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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 sleek belief of yoga derives a lot from nineteenth-century ecu spirituality, and the genuine tale of yoga’s origins in South Asia is much richer, stranger, and extra unique than such a lot folks realize.

To discover this background, David Gordon White makes a speciality of yoga’s practitioners. Combing via millennia of South Asia’s big and various literature, he discovers that yogis tend to be portrayed as wonder-workers or sorcerers who use their harmful supernatural abilities—which can comprise elevating the lifeless, ownership, and levitation—to collect energy, wealth, and sexual gratification. As White exhibits, even these yogis who aren’t downright villainous undergo little resemblance to Western assumptions approximately them. At turns rollicking and complicated, Sinister Yogis tears down just like yogis as indifferent, contemplative lecturers, ultimately putting them of their right context.

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2. 3). seventy three an analogous interpretation has been made concerning a 6th- to eighth-century painted wood panel excuted within the Sino-Iranian style,74 chanced on on the internal Asian web site of Dandan-Oilik close to Khotan, during which a bodhisattva “was replaced from an Indian princeling to a Persian shah . . . forc[ing] his stiff Persian costume into the yoga pose . . . hold[ing] a delicate lotus in a single of his 4 arms. ” in reality, there's not anything Indian approximately this panel in any respect. As was once the case with the first-century picture in determine 2. 6, the stylistic resource of this cross-legged posture in later depictions of bodhisattvas is to be traced to representations of Iranian kings instead of Indic saviors. through the Kushano-Sasanian cultural quarter, 5th- to eighth-century enthroned bodhisattva pictures are depicted with crowns heavily comparable to these worn by way of Sasanian kings of Persia. seventy five the following i'd recommend that the time period “lotus posture” or “position” (padmāsana) derives no longer from the pose itself, which not at all resembles a lotus flower, yet relatively from a throne or seat (āsana) representing a lotus (padma). Such is the case in Hindu Tantra, within which the first experience of the time period āsana is, accurately, the “throne of a deity. ”76 one of these throne, that's altogether acceptable for the royal goddess Śrī—the divine embodiment of royal sovereignty who dwells within the lotus—would even be so for the Buddha, whose royal identity, like that of Christ the King within the Christian West, is so emphasised in early iconographic and textual traditions. An early and datable window in this move of the seated posture, from a logo of royal sovereignty to 1 of buddha-hood, looks while one contrasts 3 Kushan cash that have been minted below a century aside. The obverse of a copper coin minted in Taxila in circa 50 CE lower than the reign of the 1st Kushan monarch Kujula Kadphises (ca. 30–80 CE) depicts the king himself seated in lotus posture. seventy seven So too, a coin of Kujula’s successor Vima Kadphises (ca. 80—100 CE), portrays that king seated within the related cross-legged pose upon a cloud or “rocky prominence,” with flames of fireside emerging from his shoulders (fig. 2. 7). seventy eight even though, the inscription at the opposite of a copper tetradrachma minted through the reign of the nice emperor Kaniṣka (ca. 128–152 CE), which depicts a cross-legged determine seated on a low benchlike throne, identifies this determine now not because the king himself—as were the case at the cash of Kujula and Vima Kadphises, in addition to the sooner Śaka ruler Maues—but particularly as Metrago Boudo, “Buddha Maitreya” (fig. 2. 8). seventy nine four. Yoga and Chariots keep in mind the following that during his id of the cross-legged determine of MohenjoDaro seal 420 as a proto-Śiva, Marshall famous that Śiva is understood in Hindu traditions because the “Prince of Yogis,” a mahāyogī (“great yogi”) and a mahātapaḥ (“great ascetic”). it may be famous from the outset that the early textual checklist, from Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain assets, doesn't authorize an identification—which such a lot historians have blithely assumed—between yoga and asceticism or heat-producing austerities (tapas),80 breath keep an eye on or stoppage of the breath (prāṇāyāma), selfmortification, and meditation (dhyāna).

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