Tuesday, 22 March 2016

THE YAMAS AND NIYAMAS: MEDIEVAL AND MODERN VIEWS (Forthcoming Article)

Pārvatī and Sadhus on a steep hill
approached by Vishnu, Śiva, Brahma, and others who climb up towards the shrine.
Drawing in black ink on European watermarked paper (c. 1801 - 1805)
British Museum (1940,0713,0.243)

Forthcoming article, due out early April:

THE YAMAS AND NIYAMAS: MEDIEVAL AND MODERN VIEWS

By Jason Birch and Jacqueline Hargreaves
Yoga Scotland Magazine, Issue 50 (April 2016)

"Most early traditions of Haṭha and Rājayoga omitted the Yamas and Niyamas from their teachings. A striking example is the fifteenth-century Haṭhapradīpikā, the manuscript transmission of which does not contain verses on these behavioural guidelines. Their omission begs the question of what moral code the practitioners of early Haṭha and Rājayoga were expected to follow. One possible answer is that these practitioners followed the moral code of their own religious tradition. Some of the texts indicate that Haṭha and Rājayoga were practised by a wide variety of people."


Topics covered:

• The Changing Enumeration of Yamas and Niyamas

• The Omission of Yamas and Niyamas

• The Ongoing Influence of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra

• Ahiṃsā

• Brahmacarya

• Tapas


"The Liṅgapuraṇa allows a Brahmin to live as both a householder and a yogin. On the one hand, he could practise this Purāṇa’s eightfold system of Aṣṭāṅgayoga, which was for the most part the same as Patañjali’s Aṣṭāṅgayoga. In so doing, he abides by the Yama of Brahmacarya by abstaining from sex at those particular times of the month prescribed by the Dharmaśāstras. On the other hand, he may also fulfil his Brahmanical responsibility to reproduce by having sex with his wife at other prescribed times of the month.

Seeing that most of the gurus who transmitted yoga to the West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were Brahmins, it is no surprise that the householder view of Brahmacarya has been so widely disseminated."

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