Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yoga and Early Buddhism

Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly; T. D. Harris (revised April 23, 2007,; first published in German "Buddhismus und Yoga," Der Mittlere Weg, 1997)
The Buddha with Dharma wheel (Thai style, Anekoho/
Aghori sadhu, Indian yogi covered in pyre ash drinking from a skull cup
"With the Buddhist doctrine, yoga was connected from
the beginning, because it was the way by which the Buddha,
the founder of Buddhism, found deliverance."
- Prof. Erich Frauwallner

The art of Classical Thai Yoga-Tantra, or Yoga Sri Tantra, was taught by Saint Guru Chod (1900-1988), modern-Thailand's premier yoga master. His rediscovery and personal restoration of the classical elements of Khmer-Thai religious culture ushered in a renaissance of Southeast Asian asceticism and spirituality. Recognizing Guru Chod's momentous findings and his singlehanded re-indigenization of yoga in the region, is tantamount to grasping his saintly magnitude.

Religion of the Heart
Throughout Guru Chod's more than 45 teaching career, he initiated thousands in the timeless teachings of yoga. He imbued his teaching with the ancient Buddha-Dharma, the spiritual culture in which he was born. He was by no means a rebel. The whole of humankind belongs to one great religion, the religion of the heart.
  • [Yoga means "union" or "to yoke together," like the Latin religio that gives us "religion" means ligare "bind, connect" from a prefixed re-ligare, that is, re (again) + ligare or "to reconnect," to bind, yoke, or unite with the divine again. However, the classical Vedic (rishis or seers of the Vedas) and post-Buddhism reformulated Indian version (Patanjali) of an "eightfold" path is not the way to actual liberation and enlightenment as the Buddha taught. The Vedas and Raja or Integral Yoga teaching nothing higher than the exalted reunion with Brahma (the god of the Brahmins and Brahmanical tradition of the Buddha's day), later construed as reunion with Brahman (godhood). Had these practices and samadhis led to bodhi and what the historical Buddha meant by "nirvana," he would not have established a new Dharma, particularly a shramanic (anti-Vedic, anti-temple, Brahmanism-rejecting "wandering ascetic") movement.]
"In actual fact," the master explained, "a yogi, or yoginī, is just one type of religious ascetic who is searching for an end to suffering. Speaking metaphorically, the goal of all religions is to reach the summit of a glorious mountain. Yoga is just one path among many. Though yoga is not a religion in itself, it has always been adopted, adapted, and applied by all religions [Note 1].

Broadly speaking, the Vedic term yoga pertains to any form of asceticism or meditative technique, including prayer [2]. Though methods and philosophies differ greatly, the various paths approach the same goal. To embrace all religions is to fully comprehend that we are not alone in our need to surmount human suffering; it is universal.

The Rishi: Spiritual Seer
Ancient and modern seers (rishis) attempt to teach paths of spirituality (
In Yoga, one of Guru Chod's three published books in Thai, he explains why people generally -- and Thais in particular -- hold many vague and incorrect ideas about yoga.

People in Thailand think a yogi is a hermit. This is because in the Thai language a hermit is called a ruesi (Khmer rosei) from the Sanskrit rishī, that is, "a forest dwelling seer."

People commonly picture yogis as bearded, unkempt, and unclean ascetics, living naked and alone in the forest depths [or Himalayan foothill caves] while subsisting on gathered herbs and vegetables. Through piercing concentration and arcane sorcery, they imagine that yogis can lie on beds of nails, be buried alive, and withstand extreme temperatures while standing on their heads.

They believe that yogis can perform miracles, such as flying or creating goddesses [devis] out of thin air and making them their spiritual consorts!

"But don't be misled," he warns. "A practitioner of yoga is by no means required to retire from the secular world, sever all relations with human society, and dwell in the seclusion of a comfortless cave. [One] can go on leading a fully active mundane existence..."

In particular regard to the rishi, however, it is worthy of note that in the oldest surviving Buddhist texts, it is the Buddha himself who is referred to as the "rishī," in Pāli form īsi [3].

Ven. Buddhadasa
While undergoing training at Wat Suan Mokh, the famous forest hermitage of [the famous Thai monk] Ven. (Maharishi) Buddhadasa [4], the age stricken patriarch of Southern Thai Buddhism spoke of Buddhism, Vedanta, and yoga: "It is proper for monks to practice yoga, but in private."

"Anyone that understands the essence of his own religion understands the essence of all religions."

The Royal Eight-Fold Path of Yoga
Guru Chod strove to reveal the great similarities between the two ancient systems of Buddhism and Raja yoga. Raja (royal, eight-limbed, or "integral") yoga represents the oldest known school of classical Indian systems. It dates back more than two thousand years to the Indian sage Patañjali in the classic treatise Yoga Sūtras (Yoga Aphorisms). It is also known as ashtānga-yoga. In Sanskrit, ashta means "eight," anga means "part" (literally, "limb").

The Buddha as a Yogi
Yogic imagery and activities (
Similarities between Buddhism and yoga have led many scholars to accept their common pre-historical source. The fledgling ascetic Gautama (who came to be known as the Buddha after becoming enlightened) thoroughly steeped himself in the pre-classic Indian philosophy of his revered first teacher Alārā Kālāma, when he was "living amidst the forests and cave-rich hills of the Vindhya Mountains" near Vaishālī.

It was his second guru, Uddaka Rāmaputra, who taught him the principles of yoga.

As early as 1900, the French savant Emile Senart concluded that: It was on the terrain of yoga that the Buddha arose; whatever innovations he was able to introduce into it, the mold of yoga was that in which his thought was formed [5].

Other writers have expressed the same idea. Japanese writer Kanjitsu Iijima rhetorically asks, "How could Buddha, possessor of an intelligence without peer, spend six years of his life fruitlessly?" He goes on to plead, "It is an undeniable historical fact that yoga played a part in the origin of Buddhism" [6].

Sri Lankan author, former ambassador, and dean of an American Buddhist college (Hsi Lai University, now called University of the West in Los Angeles) Ananda Guruge concurs: "Though the self-mortification implied in [early Indian asceticism] was not approved by the Buddha, the yogic element...formed a basic feature in the course of training by the Buddha [7].

Austrian scholar Erich Frauwallner is by far the most incisive in declaring yoga's role in the formation of early Buddhism. In his two-volume History of Indian Philosophy, Frauwallner writes:

With the Buddhist doctrine, yoga was connected from the beginning, because it was the way by which the Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, [searched before he] found deliverance [8].

