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Lectures on Yoga

The abundance and vicissitudes of multiplicity: The case of chaunsatha yoginis

Dr Nilima Chitgopekar
3 Mar 2004

Related: Yoga

Hinduism II lecture series: Yoga, bhakti, tantra (eight lectures)

Professor Gavin Flood
25 Jan 2005

A series of eight lectures

These lectures will examine conceptions of liberation and paths leading to liberation in the history of "Hindu" traditions. After an introductory lecture that raises some of the theological questions about the relation of path to goal and the importance of ritual and asceticism in the history of Indian religions, we will begin with an examination of Samkhya, the philosophical backdrop of Yoga, and move on to the opening Yoga-sutras, their ideal of liberation as isolation (kaivalya), and the means of achieving that goal. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) and examine bhakti and yoga in the Bhagavad Gita before moving into the medieval period. Here the lectures will describe some developments of bhakti in vernacular literatures, focussing on both texts that advocate devotion to iconic forms and the later texts that advocate devotion to an absolute without qualities. Here we will also examine the importance of ritual texts and the relation between ritual, devotion and yoga. Lastly we will trace the themes of liberation and path with examples from selected tantric traditions within Vaisnavism and Saivism.
 
While the lectures will place texts in their historical contexts, the course will not examine texts in a strictly chronological sequence, the stress being on theme. Throughout we will raise critical theological questions through engaging with texts in translation and raise the question about the extent to which liberation is a rhetoric that overlays other cultural forces. By the end of the course the student should have an understanding of soteriology in Hindu traditions, an understanding of some the main literatures associated with this, and an awareness of the philosophical and theological problems entailed. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: Bhakti, Tantra, Yoga

Yoga and vyaakarana

Shivdasani Seminar
Professor Ashok Aklujkar
12 May 2005

Related: Grammarians, Philosophy, Yoga

It's a kind of magic: The powers of yoga and their interpretation

Majewski Lecture
Dr Angelika Malinar
30 Oct 2006

Flying through the air, the remembrance of former existence, being insensitive to pain - all these phenomena are known as the 'power' of Yogins and are usually regarded as signs of a successful practice of Yoga. Already in the oldest texts, such as the Mahabharata (400 BCE- 400 CE) and the Yogasutra (4th-5th century, CE), they are called bala (power), siddhi (achievements) or vibhuti (manifestation of might). In academic contexts these powers were rather neglected since they have often been interpreted as an expression of 'magical thinking'. The discussion of some of these academic views will be followed by an analysis of the description and interpretation of Yogic powers in the Yogasutra and the Mahabharata. It will be shown that the authors of these texts used their own philosophical framework for explaining the 'conquest' of the objects of Yogic practice.

Related: Yoga

How much of yoga did Shankara accept in his formulation of Advaita Vedanta

Shivdasani Seminar
Professor T.S. Rukmani
11 May 2007

Shankara opposes the dualistic Yoga as much as the Samkhya in his Brahmasutrabhasya and other works. But one clearly sees that his opposition does not extend to the methodology of Yoga. He generally speaks favourably of yogic practices and even accepts the siddhis of Yoga. Sankara mentions the threefold sravana, manana and nididhyasana as of paramount importance for brahman-realization. While sravana is translated as hearing and studying the relevant sacred texts and manana as reflection on what one has learnt from the texts, nididhyasana is usually translated as samadhi as well as dhyana. Samadhi and dhyana are already well defined terms in yoga philosophy and one struggles to find a proper understanding of the word nididhyasana in Advaita Vedanta. Sankara tries to define nididhyasana but is not able to convincingly point out the distinction between dhyana/samadhi and nididhyasana. It is this difficulty that makes one, like Sadananda, the author of the Vedantasutras, define nididhyasana in a two-fold manner as savikalpaka and nirvikalpaka samadhi, and blur the difference between yogic samadhi and Advaita Vedanta nididhyasana. This paper discusses these various issues.

