Mysore to be ‘crucial part’ of International Day of Yoga

Given its emergence “as the yoga capital of India with specialists in various forms of yoga like Ashtanga Yoga, Iyengar Yoga etc.”, Mysore will be a focal point of the first International Day of Yoga.

That’s from a news report in the Bangalore Mirror (from which I took the description of Mysore’s being India’s yoga capital):

Ayush and health & family welfare departments are planning to hold yoga marathons, called Yogathons on June 21 in Bengaluru and Mysuru as part of celebrations across the world after the United Nations recently announced that day to be celebrated as International Yoga Day.


“The reason why Mysuru is being shortlisted is that it has a tremendous number of yoga teachers and they have their own network. Over the years Mysuru has emerged as the yoga capital of India with specialists in various forms of yoga like Ashtanga Yoga, Iyengar Yoga etc. They have done better than most Indian cities which is why it has to be a crucial part when we observe the first International Yoga day this year,” he said.

The quote’s from Vijaykumar Gogi, director, department of Ayush, which you’ll recall is the government agency that Prime Minister Narendra Modi created to focus on Ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and homeopathy.

According to the report, an exact venue in Mysore hasn’t been picked yet.

Posted by Steve

To start your month, a detailed look at the Hanuman Chalisa

We haven’t tossed a Hanuman Chalisa at you in a while, so it’s time to break that streak.

This isn’t new, but, as they say, it’s new to me. Judging by what I read, it dates back to 2006. But as with anything Hanuman-related, it’s timeless: A word-by-word breakdown/translation of the Chalisa:

1. Jaya – Hail Hanumana
gyaana – wisdom
guna – virtue
saagara – ocean
jaya -hail
Kapeesha – Lord of the Monkeys
tihun – three
loka – world
ujaagara – enlighten/awaken

1. Victory to Hanuman, ocean of wisdom and virtue,
Hail Monkey Lord, illuminator of the three worlds.

2. Raama
doota – messenger
atulita – incomparible
bala – strength
dhaamaa – abode
Anjani putra – Anjani’s son
Pavana –wind
suta -son (off spring)
naamaa – the name

2. Ram’s emissary, abode of matchless power,
Anjani’s son, named “Son of the Wind.”

Hat tip on this one to Gary Goldberg, via the Facebook.

Posted by Steve

Are these your next yoga pants?

I wasn’t going to pass this on until I noticed two things:

  1. The first store is going to open in Mysore, so I’ll take a leap and guess they have Ashtanga in mind. (Goa and Pune are among the next ones.)
  2. And there was this in the “about” part: “It has taken designs from ancient India and recreated them using cutting edge technology to make them relevant to our modern day yoga practice.”

So, OK, I’ll bite. I’m curious what all the yoga-wear makers have been missing.

And I’ll back up. The company touting this is called IKA Yoga Wear Pvt. Ltd and the product that will marry ancient designs with cutting-edge technology is called Proyog.

It gets better. According to the company, there hasn’t been a real set of clothes designed for yoga yet:

Co-founder and Product Head, Malika Baruah asserts, “Yoga wear across the globe has been largely sportswear in disguise. None of the global brands have paid attention to the specific needs and requirements of yoga. 95% of the market comprises of polyester and nylon products that are antithetical to yoga. Proyog, on the other hand, has stayed true to yoga wherein every product is designed to enhance the practice. It is very unlikely that a yoga practitioner will go back to anything else after having tried Proyog.”

I’m thinking that’ll come as news to a few companies out there.

I will applaud one part of IKA Yoga Wear’s mission: “The company is intent on demonstrating to the world, India’s ability to design and manufacture best-in-class products in the multi-billion dollar yoga wear market.” In other words, it wants to lift up part of India’s economy — and do so within a business sector of which the country ought to have a big piece.

Not surprisingly, the company’s launching on June 21 — International Day of Yoga.

Posted by Steve

The power of 5 in India and elsewhere

Did you ignore Cinco de Mayo? Of course you did, because you had to get up early this morning.

And maybe it feels like yet another mostly made-up holiday that just serves our consumer appetite.

