The Dharmaputrikā Saṃhitā: Preliminary Notes on an Early Text on Yoga
This essay aims to present the current state of research on the Dharmaputrikā Saṃhitā, an ancient text on yoga which describes, with an exceptional depth of detail and a high level of bodily technicality, internal yogic practices. The study of the Dharmaputrikā Saṃhitā was initiated as part of the ERC-funded AyurYog project, which was led by Dagmar Wujastyk (2015–2020), whose central aim was to examine the link between yoga and classical Indian medicine, two distinct fields of knowledge in the Sanskrit tradition. Not only does chapter Ten (called yogacikitsā) of the Dharmaputrikā Saṃhitā describe “therapy in the context of yoga practice,” but it also appears to integrate within its discourse the practice’s physical and mental effects on the body at each stage of the yoga process, thus reflecting an empirical knowledge of physiology. This essay introduces the dating, authorship, textual history, and reception of the text. It provides preliminary research on parallel passages in other works, and proposes that the Dharmaputrikā Saṃhitā is a textual testimony of ancient yoga practices referred to as the “yoga of Hiraṇyagarbha.” On the basis of the critical edition, which is yet to be published, it offers the reader an annotated and detailed summary of the work’s content, along with various discussions of important questions raised by broader considerations on the history of ancient yoga.
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