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Yoga History over Five Millennia

A Complete Timeline

By Eric Shaw

This timeline started as reference tool for my PhD studies in 2004,

and has continued to be both an important resource for my investigations
and teaching, as well as a fun project to develop just for its own sake.
Im delighted to share it with other anybody interested in yogas
history, but especially with my fellow teachers and students.
It is my hope that it will enrich your understanding and subsequent
experiments in the art of yoga.
This timeline is largely self-explanatory, but it does have a bias
towards Hinduism, Hatha Yoga, American developments and English
language publications.
To the laymen, it may seem odd to also encounter timely
developments within physical culture and self-culture here, but these
disciplines continue to give shape to modern yogas form and philosophy.
For example, I say little about important German scholarship on yoga,
yoga developments in France, or the activities of the Jains and Buddhists,
but I do included pop-culture factoids like incidents in the life of the first
famous bodybuilder (i.e. Eugen Sandow, who created a fitness revolution
that contributed to yogas growth) and the publication date of How to Win
Friends and Influence People (part of a stream of publications that have
propelled modern yogas talk of healthy-mindedness).
I have edited this timeline extremely carefully, butas with any
object full of facts and formattingI am sure to have made errorsperhaps
many errors.
It is also meaningful to tell you that I generally produce works with
proper scholastic form, but you will find no footnotes here. They would
make this timeline overlong and potentially offputting to the popular reader.
However, if you would like to learn more about any item, or want a specific
reference, time allowing, I will answer emails sent to
My hope is that this becomes a useful reference work for both laymen
and scholars. May you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed its research
and writing.



70,000 Circa date for the advent of the Stone Age

7000 Circa date for the rise of the Mehrgarh Culture of India
3800 Earliest circa date for the rise of the Harappan (a.k.a., Indus-Sarasvati, Indus
Valley, Mohenjo-daro) Culture of India
3300 Circa date for the expiration of the Mehrgarh Culture of India
2900 Earliest circa date for the 3.5 x 3.5cm steatite Pashupati Seal that appears to show
a figure in meditative pose, holding mudras and displaying other symbols of yoga
3000 Circa date for Babylonian contact with India
1700 Circa date for the expiration of the Harappan Culture
1200 Circa date for the beginning of the Iron Age
Circa date for the composition of the Rig Veda. Stories of Kesins (long-hairs)
and Vratyas (vow-takers) describe groups with behaviors similar to those of
yogis. In other material, we read of tapasic (psychic heat building) practices
(used to prepare participants in vedic rituals) that were like yoga methods
Circa date for the metal plate found in Lorestan Province, Iran, shows a Ganeshlike figure, making it the possible first evidence of his presence
1000 Circa date for Phoenician contact with India
800 Circa date for the composition of the early Upanishads
684 Birth of Magadha Empire
558 Birth of Cyrus the Great of Persia. He establishes a province in west India as part
of the Achaemenid Empire
550 Circa date for the emergence of the Mahajanapadasthe 16 cities of Indias
Second Urbanization which will nurture the subcontinents Axial Age
philosophical developments
530 Death of Cyrus
500 Circa date for the life of the Buddha
Circa date for the life of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism
Circa date for the life of Maskarin Gosala, founder of the Ajivikasan important
sect of yogis that won royal patronage and survived until c. 1000 CE. Gosala was
a disciple of Mahavira
400 Circa date for the arrival of Jews, Arabs, Syrians and Greeks, Syrians in large
numbers in Kerala
356 Birth of Alexander the Great
350 Circa date for the life of Panini the grammarian, who codified the Indo-European
language of Indias scriptures. Hereafter, that language will be called Sanskrit (i.e.
samskrtm, well-formed)
345 The Nanda Empire arises in north Indias Gangetic Plain, absorbing the 16
326 Alexander moves his empire to Indias edge as he defeats King Porus.
Onesicritus, Onesikritos, disciple of Deogenes the Cynic, dialogs with the yogis.
Both he and Aristobulus accompany Alexander and write accounts of India



In the power vacuum created by Alexanders incursions, the Mauryas displace the
Nanda Empire and eventually establish control over majority of the subcontinent
as well as the far northwest
Death of Alexander
The Gupta Empire succeeds the Magadha Empire
The great Buddhist king, Asoka, born (d. 232)
Nikator concludes peace with Chandragupta
Circa date for Megesthenes reports from King Chandraguptas court, reviewing
Indian society and telling of yogis (strivers) in his Indika
Asoka assumes throne
Asoka dies
Circa date for Deomkritos of Abderas visit with the yogis, according to Clement
of Alexandria (Stromata 1. xv. 69)
The Shungas displace the Maurya Empire in Indias northeast
The Indo-Greek Kingdoms of Bactria displace the remnants of the Maurya
Empire in Indias northwest
The Kushan Empire displaces the Shunga Empire in the northeast
Circa date for Diodorus account of India based on Megasthenes
Strabo, writes an important geographical work of which Book XV, Chapter I,
deals with India
The Kushan Empire displaces Bactrian Kingdoms in the northwest
Circa date for the end of the Indo-Greek kingdoms



