By David Gordon White
Since the Sixties, yoga has turn into a billion-dollar within the West, attracting housewives and hipsters, New Agers and the old-aged. yet our glossy perception of yoga derives a lot from nineteenth-century eu spirituality, and the genuine tale of yoga’s origins in South Asia is much richer, stranger, and extra interesting than so much people realize.
To discover this historical past, David Gordon White makes a speciality of yoga’s practitioners. Combing via millennia of South Asia’s sizeable and various literature, he discovers that yogis are typically portrayed as wonder-workers or sorcerers who use their harmful supernatural abilities—which can comprise elevating the lifeless, ownership, and levitation—to gather 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 similar to yogis as indifferent, contemplative academics, ultimately putting them of their right context.
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Extra info for Sinister Yogis
The king then validated a temple for Durgā in theco and glued the main points of the cult. on the grounds that then, each twelve years, anyone disappears within the village through the pageant of the Navadurgā. forty nine whereas ostensibly a starting place fable for a convention of human sacrifice on the time of the 9 Durgā (navadurgā) competition during this a part of the Kathmandu Valley, the as soon as upon a time of this tale attracts freely at the mythic time of different narratives, a few of that are present in Hindu scriptures. the main venerable and identifiable of those is a myth—first recorded within the 10th- to eighth-century BCE Aitareya Brāhmaṇa (AB) and Śāṅkhāyana Śrauta Sūtra, and to that end retold within the Mahābhārata (MBh), Rāmāyaṇa (Rām), and several other Purāṇas—in which a king, frequently named Hariścandra, additionally childless, pleads with Varuṇa, the vedic god of legislation and order, to furnish him a son. Varuṇa deals the king a son lower than a similar stipulations as these of the yogi within the Nepali account: as soon as the kid has gone through the perfect life-cycle rites (saṃskāras), he has to be returned—that is, sacrificed—to the god who had given him lifestyles. a baby is born, and the younger prince, named Rohita, runs away into the wooded area sooner than Varuṇa can declare him as his sufferer. In his wanderings, Rohita meets the god Indra, who, placing on a human shape (puruṣarūpa),50 exhorts him to stick to the renunciant existence. Rohita comes upon a ravenous brahmin named Ajīgarta, who sells his son Śunaḥśepa to him to function his surrogate, and, in contrast to the yogi within the Nepali account, Varuṇa accepts the prince’s brahmin substitute, and finally mercifully releases Śunaḥśepa from his bonds. fifty one The subject matter of the yogi as a impressive supplier of sons to barren girls is a regularly encountered motif within the hagiography and lore of the mythical founders of the Nāth Yogīs. The best-known narrative incorporating this motif is the tale of Gopīcand, which belongs to medieval north Indian oral traditions and has lengthy stood because the most well liked tune within the repertoire of Nāth Yogī bards. fifty two As such, a comparability of the significant topics of this emic Nāth Yogī account with the etic tale of Rājakumāra is instructive. Gopīcand’s tale opens while the younger prince learns from his widowed mom Manavatī that he's doomed to die an early loss of life until he instantly turns into a yogi. As Manavatī tells him, Gopīcand took beginning in her barren womb via a boon granted to her by means of the strong yogi Jalandharnāth. even if, Jalandharnāth’s phrases are kind of like these of the yogi within the Rājakumāra tale (it is probably going one in all its sources): after having reigned as a child-king for twelve years, Gopīcand needs to now be back to the yogi who gave him lifestyles, otherwise he'll die. in contrast to the royal mom and dad of Rājakumāra, Manavatī doesn't try and idiot the yogi; yet Gopīcand himself, who doesn't desire to quit his princely lifestyles and family members ties, does, trying to kill Jalandarnāth by way of sealing him within a good below the dung of 7 hundred and fifty horses. nice yogi that he's, Jalandharnāth escapes from the good, and Gopīcand is taken away by means of Kāl (Death), yet Jalandharnāth harrows hell to deliver him again to existence.