at i.33, and as a means for 
cahning the mind-stuff. 

Or again, to cite a case of partial correspondence and 
partial diversity, we may mention the klegas or innate 
defects of human nature or moral defilements or (as 
Dr. Woods calls them) the hindrances. These are enu- 
merated by the Bhashya, at ii.3, as ignorance, the feeling- 
of -personality, lust, ill-will, and the will-to-live (avidya, 
asmita, raga, dve§a, abhinivega). But Buddhaghosa, in 
book xxii, has a list of ten, containing most of these five, 
and also, for example, sloth or languor (thina, styana), 
which last by the Bhashya, at i.30, is put among the nine 
obstacles or antarayas. We hope that the Bhashya and 
the Visuddhi-magga may prove mutually illuminating, 
by reason not only of their coincidences but also of their 
differences. 

Minor coincidences, in matters of diction, as between 
the Bhashya and the Buddhist texts, deserve careful 
notice from any who chance to study these sources at 
the same time. Confident as we may be concerning 
the influence of the Yoga system upon Buddha, — the 
interplay of influences as between the Bhashya and the 
Buddhist texts may well have been chiefly in the opposite 
direction. Thus the use of the Sanskrit word adhvanam 
in the sense of 'time' (so at iv.l2) is, unless I err, wholly 
foreign to Brahmanical Sanskrit texts, and is a down- 
right taking over of its Pali equivalent addhanarii in its 
secondary but common meaning of 'time.' Similarly the 
use of -nimna with -pragbhara (at iv.26) seems to me not 
rightly Sanskrit at all, but rather a conscious adapta- 



THE HINDU YOGA-SYSTEM 365 

tion of the familiar Pali combination -ninna, -po^ia, 
-pabbhara. 

Indeed, one is sometimes tempted to surmise that the 
diction of the author of the Bhashya was influenced by 
downright reminiscences of Nikaya texts. Thus at 
ii.39 and iv.25 are given the questionings or doubts as 
to personal identity through various past and future 
births: "Who was I? Or who shall we become?" and 
so forth: ko 'ham asam? katham aham asam? . . . ke 
va bhavi§yamah? katharh va bhavi§yamah? These are 
substantially the questions cited at length by Buddha- 
ghosa (in book xix) from the Majjhima-nikaya (vol. 1, 
p. 8). ^ 

The reflections of the Yogin "on whom insight has 
dawned" are put by the author of the Bhashya (at i.l6) 
in a way which — at once brief and yet ample — is marked 
by noble dignity. They describe the winning of the 
supreme goal: "Won is that which was to be won. 
Ended are the moral defilements which had to be ended. 
Cut is the close-jointed succession of existences-in-the- 
world, which — so long as it was not cut asunder — in- 
volved death after birth and birth after death." Praptarh 
prapaniyam. K§I^ah k§etavyah kleQah- Chinnah Qli§- 
taparva bhava-samkramo, yasyavicchedaj janitva mri- 
yate mrtva ca jayate. 

In like manner the consummation of the holy life, sal- 
vation or the setting free, is described in the Dlgha- 
nikaya, vol. 1, p. 84: "In him, when set free, there arises 
the knowledge that he is set free. He knows: Ended is 
rebirth. Lived has been the holy life. Done has been 
what was to be done. There is no more returning here." 
Vimuttasmiih 'vimuttam' iti fiaijaih hoti. 'Khi^a jati. 
Vusitaiii brahmacariyarii. Katarii kara^iiyam. Napararii 
itthattaya' ti pajanati. 

The whole spiritual situation in both cases is similar; 
and that the substantial coincidences of the two descrip- 



366 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

tions may be nothing more than the natural outcome of 
that similarity we will not deny. But the examples that 
have been mentioned (a few out of many) make it clear 
that a systematic study of the Bhashya in the light of 
the Buddhist texts is well worth the while. 

The comparison of Yoga and Buddhism is not the only 
study which I hope this work of Professor Woods will 
powerfully stimulate. I hope it will direct the atten- 
tion of scholars to a severely critical examination of 
the supernormal powers which, as Buddhist and Yoga 
texts alike maintain, are among the fruits of the cultiva- 
tion of profound concentration or samadhi. 

