Revolution through Evolution

When thousands of mats rolled out

On June 21, 2015 the world celebrated its first ever Yoga Day. The event made glorious headlines all over the globe. For months hyped debates were conducted and preparations were made across the world. Finally, the day arrived when PM Modi along with 37,000 people took part in a mass yoga program, setting a new Guinness World Record for the longest yoga class at a single venue. More than 50 diplomats joined in – another record!

Mostly, the program went smoothly and its aim to spread awareness of yoga’s benefits was achieved and India did gain international power and respect through recognition of its gift (yoga) to the world. But it had its own bugs and glitches.

While some acclaims yoga to be India’s biggest contribution to the world others see a hidden religions party’s aim to foist yoga on people.

The biggest blow came when yoga was categorized as a ‘Hindu agenda’. Many minority groups feared that government will privilege Hindu practices, in what is supposed to be a secular democracy.

Considering these facts the ‘Suryanamaskar’ and chanting of word ‘Om’ was abrogated from the program.

Another disdainful news flooded in when India’s Vice President Hamid Ansari was not invited.

Various controversial remarks were given by the CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yecherry calling yoga postures resembled a dog’s movements. Likewise BJP leader Adiyanath said that opponents of yoga day or those who think Surya Namaskar ‘Hindu’ should leave Hindustan or drown themselves in sea.

Now the biggest question which kept reverberating in everyone’s mind and whose answer is still not clear is – What yoga is and to whom it belongs.

The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yug’ which means ‘to connect’. It is a science of connecting with your inner self. Yoga is simply a way of life.

One of the earliest depictions of yoga asans occurs in the Persian text commissioned by a Mughal emperor.

Bahr-al-Hayat (Ocean of life) is a text on yogic practices compiled by Sufi master Shaykh Muhammad Ghawth around 1551. The first illustrated copy was processed in Allahabad around 1602 at the request of Mughal prince Nur-ud-din Mohammad Salim aka Jahangir. The text contains 21 illustration depicts various asans and is an expanded translation of an Arabic work on yoga titled Hawd Ma-al-hayet (the pool of water of life) which itself is based on an older Sanskrit text, the Amritkunda.

History of yoga has all its strings connected to Mughals. Calling it ‘Hindu’ is as ridiculous as saying Ganga flows in Pakistan.

Yoga, for matter of fact, doesn’t belong to any particular religion at all as it came much before origin of any religion.

Coming back to present days, Premier of British Columbia, a province on Canada’s west coast placed her government’s backing behind World Yoga Day as she felt the focus of proposed event has drifted towards politics getting in the way of spirit of community and reflection.

Decrier have been and will always be there. But with such massive participation, India, for sure has proven its soft power to the world.

With last year’s Clean India Campaign and this year the amazing World Yoga Day, anticipation is at its peak as to what new surprise PM Modi has for us in the coming year.

Nishita Singh

I have studied in as many as 10 schools, have friends in almost every corner of the country. Well yes! being a fauji brat is the best thing that has happened to me till date. By default a patriot lives in me. Being carefree, cheerful and chirpy is my style. I’m a highly optimistic person. I am an avid reader. Also, I love to visit new places and try its local delicacies. Writing is for me, one’s reflection to the world and the world’s to them. It’s the best way of expressing and understanding.