Circa date for birth of Jesus (year 7 or 2 are also suggested)

Circa date for the death of Jesus (year 30 is also suggested)
Jesus disciple, Thomas, brings Christianity to the subcontinent
Circa date for Pliny the Elders writings about India. He based his works on
Greek books and reports of merchants


Circa date for the production of small terra cotta figures with elephant-heads and
fat bellies, appearing to be Ganesh
Circa date for the life of Laklulisha, initiator or reformer of the Pashupati sect, a
Saivite cult whose practices foreshadow those of Tantra
Circa date for composition of the Maitri Upanishad, and the other Patanjalis
Mahabhasya, a commentary on the grammarian Paninis great 4th century BCE
work on grammar called the Ashtadhyayi


Arrian writes about Indias geography, manners and customs


Circa date for the first appearance of the Lotus-headed fertility goddess, Lajja Gauri


Circa date for composition of the Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavad Gita
Circa date for composition of the Yoga Sutras (a.k.a.: Ptajalayogastra)



Circa date for composition of the Bashya (commentary) on the Yoga Sutras by
Circa date for composition of the Samkhya Karika, the signal work on Samkhya
Huen Tsang, Fa Hian, a Chinese pilgrim, visits India between 405 and 411 and
writes extensively of Indian life under Chandragupta II
The cult of the god Ganesha arises. One of his names, Ganapati, can be traced
back to the Sama Veda (c. 1000 BCE)



Circa date for the life of Bodhidharma, reputed to bring Chaan Buddhism and
martial arts to China
Circa date for end of Magadha Empire
Circa date for composition of the Agni Purana. First mention of yoginis in Indian
Circa date for the earliest life-date of the proto-Hatha-Yoga sage, Matsyendra
Birth of the Prophet Muhammad (d. 632)


Saiva Tantra is well-established

First Muslim Masjid is built in India, at Kodungallur in Kerala



The Chinese scholar Huen Tsang visits India at the age of 26. He returns to China
with twenty text-loaded horses and writes a long account of India, based on his
Death of the Prophet Muhammad (b. 570)
Sizable communities of Muslims in Kerala



Muhammad bin Qasim Al-Thaqafi conquers the Sindh and Punjab in NW India.
This is the first Muslim military incursion into the subcontinent
Circa date for composition of the Buddhist Hevajra Tantra. It introduces the idea
of the bodily chakras
Circa date for composition of the Devimahatmya, which first describes the fierce
goddess Ma Kali (as an emanation of Durga)
Circa date for composition of the Guhyasamja-Tantra. It contains the earliest
use of the term Haha Yoga, but no definition is given
Circa date for the carving of the stone scene at Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu of
King Bhagiratha or Arjuna assumng our modern form of Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Circa date for the life of the great Advaita Vedanta teacher, Shankaracharya


Vasugupta Shiva Sutras




More likely circa date for the life of Matsyendra (Lord of Fishes), the putative
guru of Hatha Yogas founder, Gorakhnath
Circa date for composition of Matsyendras Kaulajnananirnaya, in which
Kapalika-style sexual yogas are abstracted for the householder
Circa date for Vcaspati Mira's commentary on the Yoga Sutras, titled,
Circa date for the Abhinivaguptas Tantraloka
The great Muslim Indologist, Ab Rayhn al-Bern, is born, (d. 1048)

1000 Circa date for the oldest surviving evidence of Jewish presence in Indiain
Cochin, Malabar Coast
1001 The Persian King, Malmud of Ghazni (October 2nd , 971 April, 30th, 1030)
initiates the Muslim incursion of India with the defeat of King Jayapala's army at



Peshawar on November 28th. He will continue to raid the subcontinent until his
death, decades later
Al Beruni accompanies Malmud of Ghazni into India and begins a tradition of
modernistic history writing about the region
Circa date for Al Berunis translation into Arabic of a version of the Yoga
Sutras. It presents union with god as a goal of the practice, titled, Book of the
Indian Patanjali on the Liberation of the Afflictions, or briefly, Kitab Batanjal
(Patanjalis Book)
Kubjikamatatantra composed. Ignoring the c. 750 Hevajra Tantra, some scholars
suggest this text holds the first mention of the bodily chakras
Ab Rayhn al-Bern dies (b. 973)
First Crusade. European contact with the East is partly re-established
The great Hindu reformer, Ramanuja, is born

1157 Ramanuja dies
1150 Circa date for Bhoja Raja's commentary on the Yoga Sutras, titled, RajaMartanda
Circa date for the composition of the Kundalini Stuti of the Sarada Tilaka Tantra
(2 yoga poses described)
Circa date for the composition of the Amanska (Non-Mental Yoga)
Circa date for the composition of the Vasistha Samhita (or Yoga Vasistha) the
earliest yoga text to teach non-seated asana
Circa date for the composition of the Amrtasiddhi, a text that shows the degree of
hathayogas Vajrayana Buddhist origins and provides the earliest evidence of the
relationship between hathayoga and the sect of the Naths. It is also the first to
codify many of hathayogas techniques and names them
1192 Last Rajput king defeated by the Sultan of Ghor. Muslim hegemony expands in
North India

