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Early Career Research in Yoga Studies

Advancing in the Academy

Woman sitting on a stack of books while reading.

Event Details

DateThursday, 26th September, 2024
Time6PM –8 PM (2 hours)
LocationSOAS University of London (room to be assigned).
TimezoneUnited Kingdom, London (GMT+1)
SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies is thrilled that you will be participating in this event, which has been specifically designed for Early Career Scholars.

Gathering in-person, doctoral and post-doctoral researchers from all over the world will come together to establish a community of emerging scholars in the growing field of Yoga Studies. The profile details and abstracts of participants will be added to the section below. All participants are Graduates of the SOAS MA in Yoga Studies (and/or Indian Religions or South Asia Studies) and have embarked upon further research in the academy.

This event will be an opportunity to discuss your current (or future) research project with colleagues, and to share ideas, forge new projects, propose future research and discuss funding opportunities.

Prof. Ulrich Pagel will host the event and the keynote speaker, Dr Karen O’Brien-Kop, will offer both inspiration and advice on advancing in the academy.

SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies

Fabrizio Speziale – The Rāwal: a sect of Muslim yogis in Colonial India

About this Event

SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies was delighted to host Fabrizio Speziale, Professor at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) and a member of the Center for South Asian and Himalayan Studies (CESAH), Paris-Marseille, for a lecture entitled “The Rāwal: a sect of Muslim yogis in Colonial India.” This is a recording of the lecture that took place online on the 24th April 2024.

In early modern and colonial India, Muslims’ assimilation of knowledge and practices from the yogis was a layered phenomenon where different approaches, which reflected the needs of different groups of Muslim society, coexisted. This lecture looks at the emergence of Muslim branches of Nāth yogis and presents the first stage of an ongoing research on one of them, the Rāwal, which are referred to as a group of ascetics, astrologers and itinerant healers. Their members were renowned for treating cataracts, and according to colonial sources, some regularly visited Europe in the early 20th century to perform this operation. This lecture explores how Muslim yogis were perceived in the Indian society of the colonial period and the professional features of the Rāwal sect, where family played a key role, and women managed family properties when men travelled to perform their itinerant profession.

About the Speaker

Fabrizio Speziale is Professor at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) and a member of the Center for South Asian and Himalayan Studies, Paris-Marseille. His research interests focus on the history of sciences in Persianate South Asia and the interactions between Persian and Indic textual cultures. His last book, Culture persane et médecine ayurvédique en Asie du Sud (Leiden, 2018), presents a detailed study of the translation process of Ayurvedic sources into Persian, which took place in India between the 14th and the 19thcenturies. In one recent article, he examines the accounts of the alchemical techniques associated with yogis in Persian texts (“Beyond the “wonders of India” (‘ajā’ib al-hind): Yogis in Persian medico-alchemical writings in South Asia.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 85, 3, 2022). He is currently editing the proceedings of a conference on Yoga and Muslim societies, which was held in Marseille in 2023.

Yogi with eyes closed, leaning on one arm, and draped in a pink and blue shawl.
Courtesy British Library (J.6,13).

Haṭhapradīpikā Symposium – Launch of the New Digital Edition

About this event

SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies was honoured to host the online recording of the Haṭhapradīpikā Symposium – Launch of the New Digital Edition that took place at the University of Oxford, Bodleian Weston Library on the 23rd February 2024.

This symposium showcases the collaborative outputs of the Light on Hatha Yoga Project, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the German Research Foundation Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) from January 2021 to January 2024.

This three-year research project brought together arts and humanities researchers in the UK and Germany to conduct outstanding joint research. The project has produced a digital critical edition and English translation of the Haṭhapradīpikā, authored by Svātmārāma in the early 15th century, which is arguably one of the most widely cited and influential texts on physical yoga, and is instrumental for the flourishing of haṭhayoga on the eve of colonialism.

Building on the success of the five-year ERC-funded Hatha Yoga Project at SOAS University of London, scholars Prof. James Mallinson and Dr Jason Birch of the University of Oxford have collaborated with Prof. Dr Jürgen Hanneder, Dr Mitsuyo Demoto, and Nils Jacob Liersch, PhD Candidate of Philipps-Universität Marburg to produce this critical edition and English translation based on over 200 manuscripts, written in a variety of Indic scripts. The oldest manuscript sourced for the project is dated 1496 CE, which is remarkably close to the date of authorship by Svātmārāma himself.

Beyond the principal investigators and senior researchers, this project has been supported by research assistants at the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) in Pondicherry, India.


Prof. James Mallinson, University of Oxford (00:00)
The Composition of Svātmārāma’s Haṭhapradīpikā.

Nils-Jacob Liersch, MA PhD Candidate, Philipps-Universität Marburg (34:19)
Computer Stemmatics applied to the Haṭhapradīpikā.

Dr Mitsuyo Demoto, Philipps-Universität Marburg (01:04:11)
Development of the various recensions of the Haṭhapradīpikā.

Dr Jason Birch, University of Oxford (01:39:18)
Insights from the New Critical Edition of the Haṭhapradīpikā.

Prof. Jürgen Hanneder, Philipps-Universität Marburg (02:19:19)
Brahmānanda’s Commentary on the Haṭhapradīpikā.

Launch of the New Digital Edition. (02:54:17)

Haṭhapradīpikā: The New Critical Edition (2024, Language: Sanskrit, English).

SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies
SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies
Ten hands touching a tree trunk.

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