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Sinister Yogis (Used)
by White, David Gordon
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Binding: Hardcover with dust jacket
Book ID: 9780226895130, 0226895130
Since the 1960s, yoga has become a billion-dollar industry in the West, attracting housewives and hipsters, New Agers and the old aged. Marketed as a clear path to self-realization, mind expansion, and taut abs, yoga is also perceived as an ancient and unchanging Indian tradition based on the revelations of benign and limber sages. But this modern conception of yoga derives from nineteenth-century European spirituality, Sinister Yogis reveals, and the true story of yogas origins in South Asia is far richer, stranger, and much more entertaining.
To uncover this history, David Gordon White focuses on yogas practitioners. Combing through millennia of South Asia's vast and diverse literature, he discovers that yogis are usually portrayed as wonder-workers or sorcerers who use their dangerous supernatural abilitieswhich can include raising the dead, possession, and levitationto acquire power, money, and sexual gratification. As White shows, even those yogis who aren't downright villainous bear little resemblance to Western assumptions about them. At turns rollicking and sophisticated, Sinister Yogis tears down the image of yogis as detached, contemplative teachers, finally placing them in their proper context.
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