But there is plenty of power in 5, as Tim Miller helpfully notes this week in his blog:

As it turns out, 5 is a pretty special number in many traditions, especially in India, where we find:  The Pancha Tanmatras— The Five Sensory Potentials or Subtle Elements—Shabda (sound), Sparsha (touch), Rupa (sight), Rasa (taste), and Gandha (smell); The Pancha Jnanendriyani—Five Sense Organs–Ear, Skin, Eye, Tongue, and Nose; The Pancha Karmendriyani—Five Motor Organs—Mouth (expression), Hand (grasping), Feet (motion), Urino-genital (emission), and Anus (elimination); The Pancha Mahabhutani—The Five Elements—Earth (stability), Water (fluidity), Fire (illumination), Air (movement), and Ether (communication and self-expression).

He goes on to note some 5s that pertain specifically to yoga. And I’d add one he doesn’t seem to have listed: The five Pandavas from the Mahabharata.

And of course there is Panchamukha Hanuman, who hangs above our front door.

Posted by Steve

Namarupa number 20 is now available

Ready to dive into some Vedic and Indic topic matter?

Well, the latest issue of Namarupa — co-published by Robert Moses and Eddie Stern — is now available.

Here’s what’s in store:

Cover Surya Bhagavan by Satya Moses

Jason Birch THE YOGATĀRĀVALĪ And the Hidden History of Yoga

Dr. Robert E. Svoboda EXCERPT FROM AGHORA II: KUNDALINI KUNDALINI: Interview with Dr. Robert E. Svoboda Conducted by Rick Archer of Buddha at The Gas Pump

Roxanne Gupta Ph.D. BEHIND THE OCHRE ROBE The extraordinary life and death of AgehanandaBharati

Robert Schneider & Benjamin Phelan ENCOUNTER WITH THE INFINITE The story of the mathematical genius Srinivasan Ramanujan

Naomi Worth DREAMING IN EARLY ADVAITA VEDĀNTA A main component of Śańkaracarya’s view of Reality

Jaidev Dasgupta IN SEARCH OF IMMORTALITY An Introduction into Indic Worldviews

Robert Moses & Satya Moses DEVOTION AT LORD JAGANNATH RATH YATRA Photo essay of the annual Chariot Festival  of Lord Jagannath in Puri, Odisha, July 2104

Make sure you enjoy the back cover.

Posted by Steve

Ready to be a pilgrim in South India?

You all know that this fall Namarupa is running a full month’s Yatra through the north part of India, with a week that includes an Ashtanga program with Sharath.

It’s full, and has been for a while. But all is not lost. This week, Robert Moses — co-founder of Namarupa along with Eddie Stern — announced the next Yatra:

Your yatra guides will be Robert Moses, co-publisher of Namarupa and Radha-kunda das of Sacred Journeys India. Christine Hoar of Ashtanga Yoga Montauk will teach daily Ashtanga Yoga classes.

The magnificently constructed temples of South India, planned according to strict rules of vastu (laws governing spatial awareness), are often dominated by huge towering gateways called gopurams. Daily, vast numbers of Hindu yatris (pilgrims) pass through the gopurams to have darshan of their favorite gods or goddesses, enshrined in the murtis (images) in the temples’ inner sanctums. Darshan is both seeing and being seen by the deity. The intention of the Tamil Temple Yatra will be to go as much as possible as pilgrims to the sacred temples and, where permitted, to have darshan of the gods and goddesses. This will not be tourism. We will travel simply, lodge in very comfortable Indian-style accommodations, eat vegetarian meals and dress and behave appropriately according to local custom. At some places we will have ample time for the usual sightseeing, shopping and exploring that travellers enjoy. The pace will be relaxed, but this being India, one can expect the unexpected.

Ho-oh, Robert! Don’t get me started on the unexpected. But that’s a good part of the fun.

It runs from January 6 to 21, 2016. It might make a nice holiday present to yourself.

For our posts about our south India Yatra with Namarupa a few years ago, click here. (I think that captures them all; you might need to scroll back a page past our more recent Yatra posts.) We loved the south. The people were warm and inviting, the darshan was incredible, the temples stunning. If you want to really experience India, this is the way to go. We often were the only Westerners in crowds of hundreds, even thousands.

Posted by Steve

Don’t expect any Aum with your International Day of Yoga

I’ll assume you know by now that June 21 will be the first International Day of Yoga.

