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Yoga: Immortality and Freedom (Mythos: The Princeton/Bollingen Series in World Mythology) Paperback – 26 Jul 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; With a New introduction by David Gordon White edition (26 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691142033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691142036
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 3.6 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 465,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review


Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "["Yoga: Immortality and Freedom"] states with clarity and precision what the beliefs and practices of yoga are, and how they originated from the primeval Indic religions. -- New Yorker



Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "[M]any of the scholars who have laboured to translate or interpret the Eastern scriptures have been handicapped by their own prejudices and preconceptions. . . . Eliade is emphatically not one of them. -- Times Literary Supplement


This is . . . a book that will . . . whet the appetite of your intellect. It also offers the reader so much more insight into the tenets of yoga than the multitude of self-help books on meditation and how-to-do-yoga will ever give. In "Yoga: Immortality and Freedom", Eliade analyzes in detail a religion and tradition that for years was his lifestyle. Get ready for some massive reading.--Minna Forsell "Metaspychology Online Reviews "


Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "[T]he best single book on yoga. . . . As a young man, [Eliade] lived for years in India practising authentic yoga and experienced all its phenomena, but he was in addition a master of all the relevant texts in the original Sanskrit, and his book is unrivalled for its scholarship.
--Robert Temple "Spectator "


Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "There has rarely been a book in English which treats the mental discipline of Yoga in such exhaustive detail. . . . [A] work that is likely to remain standard for many years to come.
--Herbert Cahoon "Library Journal "


This is . . . a book that will . . . whet the appetite of your intellect. It also offers the reader so much more insight into the tenets of yoga than the multitude of self-help books on meditation and how-to-do-yoga will ever give. In "Yoga: Immortality and Freedom", Eliade analyzes in detail a religion and tradition that for years was his lifestyle. Get ready for some massive reading.
--Minna Forsell "Metaspychology Online Reviews "

Praise for Princetons previous editions: "["Yoga: Immortality and Freedom"] states with clarity and precision what the beliefs and practices of yoga are, and how they originated from the primeval Indic religions."--"New Yorker"

Praise for Princetons previous editions: "[M]any of the scholars who have laboured to translate or interpret the Eastern scriptures have been handicapped by their own prejudices and preconceptions. . . . Eliade is emphatically not one of them."--"Times Literary Supplement"

Praise for Princetons previous editions: "[T]he best single book on yoga. . . . As a young man, [Eliade] lived for years in India practising authentic yoga and experienced all its phenomena, but he was in addition a master of all the relevant texts in the original Sanskrit, and his book is unrivalled for its scholarship."--Robert Temple, "Spectator"

Praise for Princetons previous editions: "There has rarely been a book in English which treats the mental discipline of Yoga in such exhaustive detail. . . . [A] work that is likely to remain standard for many years to come."--Herbert Cahoon, "Library Journal"

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "["Yoga: Immortality and Freedom"] states with clarity and precision what the beliefs and practices of yoga are, and how they originated from the primeval Indic religions."--"New Yorker"

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "[M]any of the scholars who have laboured to translate or interpret the Eastern scriptures have been handicapped by their own prejudices and preconceptions. . . . Eliade is emphatically not one of them."--"Times Literary Supplement"

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "[T]he best single book on yoga. . . . As a young man, [Eliade] lived for years in India practising authentic yoga and experienced all its phenomena, but he was in addition a master of all the relevant texts in the original Sanskrit, and his book is unrivalled for its scholarship."--Robert Temple, "Spectator"

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "There has rarely been a book in English which treats the mental discipline of Yoga in such exhaustive detail. . . . [A] work that is likely to remain standard for many years to come."--Herbert Cahoon, "Library Journal"

"This is . . . a book that will . . . whet the appetite of your intellect. It also offers the reader so much more insight into the tenets of yoga than the multitude of self-help books on meditation and how-to-do-yoga will ever give. In "Yoga: Immortality and Freedom," Eliade analyzes in detail a religion and tradition that for years was his lifestyle. Get ready for some massive reading."--Minna Forsell, "Metaspychology Online Reviews"

About the Author

Mircea Eliade (1907-1986), a native of Romania, was for many years the Sewell L. Avery Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religion at the University of Chicago. His many books include "The Myth of the Eternal Return", "The Sacred and the Profane", and "Shamanism" (all Princeton).


