Fading into Death through Pātañjalayoga: On the Apparent Dead-like State of the Yoga Practitioner Absorbed into Contentless Samādhi

  • Rocco Cestola Sapienza Università di Roma

Abstract





This article was inspired by a reading of Nāgeśa Bhaṭta’s commentary, Pātañjalayogasūtravṛtti (PYV), on Pātañjalayogaśāstra I.18. In explaining contentless absorption (asamprajñātasamādhi), Nāgeśa Bhaṭṭa depicts the yoga practitioner as being “like a cadaver” (mṛtavat). The article investigates the use of metaphors of death in the Pātañjalayoga commentarial literature and aims to make sense of them in the context of asamprajñātasamādhi. This literature indicates that the yoga practitioner becomes deeply absorbed in contentless samādhi through the practice of cessation (nirodha), namely the progressive shutting down of psycho-physical drives, up to the point of their total annihilation. Thus, one might say that the practitioner attains a quasi- death-like condition. Once the practitioner has reached this advanced phase of absorption, metaphors of death are used to depict his condition. This raises the question of how these metaphors relate to the practice of yoga. I argue that these expressions were intended to convey the stillness of the yoga practitioner's mind and body, once he or she has reached asamprajñātasamādhi, which makes the yoga adept fit either for liberation-in-life (jīvanmukti) or at the time of death (videhamukti).





Published
2024-05-02
How to Cite
CESTOLA, Rocco. Fading into Death through Pātañjalayoga: On the Apparent Dead-like State of the Yoga Practitioner Absorbed into Contentless Samādhi. Journal of Yoga Studies, [S.l.], v. 5, p. 69–123, may 2024. ISSN 2664-1739. Available at: <https://journalofyogastudies.org/index.php/JoYS/article/view/JoYS.V5.003>. Date accessed: 15 june 2024.
Section
Articles