As the world celebrates the International Yoga Day, it is another occasion for motivated individuals to attempt to appropriate Yoga and disassociate it from Hinduism. While ‘Yoga is not Hindu’ has become an acceptable slogan for significant sections of the ruling elite regardless of their ideological orientation, there are some of a particular ideological bent who are more enthusiastic about it than others.
Simultaneously, the opposing camp embraces the slogan of falsities because they do not want to be perceived as ‘communal’ by any means. They would much rather permit Yoga to be disassociated from Hinduism. On the International Yoga Day, it was the official mouthpiece of the Congress party that led the assault on the cultural ethos of the country with sermons declaring that Yoga is not Hindu.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, another senior leader of the Congress party, peddled the same narrative and argued that chanting Om would not strengthen Yoga and neither would chanting the name of Allah weaken the practice.
In Kashmir, students performed the Surya Namaskar with Kalima. The Surya Namaskar is performed to pay respect to the Sun Deity. It is unclear how can something be called Surya Namaskar when the practitioner is reciting incantations that deny the existence of the Sun God.
The fact of the matter is Yoga is intricately related to Hinduism. It is essentially a Hindu practice. Yoga is conceptualized as a spiritual practice through which one can attain divinity. Yoga is not merely performed for physical and mental benefits, which there are many, its core objective is spiritual.
Too many people are willing to concede the point that Yoga is not Hindu because they consider it to be a gesture of goodwill which they expect to be reciprocated in other areas. What they do not realise is that the ulterior motive behind such proclamations is to deny any positive contribution by Hinduism to the world.
Anything good about Hinduism, materialists, secularists and Islamists will claim that it has nothing to do with Hinduism. In doing so, they will reduce Hinduism to casteism and oppression and intolerance and everything evil that exists in the world.
Such antics are not only limited to Yoga. Secularists and Islamists have gone to the extent of declaring that even Lord Ram is not a Hindu God. Their argument is that Indian Muslims consider Rama ‘Imam-e-Hind’ and therefore, Rama does not belong to Hindus alone.
What they did here is that they stripped Lord Ram of divinity, from a God he is reduced to being an Imam. From being the God of an idol-worshipping multiethnic pluralistic religion, He is reduced to being the ‘Imam’ of an iconoclastic faith. And yet, they expect us to be grateful to them for it.
It is the same thought process that is applied to Yoga. They strip Yoga of divinity and then expect us to be grateful to them for it. A couple of years ago, Pinarayi Vijayan, the Chief Minister of Kerala, accused others of trying to mislead people by claiming that Yoga is Hindu. He said that none of the postures are connected to any religion.
Unfortunately, he is not the only one. It is much better for everyone involved if people do not perform Yoga at all if they believe practicing asanas of the Hindu fait goes against their religious tenets. The Constitution of India does guarantee freedom of religion to everyone after all.
Why should Hindus have to go out of their way to relinquish their claim to their ancestral heritage just to accommodate those who do not wish to have anything to do with Hinduism? Our ancestors made great sacrifices to protect our traditions and pass it down to their descendants. And here we are expected to sacrifice them all at the altar of the false promise of secularism.
Then there are those who claim that if Yoga is Hindu, then gravity is Christian. First of all, one is an invention while the latter is a discovery. So there cannot be any equivalence between the two. Since that rebuttal is only too obvious, the National Herald claims that if Yoga is Hindu, then Kung Fu is Confucian and Taekwondo is Buddhist.
Kung Fu and Taekwondo are not core religious practices to attain divinity. So that argument falls flat as well. It is pertinent to note here that the attempts to disassociate Yoga from Hinduism come from the same camp that denies Lord Rama’s Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya or that there are numerous other Mosques built on the site of major Hindu Temples. They are not friends of Hinduism who make such arguments, and Hindus should avoid falling into their trap.
Hinduism is not only a way of life
The fountainhead of all such disastrous ideas lies in the claim that ‘Hinduism is a way of life’. Motivated individuals float the claim that Hinduism is not a religion so that they can then proceed to impose restrictions on Hindu religious practices and traditions and disassociate Hinduism from it.
For instance, apart from the attempts to secularise Yoga, attempts were made to violate the traditions of the Sabarimala Temple and the justification that was used is that there is no scriptural sanction for such a tradition.
But that argument fails to appreciate that Hinduism is intrinsically different from monotheistic religions. While the latter relies on texts for the basis of their practices, Hinduism is primarily dependent on actions, that is, rituals, festivals and traditions.
The logical conclusion of such an argument is that nothing is essential to Hinduism and it is basically a rootless faith. Once that argument is accepted, everything else follows.