This talk will focus on the Tamil yogin Śri Sabhapati Swami (ca. 1828–1923/4) and how some of his techniques of Śivarājayoga or “The Royal Yoga for Śiva” were discussed by the “Founders” of the Theosophical Society, Helena Blavatsky and Henry Olcott, and the theosophical author Franz Hartmann, as well as integrated into the Thelemic “Magick” of Aleister Crowley. Beginning with an overview of Sabhapati Swami’s life and works, many of which are out of print, we will discuss what specific portions would have been of interest to these Theosophists, Crowley, and by extension later Thelemites, and also contextualize Sabhapati’s “Sanskritized” vernacular Tamil and Hindi works that include many more detailed instructions on ritual and mantra that should be of interest to scholars and practitioners alike.
Dr. Keith Edward Cantú is currently a visiting research fellow at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, in the DFG-funded project “CAS-E, Alternative Rationalities and Esoteric Practices from a Global Perspective” (https://cas-e.de/). His forthcoming book Like a Tree Universally Spread: Sri Sabhapati Swami and Śivarājayoga will be released in June of this year by Oxford University Press. He has been an avid reader of Aleister Crowley since high school, has previously been a member of Horizon Lodge and affiliate member of Star Sapphire Lodge, and currently resides with his wife in Erlangen, Germany.
Śri Sabhapati Swami, Theosophy, and Thelema
Saturday, March 11 · 1:00 – 2:30pm
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