Christèle Barois

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7:00 pm to 8:15 pm
Virtual Event

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Christèle Barois

Medical knowledge and the practice of yoga in Ancient India

Composed of around 340 verses divided into sixteen chapters of unequal length, the Dharmaputrikā Saṃhitā incorporates specific medical knowledge that demonstrates an appropriation and adaptation of classical Indian medicine by yogins from the first centuries of the Common Era onwards. Until the discovery of this yoga manual, of which the terminus ad quem is the sixth or seventh century, there was no ancient yoga text so testifying to the need for medical knowledge and practice as part of the yogic process.

This remarkable feature, which is reflected in the different stages and temporalities of yogic practice is describes, is always in connection with complex breathing practices, in particular increasing apneas aiming to produce, eventually, the death of the body. The use of medicine is especially evident in the chapter called yogacikitsā, “Therapy in the context of yoga”, which explains the method of treating diseases that have arisen during practice.
In this talk, I will introduce to the links between classical Indian medicine and ancient yoga, drawing on the new textual material provided by the Dharmaputrikā Saṃhitā.


Christèle Barois is currently fellows at IAS-Nantes. She stayed in India during four years (2003-2007) as a research associate in the Department of Indology of the French Institute in Pondicherry. Her thesis (2012, EPHE) is devoted to the study of the Vāyavīyasaṃhitā, a Śaiva text composed in South India before the eleventh century. In 2015, she joined the ERC AyurYog project: “Medicine, Immortality, Moksha: Entangled Histories of Yoga, Ayurveda and Alchemy in South Asia” at the University of Vienna. Her current research focuses on medical knowledge as part of ancient yoga teachings and the recurring narratives of embryogenesis in Sanskrit literature (Mahābhārata and Purāṇas). She is preparing, in collaboration with Philipp A. Maas, the critical edition of the Dharmaputrikā Saṃhitā.

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