1206 The Sultanate of Delhi establishedfirst Muslim rule in India
1220 Circa date for the composition of the encyclopedic, Treatise on the Nature of
Yoga, by the Sufi, Muin al-Din Chisti (d. 1236)
1250 Circa date for the composition of the Tantrik Ananda-Samuccaya (Mass of
Bliss). 277 stanzas. It explains subtle body lunar and solar process, as well as
bhuta samata or elemental yoga (yoga techniques related to the 5 primal
Circa date for the composition of Jnanadevas Jnaneshvari commentary on the
Bhagavad Gita. It may be called a Hatha Yogis response to the Gita

Circa date for the composition of the Dattatreyayogasastra in which Hatha Yoga
is described as being done by people in a variety of social classes. It is the earliest
text to teach a system of yoga denoted as Hatha
Circa date for the composition of the Matsendrasamhita, a putative bridge text
between Hatha Yoga and the Tantrik Kubjika/Sambhava/Tripura cult. It gives 14
asanas and clues to Hatha Yogas emergence in Southwest India within the Natha
1292 Returning home from China, Marco Polo arrives on the Coromandel Coast of
India. Later, he will describe the habits and character of yogis in his writings

1300 Circa date for the life of Goraksha (Protector of Cows) also known as
Gorakhnath, he of the adamantine body, best-known disciple of Matsyendra,
putative founder of the Hatha Yoga tradition and credited author of the GorakshaPaddahti, Goraksha-Shataka, Goraksha Samhita, the Jnana-Amrita, the
Amanaska-Yoga, the Amaraugha-Prabodha (Understanding of the Immortal
Flood), the Yoga-Martananda, and Hatha Yoga
Circa date for the composition of the Yoga Yajnavalkya
1340 Circa date for Sayana Madhavas Sarvadarshanasamgraha (Compendium of All
the Systems). It affirms the philosophy the Yoga Sutra
1350 Circa date for the composition of the Gorakh-Bodh (Instruction by Goraksha),
133 stanzas

1400 Circa date for the composition of the The Khecarividya of Adinatha. 84 poses
Circa date for the composition of the Siva Samhita. It draws on Advaita Vedanta
and describes esoteric body structure. Bandha, mudra (seals) and cakra are
described. Affirms that householders can practice Hatha Yoga. Offers about 7
1450 Circa date for the composition of the Goraksha Upanishad
Circa date for the composition of the classic Hatha Yoga text, the Hatha Yoga
Pradipika. Ascribed to Svatmarama Yogendra, it has 389 stanzas and describes
18 poses and labels 15 with a total of 22 names. It also includes 3 stable pose-like
mudras and 2 mudras which are karanas (movements in position). The HYP
synthesizes Raja Yoga into its practice and philosophy and recommends
hathayoga for all practitioners as a preamble to that higher practice
1453 Indian Explorer Alfonso de Albuquerque born in Portugal
1498 Vasco da Gama arrives in Calicut from Portugal, initiating the modern European
incursion into India

1500 Pedro Cabral lands Portuguese ships at Cochin and brings back an indigenous
Indian Christian when he returns to Europe
1502 Vasco da Gama travels to Cochin and visits indigenous Christians there
1505 First Jesuits in India
1510 A detailed image of a yogi in Kukkutasana (Rooster Pose) is carved into the wall
of a temple in Sri Sailam, India
1526 The Mughal Empire is established in India by King Babur
1542 Birth of the great Mughal king, Akbar, October 15th (d. 1605)
1547 The singer-saint Mirabai is born (d. 1614)
1550 Circa date for the translation into Persian of the Sanskrit Amrtakunda (The
Ocean of Life) by Muhammad Gwaliyari (or Muhammad Ghwath Gwaliori) a
prominent Sufi who was close to the Mughal court. This stands as the earliestknown treatise to contain a systematic series of yoga poses and practices (22 in
Circa date for the composition of the Purnanandaa Satcakra-nirupana
("Description of, and Investigation into the Six Bodily Centers")
1554 The first Western book in an Indian language is published: a Tamil-Portuguese
Christian manual, in Lisbon
1556 Akbar assumes the throne. Under his leadership, the Mughals will gain either
direct or indirect rule of the whole of India
1560 Manoel dOliveira, a newly converted Indian Christian, translates a Marathi
adaptation of the Bhagavad Gita, the Jnanesvari, into Portuguese
1570 Circa date for the the Mughul emperor Akbar's translations of the Upanishads
into Persian
1576 Henrique Henriques, a Portuguese Jesuit, publishes a Tamil catechism of
Francisco Xavier in India
1577 Robert Nobili, the important Jesuit Missionary to India, is born (d.1656)
1581 King Akbar of India propounds the syncretic system of Din-i-ilahi that blends
elements diverse religions
1583 Italian merchant and Humanist F. Sassetti in India (until 1588). He makes the
first Western reference to Sanskrit in a letter home, and notes some lexical
correspondences to Italian
1590 Circa date for Vijnanabhiksu's commentary on the Yoga Sutras, titled
Yogabhashyavarttika ("Explanation of the Commentary on the Yoga Sutras of
Vyasa). It attempts to harmonize the Indian (worldviews) of Samkhya and