Related: Vedanta, Yoga

Hinduism II: Hindu ideas of liberation Lecture 2: The Samkhya and Yoga

Professor Gavin Flood
28 Jan 2009

These lectures will examine conceptions of liberation and paths leading to liberation in the history of ‘Hindu’ traditions. After an introductory lecture that raises some of the theological questions about the relation of path to goal and the importance of ritual and asceticism in the history of Indian religions, we will begin with an examination of Samkhya, the philosophical backdrop of Yoga, and move on to the opening Yoga-sutras, their ideal of liberation as isolation (kaivalya), and the means of achieving that goal. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) and examine bhakti and yoga in the Bhagavad Gita before moving into the medieval period. Here the lectures will describe some developments of bhakti in vernacular literatures, focusing on both texts that advocate devotion to iconic forms and the later texts that advocate devotion to an absolute without qualities. Here we will also examine the importance of ritual texts and the relation between ritual, devotion and yoga. Lastly we will trace the themes of liberation and path with examples from selected tantric traditions within Vaisnavism and Saivism.

 
While the lectures will place texts in their historical contexts, the course will not examine texts in a strictly chronological sequence, the stress being on theme. Throughout we will raise critical theological questions through engaging with texts in translation and raise the question about the extent to which liberation is a rhetoric that overlays other cultural forces. By the end of the course the student should have an understanding of soteriology in Hindu traditions, an understanding of some the main literatures associated with this, and an awareness of the philosophical and theological problems entailed. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: General, Samkhya, Yoga

Hinduism II: Hindu ideas of liberation Lecture 3: Yoga-sutras of Patanjali

Professor Gavin Flood
4 Feb 2009

These lectures will examine conceptions of liberation and paths leading to liberation in the history of ‘Hindu’ traditions. After an introductory lecture that raises some of the theological questions about the relation of path to goal and the importance of ritual and asceticism in the history of Indian religions, we will begin with an examination of Samkhya, the philosophical backdrop of Yoga, and move on to the opening Yoga-sutras, their ideal of liberation as isolation (kaivalya), and the means of achieving that goal. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) and examine bhakti and yoga in the Bhagavad Gita before moving into the medieval period. Here the lectures will describe some developments of bhakti in vernacular literatures, focusing on both texts that advocate devotion to iconic forms and the later texts that advocate devotion to an absolute without qualities. Here we will also examine the importance of ritual texts and the relation between ritual, devotion and yoga. Lastly we will trace the themes of liberation and path with examples from selected tantric traditions within Vaisnavism and Saivism.

 
While the lectures will place texts in their historical contexts, the course will not examine texts in a strictly chronological sequence, the stress being on theme. Throughout we will raise critical theological questions through engaging with texts in translation and raise the question about the extent to which liberation is a rhetoric that overlays other cultural forces. By the end of the course the student should have an understanding of soteriology in Hindu traditions, an understanding of some the main literatures associated with this, and an awareness of the philosophical and theological problems entailed. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: General, Yoga

Hinduism II: Hindu ideas of liberation Lecture 4: Bhakti and Yoga in the Bhagavad-gita and its interpreters

Professor Gavin Flood
11 Feb 2009

These lectures will examine conceptions of liberation and paths leading to liberation in the history of ‘Hindu’ traditions. After an introductory lecture that raises some of the theological questions about the relation of path to goal and the importance of ritual and asceticism in the history of Indian religions, we will begin with an examination of Samkhya, the philosophical backdrop of Yoga, and move on to the opening Yoga-sutras, their ideal of liberation as isolation (kaivalya), and the means of achieving that goal. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) and examine bhakti and yoga in the Bhagavad Gita before moving into the medieval period. Here the lectures will describe some developments of bhakti in vernacular literatures, focusing on both texts that advocate devotion to iconic forms and the later texts that advocate devotion to an absolute without qualities. Here we will also examine the importance of ritual texts and the relation between ritual, devotion and yoga. Lastly we will trace the themes of liberation and path with examples from selected tantric traditions within Vaisnavism and Saivism.

