Yoga art exhibit coming to Washington DC


The Smithsonian's Museums of Asian Art in Washington, DC is preparing the first large exhibition of yoga-related art. Titled "Yoga: The Art of Transformation," the show is really a look at the history of the practice that dates back as far as 500 BCE. According to Smithsonian, "the exhibition includes more than 100 temple sculptures, devotional icons, illustrated manuscripts, court paintings, photographs, books and films borrowed from 25 museums and private collections in India, Europe and the United States." You can get a preview of the art over at Smithsonian Magazine or donate to support the exhibit at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries. Above left, "Siddha Pratima Yantra" (Western India, dated 1333; Bronze, 21.9 x 13.1 x 8.9 cm.) "The negative space cut from a sheet of copper represents an advanced Jain practitioner (siddha) who has achieved disembodied enlightenment." Above right, "The Prince in Dange" (from The Magic Doe Woman, Mrigavati, attributed to Haribans, 1603-4, opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 28.3 x 17 cm.) A Preview of the World's First Exhibition on Yoga in Art



  1. Is it even possible to attain enlightenment without the body? Even a tenuous bodily attachment must be maintained – without bodily sensors it would seem impossible to attain enlightenment. This is why a Bodhisattva returns to the body and to earthly things. The Bodhisattva is so “far out” that he or she needs to be grounded in the Earth and its goings-on. I wish I lived on the East Coast in order to see this exhibit.

    1. Even a tenuous bodily attachment must be maintained – without bodily sensors it would seem impossible to attain enlightenment. This is why a Bodhisattva returns to the body and to earthly things. 

      Seems legit

      1. The elusive myth of “enlightenment” is one of the longest standing myths of Humankind. Enlightenment is held out in front of initiates like a carrot. “Practice, sit or twist yourself into various postures and empty your mind and you will be enlightened” say the Holy Masters. It’s similar to how investment specialists con the un-wise into making bad investments…”just invest a little bit more and you’ll be a millionaire in no time!” – not sayin’ that yoga is bad, though. It’s always good for people to stretch.

          1. Let’s just say that an empty enlightenment is no enlightenment at all. For me, a decent enlightenment must include people (firstly) and pets (definitely) and good food (nothing wrong with a slice of tofurken) and myriad other beauties of Life. So many times, enlightenment is sold as some sort of sterile boot camp (like Crossfit) – Be Here Now sez Ram Dass…be here now.

        1. Practising the art of calming yourself, of actively de-stressing yourself by using breathing techniques and different postures is well represented in Freud, Jung, and later, Reich specifically.
          Though, perhaps it is wrong to ‘push’ Samsara as some spiritual object to be attained, consumed.

          I think even a dry appreciation of the lengthy purging of stress from the body leading to higher functioning states of the brain, measurable by fMRI, need not be disparaged as some laughably unattainable, gaudy, spiritual window dressing.

          1. The problem is that whereas one can define a “potato” or a “piece of paper” the definition of “enlightenment” is elusive. I think most people might think of it as freedom from credit card bills or freedom from an abusive spouse.

            Sitting or performing Yoga positions (or simply ) breathing seems like the lazy man’s way of bolstering one’s Being. Besides, there’s a certain kind of “ZEN” in power jogging and getting full bicep tattoos.

          2. Maybe you could read something about yoga and find out. Start with the Kleshas.

          3. In reply to RK
            In all seriousness; in my experience only very powerful drugs approach the kind of experience I think you are talking about.
            The ‘sudden enlightenment’, the englishing of which always sounds so ersatz and corny, is an experience so assuredly repeatable, so shocking to the practitioner that it can have the effect of resetting a persons… ‘alignment’?
            I’ve heard Leary and RAW describe how the powerful and sometimes harrowing experience of taking LSD could reset, or acclimatise a person to their surrounding environment (whatever that may include) as they came off the trip.
            Unfortunately, as with all religion, the sudden enlightenment grabs devotees with  dubious means.
            See ‘David Wants to Fly‘ for a take on how one of my heroes fell victim to, or is making a spectacular example of, a cult that uses an effective meditation technique to financially hook you.

          4. I just realised my prior comment says “…in my experience only very powerful drugs help approach the kind of mind-state…”
            I meant that only very powerful drugs help, outside of some form of meditative practice.
            Which I obviously need to be more engaged with. :)

      1. It might calm you down enough to help you realize that there aren’t really any man-eating snakes. Although it wouldn’t help you much if you ran into Ophiophagus hannah.

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