1600 Charter of the British East India Company granted by Queen Elizabeth in London

1602 Circa date for the composition of an illustrated version of the 1550 Ocean of Life
by Muhammad Gwaliyari. It is rendered under the auspices of Prince Salim (the
future Mughal Emperor Jahangir) in Allahabad. This is the oldest illustrated
manuscript of postures. Twenty-two practices are shown
1605 The great Mughal king, Akbar, dies, October 27 (b. 1542)
1613 The great cultural translator, the Italian Jesuit Priest, Robert Nobili, begins
composing his first works on Indian social mores and religion
1614 Mirabai dies (b. 1547)
1616 The 11,000 verse Christian Purana, a Marathi composition by the British Jesuit
priest Thomas Stephens, is published
1622 East Indian slaves brought to Virginia
1625 Circa date for the composition of the Hatha Ratnavali by Shrinivasa Batta. 397
verses, 84 poses named and 36 poses described
1650 Circa date for composition of the Goraksha-Vacana-Samgraha. 157 verses.
Circa date for composition of the Yogachintamani. Standard versions of the book
refer to 35 asanas, however one manuscript lists 110 poses, describing 55 of these
1656 Robert Nobili dies (b. 1577)
1657 The Muslim King Dara Shikoh, produces a collection of the Upanishads called
Sirr-e-Akbar (The Greatest Mysteries)
1670 The European traveler Tavernier makes sketches of yogis during his Indian
1698 John Fryers A New Account of East India and Persia, describes seeing a yogi
hold headstand for 3 hours

1700 Circa date for the composition of the Gheranda Samhita which follows the
Vaisnava yoga tradition of Bengal. It has 317 verses and describes 21
shatkarmas, 32 asanas and 5 pose-like mudras
1708 Siddhantamuktavali, composed. It is an extended version of the c. 1400 Hatha
Yoga Pradipika. 95 poses are listed
1717 In one colophon of Sivanandasarasvatis Yogacintamani, 97 asanas are listed, 55
described in full. It includes a quote from Patanjali
1725 In a letter, the German missionary Benjamin Schulze remarks on the similarities
of Sanskrit, German and Latin numerals
Circa date for the composition of the Gheranda Samhita which follows the
Vaisnava yoga tradition of Bengal. It has 317 verses and describes 21
shatkarmas, 32 asanas and 5 pose-like mudras
1730 The first Masons lodge is established in India (Calcutta)
1739 Bernard Picart publishes the Encyclopedia of Pagan Practices. Yogis are pictured
and described
1746 The Sanskritist Sir William Jones is born (d. 1794)
1750 Brahmanandas Jyotsna, a commentary on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, composed
Circa date for the composition of the Yoga-Shastra of Dattatreya, 334 lines. A
variety of the more unusual hathayoga practices are described








Circa date for the Yoga-Karnika (Ear ornament of Yoga) composed by

Aghorananda. 1200 verses. It is an encyclopedic but badly organized
compendium of quotes and other material from previous Hatha texts, some not
otherwise known
Circa date for the Yogasanamala, 108 asanas listed
Circa date for the Hathabhyasapaddhati. It describes 112 postures and explicitly
states that its practices are available to women
The Battle of Plassey opens the door to the British East Indian Companys quasigovernmental control over much of India
The Orientalist, Henry Thomas Colebrooke is born (d. 1837)
In a letter, Jesuit Pere Gaston Coeurdoux remarks on the similarities of the
Sanskrit, Greek and Latin forms of to be
The scholar, linguist, religionist and Father of Modern India, Ram Mohan Roy
is born in Bengal, May 22 (d. 1883)
The American War of Independence begins
Tipu Sultan, a social progressive and successful campaigner against British
forces, ascends the throne in Mysore, December 22nd
Sir William Jones appointed to a judgeship in Bengal
U.S. War of Independence ends. Continental Congress
Royal Asiatic Society formed by Jones in Bengal
Hannah Adams publishes the Alphabetical Compendium of the Various Sects, one
of the first modern attempts at comparative religion in scholarship
Charles Wilkins is the first to translate a Sanskrit work into English, publishing
The Bhagavad Gita. In a note, he also makes the first mention of the Yoga Sutras,
in English, citing, a metaphysical work called Patanjal
Jones publishes English language poems on Sanskrit subjects
Jones publishes The Sanscrit Language and a translation of the Heetopades of
Veeshnoo Sarma
Sanskritist Horace Hayman Wilson born, September 26th (d. 1860)
Jones publishes the Sacontala by Kalidasa, influencing Western Romantic poets
(Byron, Coleridge, etc.)
The Christian missionary, William Carey, arrives in Bengal
Sir William Jones translates the Manava Dharmasastra, now called the
Manusmrti or the Laws of Manu, but which Jones titled The Ordinances of Menu
Jones dies April, 27th (b. 1746)
King Mummadi Krsnaraja Wadiyar (the putative author of the Sritattvanidhi) is
The Unitarian, William Carey, and Ram Mohan Roy publish the Maha Nirvana
Tantra, which gives credence to Christian doctrine. Despite its late date, it is
accepted as part of the tradition and is used by British magistrates in determining
Hindu law
The guru of Sri Yogendra and Swami Kuvalayanda, Paramahansa Madhava Dasa
Ji is born (d. 1921)
The British conquer Mysore. Tipu Sultan is killed
The polymath, Joseph Priestly publishes, A Comparison of the Institutions of
Moses with Those of the Hindoos and other Ancient Nations


