International Guest Lecture on Yoga Therapy at SBV by Fulbright-Nehru Fellow Dr Chris Chapple

The illuminating talk, “Yoga Therapy as Tied to Outlook: The Samkhya Karika and the Yogavasistha” was delivered by Prof. CHRISTOPHER KEY CHAPPLE who is Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology and Director of the Master of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University, USA.

Dr Chapple is a respected scholar of Yoga, Jainism, and Buddhism and his research and work as founder and director of the Master of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University has been recognized with a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award.

In his illuminating presentation, Dr Chapple explained how the Samkhya Karika urges one to recognize and understand the role of the bhavas in pre-determining one’s emotional state. He detailed the relationship between the Panch Maha Bhutas and the senses and how through contemplation on each element, its related senses and bija mantras etc, one can enhance health, well-being and spiritual evolution. He also elaborated on the Yogavasistha which suggests that sleep and dream hold the key to unlocking the secret to being human. He stressed on how sustained attention to the earth, water, fire, air, and space brought Vasistha to his own state of freedom and stimulated the keen audience to ask whether the same could work for them too. “ Each person’s experiences are unique to them and hence dedicated sadhana is the key to attaining the highest state of being,” said he.

Dr Chapple is currently in India, with Fulbright support, undertaking research on Jain Yoga and religious pluralism. His methodologies combine text study, field study, historical analysis, theological reflection and interviews with Sanskrit scholars, Jain monks and nuns, as well as members of the community. The research gained from this immersive experience builds on his earlier studies of Yoga texts and will result in a new translation and interpretation of the “Yogabindu,” a sixth-century text composed by Svetambara scholar Haribhadra Virahāṅkha.

As a Fulbright grantee, Dr Chapple joins the ranks of distinguished participants in the flagship international educational exchange program, sponsored by the U.S. government, which aims to increase mutual understanding between people of the United States and the people of other countries. Fulbright alumni include 59 Nobel Laureates, 84 Pulitzer Prize winners, 72 MacArthur Fellows, 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients and thousands of leaders across the private, public and non-profit sectors.

“I am honoured and humbled by this recognition and grateful to both the Fulbright Program and LMU for their support of my research and work,” said Chapple. “This project is key to understanding Yoga’s cross-cultural, inter-religious, nationalist and international appeal, while also exploring the broader context of modern Yoga in India.”

His time in India also includes a public lecture series, which will be crucial to his development of further programming for LMU students on the topic of Yoga in its contemporary and historical forms, particularly in relationship to Jainism

Dr Chapple has published more than 20 books on topics that include studies of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Yoga, and religion and ecology. In 2002, he established the first of several certificate programs in the study of Yoga at LMU’s Center for Religion and Spirituality and founded LMU’s Master of Arts in Yoga Studies in the fall of 2013. The program, in its seventh year, is the first of its kind in North America and was recently recognized in the Journal of Sport History (Spring 2019) as an “academic umbrella that helps legitimize the scholarly study of yoga and its many iterations.”

It is notable that Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth and LMU are collaborating through the Yoga Therapy Educational Journey that has brought groups from LMU to train and share Yoga therapy knowledge at the CYTER of SBV in 2017 and 2018.