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 dakṣiṇā), half of which will go to Edwin’s charity in India.
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The next 2022 Winter svādhyāya will be on bhakti yoga. Our course text will be a translation of the 16th century Sanskrit Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu – the Ocean (sindhu) of the nectar (amṛta) of the ecstasy (rasa) of bhakti. This was composed by Rūpa Gosvāmī, who received the teachings directly from Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who was pivotal to a 15th century resurgence of Krishna bhakti in the North of India (we will also read the Śikṣāṣṭakam, the ‘8 verses of Instruction,’ which were the only writings penned by Śrī Caitanya). This ‘Ocean’ is divided into four quadrants, each with four waves. We will read the first, the Eastern Quadrant (EQ), which contains the teachings on the practices of bhakti yoga and the ensuing states of love of God, and is the most important Quadrant for understanding bhakti.
While this course will feature Krishna bhakti, the essential generic elements of pan-Īśvara bhakti that the text outlines will nonetheless be applicable to other forms of bhakti – Śaiva and Śakta – even as each tradition will add its distinctive flavorings to this infrastructure. I suggest that it is most profitable, spiritually, to go deep into one specific bhakti tradition, rather than jump about superficially between many (and it is probably better in terms of spiritual depth to study with a teacher deeply devoted to the practice of one particular tradition from within, rather than someone adopting an outsider’s theoretical lens and surveying a surface level panorama of traditions from without).
The Eastern Quadrant of the Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu guides us in how to perform ‘pure’ bhakti – viz, not bhakti seeking anything from Īśvara/Bhagavān, including mokṣa itself, other than pure selfless love of God. So, in ‘Wave’ 2, the largest section of the EQ, we will encounter the 64 primary practices of bhakti. In Wave 3, the text will then proceed to analyze the various ensuing internal states of Bhagavān-centered devotion, bhāva. These eventually culminate in the highest states of love of God, prema outlined in Wave 4 (somewhat like Patañjali schematizes the various states of ātman-centered samādhis, culminating in nirbīja). So this is a theologically rigorous scholastic text, but one written by a fully accomplished practitioner, Rüpa Goswāmī, who is deemed by the tradition to have attained the highest prema – a wonderful combination of the intellect and the devotional heart (to which bhakti svādhyāya aspires).
This svādhyāya will consist of 6-8 sessions, depending on how long we find ourselves requiring, January 28 th – March 4 th (or March 11th). The time will be as always, Friday 6.00-8.00 pm EST, followed by questions/discussion (and sometimes kirtan). As always, the course is by donation. The segments for the six sessions (which may likely expand to 7) will roughly be as follows:
Jan 28. First Wave: General characteristics of bhakti (including the trivialization of mokṣa).
Feb 4. Second Wave: Sādhana bhakti. Definition of sādhana and eligibility for vaidhi bhakti (rule-based bhakti).
Feb 11. Second Wave: Sādhana bhakti (cont.). The 64 practices of vaidhi bhakti.
Feb 18. Second Wave: Sādhana bhakti (cont.). The 64 practices of vaidhi bhakti.
Feb 25. Third Wave: Bhāva bhakti.
Mar 4 . Fourth Wave: Prema bhakti. We will also read the eight verses of the Śikṣāṣṭakam, noted above.
The Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu text can be downloaded from here: Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu
The link for the workshop is:
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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 as well as Rutgers courses uploaded online, click here.