(Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria)


Yoga in the Daily Routine of the Pāñcarātrins

As other tantric traditions of the Vaiṣṇava tradition of Pāñcarātra utilizes yoga and yogic techniques in various contexts and for manifold purposes. For example, it uses yogic techniques in rituals in order to purify the subject, i.e. the worshipper, as well as objects used for worship. Another example is the practice of yoga outside a ritual context in order to reach the two classical goals of a Pāñcarātrin, liberation (mukti) from transmigration and worldly pleasure (bhukti). Characteristic for the Pāñcarātra, however, is the practice of yoga in a special context, namely, within the framework of the religious rites of the “five time periods” (pañca kāla). The five time periods are a daily routine that is presented as obligatory for Pāñcarātrins in the tradition’s authoritative texts at least since the 12th century CE. These five time periods, which structure a Pāñcarātrin’s entire day, consist of the following parts: “approaching” (abhigamana), “appropriating” (upādāna), worship (ijyā), studying (svādhyāya), and yoga. The final time period, yoga, completes the day and is practiced either before falling asleep or at midnight after an initial phase of sleep. This paper will examine the prescriptions for this yogic practice as found in the Pāñcarātra Saṃhitās and in Veṅkaṭanātha’s Pāñcarātrarakṣā, focusing on the particular nature of this type of yoga and the time that is prescribed for its practice.