Monday, June 22, 2015

Yoga is beyond any religion.

International Yoga day was celebrated on 21st June, whereas whole world participated enthusiastically in this event in India some people and politicians managed to create controversy over this event also. Actually there is a small section of political and social class in India (as well as in many other countries) who has habit of looking at each and every thing through prism of their own religion. Somehow they try to link each and every issue with their own or some other religion and start debating over it with religious angle. Because of this they are often successful in converting even a simple or benign even like International Yoga day into a controversial subject. There is section of society who is very eager to link whatever originated in Indian subcontinent to Hinduism. This is the same section of society which starts saying that Hinduism is not religion but a way of life if someone objects that they can't force Hinduism practices on people from other religions. I personally believe that Hinduism is combination of many different faiths practiced in Indus valley civilizations since long time, it is not same like Abrahamic religions who have some sort of written manuals in form of their holy books with clear instructions about what to do and what not to do. But it is also true that in today's world the term Hindu or Hinduism represents a particular faith or religion not just a way of life. Actually as far as 'way of life' argument is concerned all religions in one way or other are supposed to be a way of life. It is really hard or impractical for people to follow them literally but they all were invented to be a way of life. Some people like to link Yoga with Hinduism, I don't know what is the logic behind it except that this is also very ancient practice like Hinduism. I also don't understand what they get out of it apart from some false sense of ownership but they definitely try to do this. Then there are people from other religions in India (specially belonging to Islam and Christianity) who buy this argument and try to oppose these things without understanding the intentions of people who try to claim this ownership. This creates some sort of communal tension or religious conflict, this is how some people managed to turn a international Yoga day into a communal controversy. 

According to me it is completely wrong to associate Yoga or for that matter any form of exercise with any particular religion. Any physical exercise is performed to remain healthy, the aim is to have physical and mental work out (specially in case of Yoga and many other similar forms of exercises). The main aim is to achieve good health by having required physical activity, there is no need to mix any religion with any of these physical activities. The main controversy associated with Yoga is because of use of some chants like 'OM' during some pranayanamas, many Hindu shlokas also contain this word so some people try to create impression that word Om is something special and as it is exclusively associated with Hinduism, if you practice Yoga you might be indirectly practicing Hinduism. This is as silly argument as it sounds. Actually if anyone feels that by chanting Om they jeopardize their religious identity then they are free no to do it, they can choose any other word which makes them happy or pacifies their mind. The main aim of pranayama is to focus and calm the chaotic mind, one can use any word which helps them to do that. So there is absolutely no need to put special emphasis on one word Om, insisting its use is as ridiculous as opposing its use. People perform Yoga for their own benefit, if they think it is not suitable for them then definitely they can choose any other form of physical activity which suits them more. Yoga is not just chanting Om or few aasanas, it is a whole body and mind work out, it can be very beneficial if performed properly and regularly. Same is true for any other form of exercise. Another very important thing to keep in mind that these things can be extremely harmful if not performed properly they can result in serious physical injuries. So it is necessary to learn properly any form of exercise.

I hope that when whole world is gladly accepting Yoga as one of the useful alternatives of physical activity to maintain healthy lifestyle, people from India will also accept it. Whether they practice it or not is their personal choice and they have complete freedom to choose whatever they feel is more suitable to them to maintain healthy lifestyle. If Yoga can unite rest of the world then I am sure all Indians also can unite or at least don't fight with each other over this simple issue. Stay healthy and stay happy.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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