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SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies

Jason Birch – The Amaraugha and the Amaraughaprabodha of Gorakṣanātha: The Genesis of Haṭha and Rājayoga

About this event

SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies was honoured to host a book launch for The Amaraugha and the Amaraughaprabodha of Gorakṣanātha: The Genesis of Haṭha and Rājayoga by Jason Birch (University of Oxford). This is a recording of the lecture, which took place on Monday, 19th February, 2024.

This book introduces, critically edits, and translates one of the earliest texts of the Haṭhayoga tradition, namely the Amaraugha of Gorakṣanātha.

In this talk, Dr Birch will discuss the historical importance of the Amaraugha (12th century), the earliest known work to teach a paradigm that combined Haṭha and Rājayoga. These two yogas represent the basic dichotomy of physical and mental praxis that became a salient feature of medieval yoga traditions and is still something of a touchstone for many practitioners of modern yoga. A close reading of certain passages reveals how physical methods of yoga from a tantric Buddhist tradition were adapted for Śaivas and shifted the emphasis from celibacy to moving kuṇḍalinī.

The Amaraugha was one of the main sources of the Haṭhapradīpikā, which created a template for Haṭhayoga that was widely accepted after the fifteenth century. By looking through the lens of the Haṭhapradīpikā, it is possible to see how the practice of Haṭhayoga evolved after the Amaraugha, and to appreciate the contribution of this early work to traditions of Haṭhayoga in the early modern period.

Speaker

Jason Birch was awarded his doctorate at the University of Oxford and is a Senior Research Fellow of the Light on Hatha project, hosted at University of Oxford and the University of Marburg, which recently published an online critical edition of the Haṭhapradīpikā (2024). He is co-Director of the Yogacintāmaṇi project at the University of Massachusetts Boston and an Associate Researcher of the Suśruta project at the University of Alberta. His publications include The Amaraugha and the Amaraughaprabodha of Gorakṣanātha: The Genesis of Haṭha and Rājayoga (2024), a co-authored book on plastic surgery in the Nepalese version of the Suśrutasaṃhitā (2023), and numerous articles in academic journals on the history of Haṭha and Rājayoga. From 2015 to 2020, he was a Post-doctoral Research Fellow of the ERC-funded Haṭha Yoga Project at SOAS University of London. He is a founding member of the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies and the peer-reviewed Journal of Yoga Studies.

The Amaraugha and Amaraughaprabodha of Gorakṣanātha: The Genesis of Haṭha and Rājayoga

The Amaraugha and Amaraughaprabodha of Gorakṣanātha: The Genesis of Haṭha and Rājayoga is available for purchase via the EFEO Pondicherry. (Collection: Collection Indologie, Collection’s number: 157, Edition: EFEO, Institut français de Pondichéry (IFP), Publication date: 2024, Language: English and Sanskrit, Print length: 175 pages.)

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