patañjali पतञ्जलि

Definition: the reputed author of the Mahābhāșya, known as the Pātañjala Mahābhāșya after him. His date is determined definitely as the second century B.C. on the strength of the internal evidence supplied by the text of the Mahābhāșya itself. The words Gonardiya and Gonikāputra which are found in the Mahābhāșya are believed to be referring to the author himself and, on their strength he is said to have been the son of Goņikā and a resident of the country called Gonarda in his days. On the strength of the internal evidence supplied by the Mahābhāșya, it can be said that Patañjali received his education at Takșaśila and that he was,just like Pāņini, very familiar with villages and towns in and near Vāhika and Gāndhāra countries. Nothing can definitely be said about his birthplace, and although it might be believed that his native place was Gonarda,its exact situation has not been defined so far. About his parentage too,no definite information is available. Tradition says that he was the foster-son of a childless woman named Gonikā to whom he was handed over by a sage of Gonarda, in whose hands he fell down from the sky in the evening at the time of the offering of water-handfuls to the Sun in the west; cf.पतत् + अञ्जलि, the derivation of the word given by the commentators. Apart from anecdotes and legendary information, it can be said with certainty that Patañjali was a thorough scholar of Sanskrit Grammar who had studied the available texts of the Vedic Literature and Grammar and availed himself of information gathered personally by visiting the various schools of Sanskrit Grammar and observing the methods of explanations given by teachers there. His Mahābhāșya supplies an invaluable fund of information on the ways in which the Grammar rules of Pāņini were explained in those days in the various grammar schools. This information is supplied by him in the Vārttikas which he has exhaustively given and explained. He had a remarkable mastery over Sanskrit Language which was a spoken one at his time and it can be safely said that in respect of style, the Mahābhāșya excels all the other Bhāșyas in the different branches of learning out of which two, those of Śabaraswāmin and Śańkarācārya,are selected for comparison. It is believed by scholars that he was equally conversant with other śāstras, especially Yoga and Vaidyaka, on which he has written learned treatises. He is said to be the author of the Yogasūtras which,hence are called Pātañjala Yogasūtras, and the redactor of the Carakasamhitā. There are scholars who believe that he wrote the Mahābhāșya only, and not the other two. They base their argument mainly on the supposition that it is impossible for a scholar to have an equally unmatching mastery over three different śāstras at a time. The argument has no strength, especially in India where there are many instances of scholars possessing sound scholarship in different branches of learning. Apart from legends and statements of Cakradhara, Nāgesa and others, about his being the author of three works on three different śāstras, there is a direct reference to Patañjali's proficiency in Grammar, Yoga and Medicine in the work of King Bhoja of the eleventh century and an indirect one in the Vākyapadīya of Bhartŗhari of the seventh century A. D. There is a work on the life of Patañjali, written by a scholar of grammar of the South,named Ramabhadra which gives many stories and incidents of his life out of which it is difficult to find out the grains of true incidents from the legendary husk with which they are covered. For details,see Patañjala Mahābhāșya D.E.Society's edition Vol. VII pages 349 to 374. See also the word महाभाष्य.


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