The science behind the comic
Roots of Hatha Yoga
Chapter 5 ▾
On December the 10th we'll be at SOAS University of London for a reading of our webcomics "Roots of Hatha Yoga" and "Roots of Ayurveda" that will be screened and performed live by Dr James Mallinson, Dr Suzanne Newcombe, Alice Milani and members of the Haṭha Yoga Project.
This event is free but booking is required.
All details are here 👉 https://bit.ly/2TTUr7A
Chapter 4 ▾
The eighteen mudrās of Brahmā as dictated to Jonathan Duncan from the ascetic Purān˙ Puri
Chapter 3 ▾
What is Hatha Yoga?
(Extract from «Let the Sādhus Talk. Ascetic practitioners of yoga in northern India» by Doc Daniela Bevilacqua)
According to the majority of the ascetics that I have interviewed, haṭha yoga is not a yoga system, rather it represents a mental attitude, that has been defined by Rām Priye Dās (a female ascetic of the Rāmānandī sampradāya) as a dṛḍh sankalpa: a firm intention to accomplish or reach an aim.
A Nāth told me that haṭha yoga in his sampradāya (tradition) also means to follow the rules and behaviours of the sampradāya all life long. (therefore a strict intention to be committed to the ascetic life). Therefore the label haṭha yoga can refer to practices and behaviours, and it is also understood in this way by common people. I will give another simple example from my fieldwork.
When I was in Varanasi I met Narayan Dās a sadhu who for the last 10 years sits all day long in padmāsan (Lotus pose) in Lalitā Ghāṭ. “He always walks bare foot, he does his pilgrimages bare foot, he sits in that position all day long, this is haṭha yoga madam”. I was told by one of the lay people who was with him.
Talking with other sadhus, this understanding of haṭha yoga was always stressed and what arose is that haṭha yoga is strictly connected with tapasyā (austerity).
I had a further proof of this when in Ujjain I went to meet a ūrdhva bāhu sadhu (a sadhu who keeps his arm up), Bholā Girī, of the āvāhan akhāṛā, because on the board outside his camp he was named as “haṭha yogi”. I went to him to ask about his tapasyā and the title of haṭha yogi and he replied that because he does tapasyā (for the last 35 years), he is considered a haṭha yogi. According to him, those who do tapasyā are haṭha yogis, because haṭha yoga is to take a decision and be strict on it until it brings results. He does not care about āsanas, prāṇāyām and he has never done one of these practices in his life.
- Tapasya is a Sanskrit word that literally means "generation of heat and energy." It is a practical spiritual discipline that involves deep meditation, austerity/moderation, self-discipline, and efforts to reach Self-realization. Monks and gurus in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism practice tapasya in order to reach moksha, or spiritual liberation.
Chapter 2 ▾
Do Yogis still fly?
Sir James Mallinson is perhaps the only baronet to wear dreadlocks. He started growing his hair around the time he first travelled to India in 1988.
Having studied the Sanskrit at the Oxford university, as his doctoral work he translated the ancient hatha yoga treatise "Khecharividya", and also "Shiva Samhita" and others. In addition, he is the author of a number of remarkable articles on the history of hatha yoga and various ascetic orders of India. In 1992, Sir James was initiated into a Hindu order with the monastic name of Jagdish Das. Sir James was ordained a mahant, or abbot, of a Hindu religious order Ramanandi Tyagi at the last Kumbh Mela in Allahabad.
Also, Dr. Mallinson no stranger to modern extreme. In particular, he is interested in paragliding for many years and, in the manner of mythical yogis, flies in the Himalayas. Nowadays, the flying yogi teaches the Sanskrit at the London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), gives lectures and works over own researches.
Read a full interview avec James Mallinson here
Chapter 1 ▾
The Haṭha Yoga Project (HYP) is a five-year (2015-2020) research project funded by the European Research Council and based at SOAS, University of London which aims to chart the history of physical yoga practice by means of philology, i.e. the study of texts on yoga, and ethnography, i.e. fieldwork among practitioners of yoga. The project team consists of four researchers based at SOAS and two at the École française d’Extrême Orient, Pondicherry.