The Buddha spent six years undergoing yogic training. But after he reached the highest plane [samadhi or concentration: the meditative absorptions called jhanas in Pali amd in Sanskrit dhyanas], he still felt the urge to go beyond.

Yantra (kasina, disk) used in meditation for dhyana (jhana), absorbed concentration (wiki)
Conventionally, yogis have approached the goal of emancipation by two principal paths. One is the path of metaphysical knowledge [jnana or nyana, not to be mistaken with jhana, "absorption"]. The other is the path of ascetic practice. The first of these approaches is often called viveka [withdrawal], or "the razor's edge path of sage discrimination."
The second approach is usually distinguished by its penchant for exploring the myriad states of human consciousness through yogic practices. Now, as for yoga and the majority of the Buddhist schools, greater underscoring is normally given to the ascetic path of yoga practice.

Gautama's path was very similar to this. But "during his period of yoga training he experienced such powerful feelings of happiness and joy [sukha and piti] that he began to regard them as dangerous and something to be avoided. He overcame this unfounded fear and began to strengthen his weakened body -- to prepare the ground for his re-discovered remedy which was joy (ānanda).

"He had previously believed that the heightened agony of self-mortification was the only valid means to liberation. Yet now in contrast, he understood that the peaceful joy of a concentrated mind was the finer path for him to follow" (Lama Anāgārika Govinda) [9].

It cannot be over-stressed that in the Buddha's own quest he achieved his renowned illumination while actually practicing yoga. That is, he was seated in padma-āsana, otherwise known as the "lotus pose." Yogis regard it as the king of yoga poses, the most suitable posture for practicing the higher forms of yoga: concentration, absorption, and serene composure (unification or samadhi, which the Buddha defined as mastery of the jhanas).

The Buddha...desired to keep his yoga-mārga [yoga-path] free from anything... fanciful, severe, or unnecessary to the concentration of the mind... The Buddhist path of meditation is thus a simplified process in which the elements of the yoga exist sometimes with slight modifications but which [is always] kept clear of what [is] looked upon as unnecessary, extraneous, or dangerous. It is suited to whoever joins the monastic Order, provided by sīla [virtue and ethics], he had succeeded in... an attempt at concentration of mind leading to the ultimate wisdom [10].

Buddha as Hindu? [11]
The Art of Yoga is so much more than the physical poses (asanas) for which it is famous.
Siddhartha Gautama, later called "the Buddha" (the Awakened One), was born to a family leading pastoral lives in the then richly forested Himalayan foothills near the present-day Indian-Nepalese [more likely Bamiyan, Afghanistan in the western portion of that range] frontier. His father was a local chieftain named Suddhodana.

But we need to bear in mind that from his birth until his death, the Buddha was a kshatriya or warrior-caste [a noble within the Indian system] Hindu.
  • [The Buddha was not a Hindu. First, this is an anachronism; there was no Hinduism. Greater India was full of spirituality and independent schools of thought, very little "religion" except for Brahmanism, which one had to be born into. There was Vedic Brahmanism that later came to dominate "India," which itself was a collection of independent kingdoms. This was the temple religion of Brahmin priests, who asserted a caste system that they were at the top of. The warrior nobles the Buddha came from did not regard Brahmin as highest. That he is labelled a "warrior" does not mean he was part of the Indian caste system; he was interpreted as that because of where he came from. In faraway Indo-ariyan proto-Iran/Persia (later Central Asian territories with names like Afghanistan, Seistan Baluchistan, Bactria, Pakistan, Sogdia, Scythia, Gandhara, Mathura, Taxila...), if he had been a satrap ("local governor"), that would have gotten him a "warrior/noble" (kshatriya) label in India. But as with all rennciants and/or foreigners, it would have also placed him outside of India's caste system. He was a shramana, a noble/spiritual-warrior "wandering ascetic" to distinguish him from mainstream spiritual teachers who were Brahmin priests learned in the Vedas and their teachers' speculations. At best most Brahmins were ministers, functionaries, courtiers, advisers, and chaplains, not sages speaking of their own direct insight, realization, and doctrines (dharmas). The warrior caste in the northwest frontier of India asserted that, as ruling royals, they were superior to their scholars and priests. The Brahmins served in their courts as ministers. Brahmins might argue that they pulled the strings as respected advisers, but what we now call "Hinduism" did not come into existence until the anti-Buddhist Indian sage Adi Shankara systematized various schools within India into a formal Indian religion that looked upon Buddhism, which was universal and widespread, as an "outside" influence in spite of the fact that it was nurtured in India's previously openminded market of spiritual ideas. Shankara co-opted Buddhism, systematized other Indian spiritual traditions that were immensely diverse, and created an -ism of the Indus Valley Vedic Civilization the British called (H)indusim. Continuing the deliberate plan to subordinate Buddhism and maintain the supremacy of the Vedas, which the shramanic movement Buddha said were not supreme, Hindus today are fed the beautiful story that the Buddha -- who rejected the Brahmin (brahamana) parth for the shaman (shramana) path -- was merely a Hindu, another avatar, an incarnation of the god Lord Vishnu. By fitting him into the Hindu pantheon like the all-pleasing personality of the dark Lord Krishna, which means "dark," no one investigates the Buddha's unique message thinking that he was teaching Hinduism. The Buddha flatly denied being a god, an avatar or incarnation of a god, a deva (celestial being), or a teacher of the Vedas. Instead of organizing a school of "temple priests" engaged in complex ritual, the Buddha advocated male and female bands of spiritual "wanderers" rejecting the authority of the Vedas, the ownership of lands, or settled temple lives. This is not to say that this is exactly what Buddhist monastics have done anyway. Rather than living in the forest, wandering far from home to shake free of parochialism and attachments.]
In fulfillment of his duties as an Indian youth, he studied under various brāhmin gurus [who served the king and educated his son] and learned the basics of Indian knowledge, or as much, that is, as may have been divulged to a child of non-brāhmin birth. [The Vedas would have been kept secret from non-Brahmin caste individuals.]

Honoring his commitment to the chaste student life (brahmācharya-āsrama) [12], Gautama [at 16] then entered the second of the four obligatory stages (āshrama) for a male caste-Indian [13]. This is the grihastha-āshrama or "householder-stage" when a young man agrees to accept a wife and assume the duties as the head of a household.

