The aim of this lecture is to discuss the practice of yogic suicide, as it occurs in some Tantric Vaiṣṇava sources, as well as in the Mālinīvijayottaratantra, particularly as concerns the affinities between the latter and certain Pāñcarātra saṃhitā-s. After a summary account of the contents of the text-passages where this practice is either described or alluded to (passages which are given in full in the Handout), some of the problems raised by these texts are discussed and provisional working hypothesis are put forward. In the first place, the question of how and why the practice of yogic suicide is treated in different ways in the texts where it occurs is examined. In the second place, the issue of whether and how this practice harmonizes with the visions of liberation advocated by the texts in question is discussed.
Dr Silvia Schwarz Linder has lectured in the past at the Leopold-Franzens-Universität in Innsbruck and at the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice, and is presently Research Associate at the Institut für Indologie und Zentralasienwissenschaften of the University of Leipzig. Her interests focus on the Tantric religious traditions of the Śrīvidyā and of the Pāñcarātra, specifically on the philosophical and theological doctrines expressed in the relevant South Indian Sanskrit textual traditions. She has also translated into Italian texts from the Sanskrit narrative and devotional literature, for editions aimed at a general readership. She is affiliated with the Śākta Traditions project at the OCHS led by Professor Gavin Flood and Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen.