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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 dakiṇā), half of which will go to Edwin’s charity in India.

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     Tales and Teachings from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa


Our Fall 2022 weekly svādhyāya will begin Friday Sept 16th, at the usual time, 6-8.00 PM.  This will be an 8 week series every Friday on the stories and teachings from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa – the text I know best, having studied and translated much of it over the decades (and, I might add, the text I embrace as the primary canonical source of guidance/svādhyāya  in my own personal spiritual journey).

As many of you know, the inspirational yoga sources in real-life Hinduism over the millennia were not the sūtra traditions, which were only ever studied by a tiny intellectual elite (scholastic male brāhmaṇas to be specific), but, rather, drawn from the genre of texts called the Purāṇas, even as these have not deeply permeated the western yogic landscape (for reasons we can discuss).  The Bhāgavata is by far the most prominent of the 18 main Purāṇas, in terms of its influence on all Indian literary, dance, artistic and other aesthetic traditions, as well as the Vedānta philosophical traditions, where it’s importance is underscored by the vast number of commentaries it has attracted (almost one hundred, whereas most Purāṇas have none or, at most with the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, two), in addition to which we can add the vast quantities of derivative literatures and oral traditions it has spawned. The Bhāgavata is a bhakti text par excellence, but, even as most Hindus received their yogic inspiration and guidance through these stories, we will find it permeated with the same deep level jñāna and yoga teachings that were systematized, condensed and codified by the sūtra writers.

The course will feature and engage some of the great pan-Indian stories of the paradigmatic yogī exemplars – Parīkṣit, Śuka , Vyāsa,  Nārada, Dhruva, Bharata, and Kapila, etc. These stories will illustrate how jñāna contemplation, yogic practice and Īśvara praṇidhāna (bhakti) are exemplified in real life practice in contrast to the minimalism of abstract sūtraic exposition.  The course will culminate in the last session, as does the Bhågavata  in its huge 10th book, with what the text presents as the ultimate Absolute Truth, Kṛṣṇa, through a sample of his enchanting līlā.

The course, as always, is by voluntary honorarium/donation (link above) for those who wish to offer one.  The schedule is tentatively as follows (but can be tweaked as needed):

Texts for each class can be downloaded from the corresponding blue links after the class title.

Page numbers correspond to Dr. Bryant`s book.


-Fri, Sept 16:    The tale of Vyāsa, compiler of the Vedas, Purāṇas, and Epic (existential malaise);

and the tale of Nārada (the maidservant’s son and greatest of all bhaktas). page# 206 to 218.

Vyasa and Narada +


-Fri, Sept 23:    The tale of King Parīkṣit, grand-son of Arjuna (how to face death);

and the tale of sage , Śuka (the wondering enlightened sage). page 224 to 232.

pariksit and suka et


-Fri, Sept 30:     The tale of Brahmā (the primordial first yogī). page 241.


-Fri, Oct 7:         The tale of Queen Devahūti and the teachings of Kapila, original expounder of

                          Sāṅkhya. page 256 to 292.

Queen Devahuti et


-Fri, Oct14:        The tale of Bharata (the mind at the moment of death) page 352.


-Fri, Oct 21:       The teachings to King Rahūgaṇa (yoga philosophy) page 361.


-Fri, Oct 28:       The tales of Citraketu, Saubhari, Dhruva and Yamarāja (yoga philosophy exemplified)

                               pages 394, 457, 292, 409 respectively.

Saubhari et

prince Dhruva et

Yamaraja et


-Fri, Nov 4th:     Kṛṣṇa and his līlā.  page 469, 480,492, 503.-

X.8-9 mischievious child Vatsalya

X.15 Sakhya Lila 492-497_compressed


The readings are from: Bryant, Edwin  Bhakti Yoga: Tales and Teachings from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa

(New York: MacMillan, 2017).          TALES AND TEACHINGS from the  Bhāgavata Purāṇa 




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