Jnanapravaha Mumbai’s quarter-long course, Yoga and Tantra (Y&T), has three overarching focus areas: (1) a chronological survey of the philosophical concepts, meta-theologies and cosmologies of yogic and tantric traditions, (2) an exploration of the aesthetics of the visual representations of those ideas, their manifestations in temple art, sculpture, painting, as well as their reflections in the lived practices of nationalists and saints, and (3) situating yogic and tantric traditions in the larger context of Indian art and life.
The course is sensitive to the increasing popularity of yoga today, its globalised and modernized practices, and endeavours to situate recent trends in rigorous historical context: from the premodern to the modern. Y&T begins by tracing the origins and development of the very term ‘yoga,’ its changing significations and various forms within a broader Indic religious and philosophical thought, and its symbiotic relation with tantra/tantric elements, especially through the formulation of Hatha yoga.
Y&T also invites tradition holders, senior teachers from ‘modern’ yogic schools, to explain how oral traditions have transmitted and transferred yogic knowledge and its embodied practice. Students will also explore a wide range of Agamic/Tantric traditions: Kashmir Shaivism, Pancharatra (a school of Vaishnava Tantra), Shaiva Siddhanta, the Tantric Shakta traditions of Kashmir and Bengal, as well as popular currents and syncretic traditions of the medieval Nath yogis, sufis, Bauls of Bengal, bhakti cults, Jains, and Buddhists. Interdisciplinary in nature, Y&T presents views from Sanskrit studies and philology, philosophy, literature, aesthetics, art history, archaeology, and anthropology.