Jason Birch – The Amaraugha: The Genesis of Haṭha and Rājayoga
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
- SOAS University of London
- Khalili Lecture Theatre
- Event type
- Book launch
About this event
SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies is pleased to host a book launch for the soon to be published, The Amaraugha and the Amaraughaprabodha of Gorakṣanātha: The Genesis of Hatha and Rajayoga by Jason Birch (University of Oxford).
This book introduces, critically edits, and translates one of the earliest texts of the Haṭhayoga tradition, namely the Amaraugha of Gorakṣanātha. In this talk, Dr Birch will discuss the historical importance of the Amaraugha (12th century), the earliest known work to teach a paradigm that combined Haṭha and Rājayoga. These two yogas represent the basic dichotomy of physical and mental praxis that became a salient feature of medieval yoga traditions and is still something of a touchstone for many practitioners of modern yoga.
A close reading of certain passages reveals how physical methods of yoga from a tantric Buddhist tradition were adapted for Śaivas and shifted the emphasis from celibacy to moving kuṇḍalinī.
The Amaraugha was one of the main sources of the Haṭhapradīpikā, which created a template for Haṭhayoga that was widely accepted after the fifteenth century. By looking through the lens of the Haṭhapradīpikā, it is possible to see how the practice of Haṭhayoga evolved after the Amaraugha, and to appreciate the contribution of this early work to traditions of Haṭhayoga in the early modern period.
The book will be of interest to scholars, students, and practitioners of yoga alike.
Jason Birch was awarded his doctorate at the University of Oxford and is a Senior Research Fellow of the Light on Hatha project, hosted at University of Oxford and the University of Marburg. He is co-Director of the Yogacintāmaṇi project at the University of Massachusetts Boston and an Associate Researcher of the Suśruta project at the University of Alberta.
He has published numerous articles in academic journals on the history of Haṭha and Rājayoga, and co-authored a book on plastic surgery in the Nepalese version of the Suśrutasaṃhitā.
From 2015 to 2020, he was a Post-doctoral Research Fellow of the ERC-funded Haṭha Yoga Project at SOAS University of London. He is a founding member of the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies and the peer-reviewed Journal of Yoga Studies.