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Sinister Yogis$
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David Gordon White

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226895130

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226895154.001.0001

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Embodied Ascent, Meditation, & Yogic Suicide

Embodied Ascent, Meditation, & Yogic Suicide

(p.83) Three Embodied Ascent, Meditation, & Yogic Suicide
Sinister Yogis
University of Chicago Press

A set of actors, through their esoteric knowledge of the true nature of the self as well as of powerful spells, were empowered to reach the world of brahman (brahmaloka). These actors' knowledge-based soteriology especially carried forward the legacy of the yoga of the vedic poets. Even as the old paradigm of “going” was yielding to one of “knowing,” the language of yoga was retained in a fossilized form, with early puranic soteriologies postulating that throngs of still-embodied beings—called “yogis,” “great yogis,” “masters,” or “great masters”—inhabited a sort of antechamber to the highest realm of fully liberated beings. This chapter first describes embodied ascent and liberation in the early Upanisads and then turns to journeys into inner and outer space according to the Maitri Upanisad. It also discusses visionary ascent in the Bhāgavata Purāna and in early Śaiva scriptures, two-tiered soteriologies and the Prakrtilayas, and “yogic suicide” in the Tantras.

Keywords:   yoga, yogis, embodied ascent, visionary ascent, Upanisads, brahman, liberation, Maitri Upanisad, Bhāgavata Purāna, yogic suicide

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