1800 Fort William College founded
Thomas Maurice, Indian Antiquities
1803 Ralph Waldo Emerson born, May 25 (d. 1882)
1804 Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron, receives a manuscript of the Upanishads
in 1775 from M. Gentil, and translates it into French and Latin, publishing the
Latin translation in two volumes in 18021804 as Oupneck'hat
1805 Colebrooke, Sanskrit Grammar, Essays on the Vedas and a translation of The
Roy, A Gift to the Monotheists in Arabic and Persian
1809 The British Sanskritist Charles Wilkins gives the first clear reference to the Yoga
Sutras in English
1810 Edward Moor, The Hindu Pantheon
William Ward publishes, An Account of the Religion, Writings and Manners of
the Hindoos. In it, he discusses yoga philosophy based on discussions with Indian
scholars of the Yoga Sutras (through Bhojas Rjamrtanda commentary, c.
1050). This is the first discussion of the Yoga Sutra in English
Francois Delsarte, the creator of Delsartism, a yoga-like system that is used for
fitness, is born (d. 1871)
1812 Britain and the United States battle in the War of 1812. The U.S. loses
1813 Horace Hyman Wilson translates Kalidasas Meghaduta
1814 Ralph Waldo Emersons father dies
1815 Roy moves to Calcutta
1816 Roy publishes An Abridgement of the Vedanta and English translations of the
Kena, Katha, Isa and Manduka Upanishads in English
1817 The Hindu College of Calcutta is founded (later called Presidency College) by
four men: Ram Mohan Roy; Ramkamal Sen (Keshub Chunder Sens father); the
philanthropist, David Hare; and the Christian missionary, Alexander Duff
Hannah Adams, Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations
Henry David Thoreau born, July 12th (d. 1862)
1818 In Bonn, Wilhelm Schlegel becomes occupant of the first German chair for
1819 H. H. Wilson publishes the first Sanskrit-English dictionary
Queen Victoria born, May 24th (d. 1901)
1821 Mary Baker Eddy born July 16th (d. 1910)
1823 The great Indologist, Max Muller is born, December 6th in Dessau, Germany (d.
The Sanskritist Sir Thomas Colbrooke gives a four-page discussion of the Yoga
Sutras. This is the first summary of the contents of the Yoga Sutras in English.
He calls them fanatical
The German Romanticist, August Wilhelm Schlegel, publishes a Latin translation
of the Bhagavad Gita


1825 Circa date for Brahmanandas Jyotsna, a commentary on the Hatha Yoga
Pradipika. In it, he warns against too much practice of the sun salutation
1826 The long-lived world-travelling saint and yoga teacher of Queen Victoria,
Shivapuri Baba, is born (d. 1963)
1827 Georg Hegel, the greatest philosopher of the 19th century, dismisses the
legitimacy of Indian philosophy through a discussion of the Yoga Sutras
1828 Roy forms the Social Reform group, the Brahmo Sabha in Calcutta, an early form
of the Brahmo Samaj, which will incubate Indias future leaders, August 20th
1829 Charles Henry Arnold, future author of 110 Years of Youth through Yoga, born
1830 In his lectures, Hegel reconsiders the Yoga Sutra and grants it the status of
philosophy proper
1831 Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, chief founder of the Theosophical Society, born,
August 12th (d. 1891)
1832 Emerson resigns from the Unitarian pulpit to become a scholar at large
The first German translation of the Upanishads is published
1833 Ram Mohan Roy dies in in Bristol, England, September 27th, 1833 (b. 1774)
1836 The Transcendental Club is formed by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Eventually it will
include Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott and Margaret Fuller as members.
It focuses on East-West dialog and embraces avant-garde ideas about social
organization and education
Gadahar Chattopadhyay (a.k.a., Ramakrishna Paramahansa) is born, February 18th
(d. 1886)
1837 Haridas, a yogi, is buried alive for 6 weeks at the court of Runjeet Singh in
Lahore, as recorded by British observers
The Orientalist, Henry Thomas Colebrooke dies (b. 1765)
1838 The Indian social and religious reformer, Keshub Chunder Sen, is born,
November 19th (d. 1884)
William Ellery Channing, gives the speech Self Culture which opens the door to
self-improvement as an art for the common man. It inaugurates a notion of the
expanding self that will find its maturity in the New Thought, New Age and SelfActualization movements
1839 Debendranath Tagore (father of Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Rabindranath
Tagore) creates the Indian reformist group, the Tattvabodhini Sabha
1840 First issue of the Transcendentalist journal, The Dial, is published
Horace Hayman Wilson, creates the first full Yoga Sutras translation in English
Wilson also renders the Vishnu Purana
Circa date for the composition of the Sri . It illustrates 121 asanas
1841 Bhuvaneswari Devi, Vivekanandas mother born (d. 1911)
Edward Salisbury begins teaching Sanscrit at Yale
1843 Salisbury and others form the American Oriental Society
The Dial begins to publish Ethnical Scriptures
1844 The Young Mens Christian Association (a.k.a., Y.M.C.A.) is founded, June 6th,
in London, by George Williams. It will become a force for athleticism and
internationalism and help the worldwide spread of yoga
1845 The great Indologist Paul Jakob Deussen born, January 7th (d. 1919)


