Heading into Sunday’s first International Yoga Day, there’s more and more news focused on this Narendra Modi-inspired event. A quick roundup (and, yes, pure Ashtanga news seems a little quiet; I’m nudging Bobbie to write about something, though) is below.
Here’s NPR covering the religious issues that have come up in India: “What does yoga have to do with religion? It’s one of the debates kicked up as India’s prime minister prepares to kick off International Yoga Day next Sunday.”
The BBC has a big picture package.
The Daily Mail dives into some details of the religious issues that NPR covered:
Known for his venomous statements, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia has said that use of the word Allah during yoga would not be acceptable to Hindus.
However, Togadia’s statement has come when no prominent Muslim organisation or leader has propagated the theory of using the word Allah while performing yoga. using the word Allah while performing yoga.
And, finally, the New York Times:
Of the major initiatives that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has introduced since taking office, few have generated as much static as Yoga Day, which will feature a vast, 35-minute public demonstration of poses by more than 35,000 government employees, students and other citizens. Though the Western world regards yoga primarily as physical exercise, Indians are more apt to see its postures and Sanskrit chants as freighted with ideological or religious meaning.
Preparations for the event set off a chorus of criticism, mostly from a handful of Muslim activist groups that say they should not be compelled to chant “Om,” a sound sacred in Hinduism, or perform the sun salutation, which they say violates the monotheistic nature of Islam. Mr. Modi’s officials have hurried to address those complaints, assuring the public that participation in Yoga Day is optional and that it focuses exclusively on health, not religion. “Om” is not part of the Yoga Day protocol, nor is the sun salutation. This decision so incensed one right-wing member of Parliament that he suggested that those displeased by the sun salutation“drown in the sea.”
Behind the headlines, there is little doubt that the yoga campaign amounts to a cultural challenge, in a capital city powerfully shaped by its British and Mughal past. New Delhi’s elites are mostly Anglophiles, fond of their whisky and butter chicken; its clerks spend their days in dim warrens of paper files, tensed against the next supervisory tongue-lashing. Many rank-and-file civil servants have bellies like first-floor balconies.
Can’t expect Anglophiles to scrunch their way into down dog, I suppose.
Posted by Steve