A History of Modern Yoga: Pata˝jali and Western Esotericism

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Continuum, 2004 - Religion - 282 pages
In recent years yoga and meditation have become mass-market pursuits in the West. A History of Modern Yoga traces this phenomenon back to its ideological roots in the esoteric circles of late 18th century Bengal, then follows some of its main developments to date. Fully-fledged Modern Yoga, the author argues, started with the publication of Swami Vivekananda's seminal Raja Yoga (1896), in which Patanjali's Yoga Sutras were reconfigured along the lines of a then emerging New Age style of secularised and individualistically oriented religiosity. But what exactly are yoga and meditation as taught and practised today? Many committed practitioners and sympathisers take them to be straight continuations, or even rediscoveries, of ancient South Asian religious practices, but use peculiarly modern ideas when they define them as powerful tools for cultivating one's human potential' and as ultimately aimed at achieving 'self-realisation'. Thus, despite the fact that Modern Yoga encapsulates many religio-philosophical presuppositions (some of which are discussed in this book), it is often characterised as a 'philosophy' or as 'a way of life' rather than as 'religion' per se. In order to map t

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A history of modern yoga: Pata├▒jali and Western esotericism

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De Michelis (faculty of Divinity, Cambridge) has made an important contribution to modern scholarship in religion with this history of yogic practice. Many readers will find her style dry in the ... Read full review


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