Yoga as the Art of War

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Friday, March 1st, 2019

Friday, March 1, 20194:00PM - 6:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
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Today we think of yoga as a practice of spiritual and physical health that originated in the search by India’s ancient sages for ultimate truth and release from the world of suffering. But the history of yoga is more than postures, breathing, and meditation. The oldest associations with the word “yoga” in the Rig Veda involved war, and as recently as the 19th century in India, yogis were not only associated with ascetic practices of ultimate liberation, but also the mundane world of politics, violence, and power. The most recent invocation of yoga in the context of domestic and international politics by India’s current prime minister, Narendra Modi, is another example of the way yoga remains deeply invested in the world of political power. This talk, based on a forthcoming book by Sunila S. Kale and Christian Lee Novetzke, revisits a history of yoga in India through the lens of political action and worldly power to suggest that at the core of all practices associated with the term “yoga” lies a theory of practice around mediating the relationship between the self and its many, sometimes agonistic, others.

Christian Lee Novetzke is a Professor of Indian Religions, History, and Culture at the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. He is the author of Religion and Public Memory (2008), The Quotidian Revolution (2016), and co-author (with Andy Rotman and William Elison) of Amar Akbar Anthony: Bollywood, Brotherhood, and the Nation (2016).


Christian Novetzke
Professor of Indian Religions, History, and Culture at the Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington

Christoph Emmrich
Director, Centre for South Asian Studies


Centre for South Asian Studies

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