Yoga’s battle… continues: Volume 2

Patrick McCartney
25 min readFeb 11, 2021

Drinking for courage, forging ahead, stealing cattle, and humiliating losers

Patrick McCartney CC-By Attribution 4.0 International @yogascapesinjap DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/VDQKW

By “battle,” what I mean is the metaphorical battle over the narratives curated on behalf of Yoga. Often, the popular and official narratives that are shared and repeated grow in legitimacy, as time passes. Yet, it is often the case that instead of facts, factoids circulate. In some small way, these irregular posts intend to attenuate the -oids in the fact-…that is, the intention is to address factoids and separate them from the facts.

While it appears commonly held, there is a belief that “namas te” is somehow this ever present term found across the Vedic canon of texts. This does not seem to be the case. For instance, a quick scan of the following upaniṣads does not show any sign of namaste in the: Aitareyopaniṣad, Chandogya-Upanisad, Isa-Upanisad, Kathopaniṣad, Mandukya-Upanisad, Prasna-Upanisad, Sivasamkalpa-Upanisad.

There are 4 poems, below, which demonstrate both the earliest known meanings of “yoga” and “namaste.” Together, they demonstrate some of the moral economy at the centre of “yogic action.” This builds on from the previous Yoga’s Battle rant, which can be accessed, HERE.

  1. The first poem, III.32.1–17, is about drinking Soma to get manly strength and then go out into battle.
  2. Following directly on from that, the second poem, III.33.1–13, discusses the path taken and crossing of rivers. It is at verse 8 and 9 that the earliest attested meaning of “namas te” is located in relation to women coerced into submission by the heroes looking for a fight.
  3. Verse 10 of the third poem, VIII.75.1–16, is where “namas te” is found. This poem essentially takes on a belligerent, martial tone focused on asking Agni for power for the purposes of cattle rustling, the destruction of enemies, and the accumulation of wealth.
  4. The fourth poem, X.166.1–5, boasts about the humiliation and destruction that will befall the losing opponent and how all that is theirs will become that of the hero and that this is what “yoga” equates…