By David Gordon White
Since the Sixties, yoga has develop into a billion-dollar within the West, attracting housewives and hipsters, New Agers and the old-aged. yet our smooth notion of yoga derives a lot from nineteenth-century ecu spirituality, and the genuine tale of yoga’s origins in South Asia is way richer, stranger, and extra wonderful than so much people realize.
To discover this historical past, David Gordon White specializes in yoga’s practitioners. Combing via millennia of South Asia’s monstrous and numerous 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 useless, ownership, and levitation—to gather strength, 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 clone of yogis as indifferent, contemplative academics, eventually putting them of their right context.
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Extra info for Sinister Yogis
Forty An autodidact tradition dealer, Singh’s composition of Bhairavānand Yogī is a watershed of one thousand years of oral and written culture from around the size and breadth of the north Indian heartland. The medieval assets of this practice are eloquently defined by means of Charlotte Vaudeville, who, writing near to the popular sixteenth-century “yogi romance,” the Padmāvat of Mallik Muhammad Jāyasī, famous that so one can comprehend Jāyasī’s worldview within the Padmāvat, one needs to recognize that the spiritual energy that the 1st sufis encountered, within the 13th and fourteenth centuries, one of the private strata of the populations residing in northwestern india, used to be neither orthodox brahmanism nor even the Krishnaite present of bhakti (which got here later). particularly, it was once a posh mix of philosophical rules, non secular doctrines, and esoteric practices . . . embedded in an important physique of narrative, gnomic, and lyrical literature which, regularly oral, was once for the main half composed and propagated through low-caste musicians and wandering jogis . . . [i]n the western a part of the rustic and particularly in punjab and rajasthan . . . the pastoral and artisan castes look, specifically, to have remained roughly at the margins of brahmanic society and beliefs . . . in those areas, the nice bulk of non-oral literature from the excessive center a while was once the paintings of “munis” (Jain “ascetics”), “siddhas” (Buddhist “perfected beings”), and “Nāth Yogīs” (“Nāth panthīs” or “gorakhnāthīs”). forty-one usually, the kings of those legend cycles are pointed out as Rajputs, the “sons of kings” whose kingdoms prolonged throughout a lot of past due medieval, Mughal, and colonial north India. forty two For a interval of roughly 600 years, a continuing of Rajput polity was once the synergy among the secular energy of the Rajputs themselves and the occult energy of yogis. because the Rajputs accelerated their energy and impact eastward out in their unique homelands into the Bhojpuri-speaking areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,43 Garhwal,44 Nepal,45 and Kumaon, wonder-working yogis usually performed the jobs of counselors, confidantes, and bards to those princes, usually on the rate of brahmins. With the increase of the Rajputs’ big name, that of a selected team of yogis—the Nāth Yogīs (also referred to as the Kānphaṭa Yogīs, Gorakhpanthīs, or Nāth Siddhas), a spiritual order based by means of Gorakhnāth within the past due 12th or early 13th century46—also burned brightly, lots in order that by means of the 19th century, the time period “yogi” was once frequently construed, through India’s British colonizers, to refer in particular to a member of 1 of the Nath Yogī orders. forty seven for this reason, whereas the deified ancestor Bhairavānand of the Raikwar Rajput culture pointed out past used to be now not himself a yogi, he still belongs to a pantheon whose hosts comprise a couple of semidivine beings alternately referred to as yogis, nāths, siddhas, or vīrs. the connection among the Nāth Yogīs and yogis tout court docket is a fancy one, to which i'll go back within the ultimate bankruptcy of this publication.