 
While the lectures will place texts in their historical contexts, the course will not examine texts in a strictly chronological sequence, the stress being on theme. Throughout we will raise critical theological questions through engaging with texts in translation and raise the question about the extent to which liberation is a rhetoric that overlays other cultural forces. By the end of the course the student should have an understanding of soteriology in Hindu traditions, an understanding of some the main literatures associated with this, and an awareness of the philosophical and theological problems entailed. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: Bhakti, General, Yoga

Siddhas, Munis and Yogins but no Naths: The Early History of Hathayoga

Wahlstrom Lecture
Dr James Mallinson
19 May 2009

The Nath order has long been credited with being the originators of hatha-yoga and the authors of the Sanskrit texts on its practice. Text critical study of those works and research into other sources for the same period show this not to be the case: not one of the twenty Sanskrit texts that make up the corpus of early (pre-1450 CE) works on hatha-yoga was written in a Nath milieu. Furthermore, no single sect can be credited with starting hatha-yoga. On the contrary, hatha-yoga developed as a reaction against the sectarianism and exclusivity of tantra and was available to all, regardless of sectarian affiliation.

Related: Tantra, Yoga

Earrings and Horns: Locating the first Naths

Dr James Mallinson
28 May 2009

The Naths are ubiquitous in secondary literature on the religious culture of India during the last millennium, but they are very elusive in primary sources. This seminar will trace the development of the traits that set the Naths apart from other religious orders and try to pinpoint when they came together.

Related: Tantra, Yoga

Hinduism I: Sources and Development - 7: Liberation through Yoga

Professor Gavin Flood
24 Nov 2010

These lectures offer a thematic and historical introduction to the sources and early development of ‘Hindu’ traditions from their early formation to the early medieval period. We will explore the formation of Hindu traditions through textual sources, such as the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, along with the practices and social institutions that formed classical Hindu traditions. The lectures will include an introduction to Hindu philosophy.

Related: Yoga

Yoga and Māyā in the Bhāgavata-purāṇa

Graduate Seminar
Gopal Gupta
3 Feb 2011

Among Puranic literature, the Bhagavata Purana has been most influential, both in intellectual circles and in popular Hinduism. The Bhagavata offers a unique form of yoga that is indebted to earlier texts, such as the Mahabharata and Patañjali’s Yoga-sutra, but is nevertheless distinct from them in an important way—the Bhagavata blends its characteristic emotional bhakti with the otherwise staid practice of yoga. This paper argues that the shift from the normative bhakti of the Mahabharata to the emotional bhakti of the Bhagavata is made possible primarily through the concept of yoga-maya. The paper examines the relationship between yoga, the yogi, yoga-maya, and yogesvara in the two texts, and shows that without maya, the intensity of the emotional yoga between the devotee and Krsna found in the Bhagavata cannot take place. While non-dualist Vedanta philosophy often sees maya as a negative force, this paper argues the Bhagavata affirms just the opposite – the devotee’s place under the veil of maya is a desirable situation as it allows for the experience of intimate love.

 
Gopal Gupta is currently pursuing a D.Phil. in Hindu Studies at the University of Oxford.

Related: Bhagavata, Yoga

The Śākta Co-option of Haṭhayoga

Sakta Conference 2011
Dr James Mallinson
10 Sep 2011

Text-critical study of the earliest texts to teach haṭhayoga (c.11th-13th centuries) shows that in its first formulations it was closely associated with traditional ascetic practice and that the aim of its techniques, which were physical, was to boost the beneficial effects of celibacy (or, at least, continence). Śākta traditions dating to a similar period had developed a system of yoga in which the yogin visualised the rising of Kuṇḍalinī from the base of the spine up through a series of cakras. This Kuṇḍalinī yoga, together with some other techniques developed in a Śākta milieu, was overlaid onto the techniques of haṭhayoga in texts such as the Vivekamārtaṇḍa, Gorakṣaśataka and Haṭhapradīpikā. The haṭhayoga taught in the latter text in particular became definitive and since its composition (c. 1450) Kuṇḍalinī-based haṭhayoga has been the dominant form of haṭhayoga, and indeed yoga more broadly conceived. The co-option of haṭhayoga by a Śākta tradition is representative of both the development within Śāktism of a less exclusive, more universal yoga and of the formation of the Nāth saṃpradāya. The first gurus associated with the Nāth order, Matsyendra and Gorakṣa, were part of a non-celibate Śākta tradition which developed in the Deccan. Out of this tradition there developed the celibate order of Nāth ascetics whose influence ranged, and ranges, over all but the southeast of the subcontinent.

