My ex-colleague Ananda Krishnan called me Last month. He wanted me to write an article about Yoga in his life-style in-house magazine for International Yoga Day, June 21.
“I don’t understand why a section of Muslims and Christians oppose Yoga? I know you can beautifully defend yoga, Uday,” he said.
“Nobody needs to defend Yoga. Do you have to defend Sun? However, I feel, this is for the first time, the fears of hardcore Muslims and Christians are not unfounded. Only Hindus can practice Yoga. For others it is totally useless…” I said.
“You mean to say Yoga is NOT secular?”
“Yoga is NOT secular. Only those who follow Sanatan Dharma can practice it…”I said.
“What? Shocking! What kind of opinion is that?” Anand asked, thought for a while, smiled and continued: “Of course, you have a master’s degree in confusing people. All your articles confuse people with completely unknown facts before ending up with crystal clear answer…So, I am excited to publish your article on Yoga…”
“Anandu, I am not going to write for you. It has been long since I wrote for others. I would write only in my website…” before finishing my sentence, he interrupted: “Oh, you are trying to avoid your old friend. I have seen your articles in lot of publications and also translated in Hindi and other South Indian languages…Don’t lie to me Uday…”
“I write only for my website. It’s a fact that people share, publish, translate and upload my articles – I also post the same article in social media. However, I am not writing about yoga right now, as the world would be flooded with yoga-related articles…”
“But why did you say yoga is not secular and only for Hindus?”
I told him about an incident. I was travelling from Cochin to Singapore sometime in 2006. There was a person sitting in the next seat. He smiled at me and asked: “Sir, Are you Malayalam?”
“You mean to ask, do I speak Malayalam? Yes, I do.” I said.
He talked to me in Malayalam: “I need your help Sir. From Singapore I have to catch flight to KL and then to Langkawi. I know English. But I don’t understand the announcements and can’t talk to Airline staff as they won’t know my English.”
I nodded. He introduced himself. First name was Babu. He was from a remote village in Idukki district. He was going for his first job with lot of expectations and excitement.
“What job?” I asked.
“I am a yoga guru. Master Yoga Instructor. I have got appointment in a luxury resort in Langkawi…”
I wondered how he will communicate with a foreign tourist. “Where did you learn Yoga from?” I asked
He told me the name of an institution in his village. Something like ‘Saint (Alibaba – some name) International Yoga Institute’. He said he passed the course with distinction. I asked about the duration of the course.
“It was a three weeks course…”he said.
“What?” I was shocked. My yoga guru is 74 years old. He has been researching, practising, and teaching yoga for the last 60 years. He has learnt it from Vivekananda Kendra, then some highly reputed institutes and Gurus in India. And he still says he is not yet touched the tip of the iceberg. He refused to be called a Yoga guru as he thinks he is not yet reached here. And this kid, Babu addresses himself as Yoga guru!
While talking, I understood that the institute share the roon with a Barbershop. It is run by somebody who has learned few steps of yoga from somewhere. The total course fee is Rs1000/-. After three weeks they would provide you a printed certificate (He cannot pronounce the word certificate. He said ‘Certeet’) stating Yoga Instructor Course passed. (A console -they provide two books on Yoga in Malayalam.)
“In fact, due to heavy rains, I couldn’t go for two weeks. I have by hearted names of yoga postures from those books. That was very useful during the interview. They selected me immediately,” he was proud.
The man-power agency in Ernakulam which recruited him as Yoga Instructor had taken away Rs 1 lakh as its fee. But his salary would be around Rs 50,000 per month! Since nobody involved in this trade knew nothing about yoga, this was a bright opportunity then. All international resorts needed yoga instructors that time as yoga was becoming popular. But nobody knows about approvals or certifications. (I don’t know if the situation has changed now)
I was really stunned. “Thank you Babu, but for people like you what would have been the future of Yoga?” I told him. He was beamed and even thanked me for the ‘compliment’. I shouldn’t have teased his ignorance, but my sudden arrogance that time was the culprit.
I have been visiting foreign countries for more than a decade- I have come across wide varieties of Yoga – Supermarket yoga, Instant yoga, Fast yoga, Dancing yoga, Sex yoga, Erotic yoga, Yoga for eternity etc. Lot of people promote yoga as a miraculous cure for diseases ranging from cancer to aids! Hatha yoga is practiced in its various denominations, Christian Yoga, Kabbala Yoga or even Doggy Yoga.
“But you didn’t say why only Hindus can practice it…”Anandu asked.
“I am coming to that. Born in India, almost 10,000 years ago, Yoga was practiced even in Satya Yuga, as per Ramayana. Excavations give evidence of yoga’s existence during Indus- valley civilization period. The people living on the banks of India’s largest river, the Saraswati, were practicing yoga. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali date from the first half of the 1st millennium.”
“Okay. I know that.”
“The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which essentially means to join or unite. The union referred to is that of the individual self-uniting with Cosmic Consciousness or the Universal existence. Yoga is a means to achieving this goal…The authentic and traditional Yoga seeks to provide plausible answers to such profound questions as, “Who am I?”, “Whence do I come?”, “Whither do I go?,” “What’s the purpose of life”, and “What must I do?”. Yoga is only for truth seekers.”
“Yeah, I know, but what are you driving me to?” he asked.
