DR JAMES MALLINSON (Principal Investigator)
James Mallinson is lecturer in Sanskrit and Classical Indian Studies at SOAS, University of London. Dr Mallinson has a BA in Sanskrit and Old Iranian from the University of Oxford (1991), an MA in South Asian Area Studies (with ethnography as its primary subject) from SOAS (1993) and a DPhil. from the University of Oxford (2001). His doctoral thesis was a critical edition of the Khecarīvidyā, an early text on haṭha yoga, and was supervised by Professor Alexis Sanderson. A revised version of the thesis was published by Routledge in 2007.
After completing his doctoral studies Dr Mallinson worked as a principal translator for the Clay Sanskrit Library, for which he produced five volumes of translations of Sanskrit poetry. He has also published translations of two haṭha yoga texts, the Gheraṇḍa Saṃhitā (2004) and Śivasaṃhitā (2007) for YogaVidya.com. In addition to these books Dr Mallinson has published numerous articles, book chapters and encyclopedia articles. Roots of Yoga, a reader of translations of texts on yoga introduced and edited by Dr Mallinson and Dr Mark Singleton will be published in the Penguin Classics series in January 2017.
Dr Mallinson’s primary research method is philology, in particular the study of manuscripts of Sanskrit texts on yoga, which he complements with ethnographic data drawn from extensive fieldwork with Indian ascetics and the study of art historical sources. In recognition of his long association with the Rāmānandī Indian ascetic saṃpradāya, in 2013 the order honoured him with the title of mahant, an event recorded in the Smithsonian Channel’s television documentary West Meets East. His work on art historical depictions of yogis led to his being invited to be a consultant and catalogue author for the 2013 exhibition‘Yoga: The Art of Transformation at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.
More information about Dr Mallinson’s work, his CV and most of his publications may be downloaded from here.
DR MARK SINGLETON (Senior Researcher)
Mark Singleton’s research interests lie in the intersection of tradition and modernity in yoga. He was research assistant to Dr. Elizabeth De Michelis at Cambridge University’s Dharam Hinduja Institute of Indic Research in 2002-3, and went on to complete a Ph.D at Cambridge’s Faculty of Divinity on the modern history of yoga. During this time he also began the formal study of Sanskrit with Drs. Eivind Kahrs and John Smith. He taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses at St. John’s College (Santa Fe, New Mexico) between 2006 and 2013.
He has been a senior long-term research scholar at the American Institute of Indian Studies, based in Jodhpur (Rajasthan, India), and was a consultant and catalogue author for the 2013 exhibition ‘Yoga: The Art of Transformation’ at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.. He served as co-chair of the Yoga Consultation at the American Academy of Religions from 2012 to 2015. He is co-manager of the Modern Yoga Research website.
His books include Yoga in the Modern World (Routledge 2008, ed. with Jean Byrne); Yoga Body, The Origins of Modern Posture Practice (Oxford University Press 2010); Gurus of Modern Yoga (Oxford University Press 2014, ed. with Ellen Goldberg); and Roots of Yoga (Penguin Classics, January 2017, with James Mallinson). He has also written articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries on yoga.
His work in the Haṭha Yoga Project focuses primarily on the history of physical practices that were incorporated into or associated with yoga in pre-colonial India. He is collaborating with partners at the Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, on a history of the yogic art and manuscript collections there (from the reign of Maharaja Man Singh, 1803-1843). He is also involved in the critical editing of three of the project’s core texts (the Yogacintāmaṇi, Haṭhasaṃketacandrikā and Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati).
DR JASON BIRCH
Jason Birch received a doctorate in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford in 2013. His area of research is the medieval yoga traditions of India, in particular, those called Haṭha- and Rājayoga. His thesis, which was supervised by Professor Alexis Sanderson, focused on the earliest known Rājayoga text called the Amanaska. His critical edition and annotated translation of this Sanskrit text is accompanied by a monographic introduction, which examines the influence of earlier Śaiva tantric traditions on the Amanaska as well as the significance of the Amanaska in later yoga traditions.
