The Nagaland Baptist Church Council has declared Yoga a spiritual discipline deeply rooted in Hinduism and asked its associate Churches to not practice as it is not compatible with Christianity.
#BREAKING — The Nagaland Baptist Church Council has called on its associate churches to refrain from yoga calling it a spiritual discipline deeply rooted in Hinduism and not compatible with Christianity | @SubhajitSG with more details pic.twitter.com/2IfZyChmuC
— News18 (@CNNnews18) January 22, 2018
This is not the first time that Yoga has attracted opposition from certain sections for theological reasons. Recently, a fatwa was reportedly issued against Rafia Naz, a Muslim Yoga teacher, and she received death threats after pictures of her doing Yoga with Baba Ramdev went viral on Social Media.
In 2015, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had declared that Yoga, along with Surya Namaskar, was not acceptable to Muslims and had appealed to secular forces to join their cause in opposing the “imposition” of Yoga by the Modi government.
There are other instances of such opposition. Christian parents in the United States of America have regularly objected to Yoga being taught in schools. Christian priests oppose Yoga because it apparently puts the soul in “jeopardy“. Even Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would later go on to become Pope Benedict XVI, in a letter to Bishops in 1989 warned Catholics against ‘eastern meditation practices’ such as Zen and Yoga.
The response from most Hindu politicians thus far to the objections raised against Yoga, has been to concede ground to their opponents and forfeit the rich Hindu history of Yoga for the sake of Secularism. Senior Members of the BJP have often reiterated that ‘Yoga has no relation with Hinduism’, to appear secular.
— M Venkaiah Naidu (@MVenkaiahNaidu) June 21, 2017
The cause has not been helped by spiritual leaders who have been prone to making statements like “If Yoga is Hindu, then Gravity is Christian.”
The de-Hinduization of Yoga has led to the undermining of the deep spiritual roots of Yoga and various spurious forms of the practice such as “Beer Yoga” have emerged into the scene.
However, the regular opposition to Yoga by fundamentalist sections of other faiths for theological reasons will serve as a reminder to everyone, even Hindus, that despite the many attempts at secularization of the ancient spiritual practice, Yoga cannot be disassociated from Hinduism.