Sinister Yogis

By David Gordon White

Since the Nineteen Sixties, yoga has develop into a billion-dollar within the West, attracting housewives and hipsters, New Agers and the old-aged. yet our sleek notion of yoga derives a lot from nineteenth-century ecu spirituality, and the real tale of yoga’s origins in South Asia is way richer, stranger, and extra unique than so much people realize.

To discover this heritage, David Gordon White makes a speciality of yoga’s practitioners. Combing via millennia of South Asia’s great and various literature, he discovers that yogis tend to be portrayed as wonder-workers or sorcerers who use their harmful supernatural abilities—which can comprise elevating the useless, ownership, and levitation—to collect strength, wealth, and sexual gratification. As White exhibits, even these yogis who aren’t downright villainous endure little resemblance to Western assumptions approximately them. At turns rollicking and complicated, Sinister Yogis tears down clone of yogis as indifferent, contemplative lecturers, eventually putting them of their right context.

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Via his battlefield loss of life, the chariot warrior fastened an attack at the another way impenetrable sunlight disk and compelled his method into the area of the immortals at the different facet. 121 As Peter Schreiner has famous, the notice “yoga” seems approximately 9 hundred occasions within the MBh, an exponential bring up over its incidence in all past scriptural canons. of those mentions of the time period, over 300 are present in the didactic teachings of the MdhP part of its 12th booklet, and over 100 within the BhG by myself. 122 whereas a ways much less studied than the BhG, the MdhP—which are the lessons of Bhīṣma, who holds forth from his mattress of arrows for enormous quantities of chapters ahead of his personal self-willed yogic death—is a richer repository of early yoga hypothesis than the BhG, or, for that subject, the YS or the early Upaniṣads. 123 often talking, didactic or doctrinal discussions of yoga, resembling they're present in the MdhP and BhG, are ambiguous with regards to simply what yoga (or Sāṃkhya, the time period with which it is usually paired) intended during this interval. either current a multiplicity of meanings for a time period that was once in statu nascendi and the item of a clash of interpretations,124 a state of affairs additionally mirrored within the YS. while, even though, one appears at narrative descriptions of the perform of yoga within the nice epic, one reveals a extraordinary uniformity, with the practitioner of yoga both stepping into the disk of the solar or penetrating the physique of one other being. There exists a complete of fourteen such narratives within the epic related to human practitioners. of those, 5 challenge chariot warriors (Bhīṣma,125 Kṛṣṇa,126 Yudhiṣṭhira,127 Bhūriśravas, and Droṇa) who, termed yogayukta, are defined as going to the sunlight or the top course. One matters a chariot warrior who has refused to struggle (Balarāma): whereas he's yogayukta, a superb serpent emerges from his mouth and swims out to sea. 128 3 quandary hermits (Śuka,129 Jaigīṣavya,130 and an unnamed brahmin131) whose trips take them around the heavens and, in terms of Śuka and the unnamed brahmin, to the sunlight itself. The 5 different narratives, present in a number of the youngest parts of the epic, contain hermits (Bharadvāja, Vipula, Sulabhā, Vidura, and Kāvya Uśanas), a few of whom are termed yogis, whose perform bears the nearest resemblance to the modus operandi of the “sinister yogis” of bankruptcy one. just like the yogayukta chariot warriors who pierce the in a different way impermeable barrier of the solar, those epic yogis penetrate the another way impermeable barrier of alternative people’s our bodies, and in either situations, the media in which those penetrations happen are sun rays. bankruptcy 4 can be dedicated to a dialogue of this final set of epic narratives and to the metaphysics and theories of conception and data that undergird them. 5 of the six epic narratives that contain yogayukta chariot warriors depict “dying as a yogic event,”132 via which a hero wills his luminous self or lifebody to get up out of his recumbent, if no longer comatose, actual physique.

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