South Asian Sources for Modern Occult Yoga (MOY)

Researcher: Cantú, Keith Edward

Research Project: South Asian Sources for Modern Occult Yoga (MOY)

Region: India

This paper demonstrates the utility of creating a separate discursive category of yoga called “modern occult yoga” (MOY). Treating modern occultism as a contemporary subset of esotericism per the prevailing scholarly consensus, the persistent presence of yoga within modern occultism since the middle of the nineteenth-century warrants a new category that is properly integrated into scholarship on the fields of Indology, yoga studies, esotericism studies, and comparative literature. The first part of the lecture introduces the contours of this category as contrasted with “modern postural yoga” (MPY), and shows how there is a relatively consistent pattern as to how yoga was engaged in modern occultism. The second part the lecture demonstrates how a variety of voices contributed to the formulation of MOY, and diagrammatically outlines how specific authors on occultism both outside of and within South Asia participated in its discourse. The presentation concludes with showing how such tracing of sources leads to the discovery of new material that not only amplifies our understanding of both yoga and modern occultism but also assists with the contextualization of such sources in their regional and language-specific South Asian milieus.