For the sake of posterity, he was to father a son [somehow only getting around to it 13 years later]. Now the third life-stage, known as vanaprastha-āshrama (literally, "forest-dweller stage"), is reserved for the time when the hairs on a man's head begin to turn grey, and when his eldest son [a newborn, one day old] is himself well established with a wife and son of his own. [The evidence here shows that Siddhartha was not following the stages only Brahmins follow.]

But it seems the Bodhisattva, or "Buddha-to-be," was to gloss the second and third stages over and scarcely discharge his caste obligation to the minimal extent of stealthily peeping through the door of the chamber where his wife lay recovering from their first born child. And there she slept, the enchanting Yashodhara, suckling her newborn son, Rāhula ("fetter"), the very night "that fetter" appeared [14].

This was also the night when out of paramount disgust for the decadent life he had hitherto led, the prince absconded from the prison of his palace and plunged headlong into the fourth and final stage -- sannyāsa-āshrama -- of a male caste-Hindu's life. Sannyāsin status marks the act of completely severing from family and total renunciation in the quest for self-realization.

[The Buddha, however, came back for his family seven years later, when he himself had achieved the ultimate liberation from all suffering. As a result his return his son, wife, mother, father, and many of his relatives renounced the world and their royal lives and became fully enlightened.]

Now some years later when the Supremely Enlightened Buddha learned that his father had fallen gravely ill, he hastened to the town of his parental home and remained steadfast at his dying father's side. Later, in accordance with the Hindu custom, he conducted the rites of the funeral pyre.
  • [We are not familiar with any such "Hindu rites" being conducted by the Buddha. Everyone was cremated then. Does anyone allege that the Buddha split the skull's corpse to release the soul to heaven as sons do today?]
PART II: The Forbidden Buddha
Yogic chakras, and kundalini (
One cannot be blind to the obvious fact the Buddhist religion was born in India, that epochal land of world renunciation where philosophers, ascetics, and a vast array of religious visionaries have long set their sights on a pristine spontaneity called moksha (liberation) or nirvāna.
  • [Neither Afghanistan nor Nepal would have been "India." There was no united India at that time, just 16 independent and warring states or provinces called maha-janapadas, "the great footholds of the clans," extended family conquests groups tried to hold. The Buddha came from the frontiers of this collection of independent states.]
Nor can one forget that in its primacy, the Buddha's Doctrine [Dharma] was not conceived as a new religion. What is widely regarded today as "Buddhism," should actually be viewed as the natural outgrowth of a great cenobitical heritage dating back roughly 3,000 years.
  • [There was no "religion" in India. That concept was introduced by the British, who insisted on calling the many and disparate views of the Indus River civilization "Indu-ism," taking unrelated spiritual practices and calling them a religion.]
It is also apparent that the Buddha himself foresaw and feared the eventual error of his yogic movement transforming itself into a full-blown religious cult. Attempting to forestall this inevitable distortion, Gautama strongly forbade his followers to fashion images of his human form. We know from history that for many generations following the Buddha's physical demise [parinirvana, final liberation, which was a death nor a rebirth] a tremendous reverence was maintained among his devotees to observe this important prohibition.

Yet slowly and steadily as adherents grew, they began to commemorate him -- not directly, but implicitly, first through memorial burial mounds for the enlightened (stupas) or for small portions of the Buddha's ashes, later by cut stone bas-reliefs of the figurative Bo tree.

At Sañchi, for example, to handle the Buddha's ineffable being, carved expanses of sea and sky were suggested, around which adoring devotees were shown with their palms pressed together or prostrate. Sometime later at places like Bhārhut and Amarāvatī, as well as at Sañchi, a significant thematic advance was achieved, as the patrons of the arts dared to go a step further and begin to hint at the Buddha's presence through an empty chair or throne.

Other typical representations were a lotus flower, a single pillar, or a juggernaut wheel (dharma-chakra). Now, the final stage of this circumscribing urge to fashion an image of the great teacher expressed itself through his hallowed footprints as impressed upon a lotus-shaped pedestal.

* * *
In 326 BCE Alexander of Macedonia entered the region of Northwest Pakistan [until 1948's Partition a part of India, which the British annexed to divide Hindus from Muslims and keep them at war with one another], known in those times as Gāndhāra. Gāndhāra's chief city, Taxila (also spelled Takshashila), was wealthy. It had already been a prosperous and well-governed cultural center and an important meeting place of Indian and Mediterranean cultures from the 5th century BCE.

Taxila (not far from present-day Islamabad) was also ancient India's most prestigious seat of learning and a place for rich families to send their [Brahmin] children to be taught by famous teachers. The Greek philosopher Anaxarchus, together with his protégé Pyrrho of Elis, traveled to this region in the train of Alexander's overland invasion.

There they mixed with the odd appearing gymnosophists, or "naked philosophers," plus a whole menagerie of other ascetics [15]. It is curious, however, that returning to Greece, they founded not a school of meditative mysticism, as one might readily expect, but the first Greek school of Scepticism [16].

From the time of this early Mediterranean influence, Indian monarchs and patrons of the arts acquired a passion for Greek sculptural genius. But it still took centuries before Buddha-statuary received large-scale commissions.
  • [By then Buddhism had spread to and strongly influenced Bactria and the Indo-Greco world. It is assumed that Greek sculptors Westernized the Buddha's image as seen in Gandhara art. But it seems more likely that that is how the Buddha really looked -- light skinned (golden), blue eyed, tall, and wearing a simple toga like robe covering. His features would have been more Central Asian (Afghan, Iranian, Northwest Indian) than East Asian as he so frequently came to be depicted.]
It was here at Gāndhāra that the world's first anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha appeared, strongly redolent of Apollo the Orator. This Gāndhāran school of Buddhist sculpture evolved its own artistic style by infusing the prevailing Indian Naturalism with the spirit of Greco-Roman Realism.

Immediately following this Gāndhāran breakthrough, the older Mathurā school of Indian sculpture, whose centre was located on the banks of the Yamunā River at Mathurā, also succumbed to the irresistible urge to fashion the corporal form of Gautama as the embodiment of nirvāna [17].

In summary, it is crucial to grasp the chronological fact that "the representation of the historical Buddha in human form first took place about the 2nd century of the Christian era" -- that is, about 600 years after Gautama's [final nirvana] parinirvana [18]. It took six long centuries for Buddhists to finally transgress their founder's prohibition and make images of him.

