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The Power of the Nath Yogis

Yogic Charisma, Political Influence and Social Authority

312 pages
Amsterdam University Press
The volume collects a series of contributions that help reconstruct the recent history of the Nath tradition, highlighting important moments of self.reinterpretation in the sampradaya’s interaction with different social milieus. The leitmotif tying together the selection of articles is the authors’ explorations of the overlap between religious authority and political power. For example, in which ways do the Naths’ hagiographical claim of possessing yogic charisma (often construed as supernatural powers, siddhis) translate into mundane expressions of socio-political power? And how does it morph into the authority to reinterpret and recreate particular traditions? The articles approach different aspects of the recent history of the Nath sampradaya, spanning from stories of yogis guiding kings in the petty principalities of the eighteenth century to gurus who sought prominence in the transnational environments of the twentieth century; examining some Nath lineages and institutions under the British Raj, in the history of Nepal, and in contemporary India.
Author Bio
Daniela Bevilacqua is a Research Associate at SOAS. She received her PhD in Civilizations of Africa and Asia from Sapienza University of Rome and in Anthropology from the University of Paris Nanterre. Her PhD research was published by Routledge under the title Modern Hindu Traditionalism in Contemporary India. She was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the ERC funded Hatha Yoga Project. Her fields of research include Hindu ascetic groups, embodied practices and gender and religion. Eloisa Stuparich is a Research Fellow at the Giorgio Cini Foundation (Venice, Italy), where she is currently working on the digitization of the Sanskrit manuscripts of the Danielou Fund. Véronique Bouillier is social anthropologist and senior researcher at the CNRS (Paris). She authored several books and articles on Śaiva ascetic communities in Nepal and India (Daśnāmī grihastha Sannyāsīs, Jaṅgams, Newar Kusles, Kānphaṭā or Nāth Yogīs). Her main publications concerning the Nath Yogis are are Ascètes et Rois. Un Monastère de Kānphaṭā Yogīs au Népal (Paris, 1997), Itinérance et Vie Monastique. Les Ascètes Nāth Yogīs en Inde Contemporaine (Paris, 2008), and Monastic Wanderers. Nāth Yogīs Ascetics in Modern South Asia (Delhi, Manohar, 2017, London, Routledge, 2017). Adrián Muñoz is a Lecturer of South Asian religions at El Colegio de México. He has specialized in the history and hagiography of yoga. He authored Radiografía del hathayoga (2016), co-edited Yogi Heroes and Poets: Histories and Legends of the Nāths (2011), and co-authored Historia minima del yoga (2019). He is currently working on a project about the history and practice of yoga in Latin America. Jamal A. Jones studies the literary and religious history of southern India, with particular interests in Sanskrit and Telugu. He currently serves as an assistant professor of South Asian Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Christine Marrewa-Karwoski is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University in the City of New York. Dr. Marrewa-Karwoski received her Ph.D. from Columbia University’s Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies and holds two Masters degrees in Religious Studies (Columbia University) and Asian Languages and Literatures (University of Washington). Lubomír Ondračka is a Research Fellow at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. His research is focused on the history of yoga, death and dying in India, and on religions and culture of Bengal. Joel Bordeaux is a Gonda Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden, researching representations of “Buddhist China” in Hindu tantras. Other ongoing projects include a monograph entitled Raja Krishnacandra: Hindu Kingship and Myth-Making in Early Modern Bengal, as well as papers on vernacular mantras, fanciful commentaries, and orientalist occultism. Christof Zotter studied Indology and Ethnology at the University of Leipzig and received his doctoral degree from Heidelberg University. Currently, he leads the editorial program of the Research Unit “Documents on the History of Religion and Law of Pre-modern Nepal”, Heidelberg Academy of Science and Humanities, researching the history of Nepalese ascetical traditions. Carter Hawthorne Higgins is Visiting Scholar in the Department of Religious Studies, Duke University. He holds a PhD in Asian Literature Religion, and Culture from Cornell University and was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.