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Blood Donation and Religious Experience in North India
Veins of Devotion details recent collaborations between guru-led devotional movements and public health campaigns to encourage voluntary blood donation in northern India. The book analyzes the operations of several high-profile religious orders that organize large-scale public blood-giving events and argues that blood donation has become a site not only of frenetic competition between different devotional movements, but also of intense spiritual creativity.
Language, Memory, and Mysticism
Harold Coward explores how the psychological aspects of Yoga philosophy have been important to intellectual developments both East and West. Foundational for Hindu, Jaina, and Buddhist thought and spiritual practice, Patañjali’s Yoga Suµtras, the classical statement of Eastern Yoga, are unique in their emphasis on the nature and importance of psychological processes. Yoga’s influence is explored in the work of both the seminal Indian thinker Bhartr|hari (c. 600 C.E.) and among key figures in Western psychology: founders Freud and Jung, as well as contemporary transpersonalists such as Washburn, Tart, and Ornstein. Coward shows how the yogic notion of psychological processes makes Bhartr|hari’s philosophy of language and his theology of revelation possible. He goes on to explore how Western psychology has been influenced by incorporating or rejecting Patañjali’s Yoga. The implications of these trends in Western thought for mysticism and memory are examined as well. This analysis results in a notable insight, namely, that there is a crucial difference between Eastern and Western thought with regard to how limited or perfectible human nature is—the West maintaining that we as humans are psychologically, philosophically, and spiritually limited or flawed in nature and thus not perfectible, while Patañjali’s Yoga and Eastern thought generally maintain the opposite. Different Western responses to the Eastern position are noted, from complete rejection by Freud, Jung, and Hick, to varying degrees of acceptance by transpersonal thinkers.
Histories and Legends of the Naths
An exploration of the history, religion, and folklore of the Naths, a Hindu lineage known for Hatha yoga practice. This book provides a remarkable range of information on the history, religion, and folklore of the Naµth Yogis. A Hindu lineage prominent in North India since the eleventh century, Naµths are well-known as adepts of Hatha yoga and alchemical practices said to increase longevity. Long a heterogeneous group, some Naµths are ascetics and some are householders; some are dedicated to personified forms of Shiva, others to a formless god, still others to Vishnu. The essays in the first part of the book deal with the history and historiography of the Naµths, their literature, and their relationships with other religious movements in India. Essays in the second part discuss the legends and folklore of the Naµths and provide an exploration of their religious ideas. Contributors to the volume depict a variety of local areas where this lineage is prominent and highlight how the Naµths have been a link between religious, metaphysical, and even medical traditions in India.