In order to make my meaning clear, let me instance 
(with added references to the text of the Bhashya) some 
of these powers: Such are clairvoyance and clairaudience 
(ii.43); knowledge of the future (iii.l6) and of one's 
previous births (iii.18); thought-reading (iii.19); power 
to become invisible (iii.21); the cessation of hunger and 
thirst (iii.30); the power of hypnotic suggestion (iii.38: 
"your mind-stuff enters the body of another," cittasya 
para-gariravegat) ; the power to walk upon water or a 
spider's thread or sunbeams or to pass through the air 
(iii.42); the power by reason of which "the fire, hot as 
it is, burns you not" (iii.45); and so on. Such powers 
are systematically treated by Buddhaghosa in books xii 
and xiii, and are constantly mentioned with quiet grav- 
ity by the story-tellers, as if no one were expected to 
have any difficulty in believing them. Is it not worth 
while, in the light of modern knowledge, to try to 
draw a line between that which has some real basis 
in fact and that which has none? To this question 
William James, by word and by deed, answered with an 
emphatic Yes. 

The more obvious manifestations of Yoga-practice, 
such as the standing upon one leg or the holding of one 



THE HINDU YOGA-SYSTEM 367 

arm aloft and other austerities, did not fail to strike the 
Greeks (Strabo xv.61), just as, at all times, the sensa- 
tional has struck the casual ^® observer. The noblest 
and most spiritual achievements of the Yogin present no 
features of interest for the gazer or for the tourist-pho- 
tographer. On the other hand, the rewards — whether of 
gratified vanity or of reputation or of gifts — for the suc- 
cessful performance of marvellous or apparently super- 
normal acts, are and always have been a temptation to 
abuse Yoga-practices with venal and fraudulent pur- 
pose. The ample admixture of deception and trick and 
miracle-mongering has tended to make men of science 
averse to any serious consideration of the whole subject. 
But fraud, even if preponderant, will not excuse us from 
the due investigation of the residuum of weU-attested 
fact, not even if that residuum be small. The reason 
why well-attested cases of the apparently miraculous are 
relatively few is a legitimate one: to persons most likely 
to make the highest and noblest attainments by the 
practice of Yoga, the so-called "magical powers" are 
after all an incidental by-product. And accordingly, 
Buddhaghosa relegates the discussion of the supernormal 
powers to those books (xii and xiii) which form a mere 
appendix to his treatment (books iii to xi) of Concentra- 
tion or Samadhi. To seek these powers as ah end, or 
to make a display of them to satisfy the curiosity of the 
vulgar, is wholly imworthy, and indeed most strictly 
forbidden. In the gospel-narrative of the temptation, 
when the Devil says, "If thou be the Son of God, east 
thyself down from hence," the answer of Jesus is an 
uncompromising rebuke. And in like spirit, the Maha- 

'• Or, to speak in terms of the twentieth century, the "cameral" or "snapshot" 
observer. The National Geographic Society of Washington devoted most of its 
Magazine for December, 1913, to the "Religious penances and punishments self- 
inflicted by the Holy Men of India." The paper is illustrated with seventy pictures. 
The sensational aspects of Yoga-practice have been treated in easily accessible works. 
Such are John C. Oman's The Mystics, Ascetics, and Saints of India, London, 1903; 
Richard Schmidt's Fakire und Fakirtum, Berlin, 1908. 



368 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

bharata threatens with "a hell from which there is no 
release" the Yogins who are thus guilty.^ ^ 

Thought-reading is a power very often ascribed to 
Buddha or to a saint, who thereby intuitively discerns 
the evil intentions of another and so thwarts them. In 
many of these cases the use of good judgment or of a 
knowledge of human nature may explain the successful 
thought-reading; while in others some influence much 
more subtile may be in play. The cases as a class are 
not easy to sift. On the other hand, the activity of the 
subliminal consciousness is most clearly referred to in 
the Explanation to the Bhashya at i.24: "Chaitra thinks 
intently, 'Tomorrow I must get up just at day -break,' 
and then after having slept, he gets up at that very time 
because of the subliminal impression resulting from that 
intent thinking." This power of awaking from sound 
slumber at a predetermined hour is abundantly attested 
by common experience, and also, for example, by J. M. 
Bramwell in his Hypnotism, page 387 (cf. p. 115). And 
doubtless the power to "emerge from trance" or "rise 
out of trance" (one of the five "masteries" of Bud- 
dhaghosa at book iv, section 103, the vutthana-vasi) is a 
power of a kindred nature. If the Bhashya's promise, 
"fire burns him not" (at iii.45: see above) refers to 
insensibility to the pain of a burn, the power therein 
implied may stand in relation to the facts of anaesthesia 
and analgesia as recited by Bramwell at pages 360-361. 
Compare also his Index, under "Analgesia, in hypnosis, 
and post-hypnotic." 