Yet at long last the sentiment of devotion (bhakti) prevailed as the Bauddha-bhaktas or "devotees of the Buddha" surrendered en masse to that huge pan-Indian religious urge to enshrine the mortal form of the immortal -- the embodiment of enlightenment, the supreme personification of holiness (Sanskrit, purushottama).

"Yoga: The Art of Transformation," Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 2014
Buddha and Brahman
Nirvāna is the goal, indeed, the summum bonum of all ancient Indian spiritual systems.
  • [The Buddha called the Buddhist goal nirvana (complete freedom) to distinguish it from what other teachers and teachings were calling "liberation." The great goal in India is moksha, "liberation," "emancipation," "deliverance," "freedom" from rebirth (samsara). The Vedas, the Brahmin priests, and later Hindus came to confuse their highest goal with Buddhism's highest goal. But the Hindu goal is rebirth in a heaven or plane with Brahma, "God" as a personal being. More sophisticated persons might say with Brahman, "GOD" as an impersonal reality. The Buddha taught that this is in no way an end to rebirth. Any such existence will not be eternal. Only freedom from ALL forms of rebirth can be considered the end of dukkha (disappointment, unsatisfactoriness, suffering). So the Buddha used this unusual but not unheard of term nirvana, "going out." Nowadays it is confounded with any religion's ultimate goal, but it has a very specific meaning in Buddhism. Other religions' definition of the term will necessarily differ according to their understanding of what is the highest state one can attain. The historical Buddha was not the first teacher of nirvana nor will he be the last. All buddhas teach the path to enlightenment and the goal of nirvana as the complete end of rebirth. But Mahayana Buddhism, so thoroughly influenced by modern Hinduism and Vedic Brahmanism, will insist on clothing the historical Buddha's teaching in Vedic Sanskrit terms as if the Buddha only came to validate and disclose the Vedas like Jesus is said to have come to make known the Bible and change not an iota of it. The Buddha radically changed, rejected, added, and explained old views and Vedic traditions. While Hinduism co-opts the Buddha, Buddhism maintains the distinction between what the Buddha came to teach about actual final "liberation" from what all other Indian and Indus Valley Civilization teachers had ever said.]
From the post-Vedic period to our present day, it is important to grasp that throughout this long 3,000 year history, all sincere Indian seekers of the truth, whatever their sectarian persuasions may have been, pursued one thing and one thing alone: a consummate reality beyond human pain. [The ancient Indians found it in heaven.]

What is more, they sought this by means of yoga [union with the divine]. Ernest Wood, an Englishman who spent 38 years studying yoga in India, has explained that the Sanskrit term nirvāna is NOT at all confined to Buddhist scriptures or Buddhist philosophy. [Other traditions use the same word in their own way; therefore, their goals are not the same; they just go by the same name.]

For it was plainly used in pre-Buddhist India and thereby plays a part in all Indian philosophy [19]. [The Buddha did not invent the word. He just gave it a special meaning no one had any idea about, with the exception of the extraordinarily rare pacceka buddhas, who are nonteaching, independently enlightened ascetics.]

Gautama never denied the existence of an unconditioned reality or naked truth, the knowledge of which could usher the boon of emancipation to ignorant man. [The Buddha was, in fact, the first to posit the existence of an "unconditioned reality," which he called nirvana in a unique sense of the word.]

It was just that he showed extreme discretion by declining to openly speak on this in fear that discussion would only obstruct a person's passage to the goal itself. This is why the Buddha categorically denied the possibility of either discussing or experiencing Absolute Truth so long as man was not yet awakened.

Now, if we were allowed to unquestionably assume the veracity of the ancient Pāli scriptures and bar the possibility that the Buddha may have said things unrecorded therein, we could also infer that the Buddha denounced neither doctrines of ātman (self) nor brahman (ultimate reality).
  • [The Buddha did almost nothing but denounce all doctrines of self. For it is exactly these wrong views that obstruct one from awakening and perceiving the ultimate reality of nirvana, which is the liberating end of all formations and all suffering. We wish for their to be a self above all wishes and that this self carry on for eternity. But the reality is that there is no such self. Buddhas uniquely teach a Dharma unheard of in the world among all its diverse doctrines -- and this is the doctrine of anātman or, in Pali, anatta, "not-self." Hindus like Christians and Muslims believe a "soul" returns to a creator of the universe "God." They call this supreme being Brahma when it is personalized, Brahman when it is not. The ātman is the soul that returns to the "source." The Buddha rejected these notions, but he did not do so as a skeptic, atheist, or materialist. He rejected these common views as a mystic, who saw that reality is so much more of a puzzle than our logic can handle. There is no reasoning our way to ultimate freedom. That liberating vision comes from purification through the systematic development of concentration and liberation through the development of insight.]
Rather, the Buddha only aimed to reproach such professors for their unrestrained loquacity as regards to themes that he felt ought rather be treated as ineffable. Maintaining that ātman "exists, is real and permanent," was for the Buddha a false assertion.

Conversely, to assert that ātman "does not exist, is unreal and unlasting," was equally regarded as a false assertion.
  • [This in no way is equal! It is ultimately true that there is no self. But conventionally speaking, of course, one speaks of a self as if it were real. Talking in both ways does not nullify either. It may be compared to Newtonian and quantum physics. Each has its place. Both are true. But quantum trumps Newtonian. But quantum equations will not hold on the larger scale of our common experience. In a sense, our "common" experience is not real. There is no use in saying that to those who are not in training to see reality as it really is.]
Yet trying to determine what the Buddha did hold as the ultimate goal of the spiritual seeker, it could only be "freedom" in this very life.
  • [Nonsense! Freedom in one life is no freedom at all. What the Buddha calls freedom is freedom from rebirth, freedom in all lives. The ultimate goal of nirvana applies to the life in which one realizes it, which happens during life not after death the way heaven or rebirth are only personally verified after death. Nirvana is experienced now, yet the freedom one gains by realizing it applies both now and in the future.]
Such a [person] is known as a jīvan-mukta, a "liberated being" who in the scriptural words of the Buddha himself, "[is] even in this life cut off, nirvān-ized, aware of happiness within himself and living with his soul identified with brahman or godhead [20].
  • What nonsense! And the quote is not closed. First, there is no soul, no self. This is the teaching of the Buddha. The supreme reality, and we might follow the Vedic system and call it impersonal Brahman, is not identified with. There is nothing enduring to identify with, AND there is no enduring "being" to do any such identifying. This is what is unique about the Buddha's Dharma. This is why it so radically veers from the Vedic Brahmanism and Jainism of the Buddha's day and the Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and scientific Materialism of today.]
The Cosmic Axis
Buddhist cosmology of "world-systems"
Buddhist India was a very different world a millennium after Gautama's passing. A baroque revolution of vast dimension was in full cultural swing. Yogis preached a new alchemical philosophy that was based on the notion of a "cosmic body." Their philosophy also laid tremendous importance on the mystical implications of prāna as "energy" or "life-force."

