Edwin Bryant Yoga Philosophy

EDWIN BRYANT – The Gunas of Prakriti

Saturday 27th November | 9.00 am EST | 2.00 pm UK | 3.00 pm Paris

3 hours | 14 day replay

We are delighted to be welcoming back Dr. Edwin Bryant. This workshop will focus on the three gunas of Prakriti, matter.  Yoga and Vedanta metaphysics consist of a triad of the souls, atman;  God, Isvara/Brahman;  and the world of matter, prakriti.  We can recall that the mind is also made of prakriti in these traditions – it is only consciousness itself which is non-prakritic, (i.e. the atman/purusa), so our bodies and minds are what they are because of the gunas that comprise them.   

Prakriti itself consists of the 3 gunas, or qualities, sattva, rajas and tamas.  Thus everything in the universe – whether made of gross matter or subtle psychic matter  (the different mental state and personalities of living beings) – is what it is because of the proportionality of the 3 gunas, just as a specific color is what it is based on the relative proportions of the admixtures of red, yellow and blue. Thus our very personalities reflect these gunas.  

Using the Gita as our source text – 3 chapters of this text, 14, 17 & 18, are dedicated to the gunas, and references to them pervade this text, as with all other yoga texts including the Yoga Sutras.  These chapters of the Gita discusses the characteristics of various things according to which guna is preponderate – food for example: what is tamasic food, what is rajasic food, and what is sattvic food?  How do tamasic or rajasic or sattvic people see the world?  What kind of worship reflects each of these three gunas, etc., atc.? In this way, the text covers many aspects of our lives, and how they are affected by these gunas.  We will see that the gunas we seek to cultivate in our lives govern all aspects of our bodies and minds, and, indeed, the very type of happiness or suffering in which we perpetually find ourselves.   

Reading material to follow along will be provided.

About Edwin Bryant

Edwin Bryant received his Ph.D in Indic languages and Cultures from Columbia University, where his thesis culminated in his first book: The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture (Oxford University Press, 2001). He taught Hinduism at Harvard University for three years, and is presently the professor of Hinduism at Rutgers University where he teaches courses on Hindu philosophy and religion. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, published eight books, and authored a number of articles on the earliest origins of the Vedic culture, yoga philosophy, and the Krishna tradition. These include a Penguin World Classics translation of the story of Krishna’s incarnation, from its traditional source the Śrīmad Bhāgavata Purāṇa.

As a personal practitioner of bhakti yoga for over 40 years, a number of them spent in India studying with traditional teachers, where he returns yearly, Edwin strives to combine academic scholarship and rigor with appreciation towards traditional knowledge systems. His teaching method is to allow the ancient texts to speak in their own voice and through their own terms and categories. In addition to his academic course load, Edwin currently teaches weekend workshops on the Yoga SūtrasBhagavad Gītā, and Hindu Philosophy at yoga studios and teacher training courses throughout the country.

Edwin’s translation of and commentary on the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009) is specifically dedicated to contributing to the growing body of literature on yoga by providing insights from the major pre-modern commentaries on the text with a view to grounding the teachings in their traditional context. Edwin’s most recent published work is a sequel to this by the same publisher entitled Bhakti Yoga: Tales and Teachings from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017). This work, too, seeks to ground the practices of bhakti in the traditional Krishna-centered framework of the Vrindavan devotional traditions.

Edwin is presently working on a translation of the Bhagavad Gītā with a commentary based on the insights of the principle traditional commentators (viz, in the same vein as theYoga Sūtras commentary). The Gītā‘s teachings in many ways serve as a link between those of theYoga Sūtras and those of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa in the Bhakti Yoga volume, and upon completion will conclude Edwin’s vision of a Trilogy of Yoga texts offered to scholars, students, practitioners, and the intellectually curious.

Cost €30 approx £25 | $36

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