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One of my best purchase that I made, ideal for research and yoga practitioners
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 27 reviews
62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All serious yoga scholars have this book or want it 24 Jan. 2002
By Dennis Littrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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 energy, and so it is not surprising that this is the definitive single volume academic work on yoga in English (that I am aware of). George Feuerstein's coffee table sized The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice (1998) is a different sort of book, covering yoga from a more practical point of view, and is accessible to a general public. Eliade's book is aimed directly and just about exclusively at academicians. Furthermore, while Feuerstein is a practitioner as well as a scholar, Eliade makes no pretense of first hand experience. As he relates in the Forward, he is interested in the discovery and interpretation of yoga by the West. He wants to explain that in detail. His is a "comparatively full exposition of the theory and practices of yoga...[a] history of its forms, and...its place in Indian spirituality..." (p. xx) The qualifying "comparatively" is a bit of modesty on the part of Eliade. This book really is a "full exposition" (insofar as that is possible) including the ideas, symbolism and methods of yoga "as they are expressed in tantrism, in alchemy, in folklore, in the aboriginal devotion of India." (p. xxii)

The text, which includes lengthy chapters such as, "Yoga and Brahmanism," "Yoga Techniques in Buddhism," "Yoga and Tantrism," "Yoga and Alchemy," etc. runs for 362 dense pages. Sixty-six pages of notes follow, and then a most extensive and valuable bibliography. The Index itself is 47 pages long and concludes with a by-line(!), "Index by Bart Winer," which is only right considering the text was written and set before the age of computers.

This is not a book for practitioners of yoga but a book for students and scholars of the literature of yoga. It is a challenge to read and appreciate and only really accessible to those with some experience with the literature. There is probably no serious yoga book written in the past quarter century that fails to cite it.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "Yoga: Sacred and Profane (Beyond Hatha Yoga)"
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Not About the Exercises 24 Oct. 2008
By Laurie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a uniquely valuable and fascinating book, but first let's say what it's not. It isn't going to help you with your practice of yoga-postures and breathing. It isn't going to help you (much) with your spiritual practice of yoga.

Over the last 60 years a lot of effort has been made to adapt Asian spiritualities to the West. With an intimidating depth of scholarship, Eliade does the opposite. He discusses Patanjali's Dualistic Yoga, Shankara's Nondualism, Tantra, the "heretical" systems of Jainism and Buddhism in their original context, showing that all are variants of a single sublime and terrifying Idea given to us by India: that the whole universe of time, space and matter must be rejected because it is subject to change, decay and death; that it is possible to transcend the human condition entirely and to attain a diamond-like state of eternal purity, peace, changelessness and boundlessness devoid of specific characteristics. He shows too how these ways of liberation are all thoroughly intertwined with archaic cosmologies, physical theories and images of the body.

Instead of asking, What can the Buddha mean to us? he asks, What did the Buddha himself actually mean? The answer is stranger than you might imagine, and a hundred worlds away from contemporary Western-tailored Buddhism. This book is not for the faint-hearted: threaded with long Sanskrit word, capped by 65 pages of Notes. But persistence will be richly rewarded: with your newfound knowledge you will be able to infuriate your spiritually-minded friends and start any number of futile arguments.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Myles Slater on: Beyond Mortal Limits? 27 Dec. 2012
By Ian M. Slater - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For some reason, Amazon hasn't managed to carry over reviews from earlier editions of Mircea Eliade's "Yoga: Immortality and Freedom" to this 2009 edition from the Princeton University Press MYTHOS and "Princeton Classics" series; there are, I think, seven, for various printings under different imprints. They are generally quite enthusiastic, reflecting the largely favorable response the book has produced over the decades. (Many complaints -- not all -- on Amazon and elsewhere seem aimed more at the kind of book it is, rather than its particular contents.) The present edition differs from earlier versions (those since 1969) only in cover art and the presence of a fourteen-page introduction by David Gordon White.

Originally published in 1954 as "Le Yoga. Immortalite et Liberte," the fine English translation by Willard R. Trask appeared in the Bollingen Series in 1958 (Volume 56), and was slightly revised, and the bibliography updated, in 1969. The present version is the current successor to the Princeton/Bollingen Paperback of 1970, which I read until the spine was failing, and I finally ordered a replacement early this year.

