Patañjali (Sanskrit: पतञ्जलि,   is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana's vārttikas (short comments) on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine (āyurveda).

In recent decades the Yoga Sutra has become quite popular worldwide for the precepts regarding practice of Raja Yoga and its philosophical basis. "Yoga" in traditional Hinduism involves inner contemplation, a system of meditation practice and ethics.

In the Yoga tradition, Patañjali is a revered name and has been deified by many groups, especially in the Shaivite bhakti tradition. It is claimed that Patañjali is an incarnation of Ādi Śeṣa, who is the first ego-expansion of Viṣṇu, Sankarshana. Sankarshana is part of the so-called caturvyūha,   the fourfold manifestation of Vishnu. Patañjali is considered an incarnation of God defending the yoga. He is called Maharshi.

In one popular legend, Patañjali was born to Atri and his wife Anasuya (this would make him go back to the time of the creation by Brahma). According to this tradition, Anasuya had to go through a stern test of her chastity when the Trimurti themselves came as Bhikshuks and asked her for Bhiksha. She passed their test by accepting them as her children and fed them. She got the boon where all the three Murtis will be born to them. They were Soma Skandan or Patañjali, Dattatreya, and Durvasa.

The Jeeva Samadhi of Patanjali Maharishi is believed to be in Tirupattur Brahmapureeswarar Temple (30 km from Trichy), where Lord Brahma installed 12 Shiva Lingams and worshipped Lord Shiva to get back his Tejas. Shankaracharya's guru had told Shankaracharya that Patanjali was reincarated as Govinda Bhagavatpada and was meditating in a cave somewhere in the state of samadhi.