Pasupata Yoga and the Art of Dying

With Specific Reference to the Pasupatasutra, Ratnatika and Skandapurana


  • Arinde Jonker Independent scholar



Pāśupata, Śaivism, yoga, utkrānti, death, Skandapurāṇa


This paper researches the relation between yoga and death in the early Saiva tradition of the Pasupatas, based on three Pasupata sources: the Pasupatasutra, the Ratnatika and the Skandapurana. The paper presents an analysis and interpretation of textual passages that treat the last moment of the life of a Pasupata ascetic in order to find out whether or not his death can be interpreted as a form of ‘self-induced yogic death’. Following the analysis of the primary sources, it will become clear that yoga and death stood in a much closer relation than one might expect.

Author Biography

Arinde Jonker, Independent scholar

Arinde Jonker completed a BA in religious studies and a ResMA in Asian studies at Leiden University. She studied Sanskrit under the guidance of Professor Peter Bisschop and Professor Jonathan Silk. In the course of her studies she developed an interest in the academic study of the history of yoga, especially in relation to Pāśupata Śaivism.


Primary Sources

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Chandogya Upanisad: Patrick Olivelle. 1998. The Early Upanisads: Annotated Text and Translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Katha Upanisad: Patrick Olivelle. 1998. The Early Upanisads: Annotated Text and Translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ksurika Upanisad: Narayana and Sankarananda 1925. Srinarayanasankaranandaviracitadipikasametanam atharvasikhadyanam Hamsopanisadantanam Dvatrimsanmitanam Upanisadam Samuccayah. Dvitiyeyam ankanavrrttih. ed. Anandasramasamskrtagranthavalih; 29. Punyakhyapattane: Anandasramamudranalaye.

Pañcarthabhasya: See Pasupatasutra

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Patañjalayogasastra: Rama Prasada (ed. and trans.). 1912. Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras. With the Commentary of Vyasa and the Gloss of Vachaspati Misra. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.

Ratnatika: Cimanalala Dahyabhai Dalala (ed.). 1920. Gana-Karika. Gaekwad’s Oriental Series XV. Baroda: Central Library.

Skandapurana: See Skandapuranasya Ambikakhandah

Skandapuranasya Ambikakhandah: Krsnaprasad Bhattarai (ed.). 1988. Skandapurana: Skandapuranasya Ambikakhandah. Kathmandu. Excerpts taken from: Sanderson (2004).

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How to Cite

Jonker, A. . (2021). Pasupata Yoga and the Art of Dying: With Specific Reference to the Pasupatasutra, Ratnatika and Skandapurana. Religions of South Asia, 15(1), 67–88.