 
James Mallinson has a BA in Sanskrit from Oxford and an MA with a major in ethnography from SOAS. His DPhil. thesis at Oxford was a critical edition of the Khecarīvidyā, a Kaula work on khecarīmudrā, an important technique of haṭhayoga. After his DPhil. he translated Sanskrit poetry for the Clay Sanskrit Library for six years. He then spent a year teaching Sanskrit at SOAS and is now helping to set up an institute of Indian classical studies at Lavasa in India while continuing his research into yoga and yogis.

Related: Sakta, Yoga

Yoginīyoga/Yogin as Yoginī: On the sādhana of female deities in Indian tantric Buddhism of the tenth to twelfth century

Sakta Conference 2011
Professor Harunaga Isaacson
11 Sep 2011

Harunaga Isaacson was born in Kuma, Japan, in 1965. He studied philosophy and Indology at the University of Groningen (MA 1990), and was awarded a PhD in Sanskrit by the University of Leiden (1995). From Fall 1995 to Summer 2000 he was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Oriental Institute, Oxford University. After holding teaching positions at Hamburg University and the University of Pennsylvania, he was appointed Professor of Classical Indology in the Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Hamburg University, in April 2006. His main research areas are: tantric traditions in pre-13th century South Asia, especially Vajrayāna Buddhism; classical Sanskrit poetry; classical Indian philosophy; and Purāṇic literature. Prof. Isaacson is a member of the board of Indo-Iranian Journal (since 2003) and the Governing Committee of the INDOLOGY Discussion Forum. He is also presently Director of the Nepal Research Centre and General Director of the Nepalese-German Manuscript Cataloguing Project (both positions held since April 2006), funded by the Deutsche Forschungs Gemeinschaft.

Related: Sakta, Yoga

Yeats and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: The Poet as Orientalist

Graduate Seminar
W. David Soud
26 Jan 2012

Yeats once wrote ‘I know nothing but the novels of Balzac and the aphorisms of Patanjali’. In setting a worldly French novelist against a Indian mystical philosopher, Yeats is not merely recasting the dialogue of self and soul that has governed so much of his poetry; he is signaling that one side of the debate has staked out its position in India, and that the terms of the discussion have changed. Though he had found poetic inspiration in India earlier in his career, Yeats’s final and most productive foray into Indic traditions would challenge his conceptions of self, God and destiny. In pursuit of Indic wisdom as he conceived it, Yeats left a trail of questions and assertions in letters and essays. These texts, especially those that touch on the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, reveal not only what the poet most sought to learn from Indic philosophy, but also where, how and why he failed to grasp it. This seminar will explore these issues.

Related: Literature, Yoga

Vaishnava Features of Traditional Hatha yoga

Dr James Mallinson
8 Mar 2012

The history of hatha yoga is only now becoming clear through close attention to the textual tradition. This seminar examines the Vaishnava roots of some hatha yoga practice.

 
Dr James Mallinson has a BA in Sanskrit from Oxford and an MA with a major in ethnography from SOAS. His DPhil. thesis at Oxford was a critical edition of the Khecarividya, a Kaula work on khecarimudra, an important technique of hathayoga. After his DPhil. he translated Sanskrit poetry for the Clay Sanskrit Library for six years. He then spent a year teaching Sanskrit at SOAS and is now helping to set up an institute of Indian classical studies at Lavasa in India while continuing his research into yoga and yogis.

Related: Vaisnava, Yoga