You may not have heard that the day could be Aum-less.

In what sounds very much like the Encinitas yoga-in-schools issue, concerns about making the worldwide yoga celebration too religious apparently is behind the idea. From the Economic Times (which has since doubled-down on the veracity of the story):

To make yoga an aam lifestyle choice in a country where religious symbolism often attracts high-voltage political controversies, Modi Sarkar is dropping all references to ‘aum’ — the traditional mystical invocation related to Hindu spirituality and yoga practice — in its coming high-powered promotion of this ancient discipline.

Senior officials involved in the government’s extensive preparations to celebrate the June 21 International Yoga Day told ET that the brief is to keep the effort “free of controversy”.

Therefore, there will be no reference to ‘aum’ in the 33-minute Common Yoga Protocol that’s been prepared by the department of AYUSH ( ayurveda, yoga & naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy), as well as all literature and video being prepared for the June 21 celebration.

Even more in line with the Encinitas story — where Surya Namaskara was seen as the offending religious act — that pose might be stripped away from the event, as well.

To balance that news off for you, it does look like thousands of Indian schools could get yoga — and at a familiar time of day for Ashtanga practitioners:

The minister said rules were being framed to ensure that the first period in the schools is dedicated to yoga teaching.

“The state government has decided to set up ‘Yogshalas’ in about 6,500 villages. Rules will be framed to ensure that yoga is taught during the first period in government and private schools,” he said at the foundation stone laying ceremony for the ‘Acharyakulam’ school being set up at Dikadala near Panipat. Vij said Acharyakulam is a residential educational institute that would combine traditional and modern educational system.

So there’s that.

Posted by Steve

Your Hinduism primer

Saw this via Broome St. Temple: “10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Hinduism.” It’s by Senior Director of Hindu American Foundation and Broome Street Temple board member Sheetal Shah. Just one of the things:

3. Karma is more than just “what goes around comes around.”

Karma is the universal law of cause and effect: each action and thought has a reaction, and this cycle is endless until one is able to perform virtuous action without expecting rewards.

The Bhagavad Gita, III.19 and III.20 expounds on this:

Tasmad asakta satatam
Karyam karma samacara
Asakto hy acaran karma
Param apnoti purusah
Lokasampraham eva’pi
Sampasyan kartum arhasi

Therefore, without attachment
Perform always the work that has to be done
For man attains to the highest
By doing work without attachment
Likewise you should perform with a view to guide others
And for the sake of benefiting the welfare of the world

Belief in karma goes hand in hand with belief in reincarnation, where the immortal soul, on its path of spiritual evolution, takes birth in various physical bodies through the cycle of life and death. Though karma can be immediate, it often spans over lifetimes and is one explanation to the commonly asked question, “Why do bad things happen good people?” or visa versa.

Go read the rest.

Posted by Steve

Bringing new life to Puri’s gods

Those who have paid attention know the last Namarupa Yatra spent several days in Puri in order to witness the annual Rath Yatra there, which sees Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra travel outside their temple.

Turns out, we — Bobbie and I were there — saw the last of the trio’s current forms. They are getting a rebirth:

Nabakalebara is a 65-day-long rare and elaborate ritual of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Sudarshana relinquishing their old bodies (idols) and assuming new ones. The previous Nabakalebara was held in 1996.

Over five million devotees are expected to converge on Puri this year to witness the event, which is envisaged to be one of the largest congregations of people, in not just India but the world.

Nabakalebara is the most significant ritual in the Jagannath cult since it infuses life force. “Naba” means new and “kalebara” means body or cover in Sanskrit.

The photos you see there are from the Rath last year; in the first photo of all three chariots, we were seated off to the right of the shot — outside of it.

Hat tip to Robert Moses of Namarupa for passing this along.

Posted by Steve

Here’s your International Day of Yoga website

You’ve heard all about the International Day of Yoga. Now you can learn even more at its website.

From news coverage:

PARIS: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched a portal for the International Day of Yoga here, describing the ancient Indian spiritual practice as capable of awakening a sense of oneness.

Flanked by UNESCO Director General Irena Bukova, Modi officially launched the website after addressing a gathering at the UNESCO headquarters that included a large number of NRIs.

And without further adieu:

The website is right here. Have a look.

Posted by Steve