Eliade's "Yoga" is generally regarded as a landmark in Western Yoga studies, and a standard reference and point of departure for academics. It is also one of the more widely accepted examples of his "History of Religions" approach to subjects (which some people see as essentially anti-historical.) Perhaps as part of this acceptance, it has been viewed as purely the product of textual study, albeit in India.

The "New Introduction" is, therefore, of some importance to readers unfamiliar with Eliade's life, since it points out that Eliade not only studied Yoga in India with the historian of philosophy Surendranath Dasgupta, he then also practiced Tantric Yoga under the direction of an advanced teacher. Eliade never mentions this in his books on Yoga -- he was being strictly faithful to the rule that only a qualified teacher (which he was not) could pass on details of practice, and then to qualified students (not unknown readers, or strangers attending a lecture). He did mention the episode in the first volume of his autobiography (not published in English until 1981), but still withheld information on things like breathing techniques.

It is somewhat ironic that the book had to be translated from French -- not even his native Romanian, in which he had early literary success -- since his earlier Yoga studies, on which it was in part based, were in fact written in English, to fit the then-existing curriculum in India. (Dasgupta himself published -- voluminously -- in English.) At the end of World War II he had wound up as a struggling exile in Paris, until his publications brought him academic acclaim, some financial security, and later a position at the University of Chicago. (Where he was somewhat notorious for his obliviousness to mere material realities, like departmental regulations, and wars; which may help explain, if not really clarify, his confusingly, and alarmingly, pro-and-con relations with various European fascist movements.)

Although Eliade opens with an interesting Foreword noting the "absorbing story ... of the discovery and interpretation of India by Western consciousness," the opening chapter is mostly a rather dry exposition of the basic premises of Indian philosophy, quickly moving from the introductory to the technical, including the strikingly parallel contents of the Yoga and Samkhya "schools," and generally imposes a barrier to the mere seeker after "Oriental Mysticism" and miraculous powers (which latter, Eliade, like Dasgupta, believes were disdained by "true" Yogins, who were really in quest of Liberation, not power). The chapter is also helpful in understanding other books on Hindu and Buddhist thought. Later portions appear more accessible, but in fact are based on the primary exposition; so those who skip the first chapter probably will miss a lot of what Eliade is talking about.

As has often been said, this is a book for the serious inquirer -- or for someone who really needs to pass a course!

The bibliography and related discussions of text editions, etc. -- together over a hundred pages! -- are now forty years old, and therefore badly dated. Attitudes toward such things as recognizing Yogic postures in images from the ancient Harappan civilization have changed (and changed again) in the intervening years, weakening his attempts at pre-history of Yoga in India. Scattered through it is an interesting introduction to the role of what Eliade considers religious symbolism in Yoga theory and practice; there are frequent, but not always obvious, connections to Eliade's books on general "History of Religions," notably "The Myth of Eternal Return; or Cosmos and History" and "Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy" (Bollingen Series 46 and 76; both also translated by Trask, and available in the MYTHOS series; the 1969 edition includes additional cross-references to the translations.) Some of the comparisons may reveal more about Eliade's attitudes (like the desire to escape from 'history') than they do about either Yoga or Religion in general Still, the book remains an impressive synthesis of Indian thought on the nature of the universe, true reality, and their relation to human consciousness.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yoga philosopy, the details 11 Jun. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Eliade researched for this book, while staying with Surendranath Dasgupta in India, who was the formost scholar of indian philosophy and thelogy at his time. Eliade meticulously analyzed the indian scriptures and commentaries on sankhya and yoga and presents yoga as a huge, complex and precise system of practice and philosphy with the goal of kaivalyam (libration). This book is a lighthouse in the present time of publishing as much as the printing press can print.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended by a former student of the author's 23 Feb. 2006
By Kathleen A. Burt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was my first introduction to yoga in the late 1960's, when the author taught at the University of Chicago and I did graduate work in South Asian Studies. Many decades later, after yoga teacher's training, studies in Carl Jung's archetypal psychology, alchemy and dreamwork I still find it a valuable reference book. It's a good introduction for anyone interested in following the development of yoga theory and practice in India: the major traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and even aboriginal cultures. Eliade's discussion of the art and practice of Tantric ritual is still among the best I've seen; it clarifies an otherwise confusing topic for the Western reader. A classic not only for yoga teachers' libraries and academics, but recommended for anyone with an interest in what yoga's really about, and where it orginated.
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