In-depth explorations into the traditions of Yoga, Sanskrit, Indian Philosophy, and South Asian Religions. Featuring candid conversations and interviews with scholars and practitioners. Hosted by Seth Powell.
28. Keith Edward Cantú | Esotericism, Bauls, and Sabhapati Swami
In this episode we sit down with Keith Cantú for a wide ranging conversation on the language and categories of esotericism, the occult, and yoga. We learn about Keith's background, travels, and language training as well as unique experience learning from the Bauls of Bengal. Listeners/viewers are treated to a live rendition of a Baul song. Keith shares with us his fascinating dissertation research on Sri Sabhapati Swami, lesser-known Tamil yogi who had a substantial impact on nineteenth- and twentieth-century South Asian and Western occult movements. We close out by previewing Keith's upcoming online course, YS 119 | Yoga and Esotericism.
Dr. Keith Edward Cantú is an Assistant Professor (postdoctoral research associate) at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, where his current research focuses on the political patronage of yogic “meditation halls” (maṭālayams) and “tumuli” (jīva-camātis) in Tamil Nadu. He recently completed his doctoral dissertation at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the focus of which was the Tamil, pan-Indian, and international reception of the early modern yogi Sabhapati Swami’s system of Śivarājayoga.
In addition to his dissertation, which is soon set to be published with an academic press, Keith was the co-editor with Saymon Zakaria of City of Mirrors: Songs of Lālan Sā̃i (Oxford University Press, South Asia Research series, 2017), a volume of nineteenth-century Bengali Bāul Fakiri songs translated by Carol Salomon. He also has published several articles and chapters relating to topics as varied as yoga and cultural authenticity, theosophical orientalism and yoga, the ethnography of Tantra, and Islamic esotericism, and has translated a Sanskrit chapter of the Rasāyanakhaṇḍa on the alchemical wonders of Śrīśailam (forthcoming via the Ayuryog project). When not researching he is also working with the Bengali community at a non-profit clinic as a health education and outreach specialist.
YS 119 | Yoga and Esotericism https://ucsb.academia.edu/KeithCantu "Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels": Western Esotericism, Yoga, and the Discourse of Authenticity"
27. James Mallinson | The Source Texts of Haṭha Yoga
In this episode we welcome back Jim Mallinson for an update on his pioneering research into the earliest Sanskrit texts of Haṭha Yoga. We review some of the major findings from the 5-year ERC Haṭha Yoga Project and learn about his latest project, the Light on Hatha Yoga Project (2021–2024) which will produce a critical edition of the Haṭhapradīpikā. We discuss the latest methods in digital Sanskrit philology and the challenges of working with large amounts of manuscript data. We then dive into the Amṛtasiddhi, the "Attainment of Immortality," to learn about this fascinating and important tantric source text for the Haṭha Yoga Traditions, giving a rich preview for Jim's upcoming online course, YS 206 | The Amṛtasiddhi: Haṭha Yoga's Source Text.
Dr. James Mallinson is Reader in Indology and Yoga Studies at SOAS University of London. His research focuses on the history and current traditional practice of yoga and his primary methods are philology, ethnography and art history. Dr. Mallinson led the Haṭha Yoga Project (2015–2021), a six-person research project on the history of physical yoga funded by the European Research Council. The project’s core outputs will be ten critical editions of Sanskrit texts on physical yoga and four monographs on its history and current practice. Together with Professor Jürgen Hanneder (University of Marburg), Dr. Mallinson is now leading the Light on Hatha Yoga Project (2021–2024) which will produce a critical edition of the Haṭhapradīpikā.
Among Dr. Mallinson’s publications are The Khecarīvidyā of Ādinātha, a Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of an Early Text on Haṭhayoga (Routledge, 2007), a revision of his doctoral thesis, which was supervised by Professor Alexis Sanderson at the University of Oxford, where Dr. Mallinson also read Sanskrit as an undergraduate, Roots of Yoga (Penguin Classics, 2017, co-authored with Mark Singleton) and The Amṛtasiddhi and Amṛtasiddhimūla: The Earliest Texts of the Haṭhayoga Tradition (École française d’Extreme-orient, Pondicherry, 2021). Dr. Mallinson has spent more than ten years living in India with traditional ascetics and practitioners of yoga, and at the 2013 Kumbh Mela was awarded the title of Mahant by the Rāmānandī Saṃpradāya.
YS 206 | The Amṛtasiddhi: Haṭha Yoga's Source Texthttps://soas.academia.edu/JamesMallinsonThe Amṛtasiddhi: Haṭhayoga’s Tantric Buddhist Source TextHaṭhayoga's Early History: From Vajrayāna Sexual Restraint to Universal Somatic Soteriology
26. Adrián Muñoz | The Study of Yoga in Latin America
In this episode we speak with Adrián Muñoz about his academic path and research at El Colegio de México where he is currently heading an exciting new project on the history of yoga in Latin America. Adrián tells Seth about his early years and training in grad school in Mexico, discovering the Nāth yogis, travels and field work in India, as well as his love for poetry and the vernacular. We also discuss the Euro-American and Anglophone primacy of academia and the need for (as well as challenges of) non-English research and publications. We then discuss the history of yoga in Latin America, with particular attention to Mexico as we preview Adrián's upcoming course, YS 118 | Yoga in Latin America.