In 2015, Jason worked on an ERC-funded project called Ayuryog at the University of Vienna, for which he wrote an article on the shared terminology, praxis and theory of āyurveda and medieval yoga traditions. His role on the Haṭhayoga project at SOAS London University is to edit and research manuscripts of Sanskrit yoga texts which were written on the eve of colonialism. Many of these texts provide insight into the Brahmanization of Haṭha- and Rājayoga and the proliferation of physical yoga techniques, some of which have become prominent in modern yoga, such as the practice of numerous āsana.
Jason is teaching a course on the history of medieval yoga for SOAS’ Master of Arts in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation and an undergraduate Sanskrit reading class on yoga texts. He has taught courses on the history of Rājayoga and Haṭhayoga at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and the Masters of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He also shares the fruits of his research with practitioners of yoga by collaborating with Jacqueline Hargreaves on the Luminescent blog and by teaching history modules on various Teacher Training programs.
DR DANIELA BEVILACQUA (Post-Doctoral Researcher)
Daniela Bevilacqua is an Indianist who uses ethnographic and historical methodologies to dig into religious issues of Indian culture. In 2006 she accomplished her BA in Oriental Languages at the University of Rome, Sapienza, presenting the thesis Nityasumangali, the ritual and propitiatory role of the Devadasi. In 2009 she completed her MD, specializing in Modern and Contemporary Indian History. Her thesis, Rāmjanmabhūmi: Myth, Religion, History and Politics, analysed historically the origin and development of the Rāmjanmabhūmi issue. On the wave of this work, she decided to focus on the Rām bhakti and especially on the Rāmānandī sampradāya for her PhD. She received her doctorate in 2015 in “Civilizations, Cultures and Societies of Asia and Africa”, supervised by Professor Mario Prayer at University of Rome, Sapienza, and a doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Paris X Nanterre Ouest La Défense, supervised by Professor Véronique Bouillier. Her work based on a multidisciplinary approach titled A Past for the Present:The Role of the Śrī Maṭh and the Jagadgurū in the Evolution of the Rāmānandī Sampradāya. Through this work, she came to know Dr Mallinson, who asked her to join the HYP team due to her ethnographic work among ascetics.
Her role in the project is to collect, through fieldwork, historical evidence of yoga practice and ethnographic data among living ascetic practitioners of yoga.
DR S V B K V GUPTA (Researcher)
S V B K V Gupta works on unpublished Sanskrit manuscripts, Yoga and Pāṇini’s grammar. He holds a doctoral degree in Sanskrit from Pondicherry University. Prior to that, Dr. Gupta also completed his M.Phil in Śābdabodha Systems & Language Technologies from University of Hyderabad. He worked on the doctoral thesis “A Critical edition of Kumāradāsa’s Jānakīharaṇa (Up to 7th Canto)”, under the supervision of Dr. K E Dharaneedharan. It is Mahākāvya critically edited upto 7th Canto (until Janaki’s marriage) also focused on Alaṅkāras for each and every stanza. He worked as a research associate in “Philosophy co, Literary Research Department at Kaivalyadhama (Yoga for the world)”, focused on the topic ‘Abhiniveśa’ and made a catalogue of unpublished yoga manuscripts in India. He also worked for ANR, France sponsored project: “Pāṇini and Paninéens in the 16th and 17th centuries (pp16-17.org)”, under Prof. Jan E M Houben. He recently edited a book Viz. Kāvyadarpaṇa of Rājacūdāmanidīkśita (I & II ullasas). Dr.Gupta also delivered a guest lecture at University of Sorbonne, Paris. He is also an editorial board member of International Journal of Indian Languages and Literature.
Currently he is working for the ERC project on Haṭhayoga for SOAS, London University from EFEO, Pondicherry, India. His role is to locate, transcribe and research manuscripts of Sanskrit yoga texts in South Indian libraries, under the guidance of Dr. James Mallinson and with the supervision of Prof. Dominic Goodall.
ILONA BOWYER (Project Coordinator)
Ilona is a Project Coordinator for European Research Council (ERC) grants at SOAS, University of London, and is responsible for the administrative and operational management of the HYP Project. Ilona has a background in Art History and Museum Studies, having completed a masters in the subject in 2010, and has supported a number of interdisciplinary research grants across the cultural sector.