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Yoga and Yantra: Their Interrelation and Their Significance for Indian Archaeology by P. H.

Pott; Rodney Needham

Review by: J. Ensink
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 30, No. 3,
Fiftieth Anniversary Volume (1967), pp. 708-709
Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of School of Oriental and African Studies
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this subject, we have to accept that in these the connexion between yoga and art proves
matters the theories were not based on very fruitful indeed : on the one hand it is only
experimentation, and they therefore belong in this way that one can hope to arrive at an
to the realm of speculation, not science. In adequate explanation of the art emanating
these circumstances all similarities or differ- from Tantric religion; on the other hand, as
ences are purely coincidental. While in the this art symbolizes religious concepts, it may
knowledge of logic, for instance, branches of contribute to an understanding of them. Many
Indian systems, including the Jaina, have yantras (in the wider sense Dr. Pott gives to
produced concepts equal or superior to Western the term) are complex in that they are con-
concepts and provide suitable opportunities sidered to provide a seat for more than one
for tracing similarities and contrasts, com- divine power. Several are even meant as
parisons in the field of biology and biophysics replicas of the cosmos-macrocosm and micro-
do not seem fruitful or instructive. cosm, according to a widespread Indian
Despite its flaws, Reals in the Jaina meta- notion, corresponding closely in every detail.
physics is a useful book for students who want In their configuration such yantras express the
to find a quick reference to single concepts relation between the different powers and the
and theories current in Jaina philosophy and study of them may convey the principles under-
religion and to their Indian counterparts. lying the system of the pantheon they refer to.
It is a pity that, in addition to a host of errors Dr. Pott stresses the use of research of this kind
in Sanskrit terms, the book is full of misprints for iconography.
and mistakes in the spelling of words, names, As it is especially Tantric yoga by which the
and titles to the point of distracting the artists have been guided, the author in his first
reader's attention. The errata slip is of little chapter gives a survey of the essential features
help and has misprints of its own. of that form of yoga, taking his material
mainly from the texts published by Avalon.
He discusses the microcosmic system of the six
centres (safcakra), through which, in the
course of yoga, Devi Kundalini makes her way
P. H. POTT: Yoga and yantra : their
upwards, until in the' thousand-petalled lotus'
interrelation and their significance for (sahasrdrapadma) she is united with Siva.
Indian archaeology. Translatedfrom the Complementary to this course of yoga (' the
Dutch by Rodney Needham. (Konink- breaking through the six centres ', satcakra-
lijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en bheda) is a second course called anuttarayoga.
Volkenkunde. Translation Series, 8.) Here the 'lotus of the heart' (hrdaydmbuja)
or the ' lotus that is the root of bliss ' (dnanda-
xv, 167 pp., 15 plates. The Hague:
Martinus Nijhoff, 1966. Guilders 25. kandapadma)is an important centre ; it is the
seat of the iqtadevati, with whom the jivitman
Dr. Pott's thesis (Leiden, 1946), which, is one. Anuttarayoga includes the act of
without material changes, is now published in przaapratisthd, i.e. the ' infusing of vital airs '
an English translation, is still a very useful (viz. istadevatii-jivitman) into the yantra for
introduction to the category of those works of the sake of worship of and meditation upon the
art which serve the yogin as aids to his medita- deity.
tion and are to him, for the duration of his In the second chapter the different forms a
spiritual exercises, actually abodes of divine yantra may have are passed in review. In the
powers. To all these objects, whether they are yantra mystic syllables (bija) may be intro-
diagrams, three-dimensional symbols, or idols, duced, which shows the parallelism between
and whether they are thought to embody one the yantra and that other important element
or more gods, the author applies the name of in Tantric yoga, the formula (mantra). For
' yantra'. This is a term used in the Hindu different stages in the yogin's spiritual develop-
Tantras to denote a diagram meant to be the ment either different yantras are required, or
seat of one specific deity and to be meditated special elements in a complex yantra should
upon. But, as other objects in Buddhist as well correspond to each stage.
as Hindu Tantric religion have the same func- To exemplify the various sorts of yantra the
tion, Dr. Pott's generalizing use of the term author discusses a great number of cult objects
seems justified. and monuments chiefly from India (ch. ii),
Avalon has shown the essential meaning of Tibet (iii), Nepal (iv), Java and Bali (v) and
the yantra and Zimmer has devoted a mono- shows how they express relations between
graph to it. In dealing with this subject- deities and groups of deities in the Tantric
matter Dr. Pott's object is ' to find out to what (Buddhist or 8aivite) pantheons. To the know-
extent a knowledge of the concepts of yoga ledge of these systems-especially of the
may prepare the way to a better understanding principles on which they are based as well as
of Indian archaeology' (p. xiii). The study of certain general tendencies in their historical

