New book announcement.
E.Crangle at mailbox.uq.oz.au
Fri Oct 28 04:52:52 UTC 1994
Please excuse cross-posting.
This posting announces the following publication:
Crangle, Edward F. _The Origin and Development of Early Indian
Contemplative Practices_, Volume 29 in the _Studies in Oriental
Religions_ series, edited by Walther Heissig and Hans-Joachim
Klimkeit, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 1994. XIII, 314 pages.
Historical studies concerning the origin and development of early Indian
contemplative practices fall into two main camps. One major school of
thought argues for a Vedic origin developing linearly through the
_Upani.sads_ to the Buddhist canonical literature; the other postulates a
synthesis of Vedic/Aaryan methods and ideas with indigenous yogic
practices. This work seeks to contribute to an eventual resolution of this
problem by examining certain of the most relevant textual evidence from
a critical historical perspective.
The study is restricted to the practices of the earliest significant and
formative periods, as portrayed in the _.Rg Veda_, the principal
_Upani.sads_ , and the _Paali Sutta Pi.taka_. The source texts are
examined in the original Sanskrit or Paali and in English translation. The
Vedic and Upani.sadic traditions are covered in Chapters 2 and 3 while
the Buddhist is dealt with in Chapter 4.
In Chapter 2, the contemplative dimension of the hymns of the _.Rg
Veda_ is analysed. This is done to determine if, and to what degree,
there exist likely Vedic antecedents for meditative practices found in
the principal _Upani.sads_ and the _Paali Suttas_.
In Chapter 3, the principal _Upani.sads_ are similarly examined. The
possiblity of cross-fertilisation of ideas with early Buddhism and other
heterodox systems is considered. A major focus of this chapter is the
practices of _upaasanaa_ and _yoga_, which together encompass most
aspects of Upani.sadic contemplation. The ultimate synthesis of
_upaasanaa_ and _yoga_ techniques in later_Upani.sads_ is examined.
Chapter 4 appraises the extent of possible influences on Buddhist
practices from Braahma.nic sources. This chapter aims mainly to gauge
the extent to which _vipassanaa_, _pa~n~naa_ etc. were practices and
concepts independently developed in Buddhism. In doing so, it also
determines to what extent these practices may be a carry-over from
The concluding chapter 5 summarises the evidence and offers a
discussion regarding the origin and the development of meditative
practices in India noting possible influences, cross-fertilisations, etc.
The method of the early Vedic contemplative, the _.r.si_, provides the
basis for the development of orthodox contemplative praxis: the practice
of the _.r.si_ foreshadows the later practice known as _upaasanaa_
(worship/meditation), first referred to in the _Braahma.nas_. The mental
performance of the sacrifice represents an embryonic stage in the
growth of _upaasanaa_, which becomes fully developed in the
The data derived from this examination of Vedic texts suggest an
influence on Vedic contemplatives by pre-Aaryan _yogins_ of aboriginal
origin. Further, the data reveal an early distinction between two
meditative approaches which later merge. This undermines theories
arguing for a purely Vedic/Aaryan origin for Indian contemplative
practices; as well, it reinforces the view that yogic disciplines were
practiced initially as a separate method from those documented in the
early Vedic hymns.
The evidence derived from the _Upani.sads_ suggests that the ideas and
fundamental techniques of _yoga_ have been appropriated by the
_Upani.sads_ from heterdox sources. Buddhism is the most probable
source. This conclusion further undermines the theory of a purely linear
development. The sudden appearance of explicit detailed references to
_yoga_ in the post-Buddhist _Upani.sads_ lends support to the theory of
a synthesis of indigenous, yogic practices with the Aaryan methods and
The practice and progression of _vipassanaa_ and _pa~n~naa _in
Buddhism have clearly developed independently of orthodox
contemplative practices. These practices in no way represent a
carry-over from orthodox sources. Similarly, the _yoga_ practices,
involving jhaanic techniques taken up by the later Upani.sadic sages and
extensively documented by the Buddhist contemplatives, appear to be heterdox
practices probably of indigenous origin.
The antecedent practice of _upaasanaa_ resembles a contemplative
technique of early Buddhism, namely mindfulness (_satipa.t.thaana_)
As the method of _upaasanaa_ predates early Buddhism, Buddhist
_satipa.t.thaana_ techniques probably owe their genesis to the Vedic
stream of contemplative practice, while also owing an indirect debt
to the early non-Vedic contemplatives. The objects of
_satipa.t.thaana_, however, are peculiarly and entirely Buddhist in
The evidence indicates that early Indian contemplative practices
developed neither in a simple linear fashion nor as a result of a single
synthesis. It indicates, rather, a zigzag progression wherein
Aaryan/Braahma.nical contemplative practices both influenced, and were
influenced by, indigenous yogic disciplines.
Dr Edward F. Crangle E-mail: e.crangle at mailbox.uq.oz.au
Department of Studies in Religion Phone: (7) 3652154
University of Queensland Home: (7) 3719687
St Lucia Fax: (7) 3653071
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