Dr. Florinda de Simini (Postdoctoral research fellow, University L’Orientale, Naples, ITALY)
“Teachings on Yoga in the Śivadharma Corpus”
This lecture will bring into focus the doctrines of yoga expounded in some of the works of the Śivadharma corpus, mainly the Śivadharmottara and the Umāmaheśvarasaṃvāda. The Śivadharmottara, along with the Śivadharmaśāstra, is a work composed in northern India, approximately in the 6th/7th century, revealing doctrinal ties with the Pāśupata movement; on the other hand, the Umāmaheśvarasaṃvāda, a work from Nepal attested in manuscripts since the 10th century, contains both Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava materials, and was probably composed taking inspiration from the Śāntiparvan of the Mahābhārata. During the talk, we will examine the notions of jñānayoga, ṣaḍaṅgayoga, and vaiṣṇavayoga as they are described in these two works, as well as try to assess the place of the yoga teachings of the Śivadharma corpus within the development of early yoga.
Dr. Noemie Verdon (Teaching Fellow, School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions, Nālandā University)
“Al-Bīrūnī’s Kitāb Pātanğal, a Perso-Muslim interpretation of classical Yoga”
Al-Bīrūnī lived in Central Asia between the end of the tenth and the beginning of the eleventh century CE and studied numerous scientific domains, such as mathematics, astronomy, geography, gemmology, history and society. His monography on India, the Taḥqīq mā li-l-Hind (ca. 1030), is particularly remarkable, as the scholar describes Indian religion, sciences, literatures and customs in an extremely exhaustive, meticulous and objective way; which remains unparalleled in his time and Perso-Muslim cultural context.
In this work, al-Bīrūnī abundantly quotes two texts related to classical Sāṃkhya and Yoga philosophies which he translated from Arabic to Sanskrit. The two texts are respectively entitled in Arabic the Kitāb Sānk and the Kitāb Pātanğal. As for the former, extracts of it are scattered in the Taḥqīq mā li-l-Hind. It is our only source of knowledge of this work so far. A complete manuscript of the latter exists today and was edited in 1955 by Hellmut Ritter. Several modern scholars, such as Sachau (1888), Garbe (1894; 1917) or Pines and Gelblum (1966; 1977; 1983; 1989), attempted to identify the Sanskrit source of this text. Their efforts however never reached conclusive results.
After a brief introduction on al-Bīrūnī’s life and intellectual context, the lecture will focus on the Kitāb Pātanğal. On the basis of several passages of this text, it will highlight the obstacles and challenges faced by these scholars and proposes solutions thanks to the study of al-Bīrūnī’s methods of translation. Lastly, it will discuss the possible Sanskrit source of this Arabic text on classical Yoga.