|Text||Raja Yoga at Wikisource|
Raja Yoga is a book by Swami Vivekananda about "Raja Yoga", his interpretation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras adapted for a Western audience. The book was published in July 1896. It became an instant success and was highly influential in the Western understanding of yoga.
Raja Yoga contains transcripts of lectures by Vivekananda on "Raja Yoga", his interpretation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, and a "rather free translation" of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras plus Vivekananda's commentaries, which also was a series of talks. It presents Vivekananda's understanding and interpretation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, "and a selection of hathayoga teachings on the basis of the beliefs that he shared with his students." These included elements from traditional Hinduism, but also ideas from western science, Idealism, and "the Neo-Vedantic esotericism of the Brahmo Samaj and Western occultism," including mesmerism and "American Harmonial religion."
Vivekananda adapted traditional Hindu ideas and religiosity to suit the needs and understandings of Western audiences, who were especially attracted by and familiar with Western esoteric traditions and movements like transcendentalism and New thought. An important element in his adaptation of Hindu religiosity was the introduction of his four yogas model, which includes Raja yoga, his interpretation of Patanjali's Yoga sutras, which offers a practical means to realize the divine force within, which is central to modern Western esotericism. The other three yogas are the classical Karma Yoga (Karma Yoga), Bhakti Yoga, and Jnana Yoga (Jnana Yoga).
Vivekananda's interpretation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras is mostly based on the part on astanga yoga, the eight limbs of yoga described in the Sadhana Pada or practice part. According to De Michelis, Vivekananda's ideas on Raja Yoga mainly consists of two different models, with sometimes a third "mode of thought":
An appendix contains a translation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Raja Yoga became an instant success and was highly influential in Western understanding of yoga; De Michelis has suggested it marks the start of modern yoga, though that later took very different forms. It presents exotic teachings to a cultic milieu that sought "ideologically familiar forms of practical spirituality."