The Liberating Role of Samskāra in Classical Yoga

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... ti. This is not a place for me to address the scope and nature of this experience, and for that, one can consult (Whicher 2005(Whicher , 2007Burley 2007, pp. 133-55). ...
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This paper explores the ways change is addressed in Sāṅkhya, one of the major Hindu schools of philosophy, specifically in light of the classical debate between Hindu and the Buddhist philosophers regarding intrinsic nature (svabhāva) and the concept of transformation (pariṇāma). When we closely analyze Sāṅkhya categories, the issue of temporality stands out, because for Sāṅkhya philosophers time is not a distinct category and is infrequently addressed in classical Sāṅkhya. Nonetheless, we can still extract two different notions related to time, dynamism intrinsic to rajas, and temporality that is enclosed within the notion of space and spatial objects. What this implies is that the temporality implicit within the concept of change is only applicable to the last of the evolutes, according to Sāṅkhya cosmology. However, the Sāṅkhyan idea of 16 transformations (pariṇāma) applies to all categories, except puruṣa. By exploiting the parameters of these arguments, this paper makes the case for a closer analysis of the category of transformation in classical Sāṅkhya. Reading about change in the light of svabhāva, the intrinsic nature of an entity, versus the idea of its termination, allows us to have a wider conversation on what it means for something to change from within the Sāṅkhya paradigm.
... Interestingly, saṃskāras also function at an epistemological level and have the power to impact religious knowledge. Hindu philosophers have reflected upon the ways in which this happens (Dalal 2012;Mishra 1953;Whicher 2005). However, if we want to understand how the concept relates to ethical normative arguments development by Hindus in biomedicine, we have to look at what that idea means to Hindus who develop such arguments. ...
Human rights are currently weakly defended. Many doubt their effectiveness and politicians often prioritize economic and military considerations. This chapter examines the implications of this weakening of human rights discourse. Is global bioethics losing its normative force? This question raises the issue of normativity in global bioethics. It is argued that normativity in global bioethics differs from that in ethics in general since it is a specific area of ethics with specific values. This specific normativity is reflected in theory and practice. As a moral discourse, global bioethics is broader than bioethics which is usually focused on the individual perspective. Global bioethics also has a larger repertoire of practices, including for example advocacy. The normativity of global bioethics furthermore is dialectical; it moves between the global and local levels so that it is continuously developing and transforming.
... According to Vedic texts, it was believed that the law of karma directly influences a person's good or evil rebirth (positive or negative causes for one's birth; O'Flaherty, 2007); the concept of karma as a law of retribution developed out of earlier (pre-Vedic) philosophy and later took on the meaning of the law of cause and effect (Yevtic, 1927). The possibility of accessing the information related to past lives through a contemplative trance, a state of consciousness reached in a concentrated meditation, was noted in Patanjali's Yoga-Sutras (circa 5 th -6 th century CE) of India (Whicher, 2005). ...
A significant volume of scientific evidence, uncovered by reincarnation research in the last 50 years, supports the reincarnation hypothesis advanced by Ian Stevenson for spontaneous past-life experiences (PLEs). However, at this time this evidence cannot provide an unquestionable proof of the existence of past-life phenomena, nor can it assert that reincarnation is not possible. This paper suggests that the reincarnation hypothesis, being reasonably parsimonious and relatively exhaustive, may provide a plausible explanation for spontaneous PLEs. Also, based on the probability of the same ontology of spontaneous and hypnotic PLEs, it may be argued that this hypothesis might also be relevant for the hypnotic PLEs, as well as for the understanding of the ontology of past-life phenomena in general.
When the possibility of normative bioethics is assessed against the broader background of Hinduism, it becomes clear that normativity is not an obvious concept in this religion. Difficulties related to defining Hinduism make it equally hard to describe essential characteristics of Hindu bioethics. These problems are further compounded by the very limited number of publications on Hindu bioethics. Therefore, this study largely relies on empirical data to understand how Hindus develop normative arguments on bioethical issues. This investigation shows that Hindus apply religious concepts and ideas to bioethical issues through an approach that combines virtue ethics and deontological ethics. In the empirical data, karma appears as a guiding belief for arguments that are in line with virtue ethics, while belief in an almighty God motivates deontological arguments. Hindus themselves do not make a clear distinction between these two approaches, but rather combine them in an overarching argument. This Hindu way of dealing with bioethical issues can be understood through the philosophical concept saṃskāra. Through this approach, Hindu bioethics is able to integrate various perspectives and avoids the pitfalls of both ethical absolutism and relativism. This makes Hindu bioethics a very relevant example when scholars attempt to find ways to deal with normativity in global bioethics.
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the paper discusses the issue of psychophysical agency in the context of Indian philosophy, focusing on the oldest preserved texts of the classical tradition of Sāṃkhya­Yoga. the author raises three major questions: What is action in terms of Sāṃkhyakārikā (ca. fifth century CE) and Yogasūtra (ca. third century CE)? Whose action is it, or what makes one an agent? What is a right and morally good action? the first part of the paper reconsiders a general idea of action — including actions that are deliberately done and those that 'merely' happen — identified by Patañjali and Ῑśvarakṛṣṇa as a permanent change or transformation (pariṇāma) determined by the universal principle of causation (satkārya). then, a threefold categorization of actions according to their causes is presented, i.e. internal agency (ādhyātmika), external agency (ādhi­ bhautika) and 'divine' agency (ādhidaivika). the second part of the paper undertakes the prob­ lem of the agent's autonomy and the doer' s psychophysical integrity. the main issues that are exposed in this context include the relationship between an agent and the agent's capacity for perception and cognition, as well as the crucial Sāṃkhya­Yoga distinction between 'a doer' and 'the self '. the agent's self­awareness and his or her moral self­esteem are also briefly examined. moreover, the efficiency of action in present and future is discussed (i.e. karman, karmāśaya, saṃskāra, vāsanā), along with the criteria of a right act accomplished through meditative in­ sight (samādhi) and moral discipline (yama).
Preface to the American Edition Preface to the Original Edition Introduction Patanjali and the Exegetical Literature Some Philosophical Concepts of Kriya-Yoga Overview of Topics Discussed by Patanjali Annotated Translation Chapter One: Samadhi-Pada Chapter Two: Sadhana-Pada Chapter Three: Vibhuti-Pada Chapter Four: Kaivalya-Pada Continuous Translation Word Index to the Yoga-Sutra Bibliography Guide to the Pronunciation of Sanskrit Index About the Author
A popular and critical success when it first appeared in France, Yoga and the Hindu Tradition has freed Yoga from the common misconceptions of the recent Yoga vogue. Jean Varenne, the distinguished French Orientalist, presents the theory of classical Yoga, in all its richness, as a method—a concrete way to reach the Absolute through spiritual exercises—which makes possible the transition from existence to essence. This excellent translation, including line drawings and charts, a glossary of technical terms, and a complete translation of the Yoga Darshana Upanishad, begins with a brief description of the metaphysical and religious history on which Yoga is based. Varenne discusses the theoretical conception of Yoga as the search for liberating knowledge, concluding with a brief indication of the physical practices and extra Yogic themes such as Kundalini and Tantrism. It is the author's hope that "those who read [this book] will come to realize that it is in fact dishonest to reduce Yoga to some sort of physical training, or to just an occult doctrine; it is a 'world view' a Weltanschauung that comprehends reality in its totality." "The straightforward, well-organized presentation makes the book itself a microcosm of what Varenne singles out as a dominant feature of classical Hindu thought—a bringing of the complex and multitudinous into a unity."—Judith Guttman, Yoga Journal
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