Definition - What does Yoga-Varttika mean?
Yoga-Varttika is the name of a comprehensive commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It was written by sixteenth century yogic scholar and author Vijnana Bhikshu. It follows the order and structure of the Yoga Sutras and was originally written in Sanskrit.
It is thought to precede his later yoga text and treatise, the Yoga-Sara-Samgraha.
A varttika is a Sanskrit term defined as either a single remark or a whole work that offers a detailed commentary on a text or teaching. Traditionally in India, the purpose of a varttika was to explore what has been said, what has not been said and what has not been said clearly.
Yogapedia explains Yoga-Varttika
In the beginning of the Yoga-Sara-Samgraha, Vijnana Bhikshu uses an analogy to describe the relationship between this text and his earlier text, the Yoga-Varttika. He says that his scholarly process was comparable to the tale in Indian mythology of when deities and demons churned the ocean using the Sumeru mountain as the churning rod, and Lord Vishnu collected the nectar from this churning process in a jar. In this case, Vijnana Bhiksu sees Yoga as the ocean and the commentary text of Yoga Varttika as the churning rod. Thus he compares the Yoga-Sara-Samgraha to the jar of nectar, which was the culmination of this process.
Thus, it is believed that Vijnana Bhikshu wrote his commentary on the Yoga Sutras in order to fully understand them and study them deeply. Then, based on the Yoga-Varttika, the outcome of his studies, he was able to distil the essence of the yogic teachings into his own text, the Yoga-Sara-Samgraha. Unlike the Yoga-Varttika, the Yoga-Sara-Samgraha is structured in four sections, according to subject matter and is not constrained to the order of the Yoga Sutras.