Bridging Yoga Traditions and Academics
Edwin Bryant received his Ph.D in Indic languages and Cultures from Columbia University in 1997 with a dissertation on the “Indigenous Aryans Debate”. He taught Hinduism at Harvard University for three years, and is presently professor of Religions of India at Rutgers University where he teaches courses on Hindu philosophy and religion. He has received numerous fellowships.
In addition to his academic courses, Bryant currently teaches workshops at yoga studios and teacher training courses throughout the country. His lectures and workshop engagements include: The Bhagavad Gita, The Yoga Sutras, Indian Philosophy and Bhakti, and the Krishna Tradition. Indian Philosophy workshop includes “the foundational philosophical texts of yoga and examine the underpinnings and essential principles of the classical schools of Hindu philosophy… beginning with their foundations in the Upanishads, the earliest mystico-philosophical tradition of India, and evolving into the Yoga Sutras, Vedanta Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, and other post-Vedic texts.
As a personal practitioner of yoga for 35-years, a number of them spent in India studying with traditional teachers, where he returns yearly, Edwin strives to combine academic scholarship and rigor with sensitivity to traditional knowledge systems.
Fascinated with India from a very young age, Edwin spent his teenage years hitchhiking through India in the 70s – ending up and living at an ashram there from several years. Eventually coming back to the states to gain a Ph.D in Indic language and cultures from Columbia in 1997.
Curiously Edwin is not just a practitioner, but he is also a scholar, which is a rare trait.
Publications by Edwin Bryant
The Yoga Sutras
Written almost two millennia ago, Patañjali’s work focuses on how to attain the direct experience and realization of the purusa: the innermost individual self, or soul. As the classical treatise on the Hindu understanding of mind and consciousness and on the technique of meditation, it has exerted immense influence over the religious practices of Hinduism in India and, more recently, in the West.
Edwin F. Bryant’s translation is clear, direct, and exact. Each sutra is presented as Sanskrit text, transliteration, and precise English translation, and is followed by Bryant’s authoritative commentary, which is grounded in the classical understanding of yoga and conveys the meaning and depth of the su-tras in a user-friendly manner for a Western readership without compromising scholarly rigor or traditional authenticity. In addition, Bryant presents insights drawn from the primary traditional commentaries on the sutras written over the last millennium and a half.
Bhakti Yoga explores one of the eight “limbs” of yoga. In the simplest terms, bhakti yoga is the practice of devotion, which is the essential heart of yoga and of Hinduism in general. In recent times, the term has come to be used in a rather simplistic way to refer to the increasingly popular practice of kirtan, or chanting in a group or at large gatherings. But bhakti yoga is far more complex and ancient than today’s growing kirtan audiences are aware, and embraces many strands and practices. Edwin F. Bryant focuses on one famous and important school of bhakti and explores it in depth to show what bhakti is and how it is expressed. And he supplies his own renderings of central texts from that tradition in the form of “tales and teachings” from an important work called the Bhagavata Purana, or “The Beautiful Legend of God.” This clarifying work establishes a baseline for understanding, and will be welcomed by all serious students of the spiritual heritage of India.
Edwin’s work is an authoritative breathe of fresh air for anyone treading the ocean of under-accountable, inaccurate, and over-commodified teachings that inundate contemporary yoga culture.