Reposted from SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies: Understanding Yoga Studies
The Origins of Yoga and Tantra: Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century
Geoffrey Samuel’s book is a core text on the SOAS Traditions of Yoga and Meditation MA course and continues to be an invaluable reference on the early development of yogic and tantric traditions in India. It is a helpful launchpad from which to study further, as it is written with a thorough awareness of the landscape of past scholarship and of the potential academic pitfalls of this area of study. A masterclass in academic objectivity, Samuels underlines the importance of admitting to gaps in knowledge, the risks of hypothesising beyond the realms of evidence and of over-romanticising the past, and (perhaps most importantly) how much opportunity there remains for scholarship to challenge and further our understanding of these traditions.
The Tantric Body: The Secret Tradition of the Hindu Religion
Gavin Flood does not claim this to be a work of Indology but rather that it draws on Indology to present a particular reading of a range of textual material. This is an example of an approach to Indology wherein past methodologies remain relevant, to strengthen academic investigation and argument in a contemporary context, and can be used in productive cooperation with other traditions and disciplines – in this case what Flood describes as “post-foundational religious studies.”
Hindu Worldviews: Theories of Self, Ritual and Reality
Frazier explores the theme of ‘self’ through classical Hindu theory and primary source materials with an awareness that, in her own words, is intended to ‘unmask Western assumptions and offer new paradigms for interpretation’. The introduction section is particularly helpful in surfacing the key thinkers, theories and developments in Western thought and in laying out how we may continue to engage with other religions, cultures, traditions and models of knowledge in a way that refuses to dominate but rather aims to expand horizons and our understanding selfhood in the modern world.
Past talks from the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies
- The Haṭha Yoga Project, Understanding the History of Physical Yoga
- John Cort, Gurus, Monks and Naked Yogīs: The Ideal Jain renouncer in Digambara Literature
- James Mallinson, Early Haṭhayoga: Buddhist Tantric Sex to Hindu Physical Yoga