Bulletin for the Study of Religion, Vol 39, No 2 (2010)

Chakras and Endocrine Glands: Metaphysics and Physiology in the Preksha Dhyana of Acharya Mahaprajna

Andrea R. Jain
Issued Date: 11 May 2010


This paper is an exploration of preksha dhyana as a case study of modern yoga. Preksha is a system of yoga and meditation introduced by Acarya Mahaprajna of the Jain Svetambara Terapanth in the late twentieth century. I argue that preksha is an attempt to join the newly emerging transnational yoga market whereby yoga has become a practice oriented around the attainment of physical health and psychological well-being. I will evaluate the ways in which Mahaprajna appropriates scientific discourse and in so doing constructs a new and unique system of Jain modern yoga. In particular, I evaluate the appropriation of physical and meditative techniques from ancient yoga systems in addition to the explanation of yoga metaphysics by means of biomedical discourse. I will demonstrate how, in Mahaprajna’s preksha system, the metaphysical subtle body becomes somaticized. In other words, Mahaprajna uses the bio-medical understanding of physiology to locate and identify the functions of metaphysical subtle body parts and processes in the physiological body.

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DOI: 10.1558/bsor.v39i2.005


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