By Børge Madsen
WHY YOGA? A Cultural background of Yoga takes a serious examine yoga as tradition and yoga's position in society. it's approximately how humans - now as then - use the symbolic strength of yoga to discover a spot inside society and tradition. Yogis within the past…. The ebook is between many different issues a desirable old exam of notable customs and strange social teams. We pay attention approximately such previous milieus’ occasionally weird and wonderful yoga practices and life, how they're become robust symbols profoundly impressing the remainder of society. We listen how yoga experts use the yoga photo to fight for social popularity between rivals and different social teams. hence we listen approximately Jain ascetics, aristocratic warriors, Buddhist priests, Brahmin excessive castes, Tantric immortals, ecstatic Shamans, snake charmers, Mughal mercenaries, temple cults, fakir contortionists, rural Lumpen-proletarians, enlightened princes, bare philosophers, colonial authorities, wrestling clergymen, and semi-divine yogis who can fly. …and yogis today…. yet we're additionally brought to extra traditional and widespread existence of contemporary occasions: health running shoes, highbrow Orientalists, middleclass adult females, Hindu missionaries, style versions, bourgeois cultural elites, under pressure executives, domestic going housewives, non secular marketers, cultural intermediaries, counterculture youths, petty-bourgeois enterprise humans, educational experts and Hollywood stars. all of them are culturally engaged with yoga for various purposes and rewards. …why do they perform yoga?.... for that reason all through background we listen approximately yoga virtuosi – residing conventionally or terribly - who are looking to locate peace after loss of life, bring up strength degrees, achieve political and worldly strength, stretch their backs, locate their footing in lifestyles, be freed from illness, unite with the divine, commute in time, increase their wellness, reach moral assistance, realize the basics of life, safe excessive social score, dedicate public suicide, be purified from caste pollutants, locate their private self, dwell for centuries, develop into natural realization, or enhance the glance in their bum. So this e-book is for a person fascinated with the fantastic variety of human historical past and tradition visible during the lens of yoga. arrange for surprises. A pioneering approach an immense objection is additionally to advance a cultural sociological technique devoted to the learn of ever-changing rules and tradition, concentrating on the evolution and transformation of yogic rules and practices. To hyperlink yoga to the altering social state of affairs of sure teams and segments of society. hence the subsequent notions, that are defined in particular chapters of the booklet, are an important: the dialectic among cultural box and habitus conditioned by way of clash and fight for survival; the dialectic among use-value and symbolic-value; the socio-economic matrix; the knowledge of discourses as cultural DNA; discourses as prone of social id; day-by-day routine interplay and associations because the major web site for the evolution of latest rules and discourses; the semiotic contrast among the signifier and the signified; conceptual family tree; excessive tradition as internalised repression (symbolic violence); and oppositional examining. this is able to sound speculative and summary but if positioned into perform it turns into a really down-to-earth and self-evident strategy to describe and clarify cultural switch. The publication is written in a transparent and obtainable language. it really is based so it meets the expectancies of either proficient readers and teachers. "This is a very fascinating manuscript. It occupies an strange – even specified – house …. As such instead of view the ebook as a strictly educational paintings I see it as a severe standpoint at the renowned and educational literature as an entire. In that regard i believe there's not anything like this out there." Professor Richard King, Professor of Buddhist and Asian stories, college of Kent.
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Additional info for Why Yoga? A Cultural History of Yoga
Thus already at this early point of the yoga sign’s entrance into the West, we see a European monotheistic intellectual milieu agreeing on Brahmin and theistic versions of the yoga sign compatible with their prevailing Christian and philosophical sensibilities. In Germany the Orientalists’ writings and translations were widely studied and debated 45 by the romanticists (late 18th and early 19th century) (Wikipedia link) and were used in their opposition to Enlightenment philosophy. In their discourse India was perceived as a holistic, intuitive and spiritually driven culture in opposition to a Western rational world.
Thus Colebrook concluded that yoga was a theistic sign – a system of ‘devotional exercise and mental abstraction’. Colebrooke’s essays contributed strongly to a new and systematic insight into the philosophical implications of the yoga sign. Based on that, European intellectuals like the influential German Indologist W. von Humboldt (Wikipedia link) in 1827 settled on yoga as a kind of ‘absorption’ (Vertiefung) – ‘a self-reflective, disciplined turning inward, leading to a communion with the divine’ (Herling 2006).
This process of amalgamation would frequently consist of the de-emphasising or reinterpreting of those myths, “superstition” and rituals of yoga, which did not fit well into European preconceptions32. Further - typical of modernity – the authority normally ascribed to ‘tradition’ in pre-modern societies (Wikipedia link) would be undermined and replaced by notions of ‘individual freedom’. In other words pre-modern practices, rituals, tales, legends and beliefs would be rationally evaluated. e. the habitus of Western cultural elites.