Yoga of Indian Sādhu

by Daniela Bevilacqua

When we speak of asceticism in India, we turn to a highly differentiated world whose characteristics depend on the sādhanā (religious discipline) that is practiced and which, in turn, depends on the importance given to devotional practice, to the external world and to the body as means of liberation, or as a means to reach God. One of the methods for achieving these goals is yoga, which also indicates the result to be achieved, the Yoga indeed, the union of the Atma (the individual Self) with Paramātmā (the Universal Self).

In this workshop we will try to give a general smattering of various traditional Indian ascetic groups, focusing on those traditional about celibacy and traditionally related to the practices of yoga and austerity, which address their devotion to two of the main Indian deities, Śiva and Viṣṇu. We will therefore talk about Naga Daśanāmī, Rāmānandī, Rāmānūjī and Nāth. We will then focus on the meaning, characteristics and practices of yoga and haṭha yoga for the sādhu of these orders, using the support of videos and photos collected over years of fieldwork among the sādhu.

Daniela Bevilacqua bio

Indianist, she graduated with honors at the Master degree at the Faculty of Oriental Studies at “La Sapienza” University of Rome, dealing with religious and political-social issues. She is Ph.D in “Philosophy of Civilization, Cultures and Societies of Africa and Asia” at the “La Sapienza” University of Rome and Ph.D. in “Anthropology” at the University of Paris Nanterre la Defense. She is currently one of the members of the “Haṭha Yoga Project”, a research project funded by the European Community and carried out at the SOAS, University of London.