1847 Katherine Tingley, future president of the US Theosophical Society, born, July 3rd
(d. 1929)
Annie Besant, future president of the World Theosophical Society, born, October
1st (d. 1933)
1848 Mexican-American War begins
1849 Mexican-American War ends
Thoreau writes: I would fain practice the yoga faithfully . . . To some extent, and
at rare intervals, even I am a yogin. This is the first known affirmation by a
Westerner that they could be a practitioner of yoga
1850 N. C. Paul (a.k.a. Nobin Chandra Pala) publishes A Treatise on the Yoga
Philosophy, a Western scientific study of yogas effects, evaluating an
Englishman who had become a yogi, Captain Seymour
Circa date for Brahmanandas commentary on the Hatha Pradipika, in which he
says that the strenuousness of sun salutations is inappropriate for Hatha practice
1851 William Quan Judge, who will become an important Theosophical Society leader,
is born, April 13th (d. 1896)
1852 The Brit, James Robert Ballantyne, and Indian, Govinda Sastri Deva provide the
second known translation of the Yoga Sutras into English, called The Yoga
Philosophy of Patanjali with Illustrative Extracts from the Commentary by Bhoja
Raja; however, but it only contains the YSs first two chapters (padas)
Charles Henry Arnold, author of 110 Years of Youth through Yoga, begins yoga
study with the 147-year-old, Swami Chedananda in India
1853 Annie Payson Call, who writes of Delsartism and its effects in terms of somatic
psychology, is born (d. 1940)
Eduard Roer translates the Upanishads into English
1854 Thoreau, Walden
Lydia Maria Child, Progress of Religious Ideas through Successive Ages
1855 British Orientalist J. Cockburn translates the Bhagavad Gita. He praises its
sobriety, saying, in this there is no fanaticism, as there may be in the asceticism
taught by Patanjali
Sri Yukteshwar Giri, Guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, is born, May 10th (d.
1857 Start of the Sepoy Rebellion, in which large parts of India fight against British
East India Company rule and atrocities are committed by British forces
Keshub Chandra Sen forms the Goodwill Fraternity and later joins the Brahmo
Genevieve Stebbins, who reformed Delsartism into a holistic fitness practice, is
born in San Francisco (d. 1915)
Hargrave Jennings, Indian Religions
1858 Sepoy rebellion ends. The East India Company is dissolved. The India Office is
created. This inaugurates the rule of the British Raj
Pandita Ramabai, Sanskrit scholar, Indian social reformer, advocate for women
and world traveler, is born, April 23rd (d. 1922)
1859 Samuel Smiles publishes Self Help in Britain. It sells 275,000 copies
The Indian reform groups, Tattvabhodhini Sabha and Brahmo Samaj, merge
1860 Sanskritist Horace Hayman Wilson dies, May 8th (b. 1786)


