Presenter: Chris Gibbons (Thesis review milestone)

This thesis researches the meaning and practice of yoga in the Sanskrit epic poem, the Mahābhārata (c. 150 BCE). As the so-called ‘Fifth-Veda,’ the Mahābhārata represents itself in continuity with the Vedic revelation, a tradition centred on the practice of fire ‘sacrifice’ (yajña). The epic’s self representation as 'Veda' is not simply a rhetoric of empty labels. On the contrary, the Mahābhārata frequently invokes the Vedic background, melding it with novel practices and concepts in complex and often highly creative ways. I argue that in its handling of yoga, the Mahābhārata establishes and extends a process already underway in certain late-Vedic Upanishads (c. 300-100 BCE) that sought to incorporate compelling new soteriological concepts and technologies into the Vedic tradition under the hallowed rubric of yoga—a word associated with the performance and power of the sacrificial rites in the ancient Vedic sources.

Image via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain


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