[INDOLOGY] yamas and niyamas

Clough, Bradley Bradley.Clough at mso.umt.edu
Thu Nov 24 07:43:51 UTC 2016

Dear Patrick,

The 5 yamas are identical to Jainism’s 5 mahavratas. I assume the mahavratas predate the list of yamas in the PYS. I’m sure someone more expert than I in Jainism could tell you what date they first appear in Jain scriptures.

Best Wishes,

Dr. Bradley S. Clough
Liberal Studies/Asian Religions
LA 101
The University of Montana
32 Campus Drive
Missoula, MT 59812

bradley.clough at mso.umt.edu<mailto:bradley.clough at mso.umt.edu>
Phone: 406-243-2837
Fax: 406-243-4076

On Nov 23, 2016, at 9:49 PM, patrick mccartney <psdmccartney at gmail.com<mailto:psdmccartney at gmail.com>> wrote:

Dear Friends,

A recent respondent of mine asserted that 'service' and 'compassion' were 2 of the 10 yamas and niyamas. I guess ahiṃsā could be indirectly translated as 'compassion' for others by being 'non-violent', however, 'service' as in 'seva' does not find any mention in the PYS list, which is what my respondent was referring to.

While the ideas of 'service' and 'compassion' show a lack of critical understanding of the normative, institutionalised convention, I find it fascinating how these canonised ideas evolve in a meme-like way, unregulated in the minds of yoga practitioners (my respondent is a professional yoga teacher). As many practitioners of modern yoga assume this list has 'stood the test of time' and is as an a priori concept, this has made me think about the historicity and development of the yamas and niyamas as singular ideas, and as a conjoined pair.

Might it be correct to say that they were first standardised in the PYS as 10? Were there any other lists that had a greater or lesser number prior to the PYS?  (I'm thinking in a similar way to the development of the ṣadcakratantra, and how there were other texts that discussed alternate numbers/locations, etc)

Might someone be able to  lead me to a better understanding of the development of the yamas and niyamas? I looked through the search option of the list but couldn't really find any discussion that pertained specifically to my request. Although the discussions on whether some texts place a concept in the yama as opposed to the niyama category are quite interesting.

Thank you.

All the best,

Patrick McCartney, PhD
School of Culture, History & Language
College of the Asia-Pacific
The Australian National University
Canberra, Australia, 0200

Skype - psdmccartney
Phone + Whatsapp:  +61 414 954 748
Twitter - @psdmccartney





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