19:00 UTC – 20:30 UTC
Hybrid Event: This ticket is a reservation for accessing the Online webinar.
SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies is pleased 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 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.
19:00 UTC – 20:30 UTC
SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies is pleased to host Ayesha A. Irani, Associate Professor of Asian Studies at University of Massachusetts-Boston, for a lecture entitled “Yoga for the Bengali Darveś: Prescriptions of the Jñāna Pradīpa, A Seventeenth-Century Sufi Practice Manual.”
This paper focuses upon the Jñāna Pradīpa (“Lamp of Knowlege”), ascribed to Saiyad Sultān (fl. 1615–1645), the author of the Nabīvaṃśa (“The Prophet’s Lineage”). This Sufi practice manual provides insight into the devotional imaginaire and esoteric practices of the Bengali darveś. Reading the text in the context of other similar Islamic Bangla works suggests that the Sufis of Bengal employed various technologies of haṭha yoga and immortality practices that they recast within an Islamic framework.
SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies was honoured to host Dominik A. Haas of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Vienna, who is author of Gāyatrī: Mantra and Mother of the Vedas (2023). Prof. Ulrich Pagel, Chair of the CYS, hosted the event along with Jacqueline Hargreaves, CYS Programme Manager. This is a recording of the lecture, which took place via an online webinar on Monday, 18th December, 2023.
The mantra known as Gāyatrī or Sāvitrī (Ṛgveda III 62.10) is one of the most frequently recited texts of mankind. Over the course of time it has not only been personified as the mother of the Vedas – the oldest religious literature of South Asia –, but has even come to be venerated as a goddess. It plays an important role in contemporary Hinduism as well as in modern yoga and alternative spiritual currents around the globe. Many consider it the most important, most efficacious, or holiest mantra of all. In this lecture, Dr Haas will present the results of his recently completed book project on the Gāyatrī-Mantra. He will talk about its history between the Vedic Age and modern yoga, focussing on the period between 1000 BCE and 1000 CE, the period in which the mantra rose to become a shibboleth of Brahmanical Hinduism and its deified form was fleshed out.
Dominik A. Haas completed his doctorate in South Asian Studies at the University of Vienna in 2022 with a dissertation on the Gāyatrī mantra. His publications and lectures deal with Hinduism, the Vedic religion, mantras, deification and yoga. Following an interdisciplinary approach, he combines philological and historical research with methods and perspectives from a wide range of disciplines, including text linguistics and religious studies. As a co-founder of the Initiative for Fair Open Access Publishing in South Asian Studies (FOASAS), Haas also advocates for modern forms of scholarly communication and fair working conditions in the academic and publishing sectors. He is currently a Post-Doc fellow and has published a monograph based on his dissertation with the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Contributions to the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia. In Gāyatrī: Mantra and Mother of the Vedas, Haas reconstructs for the first time the history of the Gāyatrī mantra, which, as the most important initiatory mantra of Brahmanical Hinduism, has played a central role in the formation of social and religious identity for over 2,000 years. Over time, the mantra was not only personified as the mother of the Vedas, the oldest religious literature in South Asia, but was even worshiped as a goddess. In addition to working on his book, Haas is also preparing a new research project that will examine the cultural history of mantras and their recitation. He also leads courses on the topics of mantras and religious history at the University of Vienna.
Gāyatrī: Mantra and Mother of the Vedas is available open access by: Open Access Fonds der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. (Pages: 359 pages, Format: 29,7x21cm, Language: English.)