Perhaps the most marvellous of all these "supernormal" 
attainments is the power of suffering one's body to be 
buried for a long time and of resuming one's normal 
activities on release from the grave. Well-attested cases 
are indeed rare, but such in fact there are, and none is 
better attested or more wonderful than that of Haridas. 

" At xii.197.7, cited by Hopkins, Yoga-technique, JAGS, zxii.314. 



THE HINDU YOGA-SYSTEM 869 

This man had himself buried alive for six weeks at Lahore 
at the Court of Runjeet Singh in 1837. Thorough-going 
precautions were taken against fraud, and the accoimt of 
the matter is from the pen of Sir Claude Martin Wade, 
who was an actual eye-witness of the disinterment. The 
account was first printed by James Braid, in a tiny book,^' 
since become famous, entitled "Observations on trance 
or human hybernation," Edinburgh, 1850. The very 
title of Braid's sober and judicial treatise intimates that 
he sees nothing miraculous in this performance, but 
regards it rather as analogous to the hibernation common 
in many animals and as something that could be and was 
induced by natural, albeit most elaborate and painstak- 
ing, means. The case at any rate warns us against too 
ready incredulity concerning Hindu marvels that seem 
at first blush to pass the bounds of the possible. 

To show the interest of studying Yoga in the light of 
the discoveries of modern psychology, I know of no better 
example than the story of Ruchi and Vipula. This is 
indubitably a case of hypnosis and effective suggestion 
to the hypnotized subject to refrain from yielding to 
a strong temptation to do a sinful act. If we knew noth- 
ing about the psychological facts involved, we Occident- 
als should certainly not recognize the true significance of 
the narrative, especially as its technical features are 
presented in a terminology which the facts alone can 
elucidate. Thus the gaining power over another's will 
by hypnotizing is called "entering the body of another" 
"as wind enters an empty space" — phrases of hopeless 
obscurity until we know in detail the nature of the facts 
intended. The story is given in the Maha-bharata (at 

" Braid was a surgeon of Manchester, England. The copy of his book that lay 
before me when I wrote this, was a gift "To the President of Harvard College with 
the author's compUments" in 1852. The little volume has since been transferred 
to the "Treasure Room." The account was reprinted by Garbe in The Monist for 
July, 1900, Chicago. See also Garbe in Westermann's Monatshefte for September, 
1900; or W. Preyer's Der Hypnotismus, Berlin, 1882 (p. 46, translated from Braid); 
or Richard Schmidt, Fakire, p. 88. 



370 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

xiii.40, 41), and it is to Hopkins that we owe the service 
of showing ^' its meaning to Western scholars. The 
story itself is in brief as follows. 

The sage Deva-garman had a wife of great beauty 
named Ruchi. Even the gods were enamored of her, and 
in particular god Indra, whose illicit amours are noto- 
rious. Well aware of Indra's designs, the sage, before 
going away to perform a sacrifice, summons his pupil 
Vipula and bids him protect Ruchi and her virtue and 
especially as against the lustful Indra. Vipula, himself 
a man of the utmost integrity and virtue and self-control, 
agrees to do the bidding of his teacher, and asks him in 
what form Indra may be expected to appear. "In any 
one of many forms," answers Deva-garman. "Indra 
may come wearing a diadem or a clout, as a Brahman or 
as an outcaste, as a parrot or as a lion, as an old man or 
as a young man, or indeed in the form of the wind-god. 
Therefore," he continues, "watch over her with dili- 
gence." And so he departs. 

Vipula sagely reflects that, if the tempter can come in 
the form of the wind, a fence for the hermitage or a door 
for Ruchi's cottage would be of no avail. He resolves to 
protect her virtue "by the power of Yoga."^° "I will 
enter her body by Yoga and in it I will abide, sunk in the 
deepest concentration (samahita). If I keep myself free 
from the slightest trace of passion, I shall incur no guilt." 
Accordingly, he sits down by her, who is seated, and 
gazes steadily with his eyes into her eyes, and so that 
her gaze meets his, and fills her mind with longing for 
what is right, so that she is averse especially to any adul- 

1' In his paper on Yoga-technique, abeady cited. Journal of the Am. Oriental 
Society, xxii.359. Compare his excellent Comments upon the technical features 
of the story. 