“In Semitic religions, ‘the truth’ (means, their concept of truth) is already given – There is one single god or creator of everything. He has given moral codes or commandments. He is sitting somewhere behind the clouds and watching you if you are following His commandments. If you follow his Laws you will be rewarded with heaven, otherwise, you will be roasted in the hell. Hence, answers to all questions, according to them, are given clearly in the Holybooks. There is nothing else to learn. There is no other truth as far as they are concerned…But yoga is all about finding and realizing the truth. Each and every posture in Yoga is ‘Sthira sukham asanam’ (Sthira= steady, stable, motionless; Sukham = comfortable, ease filled; Asanam = meditation posture) leads to meditation with inner query to find out cosmic truth for himself/herself…How is it useful for the Semitic religions, where truth is already revealed? ”
“Oh, yeah…yeah…I didn’t think that way…”
(For beginners: Yoga is main core of Hindu philosophy. It is way to liberation (Moksha). It has eight fold steps: Yama (Universal morality – it is in conflict with Semitic thoughts on exclusiveness). Niyama (Personal observances), Asanas (Body postures), Pranayama ( Breathing exercises), Pratyahara(Observing Senses), Dharana (inner perceptual awareness) Dhyana (Meditation) and Samadhi (Union with Brahmam) – without these 8 steps yoga is not complete.)
“And what would be the final stage of Yoga? Samadhi! It is the awareness. It’s about experiencing Brahmam. The entire cosmos is just the manifestation of the divine, there is no creator different from the created. Everything is divine in which you are included. There is nothing else other than Brahmam. Experiencing the blissful state of Brahmam and being one with it (‘yuj’) is the final stage of yoga. This concept contradicts 100% with Semitic fundamental beliefs. For them, god is a separate person. So their basic principle is challenged here.”
“Oh, you are right, they can’t believe in anything other than what’s told as truth in their Holybooks. The purpose of Yoga is to radiate peace, humanity and tranquility. But a religion can’t take the entire humanity as ONE – it is exclusively for believers and not for infidels. How can the true follower of a Semitic religion wish peace and happiness to infidels? But, what about moderate and good people among them? Can’t they practice it?” Anand asked.
“All religions, including Hinduism, have three segments. (1) Human: They know this is just belief, they keep it strictly personal and they can adjust with other beliefs too. 70 percent of Indian population fall under this segment, ofcourse with varying degree (2) Marketing – it consists of priests, evangelists and religious institutions. This is the only earning for them (3)Fanatic- blind believers and fundamentalists. The first segment in all religions can practice yoga.”
“Now I understand. Hardcore followers of Semitic religions – the second and third segments claim they are THE real representative of the respective religions. The first segment NEVER questions them. The 2nd and 3rd segments may feel insecure to anything that questions their fundamental beliefs. As far as they are concerned, Yoga is relevant only for Hindus…because it has a cultural aspect. Yoga samskaras reflect only Hindu base. Now I understood it. But even they can practice it as an exercise, right?” Anand asked.
“That’s a huge mistake. As per learnt Gurus, it is not an exercise. If you want to teach like that (example Babu) yes, yoga is for all. But such branded yoga would just be like a parody of the original Yoga. That too is a pathetic, humorless parody. The authentic yoga can only be learned from genuine Gurus. Naturally, it can be practiced by the people who follow Dharma.”
“Yes – I understand your points now. Semitic religions feel insecure about yoga like they do with many things. Their fear is not unfounded – A true practitioner of yoga will eventually leave their religion or cult. If their market is down, how can those priests and institutions survive? Now I understand why you said Yoga is not secular…”Anand continued: “Those who pray for entire humanity are non-secular. Those who practice exclusive religion or cult are secular. That’s why you said Yoga is non-secular, right?”
“Oh no. I go by facts only. The constitution of India doesn’t define the word secular. Only the politicians and media have defined it. And Yoga doesn’t fall under their definition of secularism. That’s why I said it is not secular.”
“Uday, I am telling the same thing but in a different way. If I talk in favour of our own ancestors, I am branded as non-secular. The practical meaning of the word ‘Secular’ in Indian context is anti-Hindu. A person earnestly practicing Yoga is or become a Hindu as the basic root of yoga is founded upon Vedic wisdom. When you talk about the Hindu dharma or Hindutva, you become non-secular, right?”Anand asked.
“In that case Zero, Numeral System, Value of Pi, Earth orbiting Sun, law of gravity, baudhayana Sulbasutra (pythagorus theorm), trignometry, metullergy, ayurveda, plastic surgery, Button, Carbon pigment, Chaturanga (Chess), Kabaddi, Ruler, Snakes and ladders, Stupa, Cashmere wool, Cataract surgery, Cure for Leprosy, Diamond mining, Zinc mining etc etc are either discovered or founded by our Hindu ancestors, so those things are non-secular and should be banned, right?” I asked him.
Anand laughed. “There is a chance that the priesthood of organized religions insisting ban on those things. And our political parties would happily yield to such pressures for vote bank politics…”
“I am sure that situation will change. In this age of information, majority of the youngsters might want to come out of conditioned concepts. We are seeing this trend in developed countries where people practice Yoga in a very authentic way with dedication and devotion. Without any compulsion or fear they would realise the importance of Dharma. I can clearly see this trend everywhere in the world. You cannot always suppress people by brutal fanatic force and superstitions. The exposure to information will set them free. The ordinary people like me around the world want peace and happiness prevailing all over the world. But the real problem I see is with the authenticity of Yoga. We have to create awareness about the authentic yoga rather than blindly supporting the hip-hop Yoga practiced in many places”
Request all readers to buy Shri. Udaylal Pai’s latest book “Why Am I A Hindu ? – The science Of Sanatan Dharma” for more such imformative articles on Sanatan Dharma
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SatyaVijayi. This Article has been sourced from the Author with prior permission and SatyaVijayi is publishing after mentioning the source site.