The Science of Entering Another Body

in Sinister Yogis

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226895130
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226895154 | DOI:
The Science of Entering Another Body

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When the early Hindu scriptures evoked the rise of persons who were dying—whether of natural causes or through one or another type of self-willed death—they often employed the term raśmi to denote the reins or rays that conveyed them to their final destination, regardless of whether it was beneath or beyond the disk of the sun. As one moves forward in time, reins are gradually forgotten in favor of rays, with these rays being understood as conduits for the rise of the luminous person (purusa), self, or lifebody of the dying or departing individual. This chapter traces the ways in which this Indic metaphysics of rays came to be applied to aesthetics, epistemology, climatology, medicine, and the yogi's art or science of entering into foreign bodies. It first discusses Indic theories of perception before turning to the place of the heart in early subtle body mapping. It then looks at purusa as gnomon, yogic penetration in the sixth book of the Maitri Upanisad and in the Mahābhārata, and the technique of entering into a foreign body.

Keywords: death; purusa; luminous person; raśmi; rays; metaphysics; perception; Maitri Upanisad; Mahābhārata; aesthetics

Chapter.  20362 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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