'" In such a story as this, the phraseology of the original Sanskrit (at Maha-bh5- 
rata xiii.40) is of moment. My phrases are accordingly intended to be correct repro- 
ductions. Note especially those enclosed within marks of quotation, and see stanzas 
50-52 and 56-59 of the original, as numbered in the Bombay edition of 1888. 



THE HINDU YOGA-SYSTEM 371 

terous word or deed.^^ "Vipula entered her body as the 
wind enters space, and remained there motionless, in- 
visible. Then, making rigid the body of his teacher's 
wife, he stayed there devoted to guarding her, and she 
was not aware of him." 

Indra, thinking "This is my chance," comes now to 
the hermitage in the form of a man, young and very 
handsome, sees the body of Vipula seated and with star- 
ing eyes and motionless as a picture, and sees Ruchi also 
in all her loveliness. She, on seeing him and his superb 
beauty, wanted to rise and welcome him and ask him 
who he was. But under the influence of Vipula, she 
could not move a muscle. Indra makes known to her 
himself and his passion and the need of prompt assent. 
Vipula recognizes her danger from her looks, redoubles 
the force of his hypnotic suggestion, "and bound with 
Yoga-bonds all her faculties," so that, although, in reply 
to Indra 's "Come, come," she wanted to say "Yes," — 
the words that actually escaped her were "Sir, what 
business hast thou to come here.'*" She was, the story 
adds, not without grave embarrassment at the incivility 
of her answer, "spoken under the control of another." 
Indra now perceives "with his supernormal eye" that 
Vipula is "in Ruchi's body like an image in a mirror," 
and that his case is therefore hopeless, and trembles lest 
Vipula curse him. Vipula "quits the body of Ruchi" 
(that is, terminates the hypnosis), and, with unstinted 
rebukes to the crestfallen Indra, tells him to take himself 
off. — Deva-garman returns and Vipula presents to him 
his wife unspoiled. 

The facts relating to hypnotism were unknown to the 
Occident at the beginning of the last century. In 1841 
James Braid independently discovered and observed and 
described many of the phenomena here concerned. 

" Such is, I take it, the significance of lak;aQam lak^a^enaiva, vadanam vadanena 
ca, at stanza 58. 



372 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

Even the word hypnotism, as may be seen from Murray's 
Dictionary, is only about seventy-five years old, having 
been introduced with hypnotize, etc., into the English 
language by Braid himself in 1842. But in spite of the 
extreme modernity of the Occidental knowledge of the 
facts, and of the terminology in which they are recorded, 
there is already a large and rapidly growing literature 
upon the subject, and the elaborate treatise of John 
Milne Bramwell entitled "Hypnotism, its history, prac- 
tice, and theory" (London, 1906) gives a bibliography 
of books and articles running into the hundreds. Never- 
theless, the systematic treatises, those of Moll and Bram- 
well at least, do not even attempt to carry the history 
of hypnotism back beyond the times of Braid, Esdaile, 
EUiotson, and Mesmer — a statement which I make, not 
by way of carping, but rather by way of calling attention 
to an opportunity. Unless I err, the whole subject is 
commonly regarded in the Occident as very modern, a 
recent discovery, when in fact it has been well known 
and widely known in the Orient for over two thousand 
years. 

The fruits of Yoga-practice are told, not only in sys- 
tematic Sanskrit treatises on Yoga and in Buddhist 
books, but also incidentally, as I have said, in many epic 
or narrative texts. The exploitation of these texts by 
an Indianist who has already made a thorough study of 
modern psychology is sure to yield very striking results. 
In the second chapter of his work on hypnotism (page 
109 of the new edition of A. E. Waite, London, 1899), 
Braid describes his technique for inducing hypnosis. 
What must our wonder be on finding that almost exactly 
fifteen centuries ago in the island of Ceylon there was 
written a book, Buddhaghosa's Visuddhi-magga, a large 
part of which is concerned with this very subject. With 
Buddhaghosa indeed it is self-hypnotization, but the 
technique of it is substantially the same as that of Braid 



THE HINDU YOGA-SYSTEM 373 

in all its essential features: the willingness on the part 
of the subject to submit himself, the comfortable posi- 
tion, the steady and slightly strained gaze, the fixed at- 
tention, the gentle monotonous sensory stimulations. — 
That important discoveries should be made by a people, 
and be made again centuries later and quite indepen- 
dently by another people, — this is one of the most aston- 
ishing facts of human history. 

