"Words on the Way" – The Yoga Wordbook

– The Golden Glossary of Philosophical, Mystical & Spiritual Sanskrit
By Muz Murray (Ramana Baba)

A BOOK REVIEW BY: Yogacharya

Words on the Way

Muz Murray (Ramana Baba) says that he wrote “Words on the Way” because he always desperately wanted such a book himself when he was a young seeker.

BINGO! Me too!

Like Muz, I now have a better understanding of the Sanskrit language, and a deep appreciation for its place within the teachings of yoga. I also understand just how hard it can be to really benefit from the insight put forth in so many of the profound texts dealing with yoga, without this foundation.

As Muz suggests, “Seekers can often get completely lost, confused and discouraged by the welter of unfamiliar and unexplained Sanskrit words that are so liberally sprinkled throughout the Indian philosophical & spiritual writings.”

“Words on the Way” is Muz Murray’s attempt to resolve this dilemma for the thousands of modern-day yoga enthusiast. In his introduction, he calls this book “a comprehensive Working Glossary for the ordinary seeker.”

Students of yoga will quickly notice that Sanskrit is quite different from our Western languages. Whereas in the English alphabet we have only one “t” and one “d”, in Sanskrit there are 3 of each. In fact, there are 49 primary characters (or sounds) in Sanskrit, which in turn give rise to hundreds more when they are combined. This has not only led to frequent differences in pronunciation, but also a veritable free for all in writing and translating these words by various authors and teachers in both India and abroad.

… With this conundrum in mind, the author has done a pretty good job smoothing out the rough edges and creating a relatively straight-forward presentation of the Sanskrit words, with as little confusion as possible.

He stops short, however, going into an actual pronunciation guide, which I’m sure is intentional. Learning proper Sanskrit language pronunciation necessitates much more than a simple phonetic guide. The author is well aware of this and does not get too distracted down that road, providing a simple pronunciation form after each word, and then keeping the rest of his work focused on being a quality resource for understanding the “meaning” of the multitude of Sanskrit terms in yoga.

Into the meat of the content itself, we find over 700 pages, which is probably one good reason to have it in electronic format! Whereas most glossaries of yoga restrict themselves to simple one-line (and often one-word) definitions, this publication goes far beyond that. Besides providing succinct and concise meanings of each word for quick reference, it also details their literal translations and the origins of their roots. It also gives ample insight into various contexts of a word’s use, all of which adds immense clarity and deeper meaning to these words, many of which are all too often oversimplified in yoga today.

What didn’t I like about this book? Well, to be honest, the title. “Words on the Way” is catchy, but it really doesn’t give a very good impression of what this book is offering.  It is, plain and simply, a comprehensive glossary of yoga Sanskrit terms … and a darn good one at that.

Ramana Baba is no weekend yogi. He is a dedicated spiritualist and seeker of truth. This outstanding piece of work demonstrates his commitment to the subject, while the quality and comprehensiveness of it shows that it is indeed a product of a lifelong labour of love.

In my opinion, “Words on the Way” is exceptional. Whether you’re a serious student of yoga or just getting more curious about it, this publication is truly a unique yoga resource that you’ll want to have. Call me old fashioned, but even despite its length, I’d still love to have a hard-copy of this one on my bookshelf.

Click here for more information about “Words on the Way – The Yoga Wordbook” …


Yogacharya is Director of International Yogalayam and Editor of “The Yoga News

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3 Comments so far

  1. SN on August 25th, 2009

    I have this book, and I agree with the review. It’s fantastic!

  2. YogiGirl on August 25th, 2009

    I agree too, it’s a great book (er, e-book). I think that if you are just getting into yoga, though, you probably won’t have too much use for it right away, but it’s still a great resource to have and as you get more into yoga it’ll help a lot to make sense of the words you’ll be hearing along the way. I’ve been doing yoga for about 11 years, and this book is definitely one of the most useful books I have!

  3. Antonio on August 25th, 2009

    This book sounds like exactly what I have been looking for. I’m going to check it out!