Sunday, October 25, 2009

Latin Root Words of the Yoga-Sutra

Welcome back fans of Latin roots as they relate to English vocabulary words! Recently I have been focusing this SAT English vocabulary blog on analyzing the Latin root words of titles of great English and world literature, and then discussing why those great works are indeed great. I have recently perused Patanjali's great work concerning yoga, the Yoga-Sutra, translated by Chip Hartranft. I have found the aphoristic style of the Yoga-Sutra not only engaging, but also deeply profound; in it, Patanjali discusses the profound rewards that one can derive from the practice of yoga, which is much more than the usually held western conception of yoga as just the asanas, or postures. During the next two years or so, I will devote myself to writing about each of Patanjanli's aphorisms, sequentially, contained in this remarkable 2nd-century BCE text, with a focus on analyzing the text in terms of its classical Greek and Latin roots of the fine English translation, and then providing an individual's exegesis of the text itself, based upon my own wonderful experience with yoga thus far.

Chapter 1: Integration

Aphorism 1: Now, the teachings of yoga.

The name of this chapter (itself derived from the Latin root caput, capitis: "head") comes from the Latin root integer: "whole, entire, untouched." Thus, this first chapter, the first of but four in the Yoga-Sutra, from an etymological point of view, will focus upon "the act of becoming whole, entire, or untouched." Note that the mathematical term "integer," also comes via the Latin integer (an "integer" is any "whole" number that is not a fraction or "broken," hence an "untouched" number, including the positives from 1, 2, 3 onwards, the negatives, or -1, -2, -3 onwards, and 0). Other SAT-level words that derive from the Latin root word integer include: integral, integrity, integrate, disintegrate, disintegration, and entirety. Hence, Patanjali suggests very early on that the practioner new to yoga is in some sense "disintegrated," or has lost his or her spiritual "integrity," and must regain being "whole" or "entire."
Let's talk for a moment about the word "yoga." "Yoga" simply means a "yoking" back to one's origins by once again gaining "union" with our ultimate origin. The Sanskrit yogah, "union," from which English created "yoga," is that discipline by which the "yogini" tries to rejoin her spiritual origins via achieving a state of inner serenity by quieting the pestiferous sem, or "flea mind" (so called because our minds tend to jump around desultorily like ‘fleas,’ flittering about to the tune of about 60,000 random thoughts per day). Let us consider related Latin and Greek cognates of "yoga," and a few of the SAT and GRE vocabulary words that derive from them: Greek zygon, "yoke, pair:" zeugma, zygote, zygotic. Latin iungo, iungere, iunxi, iunctum: "to join:" adjunct, adjoin, juxtapose, joint, juncture, conjunction, maladjusted, conjoint, jostle, disjointed, subjunctive, subjunctive, joust, junto, junta, rejoinder, conjoin, conjunctive, disjunct, enjoin, etc. From the roots above and a discussion of the word "yoga," we can see that "yoga" has a deep relationship to "joining" its practitioners again with something profound, but with what? And how does one go about practicing this union? Stay tune for next week's entry which will discuss Aphorism 2: Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness. In this entry, I will etymologically analyze the Latin root words of "pattern" (related to our word "father") and "consciousness," the latter an absolutely integral concept that is at the heart of what the yogini or yogi does. Fascinated with English vocabulary words? Want to pick them apart into their constituent Greek and Latin roots? Want to know even more SAT and GRE words that come from the Latin root words iungo, iungere: to join? Or the scientific, anatomical, and medical terminology that derives from the Greek root zygon: yoke, pair? Studying hard for the SAT or GRE verbal section, and just can't get a handle on all of those vocabulary words, which are truly legion? Check out, where you will find the most comprehensive Greek and Latin roots dictionary available today, and also the most's in full color, and artistically designed. There's even a Greek and Latin roots poster available, which nicely illustrates the full power of what Greek and Latin root words can do for you.