In this episode, we speak with Dr. James Mallinson (SOAS, University of London) about his travels through India, meeting his guru, his journey to becoming an Indologist, his pioneering research on the history of yoga and yogīs, key findings from the Haṭha Yoga Project, and more.
Dr. James Mallinson is Reader in Indology and Yoga Studies at SOAS University of London. His research focuses on the history and current traditional practice of yoga through the methods philology, ethnography and art history. He is currently in the final year of the Haṭha Yoga Project, a five-year six-person research project on the history of physical yoga funded by the European Research Council. The project’s core outputs will be ten critical editions of Sanskrit texts on physical yoga and four monographs on its history and current practice.
In addition to numerous articles and chapters, Dr. Mallinson’s publications include Roots of Yoga (Penguin Classics, 2017, co-authored with Mark Singleton) and The Khecarīvidyā of Ādinātha, a Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of an Early Text on Haṭhayoga (Routledge, 2007). The latter is a revision of his doctoral thesis, which was supervised by Professor Alexis Sanderson at the University of Oxford, where Dr. Mallinson also read Sanskrit as an undergraduate.
Dr. Mallinson has spent more than ten years living in India with traditional ascetics and practitioners of yoga, and at the 2013 Kumbh Mela was awarded the title of Mahant by the Rāmānandī Saṃpradāya, which was documented in a BBC film entitled West Meets East, featuring his childhood friend and actor Dominic West.