The Yogis: Magicians, Mercenaries, Soldiers, Spies, and Sages from Indian History

Wednesday, September 3, 2014, 6:00 p.m.
Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall

How did we arrive at the image of the yogi as an otherworldly Hindu ascetic, sitting upright, cross-legged, with eyes closed in serene meditation? As she takes you on a tour of the exhibition, Ananya Dasgupta, Assistant Professor of History at Case Western Reserve University, will talk about a lesser-known history of armed ascetics—who were sought-after mercenary soldiers, with extensive networks spanning large swaths of the Indian subcontinent that often made them particularly attractive for purposes of intelligence gathering, and found them employment with Indian princely states and the East India Company alike.

Contextualizing select exhibits within histories of struggles over political power, rent, land, and sacral geographies, which intensified with British anxieties about itinerant bands of yogi-ascetics, we will trace how the figure of the yogi was stripped of worldly power and function and reduced to spiritual exotica from an “other-worldly East.”

Free; exhibition ticket required. Meet in the exhibition.

Yoga: The Art of Transformation is organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution with support from the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, and the Ebrahimi Family Foundation.


Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne

Media sponsor: 

The Cleveland Museum of Art is supported in part by Cuyahoga County residents through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this exhibition with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.

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