This tantric philosophical advancement is seen to have exerted a profound influence on every aspect of Indian cultural life. The varied Buddhist schools were by no means aloof from this amazing pan-Indian revolution.

In the [dubious, apocryphal, non-standard] esoteric text of Hevajra-Tantra, the Buddha, called Bhagavān [a title applying to any respected spiritual teacher], is made to extol the virtues of physical fitness. He says, "Without a perfectly healthy body, one cannot know bliss."
  • [Jhana is difficult to gain with a perfect body, how much more difficult with an ailing body? But this assertion does not make sense. It seems to imply that "yoga" is physical, when in fact it is spiritual with a 1/8th physical component.]
Furthermore, in the compelling symbolism of Buddhist Tantra [which was incredibly influenced by ancient views derived from the Vedas and the personal visions of many seers and Brahmin philosophers], the body of the Buddha is identified with the cosmic universe.

His spinal column, called the merudanda, is said to be a single bone that represents a reality beyond time and space, "a withdrawn, autonomous zone of nondifferential Void" called śūnya.
  • [One of the great problems with Mahayana Buddhism is that it does not seem to recognize how much of its philosophy and how many of its "innovations" are simply Vedic Brahmanism reasserting itself over the teachings of the historical Buddha. Rather than realizing it, the historical Buddha is displaced by a pantheon of new buddhas, bodhisattvas, deities, and revered "saints."]
This mystical backbone is further described as a secret cavern within Mount Kailas. Here esoteric truth is revealed to the yogin while absorbed in the unexcelled state of meditation. This also explains why, according to a legend, the Buddha was unable to turn his head, but had to turn the whole of his body because his spinal column was fixed motionless, like the Cosmic Pillar [21].
  • [Indeed, while walking, one of the qualities of the Buddha was that, like a noble elephant, he did not look about or turn his head if addressed but instead turned his entire body. It would surprise us, for it is certainly not reported as a spinal problem, if he were unable to turn. It could be possible given that his back hurt increasingly, the result of karma from a previous life.]
The Cobra
Kundalini is a serpentine energy moving through opening chakras (thekundaliniprocess)
Kundalini-chakras meditation (
As referred to elsewhere, the spinal cord plays a crucial role in the techniques of yoga. Tremendous emphasis is therefore placed on the 33 bones called vertebrae that make up the human spinal column [22]. In Guru Chod's Classical Thai Yoga-Tantra, as well, keen attention is placed on developing an elegant posture. Why?

At the bottom of the spine lies the triangular-shaped sacrum. Sacrum comes from the ancient Latin medical term Os sacrum (lit. "holy bone"). This shows that the ancients held special regard for the hand-size base of the vertebral column. Sacrum thus denotes a "sacred place" in the human body, its corporal structure.

Actually, the present writer finds the human backbone a highly attractive structural design. If extracted from the skeleton and carefully examined, its slim configuration from the tip of the coccyx as it gently curves upward through the sacral, lumbar, dorsal, and cervical vertebrae, shows amazing likeness to an up-raised cobra. But this is only if a person's posture is correct. If the posture is slouched, then it doesn't look so elegant. With posture well poised, the linear curve has a striking resemblance to a magnificent up-raised cobra.

Perhaps this is why the symbol of the cobra has always played an important role in the ancient cultures of Egypt, India and other Asian lands. It is the naja of Egypt, the nāga of India. It is also known as kundalinī, a "the coiled little she-serpent" sleeping at the base of the spine. With its dilated neck taking the shape of a hood, the cobra has always been a royal emblem, feminine, majestic, and deeply mysterious. The cobra is therefore an archetypal symbol for the transfigurative power of primordial nature.

What is a "masterpiece" of Buddhist art? (
Though generally unacknowledged in Buddhist traditions, this universal symbolism nonetheless emerges in the well-known legend of the Mucalinda naga-snake and the Buddha. We relate the episode as follows.

Cosmic axis world tree Yggdrasil (
In the sixth week after his Illumination, the Buddha dwelled in resplendent bliss beneath the Mucalinda tree near Gaya as a violent storm broke out. He was so fully absorbed in meditation (jhana) that he did not realize that the nearby waters of Lake Mucalinda were about to swallow him up.

But the nāga of the lake, also called Mucalinda, coiled his giant body protectively around the Buddha and shielded him with his seven heads.

An esoteric reading of the ancient legend yields two interesting points. It first of all implies that the Buddha was not finished with his psychic metamorphosis six weeks after his great enlightenment.
  • [Indeed, the Buddha's attainment was complete but not his ability to teach the path for others to be able to realize the same attainment. He was to spend the remainder of his 45 years developing the ability to teach effectively and to adjust the message to the temperaments of those he taught.]
Secondly, it shows that the rising serpent is unquestionably related to the yoga technique of arousing the cosmic energy called kundalinī. One is not alone in this interpretation. The writer Wibke Lobo has also considered how

"Given the great significance that yoga must have had for the initiates, it would be strange if the image of the erect serpent had not been brought into association with the awakening of cosmic energy. In this connection it would also be possible to recognize a system of mystical numbers in the seven heads and three coils [of the nāga], for they can be linked to the set of seven centres of energy (chakras) in the human body and to the three highest of these in the throat and head, where Enlightenment takes place" [23].

Nowhere has the profundity of this esoteric yoga been more passionately expressed than through this stunning image of the Buddha protected by the nāga. It may also be referred to as Kundalinī Buddha.

The [naga-worshipping] Khmer in particular have shown great passion in expressing the trance-like (jhana) nature of this motif with extraordinary sculptural genius. Elegantly adorned with diadem, earrings, and necklace, the Buddha sits splendidly with his hands folded calmly in his lap in the posture of dhyāna-yoga.

Three thick coils of the nāga's body form the Buddha's throne while the serpent's dilated seven-headed hood rears up behind the Buddha's head in a protective, almost cocooning manner.

