Prācīn Yoga, or the Practice of Tapasyā: From Past to Present

From Tapas to Modern Yoga - Sādhus’ Understanding of Embodied Practices - Daniela Bevilacqua

Daniela Bevilacqua [+-]
SOAS, University of London
Daniela Bevilacqua (Rome 1983) received her PhD in 2015, 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 (2018) under the title Modern Hindu Traditionalism in Contemporary India: The Śrī Maṭh and the Jagadguru Rāmānandācārya in the Evolution of the Rāmānandī Sampradāya. She is a Research Associate at SOAS, after working for the ERC-funded Hatha Yoga Project (2015-2020). Her research has aroused particular interest because of its methodology and results. Her article, “Let the Sādhus Talk. Ascetic understanding of Haṭha Yoga and yogāsanas”, published in Religions of South Asia, (Vol 11, n. 2, pp. 182-206) has been translated in German, French and Portuguese. She has been invited to give lectures in various universities (Cambridge, London, Haifa, Prague, Turin, Milan) as well as to present her research in various yoga teacher training courses and yoga studios. She has published several articles in peer review journals and book chapters for publishers like Routledge and Palgrave on Hindu asceticism, female asceticism, etc. She is currently editing two volumes, one forthcoming for Amsterdam University Press and another will be a special issue of the Journal of Yoga Studies (JoYS).


Chapter 3 analyses the practice of tapasyā (austerities), linking it to the development of yoga and introducing the connections with haṭha yoga. The description of austerities performed in the past follows the narratives of sources that range from the works of Greek historians to the accounts of travelers and orientalists. Later on, the current practice of austerities by sādhusis described, providing a classification that aims to comprehensively illustrate a subject that is very often overlooked by scholars. It then explains the reasons behind the practice of austerities. Through cross-references between past and present, the chapter demonstrates the continuity of certain practices and how layers of meanings have ‘accumulated’ on the word tapas/tapasyā over the centuries, following the needs of times and changing historical contexts.

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Bevilacqua, Daniela. Prācīn Yoga, or the Practice of Tapasyā: From Past to Present. From Tapas to Modern Yoga - Sādhus’ Understanding of Embodied Practices. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Mar 2024. ISBN 9781000000000. Date accessed: 08 Dec 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44380. Mar 2024

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