Yoga with hammock

Professional holy men and their symbolic capital

An important aspect of the power discourses discussed above is that they provided the conditions for an institutional framework for exchanging for instance goods with super-natural capabilities. The discourses provided a professional class of holy people’ with an economic foundation. In the sociological terms of Bourdieu this means the creation of a cultural field.

Hence the supernatural powers mastered by these groups became their symbolic capital. The symbolic capital enabled the professional holy men to receive economical goods and political power from the surrounding population.166 The Brahmin ritual masters had hitherto prospered because they were seen as intermediaries between humans and gods. What the Sramanas and the yogic virtuosi brought to the table was for instance their ability to assist the soul after death and manage ancestor spirits. But there were many other ways to skin a cat. The Buddhists developed for instance a clever institution where economic donations from the public were exchanged for the merits – the symbolic capital – that the monks had accumulated due to their practice.167

The aspect of supernatural powers can be followed clearly in the yoga discourse as it evolved out of Sramanic proto-yoga discourses. In the Mahabharata supernatural powers became a central issue and in the Yoga Sutra it took up one of four chapters. In such texts the yoga sign became firmly associated with super-natural powers and gained respect in the wider population. Yoga had become an authoritative totem and throughout Indian history we see countless examples of how emerging discourses linked themselves with yoga in order to be associated with its authority. I assume that much of yoga’s longevity is due to its symbolic value.

Yoga with hammock for Eisenhower, who had been an Allied commander in World War II, addressed the country for the last time as commander-in-chief. Of his many comments about the state of the country, the best-remembered concerned what he called the military-industrial complex a web of intersecting industrial, political, and military interest groups that had arisen since World War II and pushed for higher defense spending and greater U.S. military involvement overseas. Eisenhower warned that these intersecting interest groups were gaining too much influence over U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Yoga with hammock photos, Yoga with hammock 2016.


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