Dr. Adrián Muñoz is an Associate Professor at the Center for Asian and African Studies, El Colegio de México, where he earned his PhD in South Asian Studies in 2007. He has specialized in South Asian religious traditions, with an emphasis in early modern expressions, but is also interested in the intricate relationships between religion, mythography, and literature across time and languages. Adrián’s research has usually focused on the history and literature of yoga, often dealing with issues of hagiography, variability, and identity. In recent years, he has been developing a research project on the reception and practice of yoga in Mexico, and coordinates a wider research group devoted to tracing the history of yoga in Latin America. He has authored various articles and book chapters these issues. His books include Historia minima del yoga (2019, co-authored with Gabriel Martino), Radiografía del hathayoga (2016), and Yogi Heroes and Poets: Histories and Legends of the Naths (2011, coedited with David N. Lorenzen). He also writes poetry.
YS 118 | Yoga in Latin Americahttps://colmex.academia.edu/AdriánMuñoz
25. Edwin Bryant | Bhakti Yoga and the Bhāgavatapurāṇa
In this episode we speak with Edwin Bryant about his upcoming course, YS 205 | Bhakti Yoga: The Bhāgavatapurāṇa and his latest book Bhakti Yoga: Tales and Teachings from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017). Dr. Bryant regales Seth with stories of hitchhiking through India in his youth while studying Sanskrit and Hindi, and meeting his guru in the holy city of Vrindavan. He also talks about his translation of the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, his dissertation exploring the Indo-Aryan migration theory, and his upcoming work In Defense of a God with Form.
Edwin Bryant received his Ph.D in Indic languages and Cultures from Columbia University. He taught Hinduism at Harvard University for three years, and is presently the professor of Hinduism at Rutgers University where he teaches courses on Hindu philosophy and religion. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, published eight books, and authored a number of articles on the earliest origins of Vedic culture, yoga philosophy, and the Kṛṣṇa tradition. These include Bryant’s translation of and commentary on The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009), and more recently its sequel entitled Bhakti Yoga: Tales and Teachings from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017).
YS 205 | Bhakti Yoga: The Bhāgavatapurāṇahttps://rutgers.academia.edu/EdwinBryanthttps://www.edwinbryant.com
24. Jvala Singh | The History of Sikhi and Yoga
In this episode we sit down with Sikh scholar and historian Jvala Singh to discuss the history of yoga within Sikhi, the topic of his upcoming Yogic Studies course YS 116 | Sikhism and Yoga. Jvala tells Seth how he met his teacher, his work translating tales of the ten Gurus from the 19th century Sūraj Prakāś, the joys of podcasting, and the publication of Jvala's recent book 54 Punjabi Proverbs (2019, Tattva). They also discuss the legacy of Yogi Bhajan within the Sikh community.
Jvala Singh is a lecturer for UC Berkeley at the Institute for South Asia Studies. He is currently completing his PhD at the University of British Columbia, where he is examining pre-colonial Sikh historical narratives. His research explores literature in Punjabi and Brajbhāṣā from the 18th and 19th centuries, building off his previous M.A. research completed at the University of Toronto, where he focused on Sikh Brajbhāṣā versions of Sanskrit epics, such as the Rāmāyaṇa.
In furthering the accessibility of pre-colonial Sikh Brajbhāṣā texts, Singh runs the Suraj Podcast, where each episode is a chapter summary in English of the voluminous Sūraj Prakāś (1843 CE)—a historical narrative covering the lives of the ten Sikh Gurus written by Santokh Singh (1787-1844).
YS 116 | Sikhism and Yogamanglacharan.com54 Punjabi Proverbs (2019, Tattva)
23. Patton Burchett | Bhakti, Tantra, Yoga, and Sufism in North India
In this episode we talk with Patton Burchett about his latest book A Genealogy of Devotion: Bhakti, Tantra, Yoga, and Sufism in North India (2019, Columbia University Press) and his upcoming course, YS 115 | A History of Yoga and Devotion. Patton tells Seth about the teachers who inspired his studies, and how academics confuse the social and interactive nature of Indian devotional practices with a more solitary Judeo-Christian concept of devotion. They also dive into the competing influences of Persian and Sanskritic culture in North India that shaped the growing Bhakti movements of the time, the communalist politics of modern religious identities in North India, and the relations between bhaktas like Kabīr and yogīs like Gorkhnāth.
Patton Burchett is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He earned his PhD in South Asian Religions from Columbia University in 2012 and then spent three years as an Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in Religious Studies at New York University (NYU). Patton's research focuses on early modern devotional (bhakti) traditions and tantric and yogic religiosity in North India and on the interrelations of magic, science, and religion in the rise of Indian and Western modernities. He is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on bhakti literature and Mughal-era Indian religious history (among other topics), and his first book, A Genealogy of Devotion: Bhakti, Tantra, Yoga, and Sufism in North India (Columbia University Press) was published in 2019.
https://wm.academia.edu/PattonBurchett YS 115 | A History of Yoga and Devotion
Illuminating (and a little addictive)
Well-conceived and skillfully conducted interviews with leading scholars contributing to the growth of yoga studies as a field of scholarly inquiry. While all who are interested in yoga will likely benefit from listening, non-scholar yoga practitioners may find that the material presented enhances understanding of the historical contexts from which modern yoga emerged.
Gem of a podcast
This is one of the most knowledgable, thorough, indepth, and interesting podcast on this subject. While Iam from India, I know little about much of this history, and this was wonderful. What is amazing about this is the range and variety of speakers, points of view, and approaches....which is hard to come by. Truly multifaceted....and very thoughtful.
This podcast is a gem
I’ve listened to almost all of the episodes now and totally love them. Seth’s questions and comments are illuminating and his choice of subjects inspired. This podcast is helping me catch up on some of the important new research that’s going on now and I hope there are many more episodes to come!