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The Transmission of Premodern Yogāsanas by Illustrated Manuscripts and Printed Books


· Jason Birch SOAS University of London (London, United Kingdom)


07/27 | 11:20-11:40 UTC+2/CEST


This paper will examine a collection of yogāsanas (yogic postures) that was probably practised in India in the eighteenth century. The earliest source is a handwritten manuscript with watercolour paintings that was created in the mid-nineteenth century. It depicts Jain ascetics performing 108 āsanas. The majority of these āsanas were published in a printed book in Hindi with illustrations of Śaiva ascetics performing the postures. Also, Sanskrit descriptions of the same āsanas were published in a modern commentary on the Yogasūtra. From the 1930s onwards, this collection of āsanas had a significant influence on modern postural yoga through the publications of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. This talk will examine how physical practices have been transmitted by manuscript and printed books across sectarian, cultural and national divides.