It is also worth noting that during his lifetime Gautama the Buddha was actually not known as "the Buddha" but as Shākyaputra Shrāmana ("the spiritual wanderer, son of the Shakya people").

And while shākyaputra designates the Buddha's ethnic origins (lit. a "man of the Shākya clan"), shrāmana denotes his ascetic vocation, vis-à-vis a primitive pre-Aryan mode of ascetic. We furthermore suggests that the Buddha be regarded not only as history's seminal shaman [24] but as a highly developed Tantrik-yogin.

The Tantric Conception
In those days, however, the conception of "tantra" was certainly different than what it is today. In its very early usage a "tantric practitioner" denoted a "weaver" with the strong connotations of making magic.
Indeed, a basic facet of the tantric conception is that of the cosmos as a boundless fabric of magical filament. What is more, this magic may be spun within the human body, precisely through the mystical techniques of yoga [25]. The tantric conception is therefore based on an alchemical [26] understanding of the human corporal structure as a "continuum of energy." This energy or life-force is essentially pure as it issues from a metaphoric matrix-loom -- a unified-field interwoven, as it were, with the backdrop of infinity. Phenomenologically, existence is perceived as the panoply of thing-events pervaded by a force-field of homogenic resonance.
Tantra means tapping this resonant source and entering the fabric of life altogether; and in this way, every bit of thread and scrap gets turned into a privileged moment [27] and inducement to contribute to this seamless continuity of being. Through giving, which is faith, one is ushered to the fringes where the antipodes eclipse in a paradox of inexplicable bliss.

Stretching the Lute Strings
Gentle Tantric Yoga exercises can open the heart for those interested in deeper intimacy, merging, union, having a taste of selflessness and temporary release (WQ)

As tantra evolved into a historical movement, it assumed the vast proportions of a baroque revolution and achieved far-reaching and sustained effects in the cultural fields of philosophy, science, literature, and art. It was during the 3rd-century advent of tantra that an explicitly sexual idiom emerged together with an openly erotic iconography.

[Tantric sex]
Not the Buddha. Tantric yogi, tantrika (Buddhism Magazine)
This highly provocative meta-sensual approach has continued to arouse public interest to our day. This is currently reflected in a market driven climate of tabloid spirituality that has managed to recast the basic conception into a celebrated New Age commodity fetish apparently intent on the comprehensive tantrification of the masses.
Actually tantra is very rich in meaning, but it can also be frustratingly vague and elusive, hence compelling. But truthfully, sex plays a very small role. It is just that everyone is so interested in sex! What is more, for some the mere mention of sex makes them blush because religion has taught them that sex is indecent and opposed to the spiritual life.
Tantra sees it differently. Tantra views the action of the libido as the primal human urge. So, sex is the ground base; sex is step one. If you miss step one you miss it all. Where religion has wedged opposition and dichotomy, tantra seeks to cordalize polarities. Tantra is the place where two become one. This is succinctly espoused in the well-known linga-yoni motif signifying universal unity. More literal themes are, again, the Buddha protected by the Naga and the candidly erotic Maithuna icon where man and woman -- yogin and yoginī -- are depicted as conjoined in mystical-erotic embrace.
Now, it needs to be restated and boldly underscored that in the remotely pre-Tantric time of the Buddha, tantra held a very different set of meanings. In its earliest usage it is interesting to note that tantra signified the gentle pull and stretch of the tendons. A tendon is, of course, a sinewy cord that attaches a muscle to a bone. And while etymologically derived from the Latin teneo, tendon is also related to Sanskrit tantra. Poetically tantra means, "stretching the lute strings," the lyrical subtitle of the present work [28].

After years of experience I have come to the conclusion that it is best to support people through the physical body. Everything is stored there anyway. Sex only represents a small part of tantra, but it still plays and very important role. And presuming, if I may, you are all sexual beings, then sex is something that needs to be affirmed.
Since you can't avoid sex, why not use it valuably; why not use the force of sex as a force for meditation? First learn to harmonize the sexual energy with your broader, eyes-open meditation; for many it's the only way to enter inside. Throughout your day, and even during sex, you can think to yourselves, " meditation..."
Sex is a cardinal aspect of yoga. Through yoga, sex becomes a current of higher understanding.

Angirasa – the proto-Tantric Buddha
Future Buddha, Vajrayana, Diskit monastery, Indian Himalayas (MickeySuman/flickr)
Now for an even more compelling illustration of the tantrification of the Buddha sect, I turn to the earliest Buddhist scriptures that depict the Buddha as Angirasa, the Master of kundalinī [29].
Angirasa is a Sanskrit-Pāli epithet applied now and then to Gautama the Buddha. It debuts in a highly intriguing scene from the early passages of the Vinaya-Pitaka [Disciplinary Code]. The Buddha is wandering alone through the countryside shortly after his celebrated awakening. Without a place to sleep one night, he asks the head of an ashram for accommodation. The director agrees and gives him the key to the sauna, the only place available. There, says the scripture, Angirasa passes the night in the yoga of psychic heat "with brilliant flames streaming forth from his body" [30]. In fact, the Buddha generates so much heat that smoke starts spewing through the roof of the sauna. Then the resident hermits all rush out and remark to each other, "That shaman must have done himself in." Not so.
"At the end of the night" the text declares, "when the flames of kundalinī were finally extinguished, the multicoloured flames of Him of psychic power remained ever radiant....Dark green, crimson, yellow, red and the colours of crystal all shone from Angirasa's body" [31].
Here we have proof that the yogic technique of producing psychic heat, or kundalinī tapas, is by no means a mere baroque innovation. I have studied the ancient Majjhima-nikāya with intent. Though expressing itself in an archaic and ill-defining idiom, it describes nonetheless the heat or tapas obtained through the practice prānāyāma
In the scriptural Dhammapada, too, the Buddha is described as "burning" [33].

The Starting Point
As discussed in detail in Guru Chod's Anuloma Viloma Pranayama (1984) [34], the important starting point of this yoga of inner-transformation is prānāyāma [breath and subtle-energy control]. Prānāyāma has its foundations in the control of prāna [chi, spiritus, life force, not the literal breath but a subtle energy accompanying it and as invisible as it].

At the beginning stage one attempts to control the physical manifestations of this extraordinary life-force within one's body. At the more advanced stage, the practitioner attempts to gain control over all external nature.
Said the guru, "Let there be no vague idea as concerns the potential of the subject at hand. A person can acquire absolute control over the entirety of nature through the practice of yoga."