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development-the book is an important con- the history of Mahdrija Rdma Krsna, related
tribution. by Dr. Pott on p. 80 following Zimmer, 1926,
Even to list the many yantras dealt with in 35, one should turn up Zimmer's source-
this way would exceed the scope of this Avalon, 1916, II, 291 f. (Avalon's source not
review. The reviewer limits himself to calling being accessible). On p. 13, Dr. Pott would
attention to a complex of symbols which, at have done better not to follow Avalon in his
the time the book was written, was not yet rendering of KathUp. 2.6.11d: 'Yoga is a
well known, but which may throw light on going up and down'. yogo hi prabhavpyayau
some of the subjects discussed. In the 8aiva is a controversial phrase, but certainly does
Agamas (a category of texts prior to the not refer to ' going up and down ' as in Tantric
Tantras, in terms of development) and in the mahiyoga. The reviewer all the more regrets
ritual of the Balinese padanda 8iva we find a having to point out such blemishes, as they do
concept of the microcosm which has some impair to some extent what is on the whole an
similarity with the satcakra-system (the elegant and faithful rendering of an important
centres indeed are sometimes visualized as book on a fascinating subject.
lotus-flowers), but instead of Devi Kundalini,
residing in the m7ilddhdracentre, it has at its
base (SdhMra)the snake Ananta, which holds
a tortoise in its coils. The whole symbolism YAMUNA KACHRU: An introduction to
obviously refers to the myth of the Churning Hindi syntax. xii, 230 pp. Urbana,
of the Ocean (amrta-manthana)and the human
Ill. : Dept. of Linguistics, Univer-
person is put on a par with the cosmic moun-
tain. To the reviewer's mind this concept is sity of Illinois, 1966.
plastically represented in the yantra shown in In writing this book, Mrs. Kachru states that
Moor's album, pl. 102 (Pott, p. 45) and the she has two aims: (1) 'to exploit the insights
monuments of Trawas and Petuligriyana into Hindi grammar that have been gained
(p. 35). From the Balinese ritual (Sfirya- by the application of the transformational-
sevana, ed. Hooykaas, Amsterdam, 1966) it generative model of grammars to the study of
appears that the ceremony called Aiili Hindi', (2) 'to use such. insights in relating
' conducting the soul upwards' (Pott, 132 5tmin
f.) language pedagogy to linguistic theory '. In
is thought to take place in the same system. the preface it is also stated that the book may
Dr. Pott (113 ff.) has shown how in a certain be used for teaching the sentence structure of
group a masculine deity has been replaced by Hindi to a non-Hindi speaker. At the same
a feminine and how in general in both the time it may serve as a reference guide to the
Saiva and the Buddhist pantheon the feminine advanced student.
principle has become gradually more impor- It is clear from the introduction that great
tant. Has thus the masculine Ananta ceded
emphasis is laid upon the application of the
his place to the feminine Devi Kundalini ? transformational method to pedagogy. From
The Dutch original of this book is difficult in this point of view, however, the work leaves
every respect and Dr. Needham's task in trans- much to be desired. The transformational
lating it was no light one. Unhappily difficul- method does, as Mrs. Kachru claims, throw
ties of Dutch semantics have occasionally led new light upon the way language works and
him astray. Some slips may be corrected from
obviously must have something to offer the
the context. Sometimes a puzzling translation student of the language, but she is unfortu-
will warn the reader that something has gone
nately far from explicit about how it could be
wrong, as on p. 107, where the author meant to applied to pedagogy.
say that in the Mahayana the terms mahaydna Generative grammar, dealing with language
and hinaydna were coined (on this point, see, in terms of deep and surface structure, seems
however, E. J. Thomas in JCBRAS, NS, I, to complicate grammatical issues for the
1950, 35). Rare, but particularly misleading, learner whose primary concern is with surface
are the cases where the translation conveys a
problems. In order to understand the surface
meaning that in itself might be quite accept- features, one must, in terms of transforma-
able, but is not what the author wanted to say ; tional grammar, know the deep features,
as on p. 84, n. 30, ' To perform this ceremony with which the lay learner cannot be expected
backwards as black magic is thought to be to be concerned. For example, the differences,
extremely powerful'. Black magic consisting manifested in the deep structures of the two
in the performance of a ritual in reversed order sentences (p. 27) :
does occur, but Dr. Pott meant that a wrong
use of the ceremony he referred to was severely dhai bacce ko diidh pilane ke liye hec
condemned. It is only fair to say that in a few botal bacceko difdh pilane ke liye he,
cases the author, or his source, is to blame for would seem irrelevant from the point of view
a mistaken rendering of an original text. For of the learner. Statements like, 'sentences

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