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Patañjali is the semi-mythical compiler of the Yoga Sutras, a major work outlining the philosophical background to the practice of Yoga. No details are known about his life. It is not even known if the Yoga Sutras are the work of one person.

There are also references to at least two other ancient Indian sages named Patañjali. One is the author of a commentary on Panini's Sanskrit grammar and the other is the author of various ayurvedic texts. It seems unlikely that these authors were the same person.

The Yoga Sutras probably date from around AD 200, although dating ancient Indian texts is notoriously difficult. They are in Sanskrit and are in the form of sutras which are terse aphorisms usually without a verb.

The Yoga Sutras give us the earliest reference to the popular term Ashtanga Yoga[?] which translates literally as the eight limbs of yoga. They are yama, niyama[?], asana[?], pranayama[?], pratyahara[?], dharana[?], dhyana and samadhi.

For an english translation see: http://www.yoga.com/roots/yoga/info/Sutras/SutrasBecksEnglishVersion

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