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This gives an indication that renunciation and asceticism probably did play a role among some Brahmin clans during this period. It had not become totally extinct among them. But yoga is not identical with renunciation and asceticism. People can renounce without adhering to yoga discourse.

Thus the formal integration of renunciation into Brahmin society raises many questions: was yoga until then an essential part of Brahmin renunciation or not? What impact did it have on the yoga discourse as renunciation – to which yoga originally was closely related – finally became rubber-stamped? Did the asrama system have the effect of making the yoga discourse more widely available among Brahmins?

If we read the Dharma-sastras – the law texts introducing renouncing as a righteous way of living – the answer seems negative. Yoga is only sporadically mentioned and plays almost no part at all. Furthermore, when yoga is mentioned it is described as a mortifying ascetic-meditative technology (Feuerstein 1998), not as an Upanishadic mystical union. Does this mean that the discourse of mystical union – Absorbed Realisation – was only found among a few heretic Brahmin clans?

Overall we can see that many of the Brahmins in this period were busy with issues other than writing about yoga. Their writings and their profession are preoccupied with adapting to the new state form and its ideology of monotheism.

The establishment of the Vedic canon and Brahmin dominance – Advaita Vedanta

The full revival of Brahmanism around 700 AD, following the collapse of the Axial Age empires, is evident from the emergence of the Advaita Vedanta School (Wikipedia link) according to R. Collins (1998). I will return to the philosophy of Vedanta in a separate chapter o n Gnostic yoga. 222 With Sankara and the Advaita Vedanta School, the Brahmins finally managed to mirror the Buddhist centralistic organisations and many core notions. A range of monastic movements and universities (maths) were founded. Many of them, like the temples, were granted land by the king.

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