Yoga in Practice

Princeton University Press
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Yoga is a body of practice that spans two millennia and transcends the boundaries of any single religion, geographic region, or teaching lineage. In fact, over the centuries there have been many "yogas"--yogas of battlefield warriors, of itinerant minstrels and beggars, of religious reformers, and of course, the yogas of mind and body so popular today. Yoga in Practice is an anthology of primary texts drawn from the diverse yoga traditions of India, greater Asia, and the West. This one-of-a-kind sourcebook features elegant translations of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, and even Islamic yogic writings, many of them being made available in English for the very first time. Collected here are ancient, colonial, and modern texts reflecting a broad range of genres, from an early medical treatise in Sanskrit to Upanishadic verses on sacred sounds; from a Tibetan catechetical dialogue to funerary and devotional songs still sung in India today; and from a 1930s instructional guide by the grandfather of contemporary yoga to the private papers of a pioneer of tantric yoga in America.

Emphasizing the lived experiences to be found in the many worlds of yoga, Yoga in Practice includes David Gordon White's informative general introduction as well as concise introductions to each reading by the book's contributors.

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About the author

David Gordon White is the J. F. Rowny Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include Sinister Yogis and Tantra in Practice (Princeton).
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Additional Information

Princeton University Press
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Published on
Oct 31, 2011
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Health & Fitness / Yoga
Religion / Buddhism / Rituals & Practice
Religion / Eastern
Religion / General
Religion / Hinduism / Rituals & Practice
Religion / Meditations
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Content Protection
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Eligible for Family Library

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For those who wonder what relation actual Tantric practices bear to the "Tantric sex" currently being marketed so successfully in the West, David Gordon White has a simple answer: there is none. Sweeping away centuries of misunderstandings and misrepresentations, White returns to original texts, images, and ritual practices to reconstruct the history of South Asian Tantra from the medieval period to the present day.

Kiss of the Yogini focuses on what White identifies as the sole truly distinctive feature of South Asian Tantra: sexualized ritual practices, especially as expressed in the medieval Kaula rites. Such practices centered on the exchange of powerful, transformative sexual fluids between male practitioners and wild female bird and animal spirits known as Yoginis. It was only by "drinking" the sexual fluids of the Yoginis that men could enter the family of the supreme godhead and thereby obtain supernatural powers and transform themselves into gods. By focusing on sexual rituals, White resituates South Asian Tantra, in its precolonial form, at the center of religious, social, and political life, arguing that Tantra was the mainstream, and that in many ways it continues to influence contemporary Hinduism, even if reformist misunderstandings relegate it to a marginal position.

Kiss of the Yogini contains White's own translations from over a dozen Tantras that have never before been translated into any European language. It will prove to be the definitive work for persons seeking to understand Tantra and the crucial role it has played in South Asian history, society, culture, and religion.
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