Dharmamegha in Yoga and Yogācāra: The Revision of a Superlative Metaphor

Karen O'Brien-Kop

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    The Pātañjalayogaśāstra concludes with a description of the pinnacle of
    yoga practice: a state of samādhi called dharmamegha, cloud of dharma. Yet
    despite the structural importance of dharmamegha in the soteriology of
    Pātañjala yoga, the śāstra itself does not say much about this term. Where
    we do find dharmamegha discussed, however, is in Buddhist yogācāra, and
    more broadly in early Mahāyāna soteriology, where it represents the apex of
    attainment and the superlative statehood of a bodhisattva. Given the relative
    paucity of Brahmanical mentions of dharmamegha in the early common era,
    Patañjali appears to adopt this key metaphor from a Mahāyāna context—
    and to revise its primary meaning from fullness to emptiness. This article
    traces the early elaborations of dharmamegha in Buddhist texts, and,
    drawing on conceptual metaphor theory, lays out four arguments that each,
    in part, accounts for the stark contrast in how classical yoga and yogācāra
    employ the superlative metaphor of dharmamegha.

    © 2020 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)605-635
    Number of pages31
    JournalJournal of Indian Philosophy
    Issue number4
    Early online date9 May 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2020


    • yoga
    • Indian philosophy
    • conceptual metaphor
    • Patañjali
    • Yogasutra
    • yogacara
    • Yogacarabhumi

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