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Hathayoga in history and practice: Classical hathayoga in modern Varanasi
Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences. Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013).
2013 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (university diploma), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]


The study investigates the field of haṭha yoga as it is described in the medieval Haṭhayogapradīpikā, a work on yoga composed in Sanskrit from the Nāth tradition. The study have then compared these practices, practitioners and the attitudes towards them, with interviews conducted in modern Varanasi, India. The focus in the assignment is the connection between haṭha yoga and tantric practices since tantra has been crucial in the forming of the early haṭha yoga and classical haṭha yoga, but slowly has been removed through different reformations such as under the Kashmir Śaivism.  The tantric practices, especially those associated with left hand tantra, became less progressive and were slowly absorbed in mainstream Hinduism under several reformations during the 9th-15th century.  Ideas about topics like austerities and alchemy were more and more replaced by conceptions of the subtle body and kuṇḍalinī and the practices became more symbolized and viewed as happening inside the practitioner’s body. Tantra was important in the framework of haṭha yoga but the philosophy and practitioners of haṭha yoga has like tantra been absorbed and mixed into different philosophies and forms of yoga practice.  The practitioners has gone from alchemists, ascetics and left hand tantrics to be absorbed into the wider community which is evident in modern Varanasi. None of the haṭha yoga practitioners interviewed were Nāths, ascetics or alchemists and combined their haṭha practice with not only tantric philosophy but many different philosophies from India. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 42 p.
Keyword [en]
Hathayoga, Rajayoga, Varanasi
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-34706OAI: diva2:768385
Subject / course
Religious Studies and Theology
Educational program
Teacher education
Available from: 2014-12-04 Created: 2014-12-03 Last updated: 2014-12-04Bibliographically approved

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