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Welcome to Edwin’s svādhyāya-śālā

Edwin conducts periodic, online studies of primary yoga philosophy texts (svādhyāya) aimed at those outside the academic community, especially yoga practitioners, non-specialists interested in Indian philosophy, general spiritual seekers, and the intellectually curious. The courses are free, and all are welcome, but those who have the means are expected in accordance with dharma to give a donation of their choice, as per tradition (guru dakiṇā), half of which will go to Edwin’s charity in India.

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The next six part, two-hour long svādhyāya sessions will be on the Upaniṣads. These are the earliest source Vedic texts wherein can be found the roots of all later Hinduism. It is in these texts that we find notions such as yogakarma, mokṣa, ātman, reincarnation, bhakti etc., first clearly expressed. All later Hindu schools of yoga trace their origins back to the Upaniṣads, so they stand as the foundation of all traditional Hindu spirituality. We can recall that in his first sütra, Patañjali uses the verbal noun anu-śāsanamThe Sanskrit prefix anu means the continuation of an activity – Patañjali is not claiming to be presenting a new method, but continuing the ancient teachings. This raises the question – continuing from where? It is, in fact, in the Upaniṣads that we find the earliest and most sacrosanct references to meditational practices that are the clear forerunners of what Patañjali later further systematizes and embellishes. The Upaniṣads are also the main canonical texts for the variegated Vedānta traditions, which base their distinctive understandings of the relationship between Brahman/Īśvara, the Absolute Truth; the ātman, the individual soul or consciousness in all embodied beings; and the world.

This course is primarily an opportunity to absorb our minds in some of the earliest spiritual insights and teachings in the literary history of humanity. It will engage the most famous and oft quoted selections from the primary Upaniṣads – reading passages from the longer and more archaic Upaniṣads, such as the Bṛhadāraṇyaka and Chāndogya, as well as the entirety of the shorter Upaniṣads, such as the Kaṭha, Muṇḍaka and Īśa. We will find the earliest seeds of Indian philosophy in these texts, as well as beautiful metaphorically delivered expressions of the spiritual quest.

The 6 sessions will begin Fri Oct 22, 6-8.00 PM for six consecutive Fridays (Oct 22nd, 29th; Nov 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th) as follows:

Session 1 – Introduction: the Vedic background. The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad

Session 2 – the Chāndogya, Taittirīya, Aitareya, & Kauṣītaki Upaniṣads

Session 3 – Kena & Praśna Upaniṣads.

Session 4 – Kaṭha Upaniṣad.

Session 5 – Īśa & Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣads

Session 6 – Muṇḍaka & Māndukya Upaniṣads

Students are requested to procure Patrick Olivelle’s English translation of the Upaniṣads (Oxford University Press Classics) as we will be reading passages from this as the mainstay of the course (the one with just the English translation is less than $10 – don’t get the one with the accompanying Sanskrit unless you wish to spend a lot more!!!).

The link for the workshop is:

https://rutgers.zoom.us/my/edbryant?pwd=NENRRVhkZVJzNzI0SmhIbEEwM1ZDUT09

Please pass this information along to anyone in your social circles who might be interested.  For information about future yoga svādhyāya sessions please provide your name and email address here.

(For information about workshops organized by yoga studios, see:
Workshops on study of Yoga texts organized by Yoga Studios.)

For previous svādhyāya courses as well as Rutgers courses uploaded online, click here.

Edwin’s Charity in India