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Title: Yogi  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Niralamba Swami, Yoga, Asana, Yogini, Yogaswami
Collection: Asceticism, Jain Religious Occupations, Titles and Occupations in Hinduism, Vajrayana Buddhists, Yogis
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A yogi seated in a garden

A yogi is a practitioner of yoga.[1] The term "yogi" is also used to refer specifically to Siddhas,[2][3] and broadly to refer to ascetic practitioners of meditation in a number of Indian religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.


  • Etymology 1
  • Hinduism 2
    • Textual references 2.1
    • Yogi - Siddha 2.2
    • Sexual abstention 2.3
  • List of yogis 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • Sources 7
  • External links 8


In the Classical Sanskrit of the Puranas, the word yogi (Sanskrit: masc yogī, योगी; fem yoginī) originally referred specifically to a male practitioner of yoga. In the same literature yoginī is the term used for female practitioners as well as for divine goddesses and enlightened mothers, all revered as aspects of the Divine Mother Devi without whom there would be no yogis. The two terms are still used with those meanings today, but the word yogi is also used generically to refer to both male and female practitioners of yoga and related meditative practices in Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism etc.


In Hinduism the term yogi refers to an adherent of yoga.[1]

Textual references

The Shiva Samhita[4] defines the yogi patel as someone who knows that the entire cosmos is situated within his own body, and the Yoga-Shikha-Upanishad text[5] distinguishes two kinds of yogis:

  1. Those who pierce through the "sun" (surya) by means of the various yogic techniques and
  2. Those who access the door of the central conduit (sushumna-nadi) and drink the nectar. As to what this nectar is, all meditation lineages focus on self-mastery of essence, both spiritual and sexual.

The Yoga-Bhashya (400 CE,[6] the oldest extant commentary on the Yoga-Sutra,[7] offers the following fourfold classification of yogis:

  1. neophyte/beginner (prathama-kalpika)
  2. one who has reached the "honeyed level" (madhu-bhumika)
  3. the advanced practitioner who enjoys enlightenment (joginath, giri, goswami, etc.)

Yogi - Siddha

A sculpture of a Hindu yogi in the Birla Mandir, Delhi

According to David White, the term yogi is also a pejorative term used by Hindu orthodoxy for a Siddha.[3] According to White,

[S]iddha means "realized, perfected one",[note 1] a term generally applied to a practitioner (sādhaka, sadhu) who has, through his practice (sadhana), realized his dual goal of superhuman powers (siddhis, "realizations", "perfections") and bodily immortality (jivanmukti).[8]

The term siddha has become a broad sectarian appellation, applying to Saiva-devotees in the Deccan (Mahesvara Siddhas), alchemists in Tamil Nadu (Sittars), a group of early Buddhist tantrikas from Bengal (Mahasiddha, Siddhacaryas), the alchemists of medieval India (Rasa Siddha), and a mainly north Indian group known as the Nath Siddhas.[8][2] The Nath Siddhas are the only still existing representatives of the medieval Tantric tradition, which had disappeared due to its excesses.[9] While the Nath Siddhas enjoyed persistent popular success, they attracted the scorn of the elite classes.[9] According to White, the term yogi

...has, for at least eight hundred years, been an all-purpose term employed to designate those Saiva specialists whom orthodox Hindus have considered suspect, heterodox, and even heretical in their doctrine and practice.[1]

According to White, the yoga as practiced by Saiva specialists is more closely identified in the eyes of those critics with black magic, sorcery and sexual perversions than with yoga in the conventional sense of the word.[10]

Sexual abstention

Brahmacarya for yogis, as stated in the Agni-Purana, embodies self-imposed abstention from sexual activity: fantasizing, glorifying the sex act or someone's sexual attraction, dalliance, sexual ogling, sexually flirtatious talk, the resolution to break one's vow, and consummation of sexual intercourse itself, with any being.

Married practitioners aspire likewise to abstain from unconscious/harmful sexual behavior, and to meditatively practice sexual yoga (as opposed to ego-centered sexual release) with their partner, but must practice aware chastity with regard to others.[11]

Modern science now understands that such a code of sexual conduct is also organically assisted by neurochemical changes in brain states of intense meditators (reduced dopamine and increased oxytocin) that induce general relaxation and mental stability, and is not sheerly by willpower alone.[12]

List of yogis

Historical yogis and yoga gurus:

See also


  1. ^ Compare Siddhartha Gautama, one of the names of the Buddha.


  1. ^ a b c White 2012, p. 8.
  2. ^ a b Zimmermann 2003, p. 4.
  3. ^ a b White 2012, p. 8-9.
  4. ^ International Yoga Bibliography, Howard R. Jarrell, 1981, p. 114
  5. ^ Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, p. 346
  6. ^ Rosen 2012, p. 72.
  7. ^ Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, pg 343
  8. ^ a b White 2012, p. 2.
  9. ^ a b White 2012, p. 7.
  10. ^ White 2012, p. 9.
  11. ^ Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, p.62
  12. ^ How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings From A Leading Neuroscientist, by Andrew Newberg M.D., Ballantine Books, USA 2009
  13. ^ Feuerstein, Georg (2001). The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice (Kindle ed.). Arizona, USA: Hohm Pr. p. Kindle Location 5720.  
  14. ^ Paramahamsa Prajnanananda (15 August 2006). My Time with the Master. Sai Towers Publishing. pp. 25–.  
  15. ^ Benoy Gopal Ray (1965). Religious movements in modern Bengal. "He learnt and practices of Yog from Sumerudasji". Visva-Bharati. p. 101. Retrieved 23 May 2011. 
  16. ^ Amulya Kumar Tripathy; P. C. Tripathy; Jayadeva (2006). The Gita Govinda of Sri Jayadev. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India. pp. Yogiguru "Swami Nigamananda" Book Translators :Shri Durga Charan Mohanty. Retrieved 23 May 2011. 
  17. ^ Jeevankalechi Sadhana
  18. ^ Vishwavyapi Manavadharma Ashram
  19. ^ "Iconic Bay Area Yoga Teacher Dies / Yoga Buzz / Yoga Blog / Yoga Journal". 2011-03-02. Retrieved 2011-04-13. 


  • Feuerstein, Georg (2000), The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, Shambhala Publications 
  • Rosen, Richard (2012), Original Yoga: Rediscovering Traditional Practices of Hatha Yoga, Shambhala Publications 
  • White, David Gordon (2012), The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India, University of Chicago Press 
  • Zimmermann, Marion (2003), A short introduction: The Tamil Siddhas and the Siddha medicine of Tamil Nadu, GRIN Verlag, p. 4,  

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External links

  • Yoga/Yoga Tales at Wikibooks
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