Join world-renowned scholar of yoga Dr. James Mallinson, and a global cohort of students, for this unique opportunity to read and explore Haṭha Yoga's earliest source text.
The Amṛtasiddhi, the "Attainment of Immortality," is the first text to teach any of the practices and principles which came to be classified as haṭhayoga. It is thus the first text to teach physical yoga practices other than seated postures for meditation and basic breath control. The text’s teachings inspired many important subsequent works on yoga, several of which borrowed directly from it. The text's teachings are attributed to a great yogic adept (mahāsiddha) named Virūpa who has strong ties to south India as well as Vajrayāna Buddhism.
Dr. James Mallinson and Dr. Péter-Dániel Szántó have recently completed the first critical edition of the Amṛtasiddhi, which will be published in December, 2021 and will be the primary text for this course.
This course will begin with an overview of the Amṛtasiddhi in which we will look into its date (c. 11th century), its place of origin (the Deccan or south India) and its religious affiliation (Buddhist), as well as the content and structure of the text, and the manuscript sources that have been used to establish it.
Over the remainder of the course Dr. Mallinson will do a close reading of the text, in translation, with analysis of the Sanskrit where necessary and contextual commentary. The text comprises just over 300 verses, divided into 35 chapters. These cover the elements of the yogic body (chapters 1–10), the core practice of the text including the sequence of mahāmudrā, mahābandha and mahāvedha (chapters 11–14), the characteristics of the different grades of practitioner (chapters 15–18), detailed descriptions of the four stages of yoga (chapters 19–31) and the results of success in the practice (chapters 32–35).
We will be reading the Amṛtasiddhi in English translation. However, having studied some Sanskrit will greatly enhance your ability to understand the subtler dimensions of the text.
The primary reading material for this course will be the Amṛtasiddhi itself. All enrolled students will be provided a PDF copy of Mallinson and Szántó's brand new Sanskrit-English translation featured in The Amṛtasiddhi and Amṛtasiddhimūla: The Earliest Texts of the Haṭhayoga Tradition (École française d’Extreme-orient, Pondicherry, 2021)
Dr. Mallinson is Reader in Indology and Yoga Studies at SOAS University of London. His research focuses on the history and current traditional practice of yoga and his primary methods are philology, ethnography and art history. Dr. Mallinson led the Haṭha Yoga Project (2015–2021), a six-person research project on the history of physical yoga funded by the European Research Council. The project’s core outputs will be ten critical editions of Sanskrit texts on physical yoga and four monographs on its history and current practice. Together with Professor Jürgen Hanneder (University of Marburg), Dr Mallinson is now leading the Light on Hatha Yoga Project (2021–2024) which will produce a critical edition of the Haṭhapradīpikā.
Among Dr. Mallinson’s publications are The Khecarīvidyā of Ādinātha, a Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of an Early Text on Haṭhayoga (Routledge, 2007), a revision of his doctoral thesis, which was supervised by Professor Alexis Sanderson at the University of Oxford, where Dr. Mallinson also read Sanskrit as an undergraduate, Roots of Yoga (Penguin Classics, 2017, co-authored with Mark Singleton) and The Amṛtasiddhi and Amṛtasiddhimūla: The Earliest Texts of the Haṭhayoga Tradition (École française d’Extreme-orient, Pondicherry, 2021). Dr. Mallinson has spent more than ten years living in India with traditional ascetics and practitioners of yoga, and at the 2013 Kumbh Mela was awarded the title of Mahant by the Rāmānandī Saṃpradāya.
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"Dr James Mallinson is not only a formidable scholar but a gifted teacher: he applies himself to the task of translation and explanation with total sincerity at all times, putting his superior knowledge completely at the disposal of the students. His teaching style is totally engaging and immersive and all questions are treated with respect and equal gravitas. I actually remember the stuff that he reveals - not always the case! "
"Reading a text like the Amṛtasiddhi deepens any serious yoga student's knowledge about history, the development of practices and how the yoga puzzle fits together. Dr. Mallinson is an outstanding teacher. His knowledge and humility makes studying with him a joy."
"What Yogic Studies offers us in this course is access, through clear and easy-to-follow lectures, to one of the most significant texts in the history of Yoga, the Amṛtasiddhi. It's the story being revealed through the important textual research of Dr. James Mallinson."
"It was a great honor to to have the opportunity to listen to James Mallinson giving this course. The text is a jewel that comes from a distant past and still is a wonder. It was also a challenging delight to hear the questions and comments from the expert classmates. I will certainly come back to watch the recordings to deepen the experience of the Amṛtasiddhi. Lola Loyola, VO talent, yoga practitioner. Santiago, Chile."