Gilded Buddha, Sukhothai, ancient Thailand
[1] Promporn Pramualaratana, "Confronting Life's Problems Through Yoga," Bangkok Post, Sunday supplement (12 July 1987).
[2] In fact according to a Sanskrit dictionary, yoga has no less than 17 subsidiary meanings. Theos Bernard in Heaven Lies Within Us (New York, 1940) lists the 17 varied definitions of yoga as follows: (1) Union or methods of union. (2) Any outside thing united to another outside thing. (3) The mixing of one thing with another as with sugar to water. (4) The uniting of cause with effects as with sparks and the fire producing them. (5) A method of keeping things in their proper place. (6) A symbolism with an inner meaning like a code or proverb. (7) To hide one thing and try to show another, as a conjurer would do, or to signify a thing without telling it as in a hint. (8) Different significance of words that vary according to different minds. (9) Physical exercise. (10) Proper composition of language to convey description. (11) Any kind of skill or dexterity. (12) Methods to protect one's possessions, physical, mental, spiritual. (13) To find means of acquiring things by deep contemplation, as the solution of a mathematical problem. (14) Conversion of one substance to another as in chemistry. (15) To unite two souls for any purpose. (16) To produce a current of thought for a specific attainment; to take a specific object or concept and make the mind follow it to the exclusion of all else. (17) To suspend all activity (mental) and to concentrate the heart upon one particular thing.
[3] "[H]aving seen that the Isi had entered. See I.B. Horner, trans., Mahavagga (I, 15, 6), The Pali Text Society, 1951: 34.
[4] Suan Mokh, literally suan, "garden" of mokh (Skt.: moksha) "release," "liberation." The monastery (wat) is in Chaiya district, Surat Thani province, southern Thailand.
[5] Emile Senart, "Bouddhism et Yoga," in La Revue de l’historie des religions, Vol. XLII. Paris, 1900.
[6] Kanjitsu Iijima, Buddhist Yoga, Tokyo, Japan Publications, Inc., 1975: 21.
[7] Ananda Guruge, The Society of the Rāmāyana, New Delhi, Abhinav Publications, 1991: 289, brackets mine.
[8] Erich Frauwallner, History of Indian Philosophy, trans. from the original German by V.M. Bedekar, New Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1973, 1:321.
[9] Lama Anāgārika Govinda, Creative Meditation and Multi-Dimensional Consciousness, Theosophic Publishing House, 1976.
[10] Nalinaksha Dutt, The Spread of Buddhism and The Buddhist Schools, Rajesh, Delhi, 1980: 10, brackets mine.
[11] Having elsewhere discussed the etymology of "Hindu" and arrived to the conclusion that is simply means "Indian," my current usage is obviously rhetorical. For the very idea of "Hinduism" existing at the remotely historic period of the Buddha would be, as Gombrich rightly states, "wildly anachronistic." We should therefore not be bothered by it. See Richard F. Gombrich, How Buddhism Began (The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings), London, Atlantic Highlands, N.J., Athlone Press, 1997: 15.
[12] The four [main] Indian social castes, or varnas, are brāhmana, kshatriya, vaishya, and sūdra.
[13] Āshrama literally means "stage" or "station" and refers to the recognized stages of life that affect Indian males of the three higher castes. There are four such āshrama. They are brahmācharya-āshrama (student-stage), grihastha-āshrama (householder-stage), vanaprastha-āshrama (forest-dweller stage), and sannyāsa-āshrama (surrender-stage).
[14] In the Pāli language rāhula means [bond or] "fetter."
[15] Parivrājaka is the broad designation for early Indian "wandering ascetic."
[16] See John Burnet, "Sceptics," Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 11. Edited by John Hastings, Edinburg, 1920.
Gandhara Buddha, first anthropomorphization
[17] Scholarly debate is actually not settled over which of these two schools, Gāndhāra or Mathurā, was the first to fashion the anthropomorphic Buddha. Leaving this question to future research, we can certainly remark that each school evolved its own independent artistic mode of rendering of the image of the Buddha. See E. Dale Saunders, Mudra (A Study of Symbolic Gestures in Japanese Buddhist Sculpture), New York, Bollingen Foundation, 1960: 13.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Ernest Wood, Great Systems of Yoga, New York, Citadel Press, 1967: 25.
[20] See I. B. Horner, trans., Gradual Sayings III (Anguttara-Nikāya) (Oxford, The Pāli Text Society, 1994: II, 206. The equation here implied is, "He who sees Buddha, sees the Truth," or Buddha = Brahmā = Dharma. In this way, the Buddha is not like Brahmā, but is Brahmā, "the Lord of the World" the omniscient master of dharma, "Natural Law." The Vedic term dharma means, "to hold" or "support" -- it is that which forms a foundation and upholds. Dharma thus represents the Universal form or infrastructure. Dharma is the interpreted order of the world. In theological parlance, Dharma equals God. Epistemologically, dharma indicates the scaffolding of human thought and conception intent on the knowledge of ultimate things. The knower thus becomes the incorporation of the knowable, "a self-enlightened being" (samma-sambuddha).
[21] This is also known as the axis mundi, the primordial symbol that is always placed at the centre of the world, and which supports and connects the three cosmic spheres of heaven, earth, and underworld. As a "pillar" it insures support of the universal order. It is also identified with the spinal column so that the centre of the universe is located as a point located at the centre of the heart, or as an axis traversing the chakras.

[22] The vertebral bones are piled one upon the other thus forming a pillar for the support of the cranium and trunk. They are connected together by spinous, traverse and articular processes and by pads of fibro-cartilage between the bones. The arches of the vertebrae form the hollow cylinder of a bony covering for the passage of the spinal cord (Swami Sivananda, MD).
[23] Wibke Lobo, "The Figure of Hevajra and Tantric Buddhism," in Helen Ibbitson Jessup and Thierry Zéphir, eds., Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia: Millennium of Glory, London, Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1997, brackets mine.
[24] How else are we to interpret the story of the Buddha returning to his native city, Kapilavastu, the first time after his Grand Illumination? He is said to have demonstrated "miraculous powers" in order to win his [relatives] over. Before the eyes of his astonished audience, he rose into the air and cut his body to pieces. All of the pieces fell to the ground, and then he put them back together. [The story is usually told of the "twin miracles," emitting both water and fire simultaneously, which other yogis are said not to be able to do.] Linguistically, "shaman" seems to have entered our European lexicons by way of Russian, but only subsequently as received from the language of the Tungus, a Mongolian people widely spread across Eastern Siberia. But associations with the word may be derived from the Āryan languages of Northern India where the Sanskrit term śhrāmana pertains to a movement of ascetic wanders that developed in India from the 6th century BCE. See Mircea Eliade, Shamanism, Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, trans. from the original French (Paris, 1951) by Wilard R. Trask, Bollingen Series LXXVI, New York: Pantheon Books, 1964: 311-41.