1861 American Civil War begins. It is known that at least one Sikh fought for the
Union side
1862 The last Mughal Emperor of India, Bahadur Shah II, is deposed by the British and
exiled to Burma. Mughal rule in India is history
Sen becomes a Brahmo branch minister, founds Albert College and initiates
publication of The Indian Mirror
William Walker Atkinson (a.k.a., Yogi Ramacharaka) is born, December 5th (d.
Henry David Thoreau dies, May 6th (b. 1817)
1863 Narendranath Datta , a.k.a., Swami Vivekananda is born, January 12th
Rudolph Steiner born
Sen writes The Brahmo Samaj Vindicated
1865 American Civil War ends
Sir John Woodroffe, the pioneer Tantric Scholar, a.k.a. Aurthur Avalon, is born,
December 15th (d. 1936)
1866 Krishnamacharyas mother, Shrimati Ranganayakiamma, is born
In a schism, Sen forms Brahmo Samaj of India and Debendranath Tagore forms
the Adi Brahmo Samaj
Kaliprasd Chandra (Swami Abhedananda), brother monk to Vivekananda and
longtime evangel in America, is born, October 2nd (d. 1939)
Sam Kehoe, Indian Club Exercise
1867 Margaret Noble (Sister Nivedita), the great Welsh disciple of Vivekananda,
author, and advocate of India, is born, October 28th (d. 1911)
The father of modern bodybuilding, Friedrich Wilhelm Mller (a.k.a., Eugen
Sandow) is born, April 2nd (d. 1925)
1868 King Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar II of Mysore dies
Meherban Shrimant Raja Bhavan Rao Shrivnivas Bala Sahib Pratnidhi Pant,
future Raja of Aundh and great physical culturalist, is born (d. 1951)
1869 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (a.k.a., Mahatma Gandhi) born, October 2nd, in
Porbandar, Gujarat (assassinated, 1948)
1870 Keshub Chunder Sen visits England and France
1871 Govinda Shastri Deva completes Ballantynes Yoga Sutras translation, publishing
it in the Varanasi review, The Pandit, over several issues
Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
Francois Delsarte dies (b. 1811)
James Clarke, Ten Great Religions
1872 The Indian reform group, The Brahmao Samaj, proposes the Marriage Reform bill
making child marriage in India illegal
Aurobindo Ghosh (later known as the saint, Sri Aurobindo) is born, August 15th.
(d. 1950)
The eminent scholar and teacher of Krishnamacharya, Ganganath Jha is born (d.
Siva Yogaswami of Jaffna, born (d. 1964)
The great Yoga Sutras scholar and preceptor of Krishnamacharya, Gaganath Jha,
is born, December 25th


1873 Goswami Tirah Ram (Swami Rama Tirtha), yogi traveler to America, is born,
October 27th (d. 1906)
Maude Allen, the groundbreaking oriental dancer, is born (d. 1956)
The great Siddha Tamil poet Ramalingar dissolves himself
1874 Jibananda Vidyasagara publishes a Yoga Sutras translation with the c. 950
commentary of Vacaspatimisra
1875 The Theosophical Society, which will contribute profoundly to the East-West
conversation, is founded in New York City by spiritualist, Helana Petrovna
Blavatsky; the respected bureaucrat and journalist, Henry Steel Olcott; and the
idealistic lawyer, William Quan Judge, among others
Swami Dayanda Saraswati founds the Hindu reform movement, Arya Samaj, in
Ramakrishna and Keshub Chunder Sen meet
Perry Baker, the future Great Oom, who will later call himself Dr. Pierre
Arnold Bernard and bring Tantrik practices to America, is born in Leon, Iowa,
October 13th (d. 1955)
Mayo College is opened by the British to educate members of north Indias
Rajput peoples
Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
1876 Archeologist Sir John Hubert Marshall, whose 1928 excavations will discover the
apparent first evidence of yogathe c. 2600 BCE Pashupati Sealis born March
19th in Chester, England (d. 1958)
1877 Queen Victoria is anointed Empress of India
Helena Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled
1878 The Sadharana Brahma Samaj founded by Sen deserters
The longtime consort of Sri Aurobindo, the Frenchwoman, Blanche Rachel Mirra
Alfassa (a.k.a. The Mother) is born, February 21st (d. 1973)
1879 Max Mueller's translates 12 Upanishads into English with commentary
Keshub Chandra Sen founds an organization that synthesizes Christianity and
Hinduism called The New Dispensation
The celebrated silent saint of Arunachala, India, Ramana Maharshi, is born
December 30th (d. 1950)
The yogi, Oriental Dancer, proponent of Delsartism, and trainer of Isadora
Duncan, Ruth St. Denis is born (d. 1968)
John Dawson, Hindu Classical Dictionary
Edward Arnold, Light of Asia
Eddy founds Church of Christ Scientist in Boston
1880 Vivekananda enters Presidency College
Olcott and Blavatsky publicly convert to Buddhism on May 25th. It is the first
known conversion individuals of European descent in the modern age
Approximate date for the 18 yoga lessons given by Shivapuri Baba to Queen
Victoria in Britain
1881 John Davies publishes a translation of the Samkhya-karika, the famous work on
Samkhya Philosophy
The Theosophist, Henry Olcott, composes the Buddhist Catechism in Sri Lanka
17-year old Vivekananda meets Ramakrishna






