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.
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.
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.
This short seminar series is a thematic and historical introduction to Hindu tantric traditions. Beginning with a survey of general features such as systems of mantra, ritual, cosmology, and yoga, we will then go on to examine particular tantric traditions focused on Shiva, Vishnu, and the Goddess. The seminars will mainly explore the medieval period and examine tantrism in the context of political systems of the time, folk religion, traditions of brahmanical learning, and knowledge systems.
Among the available Saivagamas the Pauskaragama is a very important and interesting in many ways. The eight chapters deal with some of the fundamental doctrines of Saivasiddhanta in a thorough fashion. Its importance is also evident by the existence of two elaborate commentaries of which one is still unpublished. In my lecture I will highlight some of the salient features of this text based on those commentaries.
Saivism with its important branches such as Pasupata and the Saivasiddhanta was widely popular in many parts of India from the beginning of the first millennium of the common era. Of them, the Saivasiddhanta had many royal dynasties as its support. The basic tenets of the system were enuncitated in the canonical texts called Agama believed to have been revealed by Siva Himself. In the course of its spread to south India and especially to the Tamil country the essential teachings of the Agama-s were taught by the teachers to their disciples.