According to George Thompson: "Though the verbal root shrām- appears to have good Indo-European roots [cf. Greek kremamai, kremnos; Old German hirmen, and discussion in Manfred Mayrhofer, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen, 2 vols. Heidelberg, C. Winter, 1986: II, 664 ], shrāmana itself is unattested in Old Vedic [although Rig Veda hasashrāmana, but in the sense 'untiring,' not 'monk']. First attestation of the meaning 'monk' is the middle-Vedic text Shatapatha Brāhamana.

It appears that Sanskrit shrāmana is an old Indo-European word that developed in India a novel semantics to convey a novel cultural institution, that of the monk [monastic]. This is not to say that similar notions did not precede this one. Shrāmana as 'monk' became a much-travelled culture-word, accompanying the Buddhist migrations. The Greeks knew the word [Samanaioi, Sarmanoi, etc]. It shows up in Buddhist Sogdian texts, in Khotanese, as well as in Modern Persian. It is found in Tocharian, Chinese, and Altaic [Tungusic]. It eventually turns up quite early in the languages of Europe... I am about to publish [in the Journal of the American Oriental Society] a paper on an old Indo-Iranian word *drigu, 'poor, dependent, faithful' [a term of self-designation used by Zoroastrians, including Zarathustra himself], from which eventually emerged the word which in English surfaces as 'dervish.' In fact, in some Iranian languages, derivatives of *drigu were used to gloss the term shramana. See George Thompson, Re: zramaNa," email, Indology (Yahoo Group), an academic list for the discussion of classical India, msg # 1917, 12 Feb. 2002, editing, brackets and modified transliteration mine. See also Thompson's more recent "Adhrigu and Drigu: on the Semantics of an Old Indo-Iranian Word," Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 122, no.2 Apr-Jun. See also Sritantra, 2006, "From Holy Beggar to Bhikkhu to Dervish," a Review Note on George Thompson's "Adhrigu and Drigu: on the Semantics of an Old Indo-Iranian Word," Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 122, no.2 Apr-Jun,
[25] Cf. Mircea Eliade, "In the tantric conception, the cosmos appears as a vast fabric of magical forces; and the same forces can be awakened or organized in the human body, through the techniques of mystical physiology" (Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, trans. from the original French (Paris, 1954) by Wilard R. Trask. Bollingen Series LVI, New York, Pantheon Books, 1964: 216).
[26] Alchemy is an Arabic/Egyptian word: al, "the" + chemy, "transformation." Indian alchemy is known as rasavāda or rasāyāna. Its science centers on performing certain operations and concocting drugs, most of which are taken from plants, in order to obtain the "elixir of life." Its practical aims are restoring health, regaining youth, and extending longevity. See Edward C. Sachau, trans. from the original Arabic of Alberuni’s India, 2 vols. London, 1910: I, 188-89, as cited in Eliade, Yoga, 278, n.
[27] Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, Paris, 1942, English trans., 1955.
[28] Compare. Latin teneo with English extend and with Vedic feminine form tanti, 'a string made of tendon,' and with Sanskrit tantri (Thai, dontri), which means "music," hence the clear allusion to stretching the lute strings. Compare also Sanskrit sūtra [string, suture, throughline, connecting idea].
[29] While angi straightforwardly means 'limb' or 'parts,' the emotive sense of rāsa courts interpretive flare. Broadly handled as 'essence, brilliance, fluid, semen, sap, living water -- the ambrosial seed of Śhiva himself,' rāsa finds its native soil in the heart of Indian aesthetic discourse on rhythm, beauty, time and taste, as alludes to 'that which distinguishes a work of art from mere statement' (Thomas Merton, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, New York, New Directions, 1973: 396, n).
[30] Angato rasiyo samaranti. See discussion in Edward J. Thomas, The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, (London, 1927), Delhi, Asian Educational Services, 2000: 22.
[31] This is my interpretive translation of [the] Majjhima-Nikāya (I, 244). The text clearly speaks of the magical "heat" produced by holding the breath. Here we see the ancient and widespread notions of "magical sweating" and "inner light" found among various shamanic peoples. Among the yogic traditions of Tibet toumo (gtūm-mö) is the equivalent to "psychic heat." See I.B. Horner, trans., The Book of the Discipline (Vinaya-Pitaka), Vol. 4, and Mahāvagga, 35, n. See also [her] trans. of Gradual Sayings III (Anguttara-Nikāya), 175: "Lo! See Angirasa, illuminant/As the midday sun, all radiant." For the Buddha "burning," see also Eliade, Yoga, 331.
[32] I.B. Horner, trans. The Collection of Middle Length Sayings (Majjhima-Nikāya) 3 vols., The Pāli Text Society Translation Series 29, 30, and 31, London, The Pāli Text Society, 1954-59: 1, 244.
[33] The Dhammapada, verse 387, trans. Juan Mascaro, London, Penguin Books, 1973. For more on the subject of "psychic heat" or tapas, see N.J. Allen, "The Indo-European Prehistory of Yoga," in International Journal of Hindu Studies 2, 1. St-Hyacinthe, Quebec, World Heritage Press, 1998: 1-20. In his article, Allen approaches the subject of tapas from the standpoint of an 'Indo-European cultural comparativist.' He compares the heroic ordeals of Odysseus with ascetics from pre-historic Indian traditions. Hence when "he sleeps in his pile of leaves, the Greek hero is likened to a firebrand (dalon) carefully kept alight under a heap of ashes (5.487)." Allen then points out a series of Svetāmbara Jain [the more ascetic school of Jainism] scriptural stories where a king that becomes an ascetic similarly "undertakes intense austerities and is likened to 'fire confined within a heap of ashes.' If accepted, writes Allen, "the rapprochement has bearing on the history of the notion of tapas (literally 'heat' [figuratively austerities])," n. 12.
[34] "Anuloma Viloma Pranayama (Alternate Breathing)" (

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