Eddy founds the Massachusetts Metaphysical College in Boston

Ralph Waldo Emerson dies, April 27th (b. 1803)
Olcott and Blavatsky, Theosophical Society founders, relocate themselves and
their world headquarters, to Adyar, India, near Chennai
Govinda Deva Sastris translation of the Yoga Sutras published by Theosophical
Rajandralal Mitra publishes an authoritative translation of the Yoga Sutra with his
own learned commentary
Ramakrsna Sastri and Kesava Sastri publish Vijnanabhiksus c. 1590 Yoga Sutras
commentary, The Yogavarrtika
Jagannath Ganesh Gune (Swami Kuvalayananda) is born, August 30th (d. 1966)
Sens protg, Protap Chunder Muzumdar teaches in Boston. Though he was a
middle-class Hindu and something of a Unitarian, this could be called the first
appearance of a Swami on US soil
Pandita Ramabai, the Indian advocate for women, comes to Britain, where she
converts to Christianity
The Indologist, Ernest Wood, is born August 18th (d. 1965)
Sir Richard Francis Burton, the Kama Sutra
Londons 1920s teacher of flow yoga, Mollie Bagot-Stack, is born, June 12th (d.
Swami Dayananda Saraswati dies
Keshub Chunder Sen dies, January 8th (b. 1838)
Vivekanandas father, Bisvanath Datta, dies (March 1st).
Vivekananda receives his BA
Navaldi Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, later Mysore King and patron-to-be of
Krishnamacharaya, is born June 4th (d. 1940)
Suresh Chandra Guha-Thakurta (a.k.a., Swami Paramanda) an early-1900s
Hindu evangel to America is born, February 5th (d. 1940)
The early practitioner of yoga, Glen Bernard, brother of Pierre Bernard and father
of Theos Bernard, is born (d. 1976)
Sris Chandra Basu translates the Siva Samhita
B. N. Bannerjea Practical Yoga Philosophy or Siva Samhita in English
Theosophical Society re-issues N. C. Pauls, A Treatise on the Yoga Philosophy
Theosophist W.Q. Judge lectures in Bengal
Henry Steel MacKaye begins teaching Delsartism in America
Max Mueller publishes further translations of the Upanishads
Indian National Congress formed, December 28th
Tookeram Tatya, an Indian Theosophist publishes an English translation of the
Yoga Sutras in Bombay. In it, Olcott warns of dangers of Hatha Yoga. It is read
by Blavatsky
James R. Ballantyne, Snkhya Aphorisms of Kapila
Sir Richard Francis Burton translates the India erotic treatise, the Ananga Ranga
Vivekananda drops out of the Brahmo Samaj
Blavatsky leaves India for Europe
Manilal Nabhubahi Dvivedi, Raja Yoga, or the Practical Metaphysics of the
Vedanta, a Translation of the Vakyasudha and the Aparokshanabhuti,


1886 Ramakrishna Dies, August 16th (b. 1836)

Vivekananda begins his peregrination of India
Pandita Ramabai visits the US, publishes High Caste Hindu Women and founds
Ramabai Associations to help educate and win rights for Hindu women
Soldier and yoga author, Francis Yeats Brown, born (d. 1944)
1887 Kuppuswami Iyer (Swami Sivananda) born in Tamil Nadu, September 8th (d.
Madame Blavatsky settles in London
1888 Tirumalai Krishnamacharya born, November 18th (d. 1989)
The Transcendentalist, Bronson Alcott, dies
Theosophist Mabel Collins, Light on the Path
Helena Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine
1889 Pandita Ramabai returns to India
Theosophist W. Quan Judge (with James Henderson Connelly) publishes his
reflections on the Yoga Sutras in his, The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali. He
employs Tookerams translation
Blavatsky, Key to Theosophy
Writing a review of Blavatskys book, Annie Besant becomes curious and
interviews its author. She then converts from a public life of atheism to one of
Pierre Bernard begins 18 years of Hatha Yoga study with a Syrian Tantrik from
Bengal, Sylvias Hamati, in Lincoln, Nebraska (!)
Sri Yogendra (Manibhai Haribhai Desai) born (d. 1989)
The yoga teacher who traveled to LA, Rishi Singh Gherwal, is born in India (d.
British spy and yoga author, Sir Paul Dukes, born (d. 1967)
1890 Translation of the Kurma Purana published (Bibliotheca Indica series)
Manilal Nabhubhai Dvivedi publishes a translation of the Yoga Sutras
The Theosophist, Rama Prasad publishes Natures Finer Forces on pranayama
and the Yoga Sutras
January to April: Vivekananda studies with the saint, Pavhari Baba, said to be a
Hatha Yogi
The great Indologist, Heinrich Robert Zimmer, born, December 6th in Germany
(d. 1943)
1891 Theosophical Society founder, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky dies, May 8th (b. 1831)
Annie Besant and Olcott assume leadership of the Theosophical Society
Shyam Sundar Goswami, evangel of yoga in Sweden, born in Bengal (d. 1978)
Dace Shannon (a.k.a., Blanche DeVries) probably Americas first female yoga
teacher, is born (d. 1984)
1892 Genevieve Stebbins, Dynamic Breathing and Harmonic Gymnastics
1893 Vivekananda to America. Capsule timeline:
May 31st
Sails from Mumbai
June 12th
In Singapore
Visits Hong Kong
July 14th
Debarks Yokohama, after landing in Nagasaki and visiting


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