Thursday 31 May 2018

Yujyate Anena Iti Yogah...

The announcement of June 21st as the International day of Yoga has accelerated the growth of popularity of this age old Indic Spiritual Practice. That day is celebrated with lot of people practicing Yoga Asanas and Meditation.  In many of the countries it is a state sponsored celebration, thus getting much wider attention and coverage. With this increased popularity comes another danger. Off late there are louder voices which deny that it is a Indic spiritual practice and many of them claim that this is non-religious and thus has nothing to do with Hinduism.  While it is important to counter these claims, it is also pertinent to know the root cause of such claims. The imperial powers which were ruling us during the last century are not able to digest the fact that this wonderful wisdom which is actually a panacea for many of the modern day problems actually belong to a country which was enslaved by them. Though the imperial powers are no longer in the ruling seat, their new avatar the modern market driven capitalist countries are having the same kind of malice towards anything Hindu.  There are other misconceptions too about the practice of yoga which includes that it a mere physical exercise, a cure for all physical problems etc. But more than these misconceptions the first claim is the one which has to be countered as it tries to rob the intellectual property of India. Yoga's appropriation is yet another example of America and the West's racism and dominance over the world.  Renowned writer Koenraad writes about this vexing problem thus,

"...Naive readers may not have noticed it yet, but here we are dealing with an instance of a widespread phenomenon: the crass manipulation of the term “Hindu”. Every missionary and every secularist does it all the time: calling a thing “Hindu” when it is considered bad, but something (really anything) else as soon as it is deemed good. Many Hindus even lap it up: it is “instilled, albeit inadvertently.”

Thus whenever a society shows interest in Yoga, there will the so called academicians rushing to quell the effect of Indian Spirituality by calling Yoga has nothing to do with Hinduism. Just compare this with the hurry in which they will distance Islam from Violence as soon any terrorist activity happens, you can see the conundrum of secular politics running at full steam during such occasions.

Yoga is a perception or explanation given to the Vedas and so it is classified as one of the sat darshanas, which means six kinds of explanations. Many great seers have given their explanations about Yoga, important among them being Sage Vasishta, Sage Patanjali, Lord Krishna in his Bhagavad Gita. There are several other evidences to prove that Yoga is a part of Indian Heritage. India should assert itself by citing these and reiterate before the international community that Yoga is very much a part of Hindu knowledge system. Asanas are a part of a very comprehensive Yoga Philosophy. It is actually the third limb of the ashtanga yoga popularized by Sage Patanjali. When the fact remains thus, it is improbable that the third limb asanas alone could have originated in a distant foreign land. 

Indian heritage is one which is lurking at extinction. But it has the wherewithal to survive as it has proved it several times in the last thousand years. There were many such civilisations and cultures which are already extinct now. Many of such pagan civilisations are now seeking a revival through their adherents who are very few in number. Those cultures are viewing India as their redeemer, since India is the sole representative of the ancient hoary civilisations. It is the only country in the world which has millennia old customs and rituals still being practiced with very few changes. But this fact is understood by the western world and that is the reason for their resistance to anything Hindu. A revival of ancient culture means a continuing embarrassment for the European Christian powers. Rev. Andras Corban Arthen ,a pagan revivalist and  spiritual director of the Earth Spirit Community has stated about this thus,

“For Christians, for example, an acknowledgment that the original pagan traditions were not completely wiped out opens the door to the unpleasant possibility that they may, finally, have to deal with the genocidal horrors which Christianity inflicted on Indigenous peoples throughout the world. Outside of Europe, the blame for such heinous acts — when they are even acknowledged — has conveniently been attributed to chiefly secular motives, such as excessive nationalistic ambitions and economic greed, which obscure their actual, fundamental aim and rationale. When the Christian colonization of Europe is factored in, however, it becomes a lot harder to camouflage the theologically-justified goal of creating a vast religious empire, which continued to be the foundation for most subsequent Christian European colonization elsewhere. But if no trace of the original European pagan traditions were to survive, the motivation to open that painful door becomes less compelling, and the comforting obliviousness of the status quo can remain untouched.”

This clearly explains the responsibility our country has, not just towards safe guarding its culture but also to act as a catalyst to revive and sustain the ancient cultures world over. International day of Yoga can become that catalytic force if taken with right spirit. Each and every culture is a repository of a knowledge system and if that culture is revived it will be a shot in arm for the humanity. 

Wednesday 2 May 2018

A Fusion of ideas..

When Sister Nivedita was introduced to Swami Vivekananda, he found her as one with a great vision on education. Vivekananda firmly believed that the development and awakening of India depended mainly on the awakening of masses and particularly of the women who had been marginalized for a long time. And he believed that their development could be achieved only through education. It is for this purpose he called upon Nivedita to devote herself to the field of education, in particular female education in India. After the premature death of Swamiji, Sister Nivedita started focusing more on women education. It is clear that to Sister Nivedita nothing was more important than proper education. In her speech given on the occasion of the opening of Chaitanya Library, Nivedita submitted a long list of subjects which must be studied. The list included such subjects as ancient and modern history, archaeology, poetry, novels, and different branches of science, sociology, art-architecture-sculpture, religion and philosophy. This awe-inspiring list vindicates Nivedita's own vast erudition and learning. She also explained in her speech why all these must be studied with equal attention.

When India was mired with the education which the colonial powers imposed on it, Sister Nivedita believed that the ideal of education must be in line with ideal of the nation. Since the British education was bent on alienating our people from their roots and denationalizing them, she wanted an education which would bring out the glorious cultural heritage of our nation. And she wanted that education to combine the best of both ancient and modern world. She also wanted this education to reach the men who are in the lowest ebb of the society. In this context we must read her thoughts which were as follows "We all know that the future of India depends, for us, on education. Not that industry and commerce are unimportant, but because all things are possible to the educated, and nothing whatever to the uneducated man. We know also that this education, to be of any avail, must extend through all degrees, from its lowest and humblest grades. We must have technical education, and we must have also higher research, because technical education, without higher research, is a branch without a tree, a blossom without any root. We must have education of women, as well as education of men. We must have secular education, as well as religious. And almost more important than any of these, we must have education of the people, and for this, we must depend upon ourselves."

A fusion of oriental and occidental, which gives a character making education is what she dreamt of. That could be ideal education for our nation where millions are still groping with an education which seldom helps in their self-unfoldment.