SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Yoga and Meditation in the Jaina Tradition

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 2

The course offers an introduction to yoga and meditation in the the context of the Jaina path of liberation. The historical roots of contemporary Jaina practices of asceticism and meditation will be explored with refenrence to their metaphysical and soteriological rational and institutionalisation in Jaina mendicant and lay traditions in India and the UK. The later influence of Patañjali and later Hindu philosophy and yoga practices on medieval Jaina philosophers writing on Jaina-Yoga will be demonstrated. The course concludes with a survey of the new teachings and techniques of competing modern schools of yoga and meditation.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

LO1.  to account for the history and principal doctrines of the Jaina traditions

LO2.  to discuss the differences between different schools of Jaina yoga and meditation

LO3.  to analyze the distinctive contribution and influence of the Jaina tradition on contemporary yoga philosophy and practic


10 lectures, of one hour's duration each per week; as well as 10 seminars, of one hour's duration each per week.

Scope and syllabus

Lecture 1: Roots of Jaina Yoga and Meditation

Lecture 2: Film: The Frontiers of Peace

Lecture 3: Pārśva, Mahāvīra, and Gośāla

Lecture 4: Body and Soul: Karma, Bondage and Liberation in Early Jainism

Lecture 5: The Jaina Cosmos and its Inhabitants

Lecture 6: The Jaina Path of Liberation

Lecture 7: Sallekhanā: The Religious Practice of Voluntary Death

Lecture 8: Asceticism and Meditation

Lecture 9: The Influence of Patañjali on Jaina-Yoga: Haribhadra, Śubhacandra and Hemacandra

Lecture 10: Modern Forms of Jaina Meditation

Method of assessment

AS1 - Essay - 3000 words (100% of total mark for the module)

Suggested reading

Core Reading:

Dundas, Paul. The Jains. 2nd Edition. London: Routledge, (1992) 2002.


Glasenapp, Helmuth von. Jainism. An Indian Religion of Salvation. Translated by Shridhar B. Shroti. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, (1925) 1998.


Jaini, Padmanabh S. The Jaina Path of Purification. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979.


Schubring, Walther. The Doctrine of the Jainas. Described after the Old Sources. Tr. Wolfgang Beurlen. 2nd English Edition. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, (1935) 2000. 

Further Reading:

Amitigati, Acarya. Yogasāra-Prābhṛta (Gift of the Essence of Yoga). Translation & Annotation by S. C. Jain. New Delhi: Bharatiya Jnanpith, 2003.


Bronkhorst, J. The Two Traditions of Meditation in Ancient India. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1986.

------. The Two Sources of Indian Asceticism. Bern: Peter Lang, 1993.

------. “Remarks on the History of Jaina Meditation.” Jain Studies in Honour of Jozef Deleu. Ed. Rudy Smet & Kenji Watanabe, 151-162. Tokyo: Hon-No-Tomosha, 1993.

------. Absorbtion. UniversityMedia 2012.


Chapple, C. Reconciling Yogas. Haribhadra's Collection of Views on Yoga. Albany: SUNY, 2003.


Chapple, C. (ed.). Yoga in Jainism. London: Routledge, 2015 (Routledge Advances in Jaina Studies 5)


Chitrabhanu, Gurudev Sri. The Philosophy of Soul and Matter. New York: Jain Meditation International Center, 1977.

------. Ten Days Journey Into the Self. Compiled by Elizabeth Cattal. Fifth Edition. New York: Jain Meditation International Center, 1977.

------. Realize What You Are. The Dynamics of Jain Meditation. New York: Dobb, Mead & Company (Jain Meditation International Center), 1978.

------. Twelve Facets of Reality. The Jain Path to Freedom. New York: Dobb, Mead & Company (Jain Meditation International Center), 1980.

------. Reflections. New York: Jain Meditation International Center, N.D.


Desai, S. M. Haribhadra's Yoga Works and Psychosynthesis. Ahmedabad: L. D. Institute of Indology, 1983.


Dixit, Krishna Kumar. Yogadṛṣṭisamuccaya and Yogaviṃśikā of Ācārya Haribhadrasūri with English Translation, Notes and Introduction. Ahmedabad: L. D. Institute of Indology, 1970.


Gandhi, V. R. The Yoga Philosophy. Ed. Bhagu F. Karbhari. Editor 'The Jain' and the 'Patriot'. Bombay: Venichand Surchand Shah, for Shree Agamodaya Samiti, 1912 (Online).


Goenka, S.N. The Discourse Summaries of S.N. Goenka: Talks from a Ten-Day Course in Vipassana Meditation Condensed by William Hart. Seattle: Vipassana Research Publications, 1987


Jacobsen, K. (ed.). Yoga Powers. Extraordinary Capacities Attained Through Meditation and Concentration. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2012 (Brill's Indological Library 37).


Jain, A.R. Selling Yoga. From Counterculture to Pop Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.


Mahāprajña, Ācārya.Preksha Dhyana. Theory and Practice. Second Revised and Enlarged Edition. Ed. Muni Mahendra Kumar. Ladnun: Tulsi Adhyatma Nidam, 1992.

------. The Art of Positive Thinking. Translated by R. K. Sheth. Second Edition. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers, 1983.


Qvarnström, Olle. “Jain Tantra: Divinatory and Meditative Practices in the Twelfth-Century Yogaśāstra of Hemacandra.” Tantra in Practice. Ed. David Gordon White, 595-604. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.

------. The Yogaśāstra of Hemacandra. A Twelfth Century Handbook on Śvetāmbara Jainism. Translated by Olle Qvarnström. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002.


Qvarnström, Olle & Jason Birch. “Universalist and Missionary Jainism: Jain Yoga of the Terāpanthī Tradition.” Yoga in Practice. Ed. David Gordon White, 365-382. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.


Nanalal, Acharya. Equanimity: Philosophy and Practice. Udaipur: Agama Ahimsa Samata, 1992.


Rajneesh. Meditation: The Art of Ecstasy. London: Harper Collins, 1976.

------. Meditation: The Art of Inner Ecstasy. Rajneesh Foundation, 1977.

------. Meditation: The First and Last Freedom. A Practical Guide to Meditation. Rebel Publishing House, 1988.


Samuel, Geoffrey. The Origins of Yoga and Tantra. Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.


Shastri, Suvrat Muni. Jaina Yoga in the Light of the Yogabindu. An Analytical Study. Delhi: Nirmal Publications, 1996.


Shivmuni, Acharya. Self-Development by Meditation. Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan, 2005.


Shubhachandra, Acharya. Jnanarvana: Ocean of Wisdom on Meditation. English Translation by Dashrath Jain. 2014 (Gems of Jain Wisdom Volume 8).


Tukol, T. K. Sallekhanā is not Suicide. Ahmedabad: L. D. Institute, 1976.

------. Yoga, Meditation & Mysticism in Jainism. New Delhi: Shri Raj Krishen Jain Charitable Trust, 1978.


Tulsi, A. Transmutation of Personality through Preksha Meditation. [Prekṣā Anuprekṣā] Translated by R. K. Sheth. Editor: Sadhvi Kanakaprabha. Ladnun: Jain Vishva Bharati, 1994.


Umāsvāti/Umāsvāmī. Tattvārtha-Sūtra. Translated by Nathmal Tatia as That Which Is. With the Combined Commentaries of Umāsvāti/Umāsvāmī, Pūjyapāda and Siddhasenagaṇi. New York: Harper Collins, 1994.


 Williams. R. Jaina Yoga. A Survey of the Medieval Śrāvakācāras. London: Oxford University Press, (1963) 1983. 


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules