YS – an intellectual milieu
The YS is the first systematisation of yoga discourse of which we are aware. Most probably it belonged to the same vaguely defined social stratum that we glimpsed in the Mahabharata. A mainly Samkhya milieu occupied by liberation topics like yoga; a fragile sub-culture within the general cultural field of liberation. What characterised this milieu of amateurs and professionals was that it did not belong to any of the dominant groups of professional holy men like the Buddhists, Jains and Brahmins. This milieu was so loosely formed that it had not hitherto managed to establish a canon and a scholastic institution of refinement and interpretation. So it was originally a heterodox upper class and urban intellectual stratum not only in opposition to the Brahmin ritualists but also to the Buddhist and Jain ethicists.
It seems that the YS codified the state of the art of heterodox yoga discussions reigning around 400 AD or later. We can see that the YS opens up the yoga discourse to Buddhist ethics, probably signifying that intellectuals were beginning to dominate this stratum. As a part of this adaptation, it probably lifted some theoretical elements from the various milieus and intellectual discourses. This act of compilation was necessary, as the compiler apparently had no single, well defined, and practical line of transmission upon which to draw. Hence he turned to various intellectual texts in the overall cultural field of liberation and combined them into one with the implication that the YS became not practical but theoretical in nature.
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