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The Philosophy of Language in Yoga

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This study addresses a critical gap in our understanding of the relationship between words and meanings within the context of Yoga and Sāṃkhya philosophy. The limited indications of the intricate word-meaning relationship in seminal works like the Yogasūtra (3rd century) and Sāṃkhya Kārikā (4th-5th century), along with their classic commentaries, and the scarcity of comprehensive academic studies in this area are the causes of this gap.

In response, this study offers a novel contribution that deepens our understanding of the word-meaning relationship within the context of cognition, philosophy, and the psychology of yoga, along with its practical applications. Specifically, it explores Yogasūtra 3.17, which links the word-meaning relationship to confusion and mutual superimposition, implying psychological repercussions expressed as causes of affliction (kleśa-s), where words, their intended objects, and meanings become intertwined with psychological memories. These factors influence cognition and reactions to sense objects.

The study further investigates yogic meditation as an 'intellectual absorption'; capable of de-superimposing the confusion associated with the word-meaning relationship. It also proposes a corresponding meditation model. According to Yogasūtra 3.17, the yogic meditation can result in extraordinary knowledge, obtained as a yogic supernatural power. This investigation provides an opportunity to explore the scarcely researched theme of yogic supernatural powers.

Finally, the study scrutinizes whether language serves as a means, an obstacle, or an essential yet not independently sufficient element for achieving liberation. The potential impact of this research extends to the fields of Indian philosophy, psychology, and advanced yoga teaching, offering valuable insights and practical applications.

Published: Mar 1, 2026

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