Tile with Impressed Figures of Emaciated Acetics and Couples Behind Balconies
India, Jammu and Kashmir, Harwan, 5th century; Terracotta, 40.6 × 33.6 × 4.1 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky
Yogic goals (and the techniques of meditation and austerities) first emerged in northern India between the 5th and 3rd century BCE, when self-aware individuals realized that their bodies and minds contained the potential to transcend the suffering of existence. These emaciated renouncers may be Ajivikas, an influential group of early ascetics who were known for their exceptionally intense austerities but left no written texts.
Image and caption courtesy of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery