Author Phil Hine recently posted the transcript of part of his lecture at Treadwells Bookshop in London. It begins
“This post is an extract from a recent lecture at Treadwells Bookshop, entitled Flying through the air, entering other bodies: Yoga and Magical Powers. The lecture examined the relationship between yoga and magical or extraordinary abilities. When I began reading for the lecture, I was very familiar with the anti-Yoga views of 19th century scholars such as Max Muller or H.H. Wilson, but less so regarding how attitudes to yoga and yoga powers intersected with popular culture. So here is a brief examination of how yogic powers became associated with stage magic, duplicity and deception.
“Over the course of the Nineteenth century, the wondrous powers of the yogi enter both popular culture and Western Esotericism, and the scientific study of yoga begins. This is the background to which our contemporary understanding of the powers of the yogi is situated. For the most part, commentators were scornful of yogic practices and viewed yogis with a mixture of suspicion and disdain. One reason that Yoga was seen as suspect in this period was its very association with magical or supernatural abilities. Whilst scholarly accounts reported feats such as the abilities of yogis to remain buried alive for weeks on end, such powers were invariably dismissed as mere trickery, self-deception – and the deception of a credulous and superstitious populace.”
Read the entire post: http://enfolding.org/yogis-magic-and-deception-i/.