Welcome to Edwin’s svādhyāya-śālā
On the ongoing request of those outside the academic community, especially yoga practitioners, non-specialists interested in Indian philosophy, general spiritual seekers, and the intellectually curious, Edwin conducts periodic, online studies of primary yoga philosophy texts (svādhyāya), in the mood of making Sanskrit knowledge systems accessible to anyone interested. The courses are free, and all are welcome to avail of them, but those who have the means and the inclination are welcome in accordance with dharma to voluntarily give an honorarium or donation of their choice, as per tradition (guru dakṣiṇā), half of which will go to Edwin’s charity in India.
Next Svādhyāya session: Nyāya Sūtras
Sept – Oct 2023
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The next svādhyāya will be on the Nyāya Sūtras.
Nyāya is the rationalist school of Vedic Philosophy (i.e., the intellectual tradition prioritizing anumāna, logic/inference from the three sources of knowledge mentioned by Patañjali in I.7).
All schools acknowledge that ultimately only yoga practices leading to direct personal experience will prove to a practitioner the claims made by scripture – such as the existence of an ātman or God. But, Nyāya stresses the importance of using coherent reason and clear thinking to choose our yogic path and metaphysics in the first place. So in the face of powerful intellectual challenges by e.g. Buddhists and materialists who reject notions of an eternal ātman and an Īśvara, Nyāya engages logic and reason to argue that a stronger case can be made for the existence of these entities rather than any philosophy denying their reality. In this svādhyāya, we will also encounter the centuries old debates between the Vedic schools and the Buddhists and materialists.
Thus, Nyāya represents the ‘rationalist’ strain of Vedic tradition, which is to say that Nyāya exclusively employs logic and inference in defense of Vedic Truth claims. From our point of view as practitioners, I suggest it is important to be familiar with the reason-based aspect of yoga philosophy. This is all the more so given that many intellectual currents in our own day and age hold that belief in a soul or God are irrational and outdated forms of thought, or philosophically untenable and indefensible. Hopefully, we will see that Nyāya’s arguments are still very much relevant to modern discussions on such perennial topics.
We will be reading the Nyāya Sūtras themselves as well as extracts from their traditional commentaries.
Schedule (All times are EST).
Note: Because of the time difference, sessions 2-5 will take place later than our past svādhyāyas, specifically, from 8-10.00 PM (since this is 5.30 AM in Vrindavan). Only session 1 will be at the regular time of 6-8.00 PM (note, too, there is a two week gap between session 1 and session 2).
Fri Sept. 8th, 6-8 PM Session 1
Topic: How do we gain reliable knowledge about the world or anything at all?
Reading (click on link): Chapter 1: Knowledge Sources
Fri Sept. 15th — No Svādhyāya
Fri Sept. 22nd, 8-10 PM Session 2
Doubt and the Philosophical Method
Topic: What constitutes doubt, and triggers the quest to seek Truth?
Reading (click on link): Chapter 2: Doubt and the Philosophical Method
Fri Sept. 29th, 8-10 PM Session 3
Defense of the Ātman
Topic: Why is belief in an eternal non-material ātman more rational than alternative explanations of human consciousness?
Reading (click on link): Chapter 4: Self
Fri Oct. 6th, 8-10 PM Session 4
Defense of Īśvara
Topic: What rational arguments justify belief in a supreme eternal Being?
Reading (click on link): Chapter 6: God
Fri Oct. 13th, 8-10 PM Session 5
The Right and the Good
Topic: What constitutes the ultimate Good for human beings?
Reading (click on link): Chapter 8: The Right and the Good
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(For information about workshops organized by yoga studios, see:
Workshops on study of Yoga texts organized by Yoga Studios.)
For previous svādhyāya courses uploaded online, click here.