Padmasana Yoga Pose

Sufis, jogis and Bhaktis and supernatural powers

The arrival of the devotional Sufis, functioning as advisers and spiritual patrons for the ruling class, meant a mutual stimulation of the Bhakti movement of Northern India.330 Bhakti was about an emotional selfless love for the divine. By total immersion in the love of god, the Bhakti practitioner would be filled up with god and became released. Under the Sultanate the Bhakti movement flourished in Northern India, especially worshipping Vishnu. Bhakti- based Vaishnavism began to replace Saivism among the local ruling classes. It was a new way of salvation which was very critical to the ascetic elite way of achieving salvation. It claimed that yoga ironically only resulted in the build up of Ego. Thus tapas practice, instead of removing the ego and releasing purusha/’Siva/brahman, just made the ego problem worse.

The Bhakti movement was a serious threat to the cultural field of liberation like yoga and high caste Tantra. First of all it confronted and devalued yogic and Tantric self-efforts as impotent and even meaningless in respect of reaching god. They dismissed the underlying codes and habitus , which enabled the symbolic capital of the living liberated – the liberation specialist. Secondly some Bhaktis also questioned the supernatural powers generated through yoga and Tantra. These were occasionally dismissed as empty tricks (Burchett 2012). The implication was that the underlying power discourse was challenged head-on as a hoax. Hence there could be no human build up of magical powers. For yoga and Tantra all this of course meant loss of status and symbolic capital. In this way many holy men’s underlying economical and political foundation was under threat.

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