Envoy. — The foregoing paragraphs were written sev- 
eral years ago, just after I had spent months in trying 
to live up to my doubtless wildly misconceived notions 
of editorial fidelity. To forestall the perhaps yet harsher 
criticism of less friendly judges, I had tried to find every 
findable fault with Dr. Woods's Yoga-book before he 
sent it to the printer. Buddhaghosa wisely says that 
you must ever and always be on the lookout for the 
good points in others, not for their faults. Now that I 
come back to the book, — ^not as an editor, but rather as 
a human being, — ^I am simply amazed at the general 
impression which it makes upon me as the outcome of 
genuine enthusiasm and indomitable patience. All this 
and much more was needed to advance our scientific 
salients into the territory of the Hindu dialecticians. We 
may well imagine those jealous guardians of their sacred 
lore as saying to themselves of us, ils ne passeront jamais! 
But Dr. Woods's intellectual emplacements (metaphors, 
like the sleeves of blouses, must be in the fashion) were 
good, and his preliminary bombardments have been 
effective. The infantry assaults of a second edition, or 
of fresh troops of Indianists, are now in order. 

What I greatly missed in his work — as I told him at 
the time — was a chapter, in addition to the discussions 
of his Introduction, which should somehow make clear 
to the Occidental mind what the relation is between such 
hairsplitting dialectic and the practical aim of this philo- 



374 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 

sophical system, to wit, Salvation or Release. True, my 
position is exactly that of the young man who was asked 
whether he could play the violin, and who answered that 
he didn't know, but that he could try. It is one thing 
to translate a text, or three texts, and it is quite another 
to interpret one of the great movements of the human 
mind to a generation of humanity transformed by the 
vicissitudes of two millenniums and the inexorable forces 
of a physical and intellectual environment as different 
as the East is from the West — and this last the reader 
may take either as the familiar biblical commonplace or 
as a literal simile. The wise men of the East, it is said, 
think that we know how to make a living and that they 
know how to live. And it was an Oriental who said, 
I am come that they might have life, and that they might 
have it more abundantly. I should like to have Profes- 
sor Woods tell us wherein, according to the Yoga-view, 
the fulness of life consisteth. 

It may be that my question is so wrongly put that I 
shall be adjudged an incompetent critic. But at any 
rate, Dr. Woods has made a large step in advance towards 
proving that I am wrong, or else towards answering me 
aright; and in either case I thank him heartily. Mean- 
time he has published in the Journal of our Oriental 
Society, volume 34, The Jewel's Lustre or Mani-prabha, 
and he has the Yoga-varttika well in hand, if not practi- 
cally ready for publication. Let us hope that he will 
not let the great power of such long-gathered momentum 
be dissipated by any avoidable delay. 

The pervading gravity of tone of these Hindu philo- 
sophical discussions comports with their extreme diffi- 
culty, and is rarely relieved by a touch of humor, — unless 
it be when old Vachaspati Migra deigns to add to his 
Explanation of something less hard than the rest, the 
amusingly laconic observation, "Easy" (su-gamam: so 
at ii.43, 44). As who should laugh at us up his sleeve. 



THE HINDU YOGA-SYSTEM 375 

if he had any sleeve, for not knowing that much ourselves! 
And worse than the comments — difficile per difficilius — 
are the super-comments. Most of them, after they have 
been done into the clearest English, are still as tough as 
whitleather. But Professor Woods's book has often 
reminded me of the symphony-concerts in the old Drapers' 
Hall or Gewandhaus of my student days at Leipzig, and 
the staring legend on the cornice above the fiddles and 
trombones and viols, 

EES SEVEEA EST VERUM GAUDIUM. 

Dr. Woods has not chosen one of the "soft snaps" of the 
Indian antiquity. Its further difficulties need not dis- 
may him. And our dearly loved French brothers with 
whom he is now so zealously working, are showing us 
the supremely great lesson, that the first thing needed 
for substantial victory is the loftiest moral courage. 
Long, long ago Plutarch put that lesson in an unmatched 
phrase which has often sustained me, 

apx^ T^p ovTcas rov vikSlv rd Bappelv.